Apr 24 2013

When Mobility Gets Risky, MDM Is Your Safety Net

Does your mobile device management software offer these three capabilities?

After choosing and procuring mobile devices for a mobility program, organizations must manage and secure those devices diligently — along with all interactions between the devices and the organization’s IT resources. Doing so protects the organization’s systems and information from illicit use, while ensuring the full benefits of mobility to the employee.

To fulfill these requirements, service providers typically use mobile device management technology, which offers a variety of capabilities:

Automated Enrollment

MDM platforms can be configured to automate enrollment of new devices by authenticating and registering them as belonging to a particular employee — either through a mobility portal or via text or email messages. The MDM platform will validate the configuration of the device so that it can be supported properly, and also may automatically present an acceptable-use policy that requires sign-off from the worker before fully activating access.

Automated Security

A properly configured MDM platform will safeguard IT security by enforcing authentication and encryption controls, as well as application and content access restrictions. Service partners also can set up the MDM platform to detect and neutralize mobile devices that may have been compromised by common exploits such as “rooting” or “jailbreaking.”

Perhaps most important, the platform should be able to remotely lock lost or stolen devices and, where appropriate, wipe any sensitive data and files from the device’s local memory. This is especially important for smartphones, given how easily they can wind up in the wrong hands.

Automated Reporting

A good mobility partner will help keep an organization’s program on track by monitoring such things as what devices are being used, how often they are being used and which resources workers are using, among other things. Such reporting can be passed on to IT management via an intuitive dashboard that monitors mobility across the organization, even among BYOD employees who have received permission to use personal devices.

Because different staff members have different needs — and different roles within the organization — MDM is often used to manage devices according to user roles. For example, outside salespeople who cover large territories can be expected to use devices from many different locations. Headquarters-bound administrative staff, on the other hand, are likely to use their devices over a much smaller area. Role-based MDM tools make it easy to accommodate those differences in mobile behavior.

Service providers can implement MDM platforms internally in an organization’s data center, or under a subscriptionbased, software as a service model. The SaaS model offers several advantages, including avoidance of both capital costs and the ongoing labor of maintaining the system. SaaS also makes it easier to keep MDM software features up to date — an essential benefit, given how quickly mobile technology changes.

Regardless of how MDM is implemented, the right partner can add value by providing experience-based guidance. Most organizations do not have much in-house expertise in areas such as mobile security, acceptable-use policies and optimal mobile device settings. A carefully chosen service provider will bring best-practice expertise to ensure the MDM platform is configured properly to meet an organization’s specific requirements.

Read more about mastering mobility in a BYOD world in our free white paper.