A quiet press note last week announced Android phone giant Samsung Electronics and Accenture, the world’s second-largest technology consulting and services provider, had teamed up.
They aim to deliver three things: a secure mobile platform, managed procurement of mobile devices, and vertical-specific apps-in-a-box focused on mobile users.
At the very least, this helps corporations truly embrace BYOD (bring your own device), but at a more ambitious level, this brings Android, the world’s most popular smartphone and tablet software on the consumer front, firmly into the enterprise arena.
“Accenture is not only pitching KNOX, Accenture is not only supporting vertical packages, not only delivering device lifecycle management … they are part of the business model,” said Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, who expects more such team-ups to evolve.
Accenture will offer resale and go-to-market support for Samsung KNOX, a secure mobile platform for companies and employees, including technical support.
Wang added: “This is the ultimate gain sharing … Accenture is saying, ‘we are going to risk our reputation, revenues, profits, and we are going to risk it with you, the partner’ … this is a joint venture.”
Gartner Research Director Bhavish Sood said the move was a “rare win-win partnership”, in the technology industry, where typically alliances tended to be lopsided.
“Samsung gets acceptance as the default android distribution or device to go into and Accenture obviously gains from being a preferred supplier,” Sood said.
The partners will sell pre-packaged industry-specific software apps and initially target retail, banking and insurance, and utilities and energy, they said in a statement on February 26. They will also offer to manage the purchasing of mobile devices. “The adoption of enterprise mobility tools by companies all over the world just got significantly easier,” said Dong-Jin Koh an executive vice president at Samsung Electronics.
Pressure on Indian IT
The world’s largest technology services providers are in a race to grab the biggest chunk of business as companies and governments worldwide increasingly go digital.
The internet is the repository of choice for data and the smartphone or tablet is the device of choice for delivery of the service, be it transferring money to a relative or monitoring the health of a growing child in a mother’s womb or getting a tax credit.
For the Indian IT providers, “One thing is for sure, it will put a lot of pressure on them to achieve competitive parity,” said Gartner’s Sood.
“The second problem is, how many Samsungs exist … I’m quite sure this will be an exclusive. I would be very surprised if Accenture did this as a non-exclusive, I’d be very surprised. Who do TCS, Infosys, Wipro, they all have decent mobility practices, who do they really go to market with?”
By partnering with Samsung, “we are able to offer simple, easy to implement solutions that can be managed for them (customers) from right out of the box,” said Jin Lee, senior managing director, Accenture Mobility. Constellation’s Wang points out that the Indian providers too are “having a lot of conversations”, seeking opportunities to directly partner with some of the world’s biggest corporate names to together build their products and services of the future. Wang declined to name specific talks that he might be aware of.
The march of Android
The Accenture-Samsung alliance showcases two things, Sood said. Clients no longer want huge monolithic software applications. They want small apps running on smartphones and tablets that are quickly built, easily deployed and provide a specific function.
Say a company deploys some business software on the internet, then the CEO expects an app that gives him a dashboard view on his tablet and smartphone.
Accenture understands this across industry verticals while Samsung understands the consumer behaviour behind how people buy and use smartphones and tablets. One has a lot of intellectual property assets in the cloud, and the other has the mobile delivery mechanism. Especially in emerging markets such as India, the drivers of future growth for multinational companies across the world, Android is hugely popular.
Sood added: “With KNOX, with its secure enablement, plus the vertical IP that Accenture brings, if they are able to package this, this is an indication of Android marching into enterprise.”