“It’s a partnership now,” Rege said. “Both sides have to do their job … and that’s a really new notion, that your end user carries a certain responsibility, and you as IT have to give that end user the notifications and the information to do the right thing and then to be notified if the wrong thing happens, so that they can then remediate.”

Rege said there are several key trends that have affected the MDM market in general over the past six months or so. One, as mentioned above, is an increase in corporate BYOD policies. Another is a shift from focusing simply on e-mail to focusing on mobile apps. “Just being able to get e-mail right is no longer good enough, and folks have to dive into the much more sophisticated worldview of applications, application distribution, and application security."

A third key trend, Rege said, is cloud-based management solutions.

“Over the course of the next six months or so we expect that we’re going to see a lot of customers start evaluating cloud-based MDM. But the key thing that’s going to be on their minds is that they’re not going to be able to go down that route unless there’s integration back into the enterprise. So how do I get the efficiency that a cloud based management and security service gives me, but at the same time not sacrifice my enterprise connectivity to my directory services, my certificate infrastructure and so forth?”

IDC’s Crook said there are several key benefits to a cloud based MDM solution. “One of the reasons cloud’s very interesting for MDM is that at the rapid pace that the OS updates are coming out, and the number of different devices that you have, when you have a cloud solution those updates can be made on the server and just pushed out to the device every time the device connects to the device management server in the cloud."

Looking further down the road, Craig Mathias founder of mobile advisory services Farpoint Group, said MDM will gradually become just one part of a more complete enterprise management solution. Most management functions for a given organization will eventually get rolled up into a single package.

“It’s really it’s a question of logistics,” he said. “How many different management consoles can you have open at once? How many can you effectively interact with at once? Where does the data live? And how do you avoid duplication of data across various management domains?”

Don’t expect that to happen any time soon. “We’ve got 50, 60 companies out there today that are producing mobile device management systems in various forms, with various levels of capability and emphasis, so it’ll be a while before you see that kind of roll-up occur,” he said. “But ultimately, it has to happen.”

But it’s too early in the development of the market itself to even define exactly what MDM is, let alone select key market leaders. “You could look at a product … like, say, MobileIron, and that will give you an idea of what could be done,” he said. “Or you could look at a company like Trellia, that has largely been in the policy stage and is gradually moving over to a more generalized mobile device management offering. It’s all leading edge today, because there’s no accepted definition of exactly what mobile device management absolutely needs to do.”

In the meantime, companies should keep in mind that, in many cases, an MDM solution will quickly pay for itself.

“Imagine you’re out there in the field, and you could be using a Wi-Fi network for free, but instead you’re using the really expensive international roaming on your cellular plan,” he said. “If you had a little piece of software there nudging you [to use the Wi-Fi network], wouldn’t that be a good thing?”

The point is that, when looking at the current state of MDM deployments, the most important lesson of all is an almost embarrassingly simple one.

“You’d be surprised how many companies I’ve talked to that do no management whatsoever,” Mathias said. “They literally are living on the edge, they’re making the assumption that everything is just going to be fine … and I think that’s too big a risk.”

Jeff Goldman is a freelance journalist based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at jeff@jeffgoldman.com.