Motorola Turns Away From BYOD, Consumerizaton of IT

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2011-11-17 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Enterprise-level solutions that embrace mobility, data collection and vertical markets should secure Motorola's place in the business world, but the real challenge for the company comes from the consumerization of IT.

HOLTSVILLE, N.Y.-Motorola has faced several challenges that would have spelled the end for most other companies. At one point, Motorola was losing more than $1 billion a quarter on its mobile device business, forcing the company to make tough decisions, sell off its less-than-profitable divisions and return to its roots as a solutions-based company.

In the end, Motorola Solutions rose from the ashes of the old Motorola as a new iteration of a company that had its roots in radio communications and governmental technology. Now, the company is engaging the enterprise to grow its business, provide solutions and build new partnerships.

However, one rather large challenge remains, and that amounts to stemming the tide of the consumerization of IT resources.

As many IT shops already know, there is an onslaught of consumer-level devices which are penetrating the enterprise at all levels. These range from the iPad in the hands of the CEO to Android smartphones used by the company's sales force. The idea of the consumerization of IT stems from the notion of BYOD, or "bring your own device." This practice allows employees to bring their own devices, such as laptops, smartphones and now tablets, into the corporate firewall. At the same time, the IT department is charged with allowing employees to access company applications and other corporate resources from their personal devices.

While many companies and IT shops are embracing BYOD, Motorola Solutions is looking to derail those BYOD efforts with innovative technologies that not only meet the needs of the user but also fit into the IT department's ability to manage and govern equipment and operations. The company is setting the stage for IT departments to take back control of devices, applications and security with an extensive knowledge base of why vertical market solutions are a better fit for most business entities, as opposed to the consumer-level devices that many organizations are trying to shoehorn into their IT environments.

This approach comes down to two factors: ROI (return on investment) and TCO (total cost of ownership). For its customers, Motorola Solutions is trying to demonstrate the hidden costs of consumer-level devices, while highlighting the operational savings of using enterprise-level products, which can be more easily provisioned, customized and managed by IT.

Simply put, Motorola Solutions has placed the focus back on IT enablement that services the user, while increasing productivity and lowering total costs.

Currently, Motorola Solutions has a dual-prong approach to IT enablement, with some 35 percent of the company's solutions going into the enterprise space and the remainder going into the government sector.

For the enterprise side of the business, Motorola Solutions is focusing on mobile computing, advanced data capture, wireless networking, and services with products, consulting and an active partner ecosystem. The government side of the business focuses on radio systems, radio devices, Integrated Command and Control, and of course, services. While there is overlap between the enterprise and government solutions, these products and services are not limited to specific silos. That cross business unit pollination has created a wide array of solutions that fit well into hundreds of vertical markets.

At a press event here, company executives highlighted several technology solutions that are arriving on the market that promise to shift the focus from consumerization back to IT-delivered solutions. Sheldon Safir, Motorola Solutions' director of Global Product Marketing, said "Consumer-level products are becoming increasingly difficult to manage in the enterprise and lack the ruggedness and customizability that IT departments need for their vertical market applications"

On the hardware side, the company's new Android tablet, the ET1, is a enterprise-level device that features a ruggedized design, making it suitable for retail, warehouse, medical and law enforcement applications. At roughly twice the cost of an iPad, the ET1 promises a much longer operational life, as well as support for extensive customization and enhanced management.

"It all comes down to return on investment and total cost of ownership" Safir,  said. "Devices that are easier to manage, service and meet life cycle needs prove cheaper in the long run when compared to a consumer device forced into a vertical market solution."

Backing up the ET1 tablet is a new, innovative software application development platform, called "RHOElements." This is a rapid application development (RAD) environment that combines a GUI-based design system with Web application creation, based upon an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

RHOElements offers ISV's (independent software vendors) the ability to generate HTML5-compatible applications, which will run on a number of different platforms and devices. When paired with the ET1 tablet, specialized, vertical market applications can be created for most any environment, ranging from retail to insurance to medical and almost any other application environment that can benefit from a mobile platform.

Enterprises, government agencies and channel partners all have access to the various platforms and solutions offered by Motorola Solutions. Other technologies offered included Wireless LAN/WAN technologies, voice and video endpoints, as well as handheld barcode scanners and RFID equipment. The combination of those products and services puts Motorola Solutions in a good position to service enterprise customers looking to implement mobility solutions and enhanced data capture capabilities, while taking back the enterprise from consumer-level devices.

Motorola Solutions' plan for the enterprise is rather straightforward and catalogued under three objectives: empower the mobile worker, enable real-time asset visibility and engage the smarter customer. Empowering the mobile worker consists of providing the worker with wireless, handheld devices that run line-of-business solutions in a secure fashion. Ideally, these workers will be able to throw off the tethers of the traditional workplace and perform their duties in the environment that best suits productivity.

Real-time asset availability provides on-the-spot information about stock availability, product location and supply-chain status, giving employees the ability to quickly locate stock, place orders or trace product locations.

Engaging the smarter customer is a novel approach for retailers and other sales professionals to level the playing field with customers that arrive with the latest competitive information. Here, hand-held devices can coach a salesperson, provide up-to-the-minute product information and give a salesperson a competitive advantage by engaging the customer at their level of understanding, experience and expectations.

It is those methodologies and ideologies that will help Motorola Solutions gain acceptance in the enterprise, by delivering solutions that solve the many pain points that vertical markets are experiencing. What's more, a strong focus on partner development should help build an ecosystem of expertise that will create best-of-breed solutions based upon Motorola Solutions' growing product line.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correctly state how much money Motorola was losing each quarter in a specific division. 

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at

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