Allowing employees to use their personal devices for work — whether they work remotely or in the office — cuts down on technology costs for small and mid-sized businesses. SMBs do not need to spend money on secondary devices that can’t keep up with technology changes, and they can satisfy employees by allowing them to consolidate their work-related activity onto their own phone, tablet, laptop, etc.
Accordingly, companies need to be extra-conscious to take security measures regarding bring-your-own devices (BYOD). Because BYOD are personal devices, they are more susceptible to mobile viruses, loss or theft, exchange of hands and shared information than company-distributed devices. While facilitating employee access to business information (email, collaboration message boards, cloud documents, etc.) any day, any time, any location improves overall productivity, it also increases the potential for the compromising of delicate, sensitive company information.
Therefore, an effective mobile device management software tool must be implemented to enforce and support a company’s BYOD policy. In the most general sense, a BYOD policy is a set of rules that determines a company IT department’s ability to support, troubleshoot and remotely wipe (when necessary) employee-owned computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
The Evolution of MDM
In light of the increasing number of employees using personal devices for work, however, employers and IT departments are realizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting company data. According to Informationweek, “MDM has grown from being a basic set of rules related to the use of personal smartphones at work to the full management of every kind of mobile device … Now, with the introduction of wearables and IoT devices, together with the data they collect, the challenges for MDM services and IT departments will be more complex than ever, and this is only the beginning.”
In fact, in late February of 2016, Computer World reported about the App Config Community, “a consortium of enterprise mobility management (EMM) companies all interested in making it easier for enterprises to configure applications using mobile device management software.” The consortium is made up of seven companies, of which IBM, VMWare, MobileIron and Jamf led the call. Ultimately, App Config Community’s goal is to create a community focused on providing tools and best practices around mobile operating systems. Through that community, businesses can access a more consistent, simple way to configure and secure personal devices. That way is through the implementation and deployment of MDM solutions.
Consistency was always the issue with previous MDM practices. It’s difficult enough to organize BYOD devices with company resources; it’s even more difficult to attempt to decide what is and is not company property. Sure, email and Google Drive is. But what about photos? Employees may take work-related pictures of whiteboards, and those pictures may be peppered within the employee’s’ private photos. MDM works with companies’ internet and security infrastructures to ensure that non-company-provided mobile devices are used efficiently and securely across the business. MDM platforms, for example, provide IT departments access to any employee’s device, to distribute corporate network settings, restrict access to sensitive corporate data through user roles, track authorized devices and potentially cordon off business from private applications.
So what basic features should you look out for when choosing an MDM platform?
Support more than a single platform
Not everyone uses an iPhone. Similarly, not everyone uses an Android. For example, people still purchase and use Windows phones. Personal devices include more than just mobiles: there are laptops and tablets to remember. Because of this, an effective MDM system must support more than one platform.
Offer responsive customer support
With BYOD gaining more traction in the business world, and questions regarding security and work-related BYOD protocol, customer support from MDM vendors must be up to par. Additionally, since technology evolves at the speed of light, an MDM platform that keeps up with modifications and upgrades is a much better option than one that remains stagnant.
Requires authorized access
A majority of smartphones and laptops require a fingerprint scan to authorize access to that device. MDM platforms should be no different: they should necessitate a single or multiple identity authentication systems before the BYOD device can be unlocked and utilized. This ensures data integrity and security.