Sometimes, organizations have minimal needs when it comes to managing endpoints. For example, you may want a dedicated solution to manage Android tablets at scale for Frontline workers, Windows-based Kiosks in a bank or student iPads in a classroom.
The needs may be narrow in scope but are enormous in scale. They are business-critical and persistent i.e. you can’t wish them away. At the same time, existing tools are not cost-effective to meet the requirement. In some cases, established UEM providers have no incentive to meet niche requirements. This is exactly why I see the emergence of Single-purpose Endpoint Management (SPEM) tools.
SPEM should not be perceived as an alternative to MDM. It is MDM in itself but has a few salient characteristics and capabilities that make it the exact opposite of what UEM stands for.
This is not unprecedented in the industry. Software innovation cycles have revolved around “bundling” (ex: UEM) and “unbundling” (ex: SPEM) for as long as software has existed. SPEM represents the unbundling cycle – a phase that will unfold due to a fundamental shift impacting the digital workplace – the shift to enhancing Frontline worker productivity.
The problem of enhancing Frontline worker productivity is radically different from that of knowledge workers. You can’t simply replicate knowledge worker tools to digitally enable Frontline workers. The scale and economics are vastly different.
So what evaluation criteria does one apply to identify SPEM tools? Here’s a brief checklist:
- Single-purpose – meets a specific niche requirement (Ex: Kiosk or Workspace)
- Low priced – device level pricing, perpetual license models, fixed price options
- Single-platform – Only Android, (iOS/macOS), Windows 10, ChromeOS, Raspbian
- Modern-management only – No support for CMT (legacy)
- Differentiated features – Geofencing, Chatbots/VoiceFirst, Rugged/Wearable device support
I stop short of listing specific vendor names. If you are a Gartner client, I’d be happy to share details of such SPEM tools. These tools have tight integration with the underlying platform and provide the benefits of rapid innovation on a single platform to their customers.