July 30th, 2021 Read Time: 6 minutes
Justin Sheil is the Content Marketing Manager at Electric. He has 5+ years experience writing about a wide range of technology topics. As part of his role at Electric, he currently functions as the head of the company’s Research & Insights division.
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The extent to which employees are using mobile devices continues to rise steeply. This trend brings about a new set of considerations for connectivity, privacy, security, and management. Employees have devices running on different operating systems and mobile service providers. This has led to the widespread use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) software.
MDM, or Mobile Device Management, is software that enables IT administrators to secure, control and enforce policies on smartphones, tablets and other devices being used in the workplace.
With the continuous rise in security and data breaches, the MDM software is essential to the modern workplace. The intent of MDM is to optimize the security and functionality of mobile devices within your company while simultaneously protecting the corporate network.
MDM software typically runs either in the cloud or on-premise. Through MDM's management console, you can remotely manage and configure devices. However, before that, the devices need to be enrolled in the MDM server. This could be done by adding the devices manually with a QR code, a token or email/SMS or via NFC or through vendor-specific enrollment programs that Samsung, Apple and Microsoft offer.
The management console can be used to push applications and configurations to mobile devices over the air. Technically speaking, the MDM software sends out a set of commands applied to devices via application programming interfaces (APIs) directly built in the operating system.
With many providers and several options available in the marketplace, MDM features vary extensively from provider to provider, but below are some of the most crucial:
Application distribution and management
Device and app. management from a central console
Automatic, real-time visibility into a device inventory
Device health (including OS version, battery health, and warranty information)
Asset management (only from premier MDM solutions)
Security and Compliance
Enforcing device data encryption
Managing device settings and configurations
Remotely wiping a device when it is lost or stolen
Organization-wide policy enforcement
While MDM solves an immense challenge, it can be bottlenecked by poor implementation and lack of expertise.
1. Customization: Because every company is different, every implementation of MDM must be tailored to a business’ specific set of challenges.
2. Implementation: MDM typically costs upwards of $5,000 for implementation + $3-9/device/month — Electric absorbs these costs.
3. Complexity/ongoing management: Things get complicated quickly when you’re dealing with multiple employees, devices, operating systems, applications and tools. There’s a reason MDM is chiefly a component of enterprise mobile management. It takes an IT staff with specialized knowledge and an extensive track record to get it right. That’s more than many smaller businesses can handle on an ongoing basis.
Given that mobile devices are easily stolen or lost, you do not want your valuable corporate data being viewed by some random guy or a cab driver. You need the ability to lock, wipe and locate devices used in your workplace, and that's where MDM comes in handy. Regardless of the size of your business, mobile device management provides vast and indisputable benefits. Here are the top 4 advantages of MDM software.
When a variety of devices and operating systems are being used, it may be hard to keep track of them and build unified device management processes. With MDM, your organization can have better visibility over its devices as the software pulls valuable information from managed devices. Since you know the devices in use and their security level, it becomes easier to manage security risks.
MDM also gives you full control over the use of devices and the whole device lifecycle. You can configure devices remotely, replace them on time and handle updates. And if by any chance an employee leaves the company, you can be able to delete all business-related information from the device.
With MDM, you can manage every step of device management proficiently from a single platform as well as automate device configurations and enrollments, which helps save time and eventually money. When managing several devices, automation could bring valuable benefits — devices could be set up to thirty minutes faster, and human errors would be decreased. Generally, mobile device management helps you secure devices without massive investments and makes it easier to allow Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
Additionally, MDM helps enhance employee productivity when end-users don't have to use excess time visiting the IT department or setting up devices themselves. Rather, they get pre-configured devices and access to necessary applications and data from day one.
Operating by the IT guidelines and standards is of utmost importance to your organization. Nevertheless, it can be hard to ensure that all devices are in compliance when you have so many devices to keep track of. With MDM, compliance initiatives could be managed from one unified console, enabling better protection while operating within the legal requirements.
Unmanaged mobile devices pose numerous cybersecurity risks. Whereas laptops and PCs normally have pre-installed malware protection, mobile phones and tablets are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. MDM provides an effective way to secure data and devices. Device and data security can be made certain by several restriction options and configurations.
The use of certain device apps or functionalities can be prevented and the use of passcodes enforced on devices. In the case of the same device used both in the free time and at work, the user's work data could be separated from personal data, ensuring that sensitive data is secured.
With the widespread use of mobile devices by employees, MDM is no longer a luxury but a necessity for your organization. Whether it is preventing malware, data loss, or your own employee negligence— installing MDM software on your organization’s devices can substantially reduce security risks.
Here are some ways how MDM makes your organization secure:
Enforcing strict login rules (e.g., two-factor authentication)
Encrypting all data on devices, making devices inaccessible without an encryption key
Remotely securing or wiping all the data on a device
Automatically pushing patch and OS updates
Standardizing policies company-wide
Restricting applications by user
In a nutshell, your organization needs MDM software to keep pace with the growing complexity of device types. MDM solutions play a great role in protecting and controlling the configuration and data settings for any mobile device in your network, whether company-owned or personal.
Small businesses that cannot afford a dedicated IT professional or team often pile technology tasks on de facto employees. Usually, it’s the person most adept with technology and least intimidated by everyday tech challenges.
Your de facto IT person might be able to manage a few mobile devices, but every additional employee makes that expectation more unrealistic. After all, your de facto IT person has other work to do. Who’s left to do their work when they lack MDM expertise from the start?
The challenges of inventory control and application management are daunting enough. When you add in the security risks and reputation risks, the value of mobile device management becomes readily apparent.
At Electric, we partner with industry-leading MDM providers like Jamf for Macs and Kaseya for PCs, to automate processes that keep your devices healthy, secure, and up-to-date.
Figuring out all your bases to cover pertaining to MDM is not an easy process to navigate, especially in times like these— and that’s why Electric is here to support your organization.