Mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, are becoming ubiquitous. Devices are widely used among consumers, and many companies have deployed mobile devices as part of a strategy to mobilize the workforce.
While mobile devices can increase efficiency by allowing employees to be more productive outside the office, these devices also introduce a variety of threats to the corporate network. In addition to creating new security threats, mobile devices also affect network availability and monopolize network resources.
Following are several questions to ask when making a decision to deploy an MDM solution.
How flexible do you want your MDM system to be?
Companies looking to deploy an MDM system should consider how strict or flexible they want the system to be. Implementing a system that is too controlling is likely to frustrate employees for little benefit. On the other hand, too much flexibility can create opportunities for security and network performance threats to take hold. Part of successfully implementing an MDM system is developing policy on how flexible or strict MDM should be.
Which devices do you want your MDM system to cover?
Just because a company officially deploys and endorses certain devices and operating systems doesn’t mean this won’t change in the future. Employees will inevitably bring their own devices onto the company’s network, and technology will change over time. What is in widespread use today may be supplanted by a different technology a few years from now. Companies should be prepared for this eventuality by selecting a system that is flexible and expandable.
Would a cloud solution be a good fit?
Once a company chooses an MDM solution that has all of the qualities it wants, the challenge becomes managing the solution. Managing MDM requires staff with knowledge of how to deploy and manage the solution. If that knowledge is not available in house, companies should consider outsourcing. For small and mid-sized companies, cloud providers may provide the best solution to obtain the knowledge needed, at an affordable cost. However, the downside to using an outside provider is the concession of some internal control.
What do you want your MDM to do?
When shopping for an MDM solution, a company should know what it wants the system to accomplish. MDM solutions can be configured many ways, requiring IT decision-makers to evaluate potential policies to help decide which to deploy and how to deploy them. Primary policies to consider are whether to allow employees to use their own devices on the company’s network, or to customize company devices to their liking.
Once devices are customized, should the MDM system separate work content from consumer content? (a policy called sandboxing or containerization.) The downside to implementing such a policy is that it creates a dual personality device that no longer has the benefits created by implementing a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) or personalization policy in the first place.
Implementing an MDM solution is crucial in protecting company networks from a variety of threats that in-house and outside devices can attract. When choosing an MDM solution, a company should evaluate its current situation concerning mobile devices, then seek to determine what business needs are likely to be in the long term future. Honestly assessing in-house capabilities, as well as current mobile device strategy, policies, and flexibility, can start a company down the road to finding the best MDM solution for business needs.