Creating Your Own “Business Essentials”

min read

Apple’s strategy on offering complete solutions through devices, and how manufacturers can adopt the same approach by leveraging Xyte’s CDP

Imagine you are a business that’s purchased 200 MacBooks for your employees. How do you manage this entire purchase? How do you assign devices to employees? Track warranties? Assign software licenses? Verify security is up to date? Lock a device if it gets lost? Solve an issue when repairs are needed? At the end of the day, the laptops were bought to help power your business by making your employees more productive. You want the peace of mind that your purchase is safeguarded and easy to manage, and that support is readily available. Apple Business Essentials is a single platform that helps you do exactly that.

Business Essentials is Apple’s cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) platform, enabling in-house IT departments, specifically at SMEs, to easily deploy, manage, and proactively monitor employees’ Apple devices over the cloud.

What’s unique about Business Essentials compared to all the other MDM solutions is that it’s owned and developed by Apple, and therefore allows Apple not only to develop sustainable customer relationships but also to offer customers its host of subscription services, such as AppleCare+ and iCloud, directly through the platform. This in turn provides IT teams with a single pane of glass through which to centrally manage devices and subscriptions. Moreover, it's worth noting that the strategy behind the move has greater implications for recurring revenue opportunities and provides some exciting prospects for other manufacturers across industries.

Device-as-a-Solution is a gateway to Device-as-a-Service

Apple has been problem-driven in creating a comprehensive solution. It’s one thing to build really good hardware, but what about the context in which it’s used? What problems might that create? If a business purchases a large number of devices, they’ll no doubt have management issues to deal with. If you understand the potential problems uniquely well, you are best positioned to solve them for your customers. If Apple is already selling customers laptops, the next logical step is upselling more lucrative cloud-based services. Tim Cook has always been a believer in the fact that “it takes hardware plus software plus services to make a killer product,” and Business Essentials is a key part of that equation.

With Business Essentials, Apple is no longer selling laptops in isolation – it’s selling a complete solution to the problem of companies needing to manage laptops in the office. And once such an interface is in place, other customer problems can be quickly solved as well. Essentially, Apple has turned its hardware into a solution and created new recurring revenue opportunities on top of that foundation.

Image 1: Apple Business Essentials is available for a basic monthly fee, with optional add-ons that can be purchased on top.

How you can create your own “Business Essentials”

If you’re a device or equipment manufacturer, you’re essentially selling a computer in a particular form factor. A truck is a computer on wheels, lighting control systems are computers in boxes, and robots are computers that work with motors and actuators. IoT sensors are small-form-factor computers as well. As such, hardware manageability needs to be thought of at that level of abstraction. Your technology, no matter what it is, needs to be easy for IT departments to manage.

However, this raises a fundamental strategic question: where does the core compounding advantage of your business lie, and thus where are resources better spent? The answer is probably in the hardware itself. The surrounding digital infrastructure is definitely important to make your hardware a complete solution to a problem and create repeatable revenue streams. But that still starts with and hinges on building best-in-class hardware.

So how can hardware manufacturers achieve Business Essentials–like capabilities, despite their focus on hardware development? The answer is by integrating with a Connected Device Platform (CDP). Using a CDP enables you to turn your hardware into a solution and paves the way to as-a-service opportunities, at a fraction of the cost and time of building these capabilities yourself. This allows you to dedicate your resources to your products.

Image 2: A CDP lets you launch a white-labeled “Business Essentials” of your own with a faster time to market and faster time to revenue.

The advantages of a CDP

With a CDP, you can have cloud-based fleet management, customer support, and as-a-service offerings within a single platform. Key benefits include:

1. End-to-end business operations.

If you’re selling complex products to other businesses, be it industrial equipment or building management systems, you’re definitely doing so through channel partners. Getting your products into the hands of your customers and making sure they have the best possible experience is a team effort involving not just manufacturers but distributors, resellers, and service partners. Using a CDP, you can build out a collaborative network so that everyone in the value chain can make full use of your portal.

Image 3: A complete multi-tenancy solution to deploy your fully federated cloud solution and enable your customers to configure, manage, monitor, and subscribe to devices through a single pane of glass.

Image 4: Manufacturers use the backend platform to connect their devices, configure their as-a-service offerings, and invite their channels onboard. Via the fully branded end user interface, customers can buy new products and services, manage their deployments, and seek support when needed.

2. Remote management and monitoring made easy.

Using a CDP allows you to offer your end users a fully featured deployment, management, and monitoring solution with remote troubleshooting capabilities. Not only is this useful for product analytics and proactive incident monitoring, but it also helps you solve problems fast, without time-consuming onsite visits.

Image 5: Remote management and monitoring capabilities can be deployed on any type of hardware, with a range of custom commands and device telemetries

3. The foundations for as-a-service.

Once you have the foundations for turning your hardware into a solution, you’re ready to roll out additional value-add products and services that open up new recurring revenue streams. Whether you want to provide your hardware itself on a subscription basis or via a usage-based model, charge for premium software offerings, or add on managed services, you can do it all through a CDP. A no-code interface lets you easily create products and offer them to your customers in a branded store. The entire financial transaction is handled through a backend system capable of handling credit card, bank transfer, and purchase order–based transactions.

Image 6: Transition to as-a-service models via an e-commerce store purpose-built for B2B transactions. Offer physical products, software, managed services, bundles, or even other products from your channel partners.

Image 7: Process and manage financial transactions made through credit cards, bank transfers, and purchase orders.

4. Collaborative by design.

With a CDP, you and your channel partners can manage your customers through a single pane of glass. This integrated view of your customers, their hardware, and any associated incidents and open tickets enables your support team to quickly and proactively resolve any issues. Live chat allows you to instantly contact customers once they’ve opened a support ticket, or you can use your own ticketing systems through pre-built integrations.

Image 8: Internal and external service teams can deal with support tasks, from initial oversight to review to communication and resolution.

A continuous relationship with your customers

Turning your hardware into a solution is the most customer-centric way to think of your product line. After all, your business is solving a problem, and you might as well do it as comprehensively as you can! With built in e-commerce capabilities, support for various business models, and a complete built-in payment cycle, a CDP can facilitate your transition from one-time sales to lasting customer relationships with maximum lifetime value.

About Xyte

Xyte provides a first-of-its-kind Connected Device Platform (CDP) – a suite of cloud-based tools that enables equipment and device manufacturers across different industries to cloudify, service, support, and commercialize their connected devices, all in one place.

By bridging the gap between devices and the cloud, Xyte’s platform enables manufacturers and their channel partners to leverage the as-a-Service business model and develop sustainable customer relationships.
Xyte works with market-leading companies and their diverse ecosystems, including hundreds of thousands of connected devices, helping them unlock new opportunities for growth.

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