I firmly believe that in five years, the IT discussion will begin with services and end with hardware and software. Technology is enabling this shift to services and increasing technology complexity and capability is driving “as a service” as a key need for IT. Many companies are realizing that strategically, they don’t need to do everything themselves and opt to pay, as a service, to meet many of their IT needs. Service vendors are being rewarded with high-margin business from IT.
Dell has seen a significant amount of interest over the past couple of years with its APEX service. APEX is a consumption-based service that provides businesses with flexible and scalable infrastructure, whether it be in the datacenter, the datacenter edge and devices. You can read vice president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy Matt Kimball’s coverage of APEX for the datacenter here.
Aimed at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), AMDS (Apex Managed Device Service) is the newest addition to APEX, adding IT setup, support, management and security for devices. While APEX is a service offered to businesses of all sizes, SMBs particularly faces the challenge of managing devices without compromising security and falling behind the technology curve of digital transformation.
As these businesses digitally transform and adapt to hybrid work models, their IT infrastructures become more complex. Workers are more likely to use notebooks than desktops, resulting in more devices connected to different public or private networks. Likewise, since hybrid workflows are more individualized than traditional office workflows, it is ideal to equip workers with devices optimized for their specific requirements, expanding the breadth of devices used. For example, a business would equip its HR team with different devices than its engineering or creative teams, and the different devices may need to be set up, managed and supported differently. This kind of optimization is normally easier to do for enterprises because they have the IT personnel and other resources to operate at scale; meanwhile, SMBs often have a harder time of this because of limited budgets and personnel to manage a diverse array of devices.
Hybrid work and digital transformation also introduce more security challenges. Joining a public network at a coffee shop or the like introduces security risks because of the potential for bad actors to be connected to the same network. SMBs are also less likely to educate their workers on security dangers and the necessary protocols to counteract them. Hybrid workers are also more likely to use business devices as personal devices and vice versa, meaning that a phishing attempt on a worker’s personal email could also threaten the worker’s business information.
Responding to hybrid work and digital transformation with AMDS
Trying to address challenges like these could distract SMB leaders from driving growth and innovation in their businesses. In response to this growing problem, Dell has introduced AMDS as a flexible, all-inclusive solution to help SMBs simplify IT management so they can focus on their core business.
One of the ways that APEX differentiates itself from other consumption-based models is through its flexibility. Dell leans into this flexibility by flexibly pricing AMDS as a month-to-month subscription at $70 per device. This gives customers the advantage of flexible device coverage without being tied to a long-term commitment.
Dell says the new service includes highly skilled Dell technology experts who will be available 24/7 to help keep devices secure and up to date. These experts handle all aspects of service, including device setup, software implementation, device encryption, platform and device security and any hardware fixes. AMDS also includes services such as accidental damage support, predictive issue detection and tech coaching for team members.
AMDS’s 24/7 support gives users the flexibility to work anywhere and at any time. As someone who often travels across many time zones, I appreciate the always-available support. I also appreciate that it’s a comprehensive service that spans the life cycle of a worker’s device. AMDS experts help with setup, maintenance, and management of the device, as well as reporting on the device’s health and performance.
Another appealing aspect of the service is that Dell’s experts apply their skills both proactively and reactively across multiple other businesses. This means that they can reap insights that are good for all ADMS customers. For example, the security attacks and risks they uncover for one customer can inform how they proactively help other customers.
Although I have been talking about AMDS within the bounds of SMBs, it could also be a useful service for larger businesses. The comprehensive 24/7 service could relieve IT teams of short-order and less critical tasks so that they can better manage and maintain IT on a macro scale. I believe Dell leaves enough flexibility in the service to work with larger businesses and customize device management for already established IT systems. In some cases, this may enable a larger business to upgrade and update aging hardware and software technologies within its existing infrastructure—and that is exciting.
Devices that are available for AMDS include Dell’s recently announced Latitude, Precision and OptiPlex devices. These new devices have improved performance and form factor along with an upgraded version of Dell’s Optimizer tool, which should complement AMDS well. The Optimizer tool aggregates Dell Display Manager and Dell Peripheral Manager.
I do want to note that laptops are not the only mobile devices a business uses. Smartphones are also used all the time, and the amount of work being done on them is always increasing. I am interested to know more about how Dell has taken into consideration the use of smartphones for businesses—not to mention tablets—within its device management services.
SMBs that find it challenging to manage IT yet also see the growing need to transform and adapt to a hybrid work model should find AMDS a no-brainer to consider. Dell is the largest seller of commercial PCs and AMDS carries momentum from the rest of Dell’s APEX offering, creating flexibility for the customer without a lengthy commitment. I am interested to see where Dell takes its APEX managed device services and how it offers its services to larger businesses.