Mobile device management (MDM) software allows IT administrators to manage tablets, smartphones, and other mobile computers via the cloud or an MDM server. For enterprise-wide mobile solutions, MDM provides valuable functionality that makes it easier to deploy the hardware, manage and maintain the devices, and keep the entire mobile ecosystem secure and up to date. While functionality varies among the various MDM tools available, in general they can help deploy software to all devices simultaneously, remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices, and help enforce corporate application and security policies.
Why is this important? Mobile computing solutions have become vastly more complex, and many companies now support a number of different hardware platforms (laptops, handhelds, tablets, phones) running multiple operating systems and different applications. In some cases, employees may use a mix of company-owned or personally owned mobile devices, a strategy referred to as “bring your own device” (BYOD). That puts a burden on IT departments who have to track each device and ensure that security patches and software upgrades are up to date, in addition to providing remote troubleshooting and support.
Mobile device management provides a way to streamline troubleshooting and support, as well as improve the overall performance of the mobile ecosystem. Here are three key advantages of using MDM software.
1. Improved Device Management: MDM streamlines the support and management of mobile computers, making it easier to provision and update the devices from a central location. In the past, IT had to deploy staff members to each location to install updates and load software; now, those activities can be done remotely. All devices can be updated simultaneously over the air, regardless of their location.
Staff can also provide remote troubleshooting, and even remotely fix software or firmware-based problems with the devices. This reduces downtime for field employees and helps companies efficiently manage IT costs.
Using MDM also makes it easier to support different types of hardware running different operating systems by automatically tracking which version of each application should be deployed on each specific device. In BYOD environments, mobile device management allows IT to track application use on employee-owned devices; in some cases, these solutions allow IT to “sandbox” corporate data on those devices so it can be locked or deleted without affecting personal data and contacts.
2. Improved Security: Another key benefit of mobile device management is the ability to centrally update all security patches and anti-virus software. If there is a suspected data breach, IT can more easily track the source of the problem and block those devices from accessing the network. If a device is lost or stolen, MDM allows companies to remotely lock-down, brick, or completely wipe data from the missing device. MDM can even track the last time an authorized user accessed sensitive data, and provide an auditable record for compliance purposes. (This is important in heavily regulated industries like healthcare, for example, where users have to follow strict HIPAA privacy and security guidelines.)
The MDM solution can also help enforce security policies by, for instance, preventing users from downloading unauthorized applications. Role-based access policies can also easily be deployed and adjusted centrally.
3. Improved Application Management:Finally, mobile device management makes it easier to manage mobile applications without taxing IT resources. Instead of physically handling the devices to install updates or new software, IT can deploy software on multiple devices simultaneously. This saves time and resources for IT, and reduces disruptions. Most mobile applications are mission critical; eliminating unnecessary downtime that might be caused by large-scale software upgrades provides a huge productivity boost.