How to buy enterprise mobility management
Written by: Kate O’Flaherty | Published:

In pursuit of ever greater productivity, many organisations have embraced mobile working strategies, but it’s a complex area, requiring dedicated software and expertise. Kate O’Flaherty has the details

Mobility is enabling new ways of working, but companies also need to manage and secure the multiple devices present in today’s workplaces. This is leading many to turn to enterprise mobility management (EMM) – an umbrella term for mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM) and mobile content management (MCM).

So, what should organisations be looking for when searching for an EMM solution? If businesses are to derive value from the area, they must first understand the problems that need solving for employees, says DMI’s chief innovation officer, Magnus Jern.

And EMM goes beyond just ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD), says Jern. “It starts with the end-user being the focus: look at what employees need to access. Take into account that you don’t want to lock down devices.”

Over the past few years, the definition of the term ‘mobile devices’ has started to broaden: whereas EMM previously covered mobile phones, it now includes laptops and Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as wearables. “EMM does not just cover smartphones and tablets; it is wearables and virtual reality devices, as well as drones,” says Sei-Myung Chang, strategy lead at Accenture Mobility.

Coupled with the increasing consumerisation of IT, employees expect the same functionality at work that they get from the devices and apps they use at home. Therefore firms should consider all users when looking to implement EMM, says Andy Hinxman, MD of Keybridge IT.

He explains: “For example, you may want to block SharePoint outside the network, but this could pose problems for mobile devices. The important thing is to ensure your solution is fit for purpose for all the different ways your team works, and that you avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.”

The EMM solution chosen depends on a business’s individual requirements, says Jordan O’Connor, technical lead, EMEA at SOTI. For example, he says: “You might need someone to be able to take photos of the job and make phonecalls on site.”

With this in mind, it is important to understand your business’s mobility goals. According to Sean Ginevan, senior director of strategy at MobileIron: “Once you understand your requirements, you can look at a technology strategy and assess what your risk profile is.”

After understanding this, companies can implement controls, making sure people still have access to enterprise systems. “Finally, once you have deployed the technology, you need to educate users,” Ginevan says.

Doing the right thing
As part of this, he says: “You still want to ensure users are doing the right thing: you don’t want someone to jailbreak their device, for example. You want to make sure encryption has been enabled and the user needs to keep the operating system patched.”

This is important, but in practice he points out that any EMM firm “worth its salt” has the ability to alert companies if users haven’t patched their devices. “Providers such as MobileIron offer an access control mechanism and we can say if you’re not compliant,” he explains.

User training is pivotal in making EMM a success, according to Hinxman. As part of this, employees need to be aware that they have responsibilities to the company and need to use the system as it is intended.

He explains: “For example, you may have links that expire after 20 days; perhaps they can’t print certain documents or maybe they can’t access specific information on untrusted networks. Make sure users are aware of this and explain why you have this policy so they don’t attempt to undermine it.”

It is also a good idea to involve end-users in the testing and evaluations process. After all, says Chris Marsh, analyst at 451 Research, employees may push back if the experience is bad – and this makes them look for workarounds which could compromise security.

Marsh adds: “The worst thing is rolling out and then finding you don’t have user buy-in. Therefore it’s good practice to assess in the evaluation if the drivers are there and do soft testing to see if users are engaged.”

In addition, company policy should be clear. As part of this, firms must tell employees what is monitored and what is not. This means businesses are able to outline acceptable use, says Ginevan.

“You need to update these communications regularly as things change and new features come out,” he advises. “Do this quarterly – and not just by sending an email: infographics and poster boards are an easy low-key way to engage users.”

Choosing a provider
When it comes to choosing a solution, companies need to decide whether they buy their EMM from multiple providers. Some vendors offer solutions addressing devices, applications and content in a single suite. It is also possible to purchase EMM solutions that integrate with other enterprise systems, adding extra functionality.

DMI’s VP for client services in the managed mobility services division, DJ Oreb, advises firms to look for a partner that can address all their EMM needs and help with deployment. But he adds: “Don’t just look for a vendor that will tick the box. You need a champion who will come in and develop something for you. Every company does something different; you need someone who is flexible.”

In other words, when you look for a partner, you want someone who is an “innovator”, says Oreb. He explains: “You may start off purchasing mobility managed services, but then you might want to develop apps – or you might wish to add analytics to drive rich data.”

Many firms will just want a basic solution. But even with a no-frills approach, the cheapest EMM solution is not always the best one. O’Connor advises: “Find a partner who wants to work for you with your company vision – not just the best price; someone who can support you for the lifecycle of the device: you might have it for 10 years.”

According to Marsh, it’s a good idea when evaluating vendors to take into account how much the solution is going to cost in terms of managing it.

In addition, cyber security and data protection are important considerations. Companies should be aware that there is a broader risk profile when data moves to mobile, says Ginevan. This makes it important that data is secured.

Apps are driving many EMM deployments, but this also raises security and data protection risks, says Ginevan. “Mobile developers know that to get the best performance they need to cache data to the mobile endpoint,” Ginevan says. “As good as 4G connectivity is in the UK, in certain areas you can’t connect, so people are caching data on mobile endpoints.”

While privacy by design is widely used in cloud app development, this is not always the case with mobile, says Ginevan. This can cause an issue when it comes to European regulation such as the general update to data protection (GDPR) – which outlines strict guidelines on how customer data must be managed and processed. “If you use Salesforce or digital tools and are caching data about your customer, are you in breach?” Ginevan asks.

The regulation could create a need to reassess EMM solutions and how they deal with data. “Companies have to show under GDPR that data is secure and they must demonstrate to the regulator that it is safe,” Ginevan says. “You need to show privacy by design – is everything encrypted, for example?”

EMM in action
So how does EMM translate into the real world? One of SOTI’s customers, McDonald’s, has put Samsung tablets in stores for customers to use. O’Connor says: “We have a feature called ‘lockdown’ which allows you to adjust the user experience to do what you want, at the same time securing the devices.”

Meanwhile, one of DMI’s EMM customers is pest control firm Rollins, which uses a secure EMM solution. Using DMI’s ‘mobile control center portal’, Rollins can monitor and manage its mobility solutions while adding visibility and security for mobile devices, apps and networks.

DMI is now working on an iOS app alerting Rollins when a trap is full, increasing the efficiency of the pest control service by allowing it to respond more quickly.

Future EMM
Experts agree that EMM is evolving, so solutions should also be future-proofed as much as possible: “It arose as a way of managing mobility, but now EMM covers user management tools,” says Marsh. “Companies need to think about how the two are coming together and who can give them a way to manage both.”

According to Oreb, there is a trend towards more cloud-based MDM and platforms that use containers to keep information secured by separation. “Productivity increases when employees are empowered. So, a secure container that separates work from personal information has become a trend.”

O’Connor says more companies will increase their efficiency by using a single device for a specific purpose. “Retailers will buy a single device to be shared by staff working in the store: a manager could see shift patterns and then staff will see something different. It saves costs on hardware as they share a device. This trend is also filtering down to field services.”

Ultimately, when procuring a solution, it is important to understand EMM and its progression, says Hinxman. “EMM is always updating with new features, as well as tweaking existing functionality. It has greater capabilities than many realise – email encryption, trusted IP ranges and advanced threat analytics.”

EMM continues to diversify, so there’s a lot of choice for companies looking to manage their devices. Overall, it’s a matter of assessing your individual needs and making sure your users buy in to whichever EMM solution you select.

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