Mobile device management tools are instrumental in helping IT manage and secure mobile devices used by employees.
While dedicated MDM platforms still exist, many vendors have instead opted to evolve their tools to encompass other endpoints -- such as desktops, IoT devices, wearables and more -- creating unified endpoint management (UEM) tools. Whether an organization opts for a dedicated MDM platform or the comparable tool set in a UEM platform, there are seven key benefits organizations should consider.
1. Enhanced security
Using an MDM platform, you can protect the business data accessed by company devices. IT can configure policies to ensure that passwords with specified complexity and lock codes secure the device against unauthorized access. MDM tools can enforce secure network access protocols, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and two-factor authentication (2FA), to ensure that devices accessing company networks are secure and authenticated. Network communications between the device and the company network can be encrypted, such as emails, text messages and internet traffic. Data generated by business applications on the device can also be encrypted, helping to ensure that data transmitted over the network is protected from interception.
The specific data encrypted by MDM tools can vary depending on the platform and the business's specific security policies and requirements. However, MDM generally encrypts data critical to business operations and must be protected from unauthorized access or data breaches.
Your IT administrators can remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices, preventing unauthorized access to business data if the device falls into the wrong hands. IT can also manage and monitor the applications on a device to ensure users only access authorized and trusted applications. This can help prevent data breaches caused by malicious apps or unauthorized software.
2. Decreased downtime and deployment times
MDM can help decrease downtime by enabling IT teams to manage and remotely monitor mobile devices in real time. Data collection of device logs and events can help detect and resolve issues before they become major problems and prevent device failures or malfunctions.
Device provisioning carries a lower administrative overhead when using MDM, which can help relieve overburdened IT teams. Rather than a time-consuming manual process to install systems and applications, phones, tablets and desktops can have policies, applications and operating system configurations pushed to them. Then, when the user powers on the device, it's enrolled and an MDM profile is installed. After the authorized user enters their credentials, they can access company resources and data.
3. Improved productivity
Remote management through a centralized platform means IT can remotely install applications and trigger updates. Devices can be easily updated with current and needed applications, allowing employees to work more effectively, regardless of physical location.
MDM tools can manage and monitor the apps installed on mobile devices, ensuring employees can access the apps they need to perform their jobs. Quick and easy access to business apps will ultimately improve employee productivity.
4. Application control
IT teams can deploy applications to devices automatically through the app store or custom enterprise app distribution methods, ensuring that employees can access the apps they need to perform their jobs. Application management also allows IT teams to create curated allowlists and blocklists to help prevent the installation of malicious or unauthorized apps and ensure that only trusted apps are on company devices. Application settings and updates can be automatically pushed out or removed, and application usage can be monitored for compliance or to identify and understand areas for improvement.
5. Optimized data collection
Data collection can identify issues and opportunities for improvement and ensure compliance with security policies and regulations. The types of data collected from mobile devices include the following:
- Device inventory. Basic device information such as model, serial number, mobile operating system version and installed apps.
- Location data. Help track device usage and location.
- Security data. Security-related data, such as passcode usage, failed login attempts and device encryption status.
- App data. Data on app usage, such as the number of times an app is launched or the amount of data it uses.
- Network data. Collect information on data usage and Wi-Fi network connections.
- Compliance data. Help identify compliance-related issues, such as jailbroken or rooted devices or devices that are out of compliance with security policies.
6. Risk management
Organizations must ensure devices remain uncompromised and the data they contain is secured. IT administrators can regularly patch and update operating systems with an MDM platform, reducing risk from compatibility issues and security vulnerabilities.
Policies applied to mobile devices can help prevent data loss in several ways. For example, passwords can secure specific applications with access to sensitive business information. And IT can configure policies to block data copying between business and personal email and applications.
7. Cost saving
Remote management and troubleshooting mean the devices the IT team looks after do not need to be in the same physical location as the support staff. MDM's compliance and security features make it less likely for an organization to fall victim to data breaches or regulatory fines. And being able to locate devices means there is more chance of recovering them if they are lost, meaning fewer replacement purchases.
Leading MDM vendors
While numerous options exist, there are some leading MDM platforms to manage BYOD smartphones, tablets and laptops:
- Microsoft Intune. Best for a Microsoft-based environment, but also covers iOS and Android devices.
- SOTI MobiControl. Intended for a large client base of Windows, iOS and Android devices.
- ManageEngine MDM. Meant to manage iOS, Android, Windows, macOS and Chrome OS systems.
- Citrix Endpoint Management. Ideal for those already using Citrix Workspace and covers all mobile and desktop operating systems.
- Miradore. An MDM platform that can manage Android, Apple and Windows devices.
- Hexnode. An open source, more affordable MDM solution with zero-touch enrollment.