If there was ever any doubt about the future of unified endpoint management (UEM) as a key component of enterprise mobility strategies, the now-permanent shift to hybrid and remote work models has sealed the deal. UEM has become a critical part of enterprise efforts to manage this complex environment.
Forrester Research’s 2022 Business Technographics Infrastructure Hardware Survey shows that 28% of infrastructure hardware technology decision makers will be investing in UEM over the next 12 months. “This is in line with previous years, so we continue to see stable growth in the UEM market,” says Andrew Hewitt, senior analyst at Forrester.
“However, most organizations today have a UEM solution in place,” Hewitt adds. “Most of the deals today are not net-new, but rather replacements of older endpoint management investments.”
Research firm Gartner sees several forces shaping the current UEM market, says Dan Wilson, vice president and research analyst, Digital Workplace Infrastructure and Operations. One is that remote and hybrid work have permanently replaced exclusively in-office work, which has underscored the importance of UEM for managing all endpoint devices used in an organization.
Another force is integration with endpoint analytics and endpoint security tools, to build proactive and resilient defenses against better-skilled adversaries, Wilson says. In addition, there is a greater focus on intelligence and automation to drive operational efficiency and improve digital employee experience (DEX).
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Trends in UEM
One of the more notable UEM usage trends has been the adoption of analytics capabilities for endpoint device monitoring, says Phil Hochmuth, program vice president, enterprise mobility at research firm IDC. “This has less to do with finding out what employees are doing in terms of productivity and more to do with automating end-user support,” he says.
Along those lines, DEX tools are making a significant splash in the space, Hewitt says. Also known as end-user experience management (EUEM) or digital employee experience management (DEEM) tools, DEX software measures, analyzes, and evaluates employee satisfaction with workplace technology, providing companies with guidance for improvements.
“Digital employee experience monitoring capabilities are now becoming common across the space,” Hewitt says. “We continue to see vendors investing in telemetry collection on the endpoint to drive visibility, benchmarking and remediation use cases.” This not only helps IT administrators to improve experience on the endpoint, he says, but also reduces costs through automation of experience issues.
Forrester continues to see downward pressure on UEM pricing, due to “commodification in the market as well as pressure from the Microsoft 365 suite, which includes Intune management,” Hewitt says. “Add-ons for digital employee experience at a higher cost point is one of the newer pricing trends.”
Pricing is continuing to shift to a user-based, monthly fee model and away from the device-based pricing that has been traditional in UEM, Hochmuth says. “This is an advantage for enterprises, as most users in organizations are probably using two or more devices in their daily digital workspace,” he says.
The leading vendors in the market have not changed in the past year, Hochmuth adds. It’s still largely concentrated around Microsoft and VMware, with vendors such as Ivanti, BlackBerry, Google, and IBM also in the mix, he says.
[ Free download: UEM vendor comparison chart 2023 ]
Gartner considers UEM to be a mature and stable market, says Wilson. Revenue growth among vendors tends to be driven by expansion within existing customers, he says, and the primary drivers of the market are modernization of endpoint management and patching, as well as automation and improved DEX.
“Although Gartner continues to see increased adoption of UEM and modern [operating system] management in parallel, we still advise clients to be methodical with the transition from traditional approaches,” Wilson says. “This is especially true for those with significant technical debt and complexity, and those with more rigid policies and processes.”
Enterprises should avoid waiting for the “perfect” UEM tool that addresses all requirements, “because this rarely exists,” Wilson says. “Instead, choose a UEM tool that addresses most requirements, then look to fill gaps with complementary tools.”
The rapid evolution of software-as-a-service-powered capabilities and the emergence of DEX tools offer a glimpse into the next evolution of endpoint management beyond UEM, Wilson says.
“Over the next three to five years, we anticipate that the inability of enterprise IT leaders and managed service providers to scale staffing levels and skill sets to meet ever-increasing business and cybersecurity demands will catalyze the adoption of intelligence and automation,” he says. Gartner calls the next phase autonomous endpoint management (AEM).
There will also be a closer alignment of UEM and enterprise security.
“A major development we’re seeing come together is the integration of endpoint security and endpoint management roles in many large enterprises,” IDC’s Hochmuth says. “Businesses are starting to converge endpoint management security into either a single unit of support staff, or at least having these two previously separate groups interact and collaborate more closely.”
The increased focus on security and compliance as a function of UEM is driving this, as well as heightened awareness around threats such as ransomware and endpoint device compromising via phishing, Hochmuth says.
Another trend is an increased need to develop “self-healing policies” for endpoint devices that can bring them back to a predefined state if they drift, says Forrester’s Hewitt. “Some UEM vendors are investing in making low-code orchestration available natively in the product, to enable this type of workflow,” he says. “If successful, it would enable IT [administrators] to accomplish greater amounts of automation within their platforms.”
DEX will continue to be a priority for vendors. A year ago, not many UEM platforms had embraced DEX capabilities, according to Hewitt. “Now, most of them do,” he says. “More have also made progress on the endpoint security front. We expect endpoint management platforms to pursue those two paths over the next [few] years. In two years, UEM as we know it today will look a lot different. Expect cloud, automation, experience, and compliance to play a much bigger role.”
In the meantime, UEM will remain at the center of post-pandemic enterprise mobility strategies.
This story was originally published in June 2015 and most recently updated in February 2023. Click through to subsequent pages to see how mobility management has evolved over the years.