Successful Mobile Deployments Require Rich Management Tools

Maribel Lopez is the CEO and mobile market strategist for Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in communications technologies with a heavy emphasis on the disruptive nature of mobile technologies. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.

The demand for real-time information and communications is driving large to small firms to embrace ubiquitous computing over multiple network and device types. The definition of enterprise mobility encompasses mobile devices, in-building and campus area mobile networks as well as wide area networks and services. The connected mobile device landscape is expanding well beyond laptops to encompass a wide range of devices such as smartphones, RFID tags, scanners, printers, GPS-enabled devices, and specialized devices such as medical equipment.  This new wave of connectable devices is ushering in the next phase of the Internet. While there are over 6 billion mobile handsets connected today, the number of smartphones will pale in comparison to the trillions of handheld devices, automobiles, machinery, pallets and cases, and individual goods that will be connected.

Mobility, however, hasn’t emerged without challenges. CIOs and IT managers list device and network management nightmares, skyrocketing expenses and the increasing potential for security breaches as main concerns. Until recently most companies didn’t have formal budgets or policies for mobility. As companies embrace the ubiquitous computing vision, IT needs to build a mobile management strategy to reduce costs, minimize risk and provide a migration path for technology changes.

To meet these challenges, firms need enterprise mobility management (EMM). Today’s enterprise mobility management must go beyond what mobile device management (MDM) has been. Businesses should look for EMM to provide:

1)  Centralized management. EMM should provide an easy way to provisioning users, a simple way to distribute updates such as new configurations and settings in an unattended manner, troubleshooting tools that tell IT if the problem is a device or network-related issue and remote help desk.  IT should expect a MDM solution to provide remote device monitoring; remote device access and control for troubleshooting, remote kill and wipe capabilities for lost devices, and application security policy management.

2)  Basic applications management. Centralized management enables mass deployment of applications and updates Over-the-Air (OTA) in an unattended manner. Basic applications management adds areas such as application monitoring for performance and use, version management and the creation of internal enterprise application catalogs that assist with the discovery and distribution of applications. The porting of applications to mobile native operating systems is normally outside of the role of EMM and falls under the category of Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) or a mobile framework.

3)   Broad device and operating system support. In the enterprise we are seeing an explosion in the type of connecting devices that range from smartphones, tablets, to printers, barcode scanners, and credit card readers. An ever-expanding number of devices also led to an explosion of mobile operating systems (OSs). Today there are at least five active mobile OSs including Android, Blackberry OS, iOS, Symbian (at least for now) and Windows Phone as well as several different tablet operating systems. Unlike Windows in the PC world, no single mobile OS will gain dominance within the next three years, meaning an EMM solution must support multiple OSs and device types. Additionally, many of the devices aren’t enterprise class in terasms of operating system (nor durability) which means EMMs will need to fill a majority of gaps in security and manageability that exist within the various platforms.

4)  Strong security support. An EMM solution must provide robust mobile security. The solution should consider what types of applications will be used, what kind of data will be stored on the device as well as what regulations the firm is required to support. Basic security features such as password enforcement, remote lock and wipe are found in MDM (Mobile Device Management) today. But CIOs need a comprehensive mobile security solution that provides protection on three levels by preventing unauthorized access to: 1) the device and its data –including data on removable storage 2)  data as it transits the network and 3)  the corporate network. EMM should support centrally defined and distributed security policies, device and removable media encryption, strong authentication, mobile VPN (Virtual Private Network) support, and two-factor authentication such as biometrics if deemed necessary.

By combining a rich set of EMM tools with a solid enterprise mobility application strategy, CIOs will be able to drive business process improvements that impact top line business goals such as growth, customer satisfaction and retention as well as governing compliance.

Maribel Lopez CEO Lopez Research About Maribel