7 Tips for Pricing MDM Services

Mobile device management deals require out-of-the-box thinking, so detach from vendor pricing models to take part in the MDM land grab. By Sandra Gittlen

When it comes to mobile device management pricing, your peers have this advice: Get moving and get creative!

Kevin English, mobility team manager at SHI International Corp., sees a tremendous opportunity for IT providers like his Somerset, N.J.-based firm. However, he also has noticed his industry getting stymied by the serious issue of pricing. “Mobile device management is a sweet spot. Employees want to bring in their devices and attach them to the network and IT has to be ready,” English says. “If a user loses his device, then that opens the floodgates for security concerns about what's left on that smartphone or tablet.”

“Mobile device management is not a one-size-fits-all technology; MSPs must be flexible.” Kevin English, Mobility Team Manager, SHI International Corp.

English contends that IT fully understands the need for tools to manage user devices. “They can't keep up with all the different operating systems, applications, and security, and they realize the tools they have aren't getting the job done,” he says. So, if the demand and drivers are in place, why are MSPs struggling to sell these services? Two words: sticker shock.

In many SMBs, IT initially attempted to manage devices on its own. But as the pool of devices and applications broadened, the burden of updating, patching, and other oversight became too cumbersome. The problem is that most companies allotted little to no budget to device management, so back-tracking and asking for funds is no easy feat, according to English. “We have to help them sell the need for these services to the CFO and other executives,” he says.

Primarily, the channel can't be rigid in its pricing model. “Mobile device management is not a one-size-fits-all technology; MSPs must be flexible,” English says. Here are some tips you can use to engage and lock down SMBs for MDM solutions:

1. Stop differentiating smartphones and tablets from other computing assets. “Mobile devices should be treated the same as other IT assets such as servers, laptops, and desktops,” says Indus Khaitan, co-founder and vice president of India Operations at Bitzer Mobile Inc., a mobility solutions provider in Sunnyvale, Calif. “Like other elements of the corporate environment, they require inventory control, application management, patch management, and policy enforcement.”

A big mistake that the channel makes in approaching SMBs is to sell mobile device management as something new. “It becomes an easier sell when you treat mobile as simply an extra node on the network and an extension of what you're already doing, management-wise,” Khaitan says.

2. Start with an assessment of the mobile environment. When SHI first ramped up its MDM offering, it provided a free service to sniff out Apple iOS and Google Android devices attached to the network. SMBs usually were surprised at the findings, which made it easier to demonstrate the need for device management and network access management.

Steve Barone, CEO of Creative Breakthroughs Inc., a VAR in Troy, Mich., agrees that an up-front assessment is essential for IT to embrace MDM. “Most companies have already taken a stab at managing their devices, so you should assess the gaps in services, staffing, and products they are experiencing,” he says.

3. Don't focus solely on products. “Much like security, you can't solve mobile problems with a single product,” Barone says. He encourages prospective clients to take a more holistic view that includes policies, processes, and technology. “When you build the relationship at that level, you can help them develop a roadmap,” he says. “Getting that managed mobile adviser role lets you impact change.”

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