How to become a mobile integrator, and why does not everyone succeed?


The role of mobile devices in business has grown, and the requirements for the devices themselves and the capabilities of services have become more stringent. At the same time, technologies are developing and the need for development specialists is growing. Procurement of corporate devices has turned into support projects throughout the entire life cycle: the cycle from delivery to disposal. So, at the junction of classic integration and mobile retail, a new line of business emerged – mobile integration.

Today, for many employees, the smartphone is the number one, and the digital workplace has become an active tablet, smartwatch, and biometric sensor to monitor their physical condition.

“Mobility” is a non-core area.

Until recently, traditional integrators were involved in the supply and maintenance of corporate devices. As part of large-scale projects, they provide server hardware, workstations, peripherals, laptops, and smartphones. For tablets, smartphones, and “other trifles” for such companies – a “burdensome appendage” to the main delivery or corporate network project.

Integrators, of course, have “mobile” departments – as a rule, these are small groups. They are more enthusiastic about deploying internal systems than covering smartphone screens with screen protectors. In addition, equipping employees with corporate devices, even for large companies, is not as expensive as infrastructure devices. The average price of “mobile” contracts is about $700 000. For integrators focused on heavy enterprise solutions, this is too small a sum. And they lack experience in working with consumer products.

It takes resources to play big

In the 2010s, developers of B2B applications tried to enter the corporate mobility market, but they did not have enough administrative and financial resources.

For example, the frequent change of the lineup, dictated by the consumer market, requires the closest possible contact with manufacturers. You also need to plan for deliveries, drive technical changes, and support rapidly aging devices and operating systems. The majority of corporate mobile projects involve thousands of regional employees, whose support is impossible without a well-developed network of service centers.

Working with mobile projects also implies a significant staff on the side of companies offering corporate mobility solutions. Even in order to just check the device, you need to turn it on, turn it on with a button. Now imagine that the project involves the supply of 1,000 smartphones or 37,000, as, for example, in cooperation between LeroyMerlin and Inventive Retail Group (Inventive), which operates specialized stores for electronics, children’s and sports goods. The device must not only be launched, but also configured, installed working applications, and tested for operation. At the same time, different divisions of the company may have different requirements for the use of device functions, admissions within the framework of information security, etc.

From retail to integration

Only large mobile retailers have the necessary experience in working with consumer goods. They are immersed in all the nuances of interaction with manufacturers, have created an extensive logistics infrastructure, accumulated special technical expertise, and mastered modern financial instruments. However, the largest players in mobile retail today belong to telecom operators, so the choice of development options is limited.

The company started in 2005 with the launch of a network of Apple stores and servicing the products of the world-famous brand. In the future, in the beginning, work with products of other manufacturers: Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, Acer.

The company’s experts are well aware of the market for both premium devices and mid-range devices because they cooperate with both top brands and niche suppliers of accessories and peripherals. Inventive Retail Group has been working with corporate customers for several years. The project began with the supply of Apple devices to the divisions of international companies, for which cooperation with this brand is a corporate standard. In 2017, Inventive began to provide DaaS services (Device as a Service), and in 2019, a specialized division Inventive DLM was created, which develops the mobile integration business.

Today, Inventive’s clients include several dozen large international companies. For example, in addition to the already mentioned chain of stores “Leroy Merlin” according to the DaaS model, the park of devices was acquired by a division of the international pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the food corporation Coca-Cola. Together with the DaaS model and MDM (Mobile Device Management) services, Inventive develops financial and insurance services, offering device leasing and retirement of decommissioned equipment.

Mobile integration as a new direction that has arisen at the junction of classic IT integration and mobile retail imposes strict requirements on market participants. On the one hand, they must have technical expertise, significant financial and human resources, and on the other, be as flexible as possible.

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