Employees rely on an increasing number of devices, accessed from a variety of locations, to carry out their work. This trend brings about a new set of considerations for business connectivity, privacy, security, and management. As a result, the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) software is on the rise.
What Is MDM (Mobile Device Management)?
MDM, or Mobile Device Management, is software that enables IT administrators to secure, control, and enforce policies on laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices being used in the workplace.
With the continuous rise in security and data breaches, 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.
What is MDM Software?
MDM software typically runs either in the cloud or on-premise, and allows you to remotely manage and configure devices. First, you need to install the MDM software on all company devices to enroll them in the MDM server. This can 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 remotely push applications and configurations to mobile devices. 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.
What are the Features of MDM?
With many providers and several options available in the marketplace, MDM features vary extensively from provider to provider, but the list below includes some of the most crucial:
Top Features of MDM:
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)
Enforcing device data encryption
Managing device settings and configurations
Remotely wiping a device when it is lost or stolen
Organization-wide policy enforcement
The 5 Advantages of MDM
Given that mobile devices are easily stolen or lost, you don’t want your valuable corporate data being viewed by anyone with access to a company device. A mobile device management solution gives you the ability to lock, wipe, and locate devices used in your workplace. In remote and hybrid environments, MDM also eliminates the need for physical device management on-site at an office. Regardless of the size of your business, mobile device management provides vast and indisputable benefits:
1. Gives You Control Over All Corporate Mobile Devices
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 has 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. If an employee leaves the company, you’re able to delete all business-related information from their device.
2. Lower Costs and Increased Productivity and Efficiency
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 brings valuable benefits — devices are set up faster, and human errors are decreased.
MDM also helps enhance employee productivity when end-users don’t have to spend 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.
3. Meeting MDM Compliance Regulations
Operating within regulatory guidelines and standards is important to any organization, but it can be hard to ensure that all devices are in compliance. With MDM, compliance initiatives are managed from one unified console, enabling better protection while operating within the legal requirements.
4. Streamlined Onboarding and Offboarding
MDM streamlines the onboarding process for new employees by ensuring their devices are configured with the appropriate apps and user permissions from their very first day. This creates a positive first impression and supports the employee to get up and running as quickly as possible. Likewise, when an employee leaves your company, MDM enables you to remotely revoke permissions and wipe sensitive information from their device on their last day.
5. Device and Data Security
Unmanaged mobile devices pose numerous cybersecurity risks. MDM provides an effective way to remotely secure data and devices with customized restriction options and configurations.
With MDM, the use of certain device apps or functionalities can be prevented, and the use of passcodes and MFA can be enforced. If the same device is used for both personal and business purposes, the user’s work data is kept separate and secure.
What are the Limitations of MDM?
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 team 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.
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MDM vs BYOD
BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a policy that some organizations choose to offer their employees. In this scenario, employees can use their own personal laptops or mobile phones for work, instead of a company-provided device. While this can initially present a cost-saving opportunity for small businesses, the associated risks are high.
Unmonitored personal devices are more vulnerable to cyber attack than those that are centrally managed and protected. If you do rely on BYOD, make sure to install MDM software on the relevant employee devices to mitigate these risks.
Is MDM Software Secure?
MDM is no longer a luxury but a necessity for your organization. Whether it is preventing malware, data loss, or downtime — installing a mobile device management solution on your organization’s devices can substantially reduce security risks by:
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
Your organization needs MDM software to keep pace with the growing complexity of device types. MDM solutions play a critical role in protecting and controlling the configuration and data settings for any mobile device in your network.
How Can SMBs Benefit from MDM?
Mobile Device Management isn’t just for large organizations with expansive teams. In growing businesses with limited resources, manually managing all of your employee devices can take up valuable time you can’t afford to spare. Plus, in many smaller organizations, your employees may not have the expertise to appropriately configure and update their devices.
The challenges of inventory control and application management are daunting enough. When you add in the security risks and reputation risks, the benefits of mobile device management for small businesses become readily apparent.
Get Started with MDM from Electric
At Electric, we partner with industry-leading mobile device management solution 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. Contact Electric today to see how we can support your organization.