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Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Updated on November 27, 2014

Stuff about Mobile Device Management (MDM)

You may have noticed that people are increasingly using their own mobile devices (smartphones and tablets, in particular) for work. It may currently only be to check their calendar or emails while they are out of the office but this BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) trend is growing and with it the need for Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions that secure both business data and personal data on these mobile devices.

The Great MDM Debate

Should employees be allowed to use their personal mobile devices for business?

Yes

Yes

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  • Milisy 2 years ago

    The apps and games that many people have on their personal mobile devices are targets for viruses. Surely allowing employees to use these devices to access corporate networks is breaching their security?

Mobile Devices Need Managing
Mobile Devices Need Managing

The Future of Mobile Device Management

The growth of mobile devices in general and the public’s continuing habit of utilising their own iphones, ipads and android tablets for work, have together given us the trend for bring your own device (BYOD). This has contributed to a huge growth in businesses that are using mobile device management (MDM) solutions.This development is accelerating and in the next few years it is expected that well over half of all organisations will be using MDM services.

The expected pattern for this growth is an interesting one; industry pundits are predicting that MDM in the future will not only take in mobile devices but will also be involved in infrastructure and applications. The main focus of MDM is not the unit…or device, but the information which is carried within it. The sensitive and sometimes valuable data which in the past was only accessible to employees when they were actually within the workplace, is now potentially wandering at will all over the planet. This, whilst convenient at times, is also worrying; the loss or theft of an iphone whilst bothersome before, now has entirely different implications.

Security blips can cost a company many thousands of pounds to rectify and businesses are now looking at MDM services which allow them to secure devices remotely in order to provide themselves some insurance against loss of data. Companies are also looking at taking more of a role in their employee’s choices of device and in how the content is managed and protected…and of course, what happens to it once it’s no longer wanted!

As the growth of MDM services continues, the service providers are constantly updating what’s on offer to fit in with the fast-changing needs of the users. Expense management services are also on offer in order to assist companies to keep the costs of personally owned devices used for work on the low side. If employees are using their ipads, iphones and tablets abroad, for example, then roaming charges can rise rapidly. An expense management system through your MDM provider can put a stop to charges which are excessive.

With this fast growth in a relatively new area, there inevitably comes some niggles which need to be ironed out as and when they crop up. Looking at the management of employees’ personal devices is a minefield when it comes to who actually owns the data on the device. Some rules may be complex or vary according to which country a company trades in. It is important that employers and employees seek advice regarding security policies before signing legal agreements and that both parties are aware of the laws associated with data protection.

There are currently thought to be more than 80% of BYOD enthusiasts in possession of a signed legal policy regarding their rights and those of their employers. Companies need to ensure these policies are clearly set out and that the rules are explained to the employees to whom they relate. The legal implications of BYOD are only just beginning to make themselves felt and as such MDM providers must promote the use of legally sound policies which will protect both individuals and employers alike.

Mobiles Need Management
Mobiles Need Management

The Consumerization of IT and Effective MDM

Looking back at the early days of the computer revolution, it’s easy to foresee the consumerization of IT. PC’s were an object de jour and everyone wanted their own. The inevitable growth of home computers being utilized for work purposes has crept up on us rather and as devices have shrunk in size and grown in capabilities, the knock on effect for business is huge.

People wanted personal devices to make their lives easier, to access their personal and professional data quickly and easily and as the most sophisticated of devices are now extremely affordable and mobile, they’ve become an extension of the office.

The fact that the process has been given its own moniker Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) only further compounds the importance of it to both enterprise and individual. People spend a lot of time choosing the perfect device for their needs, notebooks, tablets and smartphones being amongst the most popular. These devices are a huge part of people’s lives…they define themselves by their choices and of course it follows that they want to use their carefully selected devices in all aspects of their lives.

Working with one device at home or during free time and another whilst in the office or on location is not an ideal situation or one which most people would relish. Workplaces have had to shift their parameters with regards to corporate IT guidelines in order to accommodate the growing number of employees who are choosing to BYOD and benefit from the convenience and simplicity of using one device for all aspect of their lives.

This shift has caused problems in some areas; the introduction of new policies has been problematic as IT departments have struggles to maintain good management of devices remotely without infringing on personal information belonging to the employee.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) companies are rushing to the fore with platforms which can support all types of device safely and securely. The gravy train is still in the station as corporate organisations shop around for the best solutions for their needs. The ideal MDM solution is one which manages to maintain data security without infringing on employees’ personal information. This has resulted in a conflict of interests which has to be resolved…after all, nobody wants ‘Dave’ from IT to have access to their Ebay account and ‘Dave’ only wants to make sure that delicate company data remains safe and email accounts aren’t hacked.

The ideal MDM solution is one which segregates work platforms from personal data and that enables IT to have remote access in terms of security updates and the potential to quarantine compromised devices where necessary.

This however opens a can of worms…and such a MDM solution is not available as of yet. What is the best compromise then when it comes to protecting everyone’s interests?

Some MDM companies advocate giving the majority of the responsibility for updates for example to the employee. Sending regular reminders to update and clear are one possibility, it is in the employee’s best interest to heed these reminders as then they may continue to benefit from BYOD safely.

In addition to this, some policies are making it clear that in the event of a compromised device, the employee must inform the employer before the provider in order to give the IT department a fighting chance of securing the device before shutting it down.

Whilst IT departments battle it out and CEO’s attempt to foresee the future of IT consumerization, the growth is not slowing down and those companies without clear policies need to catch up and put clear guidelines in place.

There are still a significant percentage of companies whose employees are participating in BYOD without having MDM in place. The need is clear and it’s time to accept that IT is now largely in the hands of the workforce…this needs to be effectively managed if the trend for BYOD isn’t to put undue strain on businesses.

MDM Protects All That Stuff on Our Mobile Devices

MDM Protects All That Stuff on Our Mobile Devices
MDM Protects All That Stuff on Our Mobile Devices

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