AirWatch – The View from the Front


Alan DabbiereIt would be hard to argue that AirWatch isn’t a definitive leader in the MDM space. To begin they are in the Leaders Quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for MDM, their revenue is up 10 fold from a year ago, they are twice the size of their nearest competitor when it comes to employees, and they were the only MDM product that Forrester Research named as “innovator” for both On-Premise and Cloud-Hosted solutions. As well, they believe that any deployment worldwide of more than 20,000 mobile devices is managed by AirWatch. If that wasn’t impressive enough, when I got the chance chat with, Alan Dabbiere, Chairman of AirWarch, he put the icing on the cake by asserting “we’re doing this without any outside capital.”

With all this momentum, I was curious to find out how AirWatch plans to leverage it. I asked Dabbiere what they are doing to stay ahead.  “Scale is important in software. It gives you more money for R&D, more money for building partnerships, for marketing, for a broader product. It’s a pretty virtuous cycle in every way.” The economies of scale create a snowball effect that allow for efficiencies to be passed on to customers. Dabbiere continued, “Software wants leaders to emerge. It is so much cheaper to write software for a hundred million devices than for a million devices. I am amortizing development costs over more devices.” This translates into a more robust platform for clients.

I wanted to know what Dabbiere thinks sets AirWatch apart from competitors. He stated that the differentiator is the “breadth of capabilities. We are the only place you can go to get fully-integrated classic device management, secure mobile browser, secure content locker, and developer toolkit for jailbreak detection, Single Sign On, etc.” He noted that many MDM vendors claim that they provide the same breadth but that upon further digging it becomes apparent they do not. “When you are flying at 35,000 feet, Boston and Bombay look a lot alike.” Dabbiere also noted that their leadership position and size gives them an edge with staying current in the fast-paced realm of mobility. “We were the only product that had every iOS 5 feature built into our product the day iOS 5 was released.” Their large customer base makes them relevant to manufacturers and in-turn able to keep abreast of platform changes.

Being in the front of the pack comes with its challenges though – specifically growing pains. Dabbiere sees the key to avoiding some of the pitfalls he’s seen in the past, lies in the management team. “We’ve got a management team that is going to take us to the next level; that has seen this kind of growth.  We all can finish each other’s sentences and we know exactly what needs to be done.” He also looks to other success stories on how to grow smartly. “We are learning from great companies like Salesforce.com. We absolutely are looking at industry best practices and modeling off those and try to make improvements where it fits our business.”

In discussing the increasing trend of mobility in the enterprise, Dabbiere has a very positive outlook for its viability.  “Mobility can be used safely and responsibly. But it’s like water, you’ve got to channel it; make good decisions. Because if you just try to stop up water you are going to have a flood – you’re going to have a mess.” When it comes to enterprise mobility he believes that companies “are much better off creating policies, creating DLP, deciding what can and can’t go on devices, through good management.”  Dabbiere thinks that AirWatch will continue to have a strong central role as this trend continues. “We see device management, application management, security, content distribution -all of that as one footprint. We view that for the core of it – our space [MDM] is the one to deliver it.” Given that assertion,Dabbiere is definitely correct that when it comes to enterprise mobility AirWatch is “doing something that every device in the world needs.”

AirWatch is the global leader and innovator of enterprise-grade smartphone security and mobile device management solutions. An award-winning company, AirWatch has more than 1,700 customers in the retail, financial services, healthcare, government, distribution, education, hospitality, manufacturing, telecommunications and transportation industries. For more information, visit http://www.air-watch.com

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