The need for mobile device management

The need for mobile device management

The drive towards mobile computing is one of the biggest IT changes organisations have faced – and it’s not optional.

There’s no doubt that people love their smartphones. Around 3.2 billion people had a smartphone subscription in 2015, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report. To put this in perspective, according to the world’s population is estimated at around 7.4 billion people. Smartphone adoption is expected to grow to around 6.3 billion by 2021.

But quoting big numbers can make it harder, not easier, to grasp the magnitude of the shift from desktop to mobile. Perhaps a more accessible statistic is that over half of all Internet traffic now comes from mobile devices, around 17% of which are tablets (source: Eloqua). Almost half of people use their mobile as their first point of search (source: Google) and around a third of people only read e-mails on mobile devices (source: Informz). 

Within business, smartphones are driving a lot of change. Employees are no longer tied to desks and can potentially access everything from e-mail to presentations on a device they hold in their hand. Since people want a smartphone that’s their choice, bring your own device (BYOD) strategies have become an acceptable, indeed logical, route to corporate smartphone use.

Since BYOD only works for some organisations, and smartphones can’t do quite everything, we’re seeing device manufacturers moving towards far more capable single devices. Recent innovations, such as HP’s Elite x3 and Apple’s patent to build a laptop around the iPhone, show that we’re close to a smartphone being the only device a business user would need. Microsoft – not exactly winning in the smartphone or tablet market – is actually well positioned with Windows 10, which provides a better universal code base than Android or iOS.

This is, of course, good news – employees would need only one device instead of two or three, plugging their phone into a ‘dumb terminal’, turning it into a full computer when needed. Neat.

But as organisations require mobile devices to do more, concerns understandably grow. Mobiles are far more easily stolen or lost. Corporate data has to be protected. The solution is EMM – Enterprise Mobility Management.

EMM provides a high level of control over mobile devices, regardless of where they are. For example, a solid EMM system will provide:

  • the ability to manage OS and application updates remotely.
  • an easy way to remote-wipe compromised devices.
  • accurate device auditing.
  • ring-fencing of corporate applications and personal applications.
  • tight access control over corporate data and documents.
  • the means to restrict website browsing access.
  • management of e-mail settings, data, policies and clients.

And that’s just for starters. EMM software has to provide at least the same functionality as similar LAN-based tools, but do this wherever the smartphone or tablet happens to be.

Bigger businesses have been the first to embrace EMM. It’s no surprise that the mobile device-management market is expected to grow from 2016’s $1.69 billion USD to $5.32 billion USD in 2021, according to Markets and Markets.

Mobile device management is an essential tool for any business that uses smartphones and tablets. There’s simply too much at stake to leave these devices unmanaged – otherwise, updates take a vast amount of time, devices may be unsecured if not updated and company data is at risk.

Although not the first smartphone by any means, the iPhone – just ten years ago – kick-started a revolutionary move away from desktops to mobile devices. Today, smartphones are recognised as being absolutely essential business tools. In the future, that one device may be the only computing device that many organisations need, though perhaps augmented by an external screen and keyboard when the person is at a desk.

It’s unlikely that desktop computers will ever entirely die – but it’s looking inevitable that, for many, a single, portable device is all that’s needed. We already have the devices, we already have the software to run on them. The only step needed for organisations to fully embrace a mobile strategy is to adopt an enterprise mobility management tool.

That step isn’t so hard. Traditionally, EMM tools – aimed at the largest companies – have been very expensive (and some have pricing structures so complex that they are almost unfathomable), but new software, such as VXL’s Fusion EMM, can cost far less, while offering at least the equivalent power. As smartphones move towards being commodity products, so EMM tools must inevitably follow suit. VXL’s Fusion EMM handles every device (both static and mobile, including desktops, servers, routers and more) from within a single interface.

The future of business computing is mobile – and enterprise mobility management will make that future not just a reality, but a secure and safe reality.