Speaking to TechGraph, Apu Pavithran Founder & CEO of Mitsogo – Hexnode said, “The UEM industry will find a promising future in the country, and our 2022 agenda is to focus more on the Indian market.”
Could you help give a sense of how far Mitsogo has come since its existence? From when it began to where it is now?
Apu Pavithran: Mitsogo entered the enterprise security market nine years back, in 2013. We wanted to come up with a solution that would help simplify the jobs of IT admins and managers. Back then, offices were just starting to deploy mobile devices for work, apart from the conventional desktops. As a result, managing these devices became an imminent need, and we knew where we had to start- Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions.
Out of the many mobile device vendors, Apple was even more focussed on the enterprise need. However, with technological advancements, various platforms, including Android and Windows, found themselves in offices through mobile devices and tablets along with laptops and PCs. As a result, the market was witnessing a shift from MDM to Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solutions, and we were quick to adapt to the trend.
Our flagship product is Hexnode UEM. Initially, we started small, serving SMBs, making endpoint management easier for their growing IT team with a simple UI. Today, we manage corporate devices in businesses of all sizes. Hexnode ensures that devices are made fit for work by closing loopholes.
Hexnode has etched a position for itself in the UEM market, offering a competitive solution that is budget-friendly and fits all kinds of businesses of all sizes. To give you a brief about what we do – Hexnode enables the IT team to turn the corporate devices safely fit for work. This means the employees will not be able to compromise the device and the data in it by accidentally opening a malicious website or by installing a bad application. In addition, IT can make sure no external devices or unauthorized networks can be connected to the work devices. Furthermore, IT can enforce many restrictions and apply configurations to the devices that will enhance the security of the device, data, and user.
How is Mitsogo utilizing its sectoral expertise and digitalization to solve the unsolved gap in the UEM space?
Apu Pavithran: UEM is a relatively young market segment. It grew out of a business requirement for a unified solution for endpoint management and security. However, most of the tools in the market are a mix of legacy technologies like MDM, IAM, Threat Management, and Client Management–integrations of which wildly vary from vendor to vendor. The future of UEM is the seamless integration of all these enterprise security features under one console.
Until then, businesses need to do a fair bit of research and testing to identify UEMs that meet their requirements. One area UEMs lack extensively is threat detection and management. Also, the legacy desktop management tools like SCCM have lost their flexibility when ported over to a UEM setting which SCCM users sure would have noticed. Hexnode is currently working on powerful legacy desktop management features and integrations with threat management solutions that will fill this particular gap.
What is the state of UEM service providers in the Indian market?
Apu Pavithran: The Indian government’s initiative to digitalize the government sectors of the country through the campaign ‘Digital India’ has pushed businesses to adopt a digital path. While the campaign opened up 65 million job opportunities for its citizens, it also attracted multinational companies to set up hubs in the country. A survey points out that about 77% of the Indian CIOs are embracing SaaS solutions to help them reduce technological risks. Cybersecurity has turned out to be a national concern, with CERT-IN, an agency that deals with cybersecurity in India, coming up with mandates enforcing security policies. Adding fuel to the fire, the pandemic left business sectors with no choice rather go digital.
Currently, with mobile device management being the new challenge, UEM solutions have found wide adoption among industries, especially within the education and supply chain sectors. About 50% of the large and middle-sized businesses have a digital transformation plan in place; however, the process is a slower-paced one. This can be considered a beginning. The UEM industry will find a promising future in the country, and our 2022 agenda is to focus more on the Indian market.
How do you prepare for the highly disruptive UEM-based industry?
Apu Pavithran: The UEM industry is a highly competitive one, and with technology ever-evolving, the trick is to keep an eye out for changing market trends. If you just look at the industry’s history, it was known as mobile device management (MDM) solution first; to manage the mobile phones people used in the workplace. It was simple.
A few years later, when there turned out to be an app for everything and people started working remotely, businesses had to manage both the applications and laptops employees used. The solution that was an enhanced version of MDM then became enterprise mobility management (EMM).
Now, with more and more digital endpoints adopted into the workplace, a comprehensive solution for managing all mobiles, PCs, wearables, and IoT devices along with more granular security features like threat management, identity, and access management, etc. evolved unified endpoint management (UEM), which is EMM of steroids. This all happened in less than ten years.
The key is to identify the market trends and adapt to those changes quickly. Be open to user requirements, and sometime you might have to put the users above the market. That will gain you both trust and loyalty. That’s what puts Hexnode as one of the top players in the market today.
How is Mitsogo leveraging technology to enhance the customer experience?
Apu Pavithran: Offering the best customer service makes us different from our competitors. We use the best solutions for customer support services. From online chatbots to dedicated forums, a knowledge base, online courses from Hexnode, and a resource library, we provide our customers with everything they need to get themselves equipped with the product, along with assistance from our support team.
How is UEM transforming the hybrid workplace? Do you think the trend had taken hold even before the pandemic-induced disruptions?
Apu Pavithran: All of us witnessed the disruption the pandemic caused in different sectors. With communication and collaboration hindered, businesses witnessed loss, transportation was disrupted, and classrooms were suspended. However, thanks to remote onboarding, workforce management, and security solutions, adjusting to the new normal wasn’t difficult.
UEM indeed saw wide adoption. To continue work, corporate and personal devices had to be used over a home network. Chances of risks were high, and remotely managing the entire device fleet would have been out of the question without UEMs. UEM helps IT admins ensure that corporate devices are not compromised. Malicious sites can be blacklisted, access to public networks can be restricted, and policies can be pushed in bulk. Devices, if lost, could be tracked, wiped, and locked down if deemed necessary.
The remote and hybrid culture was always in the cards. The technology to promote remote collaboration and communication was already built. However, I would say it’s the pandemic that made progress faster. We had no choice rather than go online.
How do you see technologies namely Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cloud, with regards to their relevance across the industry? What does the future look like?
Apu Pavithran: Many of us are aware of the cloud’s benefits in terms of IT infrastructure cost and agility, considering which data has seen mass migration to the cloud. This also proved to benefit businesses during the adoption of the hybrid work model. Likewise, most UEM vendors have transitioned from on-premises to cloud-based solutions. Our product Hexnode is a cloud-based UEM solution, and this has been a plus point for us amidst the pandemic.
Now, when it comes to AI and ML, the UEM industry is still in its early stages of implementing the technology. AI and ML are in itself relatively new. There is more to it that has yet to be discovered. However, once leveraged, data extracted from managed endpoints might be fed into AI-driven reports and workflows. The insights could be utilized to analyze endpoint behavior. ML might also have a role to play in risk and vulnerability assessment. This will pave the way for the technology of self-healing endpoints where endpoints can revert to compliance as per their initial configuration.
The UEM market is yet to see a lot of transformation. However, I believe the convergence of AI and ML will bring forward the alpha version of the solution.
How is the response so far for your UEM, Kiosk Lockdown Management, and Rugged Device Management Services?
Mobile devices are used by almost every business, especially those that involve fieldwork. However, when it comes to industries such as mining or construction, or manufacturing, the workers can only be equipped with small, easy-to-handle devices – such as mobile phones or tablets. Some of these workers work in extreme environments and conditions such as loud noises, vibrations, water content, etc. Hexnode has integrated with rugged device manufacturers like Honeywell, Kyocera, Zebra, CAT, and Sonim to address these requirements from customers belonging to these industries. These integrations or partnerships were made when we got direct requirements from potential customers, and our users have greatly appreciated them.
Another feature that has been popular among our customers is the kiosk lockdown functionality. The feature has found applications as point-of-sale (POS) terminals, information points, feedback collection or survey purposes, etc. Locking down devices to a single application or website finds a lot of use cases in businesses. This feature alone helps reduce data expenses and improve productivity and usability. With Hexnode, you can display images and videos in loops on any screen, making it an easy digital signage management solution. This, too, is a use case that comes under kiosk lockdown.
What are the new trends in the UEM space?
Apu Pavithran: To go first will be IoT device management. It’s difficult to turn a blind eye to the prediction by IoT Analysis that the year 2025 will witness more than 27 billion IoT connections. While external factors like the pandemic and chip shortage did dent the IoT growth curve, advanced technologies like Wi-Fi 6, 5G, and LPWAN have been the driving force. However, with IoT adoption comes the need for the right security approach, which businesses currently lack. At Hexnode, we have taken the first step toward managing these devices, and we hope to bring them to the table soon.
The cyber threats corporates currently face isn’t like what they used to be before. UEM solutions have been integrated with other security solutions, including ZTNA, IAM, and Mobile Threat Defence (MTD). Adding to the security UEM promises, zero trust, and passwordless authentication will bring forward an alpha version of the solution.
What is the roadmap for Mitsogo going forward?
Apu Pavithran: We recently opened a new hub in Chennai in hopes of hiring more and expanding our market in India. Also, we have been hiring both fresh and experienced talent. So, expansion is always on the cards.
We have been expanding our OEM and ISV partnerships this last year. Both the programs have been actively moving forward, securing partnerships with software and OEM vendors. We released a validation program for eligible OEM vendors where devices validated by Hexnode are listed on the website. Regarding our ISV partnership, UEMs have found applications in every sector, and collaboration with Hexnode could help solutions build their customer base. Also, mutual customers could be benefitted from the security and deployment features Hexnode offers. We are in the process of building our partnership with other security solutions.
Hexnode Do, a SaaS management platform, is the next product we are working on. It will be a unified platform where corporates can manage and secure different SaaS applications. Along with that, expanding support for IoT and XR devices is also in the pipeline.