Mobi’s Funding Raises Profile of Global Managed Mobility Services

Injection of $35 Million Will Boost Awareness of This Important Market

Mobi_logo_lBack in my October 2014 blog I argued that managed mobility services are getting hot and it’s about time, because the speed of change and complexity of mobile technology in the enterprise shows little sign of slowing down.

There are over 300 firms selling mobility technology to enterprises and increasing complexity is prompting customers, particularly multinational organisations, to demand a more complete set of managed services to address their rapidly changing mobility needs.

Demand for enterprise mobility services, rather than software, is a burgeoning market. It encompasses several domains, including device financing, deployment and logistics, expense management and order provisioning, implementation of enterprise mobility management software, application development, managed Wi-Fi, help desk and consulting services, to name a few. The benefits of managed services compared with a do-it-yourself approach are substantial and include reductions in time, cost and supplier complexity as well as enabling enterprises to focus on more strategic tasks.

This week, a significant boost was given to the managed enterprise mobility services market when Bregal Sagemount announced a $35 million investment for a minority stake in privately funded Mobi, an Indianapolis-based provider of managed mobility services.

Mobi offers cloud software and managed services to help companies better control mobile technology within their organisations. Its software and services integrate with multiple mobile operators, enterprise mobility management software suites and corporate IT systems, to help IT administrators manage mobile users, devices and applications. Available in multiple languages and in 30 countries, Mobi’s service offering has already notched up the likes of BP, Ford, Procter & Gamble, Uber and United Airlines as customers. The company has agreements with systems integrators IBM and HP Enterprise Services, providing managed mobility services for several of their customers. Mobi says these partnerships have helped it gain as many new customers in the first three months of 2015 as in the whole of 2014.

But this isn’t the first time an investor has taken a stake in a mobility management company. So why is this deal important?

Firstly, the investment in Mobi is one of the largest in the managed mobility services market to date. In fact, it is one of the larger recent investment deals in enterprise mobility overall, eclipsing the individual funding rounds from several big names in 2014 such as Appthority in mobile security and Appcelerator and Capriza in app development platforms, for example.

Previously, we have seen significantly smaller investments in the US and Brazil, but few recipients have received the cash to go global rather than concentrating on their local markets. Bregal Sagemount’s commitment to Mobi shows that equity investments are now starting to focus on multinational enterprise markets by concentrating on firms at the right stage of maturity and progress. Mobi will use the funds to expand operations in Europe in 2015 to support multinationals, in addition to building out its software.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the deal should help boost global awareness of the managed mobility services market. The area badly needs to raise its profile. One of the biggest challenges for managed mobility has been low awareness of the providers of such specialist services, especially compared with the profile of their enterprise mobility software partners, which have taken up a lot of CIOs’ attention over the past two years.

Global system integrators, for instance, have only recently been prioritising mobility services, setting up mobility-specific business units and building up their service catalogues, having historically struggled with focus and delivery in a fast-moving market. The integrators that have been most bullish in managed mobility services, such as HP Enterprise Services and IBM, have partnered with Mobi to help fill their gaps. Many integrators’ marketing messages for mobility managed services have been weak and are often lost in a wider story about IT transformation and business process outsourcing. This can leave customers unclear on what mobility service capabilities are available.

On the other side of the coin, many global telecom providers have simply failed to keep up with customers’ needs in core mobility components like troubleshooting, application support and IT consulting and have preferred to concentrate instead on managed services across fixed networks, unified communications and hosting rather than mobility.

This has, until now, left the market wide open to specialists like Mobi who have historically lacked the investment, size expertise and “safe pair of hands” branding that global firms require for managed services.

It will be interesting to watch Mobi draw on this serious injection of cash to build on its important partnerships with HP Enterprise Services and IBM, raise its profile and the awareness levels of global managed mobility services over the next 12 months. Given that competitors such as veteran Tangoe and new entrant Samsung 360 Services for Business have struggled to expand internationally this year, Mobi may now have the resources needed to become a major player in the global market.