Mobile Device Management is a hot topic in today’s enterprise mobility workplace.  Just a couple of years ago, many companies only provided smartphones to managers and salespeople.  This was when only a small portion of your workforce had access to these tools. The marketplace was fairly homogenous, with only a small set of viable devices available for use with enterprise-level email systems. Management of these devices took a back seat, although it probably shouldn’t have.

Today’s world has most employees with a company-provided handset, or a personal handset with access to corporate email and apps though a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach.  This blurring of the lines and proliferation of corporate handsets — along with various scandals in the news about lost or stolen handsets revealing company secrets and proprietary customer information — has taken the process of securing and managing all these devices from sideshow to main event.

At its simplest, Mobile Device Management (MDM) allows organizations to control a mobile device, be it a smartphone, tablet, or even a laptop. MDM also involves setting policies on the device as well as securing it from those without access.  At more advanced levels, MDM can keep your devices up to date with the newest software, track GPS breadcrumbs from your users, backup and restore data from corporate devices, and allow your IT staff to diagnose issues remotely.

A Day in the Life with MDM: Two Scenarios

To best illustrate the benefits of MDM, let’s look at a couple days in the life of a mid-level manager at a company with and without MDM.

Randy Stephens is a business unit manager at an insurance company and carries his personal smartphone everywhere with him.  Because of this, the company decided to be forward thinking and implement a BYOD strategy, allowing Randy to access his corporate email and Web apps from this handset. 

While at a conference, Randy loses his phone and has trouble staying in contact with his team. Over the next two days as he secures a new device, Randy has to spend half a day working with IT to get his new device set up properly.  While he’s out of touch, he misses an email from his COO, and is late meeting a deadline. 

Three weeks later it’s found that somehow hackers got their hands on the personal information of Randy’s customers.  The company faces a PR disaster and countless lawsuits as a result. 

Not a great week for Randy.  Let’s look at what would happen if Randy Stephens’ son had suggested he get the insurance company to use MDM.

Randy Stephens is a business unit manager at an insurance company and carries his personal smartphone with him everywhere.  Because of this, the company decided to be forward thinking and implement a BYOD strategy, along with MDM, allowing Randy to access his corporate email and Web apps from this handset securely and with IT policy and management in place.

While at a conference, Randy loses his phone, but immediately contacts his IT team to have the device locked down and wiped of all company data.  Once Randy secures a new handset, it takes 20 minutes to get all the corporate apps updated and installed remotely.  Randy gets an email from his COO shortly after that and takes charge of a project, meeting the deadline and building the case for his next promotion.

Three weeks later, a competitor is sued for millions and faces a massive exodus of customers due to its customers’ personal information being exposed on a lost handset.  Randy picks up new customers and secures a new position as a Vice-President. 

How is your company managing device security and policy management?  Would you like to see some of the benefits of the second version of the story implemented at your organization?