Role of Mobile Device Management in enabling Enterprise Mobility

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Emtec Digital Think Tank

April 18, 2018

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Enterprise Mobility has become pervasive. As outlined in a previous post “Why Enterprise Mobility should be a top initiative for 2018“, getting access to critical applications and data on the device of your choice is the need of the hour. The main challenge for IT teams is how to properly manage users expanded access while also maintaining security and managing risk.

This challenge becomes critical with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiatives – when allowing access to your secured networks via a third-party device. According to Forrester, More than half of North American and European companies are developing BYOD programs in response to workforce demand, which makes a mobile device management plan a must. With BYOD policies, digitally enabled enterprises need to support two completely different management and security architectures – one for mobile devices and another for desktops and laptops.

Let’s look at a real-life use case. Your organization wishes to create an enterprise app for employees to improve productivity and provide access to data at their fingertips. The app is road mapped, developed, thoroughly tested and is now ready for prime-time. It can’t just be just published on an app store as it isn’t intended for public use. How do you distribute the application to all employees and manage the security of the enterprise data accessed through it? What about other important factors like disabling the app in case of device loss, or enforcing security protocols by controlling access to the device? This all has to be managed effectively once the app is installed on the employee’s mobile device to ensure compliance.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) makes enterprise mobility initiatives like these possible on an enterprise-wide scale.

The role Mobile Device Management (MDM) plays

The main job of MDM is to empower organizations to embrace IT trends including BYOD while also ensuring the security of corporate data per company IT hardware and software policies. Within the realm of enterprise mobility, the role of MDM is to:

  • Open prime channels of productivity and workplace flexibility by enabling work-anywhere-anytime policies
  • Ensure a secured IT infrastructure for both personal (BYOD) and company-owned mobile devices within or outside physical company locations.
  • Control access to proprietary data on approved devices to reduce the risk of potential misuse of data.
  • Improve collaboration through uninterrupted services using productive apps that sync emails, calendar and contacts to mobile devices.
  • Provide real-time support for the set-up and management of VPN connections and Remote Desktop Services.

Benefits of Mobile Device Management Policies and Solutions

There are a multitude of benefits that MDM policies and solutions provide. Here are just a few:

Allows diverse devices access to corporate infrastructure: MDM allows organizations to provide flexibility for their userbase by expanding their footprint to mobile devices. The de-facto standard of desktop/laptops are no longer the only option for employee access and productivity within a corporate infrastructure.

Provides easy back-up & restoration of important data: The MDM tools available, provide automatic back-up of relevant or updated data as scheduled. This reduces the risk of data loss or failure.

Enables a secured infrastructure: The most basic benefit of MDM is to manage a secure architecture across all registered devices. Remote level access provides the ability to remotely disconnect or disable unauthorized users or applications.

Control over all ad-hoc activities: By utilizing a Mobile Data Management solution, organizations can opt to track and control ad-hoc activities which are deemed against organization policies. MDM solutions also provide access management controls by role to provide certain users appropriate access to update internal systems and records per organizational processes.

Minimizes IT infrastructure costs: MDM offers highly secured access to critical business data through a centralized portal. It allows an access to important documents, emails, internal portals from anywhere, maximizing productivity and helping to minimize operating costs.

Remote management and support: Through MDM, the IT team remotely manages applications and provides user support remotely. This saves costs associated with both downtime as well as shipping expenses when troubleshooting is needed.

Managing kiosk apps: MDM plays a vital role in managing a variety of B2C kiosk applications. Updates to the kiosk app can be pushed through an MDM solution without needing to physically touch each kiosk. Other parameters related to the kiosk like overall kiosk health, temperature, current inventory etc. may also be monitored through MDM.

Mobile Device Management Tools

Fortunately, there are tools available which help make the setup, security and management of MDM initiatives an easier endeavor. MDM tools usually include an element (application?) that is added to the mobile device of choice, which is administered by the IT team through an intermediary server provided and managed by the MDM service provider. Let’s have a look at a few tools we usually recommend:

  • Airwatch – VMware acquired this popular MDM suite in 2014 and since then it has become a popular choice and market leader. It supports iOS, Android and other Web-based systems. Airwatch offers a number of features including Quick Configuration, Easy Onboarding, Device-level and Data level encryption, on-demand installation, malware threats monitoring, hardware and software security installations, multitenant architecture, and more. It has VMware TrustPoint which is one of its unique selling points. They offer various package price points designed for various organizational requirements.
  • SOTI – SOTI Mobicontrol is another option that supports multiple OS like Windows, Android, Web-Based and iOS. It also manages IoT endpoints to track, troubleshoot, and secure networks of mobile devices remotely. Main features include Full-Cycle Life Application Management, Enterprise-Grade Content Management, Flexible Deployment Architecture, Single Pane Glass View. Their pricing is customized, with packages based on requirements.
  • Microsoft Intune – Microsoft introduced Intune, a cloud-based service in the MDM space that helps to improve employee productivity while ensuring corporate data is secured and protected. Intune helps manage and ensure the security compliance of mobile apps and devices that employees utilize to access corporate data with features that control unofficial sharing and accessing of data. Microsoft Intune subscriptions are licensed on a per-user basis.

It is important to evaluate the various MDM tools available based on your specific requirements. When weighing the costs of a new MDM solution, decision makers should complete a financial analysis of both the costs for the solution against the potential cost of a security breach. This analysis should also include a measurement for the value of productivity in terms of time, cost and effort that the organization will benefit from if employees have access to more productivity tools covered under MDM.

Mobile Device Management enables Enterprise Mobility

Remember, Mobile Device Management is not about taking control of or gaining access to your personal devices and data. It is a resource to empower you with productivity tools, while ensuring compliance with both organizational and industry regulations.

In this age of digital instant gratification, organizations who require users to access internal systems, applications and data through mobile devices should absolutely have a MDM solution in place to reduce risk while ensuring users are provided the flexibility and productivity of accessing their work environment and tools from anywhere, at any time, on the device of their choice. At Emtec Digital, our team of enterprise mobility experts help clients to evaluate their requirements and provide the necessary advisory services, technologies and tools to help them achieve their enterprise mobility goals or BYOD requirements.

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