Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has been an accepted practice in small companies, and in some departments of large companies, for a decade now. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accentuated the trend towards remote work, it’s clear BYOD is here to stay. (Also read: BYOD Security: 6 Ways to Protect Mobile Devices.)
In this new landscape, SMBs and the enterprise need a simple way to retain control over multiplying mobile devices, applications and security threats while leaving enough latitude for employees to operate flexibly anywhere and anytime.
The solution? Mobile Device Management.
What is Mobile Device Management?
Mobile Device Management is a framework that brings simplicity and usability to IT maintenance for distributed applications. It creates a single user interface for control of all company devices, including their enrolment, and interlinks user identity with related applications, configuration profiles and usage data. MDM allows small IT teams to manage growing numbers of devices and applications with centralized automatic controls from a single interface. This is because MDM works seamlessly with any mobile device, including BYOD and carrier-provided devices. It also integrates seamlessly with On-Premise Active Directory (AD) and Azure AD infrastructure. From securing corporate data to managing users’ access to data and corporate applications on their mobile devices — all from one central location — MDM can improve productivity for employees and improve security for organizations.
Hosted on the cloud, MDM allows teams to control and secure applications remotely. All application and software security updates are performed over-the-air (OTA) without any manual intervention. (Also read: 5 Remote Work Security Problems – And How to Solve Them.)
MDM can also drastically reduce IT overhead because of its self-service options. For example, Apple’s Device Enrollment Program, incorporated in Jamf Business, lets users automatically enroll their new devices wirelessly when they turn them on.
Jamf Connect is an authentication and identification software that opens the door for employees to access business applications in the cloud. Employees onboard to company resources, on their own, without assistance from the IT department. Jamf Pro and Jamf Now interact with devices with Apple’s push notifications to configure remote devices automatically without human intervention.
What Does Mobile Device Management Do?
MDM creates an inventory of devices by querying their information — such as serial numbers. As a result, devices’ and applications’ identities are interlinked.
A dashboard displays the device owners’ identities, their device and application use and the status of their updates. By grouping devices by their common characteristics, including applications and configurations, it becomes possible to update software for all of them with a single operation.
Threats to the Mobile Workforce MDM Can Solve
MDM presents a solution to several of the foremost challenges of the mobile workforce, including:
1. IT Service Overhead
Small and medium-size companies with few IT personnel, if not one, have to manage workloads that rise exponentially with the increase in mobile applications and greater complexity of remotely keeping track of them for updates and security.
The enterprise will need tools for the remotely maintaining devices as more of their employees work from home. Meanwhile, on-premise IT teams have shrunk despite the expanded needs for attending to IT services.
MDM can pacify this issue because it allows IT personnel to manage all of an organization’s devices and applications from a single interface. (Also read: The IT Talent Shortage: Separating Myths from Facts.)
2. Migrating from Old Systems
The enterprise needs to transform the IT maintenance systems meant for its installed base of on-premise equipment and software, as the increasingly mobile workforce is rendering them obsolete. The proliferation of mobile devices and cloud services has forced organizations to rethink how they handle maintenance and support of their equipment.
Microsoft software, widely used for on-premise desktops and laptops, and Active server for the maintenance of IT, is not meant for a mobile workforce, who use Apple devices in increasing numbers and are not necessarily available on-premise to refresh their devices.
For the mobile workforce, companies today need a new way to gain visibility into the ownership of devices and applications and the status of their updates in real-time to ensure their optimal performance. MDM is set up to provide exactly that.
3. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Employees increasingly prefer to use a smartphone of their choice for business and personal needs, which users in a potential for a conflict of purpose. But tracking employee devices increases the risk of breaching privacy.
In other words, IT maintenance staff prefer to separate business activity from personal use, while employees want enough latitude to function flexibly. Mobile Device Management allows for the best of both worlds because it lets workers access company resources and administers updates via the cloud.
Mobile devices are vulnerable to endpoint intrusions—formidable zero-day threats that are hard to combat after they breach firewalls, and malware enters the enterprise network. The intruders disguise their presence by masquerading as internal authorities.
Furthermore, the workforce often wants to use applications that are not available from the App Store. Such applications need internal IT maintenance resources to validate them and keep track of their vulnerabilities. MDM’s cloud integration is useful here too — it allows employees to access IT maintenance resources remotely.
5. Theft and Loss
Devices used in the outdoors have a higher risk of theft and being inadvertently mislaid. Since mobile devices store sensitive information, such as names of customers, critical competitive data could spill to competitors. (Also read: 10 Biggest Data Breaches of All Time – And How to Prevent Them.)
Since MDM allows IT teams to control all company devices from a single interface, lost or stolen devices can be easily locked.
Benefits of MDM: A Summary
- Quickly brings devices under enterprise control.
- Prevents rogue device activity
- Secures data with strong encryption and password protection.
- Securely wipes or locks lost/stolen devices.
- Allows for easy asset management, device tracking and reporting.
- Provides push updates, configurations and applications remotely.
- Provides on-the-fly support for employees who use their own devices for work.
- Ability to troubleshoot devices in real-time.
The Future of Mobile Device Management
Windows 10 and 11 can be run on Microsoft’s Azure cloud — and the mobile workforce uses these applications widely. Thus, migrating to Microsoft’s cloud now offers the alternative of operating from the Azure cloud, transferring all IT maintenance functions from the Active Server. On top of Apple’s offering, Microsoft provides a simplified IT management console and a robust cloud management platform, Microsoft Intune. Intune:
- Enables administrators to deploy, manage and scale Intune Services quickly.
- Increases organizational productivity significantly.
- It simplifies the management and securing of the device fleet.
Jamf has adapted to this new reality with its agreement with Microsoft Azure to let users of Microsoft software and devices interlink their Azure ID with their Mac ID, using Jamf Connect, and log on with a single ID. That means it’s now possible to remotely maintain Macs, Microsoft devices and Android devices.
Jamf also minimizes breaches of privacy by a policy that is discriminating in the collection of private data — for the prevention of specific security threats. Applications are also restricted from using sensitive functions of computers such as cameras, microphones and downloads. Access to these functions needs explicit permission of users. This promises to make mobile device management even more secure in the coming years.
The mobile workforce is no longer a trend — it’s the new way we do business. Thus, managing devices from afar is mandatory for IT teams big and small.
Mobile Device Management offers a solution to many challenges IT teams face due to remote work. Incorporating this framework into your organization could help equip your IT team, big or small, to manage growing maintenance needs.
With several MDM solutions available on the market for your iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices, your organization can put the necessary security controls in place to protect your users and data from unauthorized access that could lead to costly data breaches. This gives users the freedom to work no matter where they are, and it empowers IT with the tools to let users do their work while keeping data secure.
mobile application management (MAM) is also a necessary tool in ensuring technology never slows down a front-line workforce.