Even basics like email & Wi-Fi make mobile device management worth doing

Some companies may not have a do-or-die security or workflow use case for MDM, but a good reason to use it might still be right under their nose!

[Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 16, 2018. We're running it again today since Jack is on vacation.]

There are many companies that evaluated mobile device management over the last several years, and decide to forgo using it. Maybe they didn’t have a huge security concern or regulatory requirement, they didn’t have an advanced mobile app strategy, or they’re just SMB-sized organizations that can get by fine with an ad hoc approach.

But I’m willing to bet that the help desk staff at these types of organizations are still spending a lot of time supporting mobility, and that mobile device management would be worth the time and money. Why?

First off, as I wrote last week, it’s 2018. Your company runs on mobility, no matter what, whether you have a formal strategy or not.

Therefore, your help desk is supporting users for all these common tasks:

  • Connecting phones on Wi-Fi. (Especially since some Android phones have a million authentication options to sort through.)
  • Synchronizing email. (“Wait, do I need to include the domain?" "What’s our server?”)
  • Changing passwords. (“Okay, so before you change your password, put your phone in airplane mode.” “Oops, I’m locked out already.” Repeat every 90 days.)
  • Figuring out how to use a mobile VPN, and which apps and websites need it.
  • Finding the right clients for your software among the millions of apps in the public stores.
  • And answering a million other questions.

All of these can add up to a significant amount of time for help desk staff, as well as cause plenty of lost productivity for end users.

However, how many of these could be automated? Just about all of them! Plus, these are all things that you could do with a basic cheap, free, or bundled mobile device management product.

I don’t have scientific data on this, but I suspect that in a lot of cases, using low-cost mobile device management to take these tasks off the help desk could save a lot of time and money. (Though, for sake of argument, MDM would add another product to support. See our article on lying with cost models.)

Sure, you’re also opening a can of worms with MDM—there are the classic mobile device management privacy and device usage issues, and today, you also want to take a look at your mobile app management options and full-featured EMM and EUC suites. And there are also other approaches to these user support issues, such as having a really well-done identity management implementation.

But by definition, if you didn’t use mobile device management or EMM for the first 10 years that you had iOS and Android in your environment, you’re probably not that concerned about completely locking down phones. Therefore, you could use a light touch with your MDM policies, focusing on enablement, and making sure to keep things user friendly, like making it so that IT can’t track or wipe phones without the user present. (We can also point out here how far Android Enterprise has come along for BYOD; as well as how iOS needs to catch up.)

The bottom line is that there are a lot of different ways to make technology more friendly to end users, and to save time by automating common support tasks. Basic mobile device management functionality could go a long way towards these goals.

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