Mobility has been part of business strategy since the inception of mobile phones – and then really took hold during the BlackBerry era. It’s a simple concept to understand – employees who travel need to stay in touch with colleagues and customers. More recently, the remote working trend emerged when reliable connectivity made it easy to create more flexible work arrangements and expand hiring geographies. Now, almost a year into the global pandemic, working from home is more than a trend – it’s a fact of business driven by a combination of technology and necessity. Importantly, though, it’s not going away. The majority of businesses say they will implement some form of WFH policy permanently, and, likewise, most employees want the flexibility to work remotely some of the time.
But, what else isn’t going away is the need to manage those devices remote and mobile workers are using to connect to corporate resources. The mobility management needs in a connected, digital world are a far cry from setting up BlackBerry devices two decades ago. Today, there are all kinds of access, privilege, authentication, usage, security and other factors that have to be managed, along with application updates. It can be a major task for IT teams, especially when they have to do it at the device level.
ROVA, which stands for Remote Orchestration Virtual Administrator, is changing the mobile device management paradigm with a network-centric approach. In a nutshell, ROVA’s SaaS mobility management software is embedded in its carrier partner networks, allowing businesses to manage all its devices – including BYOB devices that have been registered on the platform – easily through the network.
“We are seeing a fundamental and seismic shift in our workforces that will never go back,” said ROVA’s Executive Chairman Tom Thimot. “We don’t care where you work anymore, and the way you connect, the way you access resources, the security, it is all provided the same way, whether you’re in the office, at home, or anywhere else.”
This wasn’t always the case. Like many others in the MDM space, ROVA started out with a device-centric approach 20 years ago, selling to major enterprise customers, like Merrill Lynch, Canon, Wells Fargo, GM, Daimler, and others. But even back then, it learned quickly that mobility could help businesses adjust quickly to unexpected circumstances. Its own initial launch with American Express back in 2001 was delayed by the 9/11 attacks.
Fast forward to 2020, and ROVA’s approach has evolved through successful carrier relationships. Because carriers have embedded the technology in their networks and bundled it with their business services, they have been able to provide businesses with a remote management playbook that handles everything from access to security across the entire business.
ROVA says the rapid shift to remote working during the pandemic has truly highlighted the benefits of a network-centric approach, rather than a traditional model.
“Companies need remote setups, and they need remote management,” Thimot added. “Because it’s network-centric, it’s very scalable, and while nobody envisioned remote working growing this dramatically, it has allowed us to give SMBs who weren’t ready for it a path to success.”
IT teams can now push through policy changes, updates, security upgrades, and other IT needs, automatically. Think of how carriers and application developers are able to push automatic updates to devices through the network. IT now has a similar capability, regardless of what carriers employees are using. Even older devices or those that don’t yet have the embedded firmware can be registered with the software to become part of the business network of devices. Importantly, though, while the solution gives IT access to certain information, much of that access can be turned off for personal devices in BYOD environments to preserve personal privacy, and the software does not provide visibility into what’s actually happening on the network.
Choice of carrier also doesn’t matter. With remote workforces, companies have no control over what providers employees use, but the solution, while being delivered through carriers, is network-agnostic. As long as the devices are registered on the platform, they can be managed.
“This SaaS solution is ideally suited for today’s environment. While it scales up to the large enterprise market, it’s ideal for SMBs looking to manage their remote workforces today because they can get help directly from their carriers,” said Joe Bronowich, founder and CEO of ROVA. “The platform can separate personal and corporate devices and deliver different policies to them.”
During the pandemic, as millions of companies shifted to remote work strategies, ROVA has seen a major uptick in adoption. Since March, the company has grown from 3,250 to more than 21,000 business customers managing more than a million devices. In fact, when I spoke with them, Thimot and Bronowich noted they have added 309 new businesses and 8,431 devices the previous day alone.
“If you’re an SMB and you need to manage a remote workforce, you don’t want to have a device-dependent solution, because employees create a very heterogeneous environment,” said Thimot. “The real benefit is they can manage everything with a single network-centric remote orchestration model, and they don’t need to pay a large software company and assemble an IT team to do it.”
We can be fairly certain workforces have changed permanently and remote is going to be part of the new normal. Because of that, remote management must also become part of the IT process, but with ROVA’s software, it doesn’t have to become a burden.
But, there’s a second major shift that is emerging that will impact the mobility space – the emergence of 5G. With the onset of 5G networks, companies can have fully functional home and remote offices, with the bandwidth and speed to do any job. The ability to manage those locations – whether homes or peripheral offices – is a game changer. Bronowich believes the advantages of 5G will eventually make it so every home has a WiFi hotspot, instead of routers and cables.
“Now, we have remote workers and 5G happening concurrently – talk about being struck by lightning twice,” he said. “5G was made for remote workers.”
With the combination of remote working, 5G rollouts, the relationships ROVA is building with carriers and device manufacturers – it is already embedded in the firmware of most mobile hotspot manufacturers – ROVA sits in a great position to deliver a solution that nearly every business needs.
Beyond that, there are opportunities in vertical markets and IoT, as well as the consumer space. Healthcare is clearly a logical market, with the growth of telehealth and connected medical devices. But, as consumers begin to connect more and more devices in their homes, they are going to want a simple way to manage them. Once 5G gets into the home, the carrier is the most logical way to give them that capability, especially if it can be done at such a low price point in their bundled services.
With the network really becoming the common factor in a connected world – consumers and businesses have many devices to choose from, but they still need a network to connect them – ROVA’s network-centric device management strategy seems on solid foundation.
Future of Work Contributor
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