Everything You Should Know About Mobile Device Management (MDM)

By Haseeb Awan

Early in the new millennium, businesses used mobile devices more frequently. Since then, it has continued to expand, and mobile devices are now indispensable resources in today's contemporary workplaces.

Although they increase productivity and flexibility, mobile devices can present several challenges to businesses if they need to be adequately managed. Security risks and inefficiencies can result from managing mobile endpoints in a non-standard manner with limited visibility and control.

In 2021, mobile device management (MDM) will be one of the most important and widely used technologies, but that doesn't mean everyone is familiar with it. People may misunderstand what is meant by the term "mobile device management" or use it to refer to something else entirely. While it is simple to discover mobile device management services, it is sometimes difficult to decide which mobile device management tool to go for. In this extensive guide, you'll find the solutions to many frequently asked questions and detailed instructions for implementing robust mobile device management in your company.

Mobile devices' multifaceted features have a number of benefits, but they can also have some drawbacks of their own. Using mobile devices to boost productivity can also result in serious security problems like data leakage due to several loopholes in security.  

However, you can streamline the difficulties brought on by mobile devices with the planned enterprise-wide implementation of Mobile Device Management. A robust Mobile Device Management app or solution can allow your system administrators and security professionals to manage and control the devices utilized throughout the enterprise from a single interface while maintaining security as the top priority. We'll walk you through the most crucial elements of mobile device management in this guide and explain how you can use it internally.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) – Definition

Companies use mobile device management software to monitor, control remotely and protect devices of all kinds, not just mobile ones. Anybody with mobile device management software can track and manage phones and other devices, just as a store manager keeps an eye on and tries to correct shop employees.

More than just mobile devices can be managed by MDM. MDM technology can be used to manage desktops, laptops, tablets, or almost any other type of device. For this reason, almost any business should implement MDM software.

MDM technology is now more crucial than ever. Mobile devices are now essential for all types of jobs as workers everywhere become more mobile. Businesses require methods for controlling, observing, and securing these devices.

A Comparison of MDM, EMM, and UEM

When looking up MDM solutions, you will most frequently encounter three terms: MDM, EMM, and UEM. You might already be curious about what each one represents and how they interact. Here is a concise explanation:

Even though many people confuse MDM, EMM, and UEM, each term has a specific meaning. It's important to realize how these terms have changed over time. It's important to realize how these terms have changed over time. Prior to EMM and UEM tools, the phrase mobile device management was used.

MDM, EMM, and UEM

All mobile devices used at work are tracked, controlled, and secured using mobile device management (MDM). The phrase dates back to a time before cell phones could communicate with other office equipment. IT teams concentrated on doing so to manage office-owned devices separately from other devices. Managing employees' devices ethically was impossible, assuming they had any. Additionally, since managing data and other device-based content was usually sufficient on older phones during this time, system administrators only sometimes required access to such tools.

EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management): What Is It?

Enterprise mobility management, or EMM, is the management of mobile devices and the content and applications that run on them. Mobile application management or MAM, mobile device management (MDM), and mobile content management or MCM are all included in EMM. EMM is significant and has phone management capabilities for both employee-owned and company-owned phones. All of these adjustments made it easier for businesses to accommodate highly mobile workers.

Unified Endpoint Management: What Is It?

The term "unified endpoint management" (UEM) refers to managing all types of business endpoints or devices using a single management framework. This covers various devices, including mobile phones, laptops, IoT gadgets, tablets, and much more. This is both much more practical and effective than earlier methods.

Any effective UEM solution today is really an MDM solution. The ability to control nearly every office device from a single console is a feature of the top MDM solutions. Additionally, each of these solutions can handle the content on those devices. Significant industry benchmarks, such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UEM Solutions, now refer to UEM instead of MDM or EMM.

MDM and EMM are still used frequently because they are well known. EMM and MDM offerings may have fewer features and aren't UEM solutions. Always take the time to confirm that any EMM or MDM solution you come across is a UEM solution.

Mobile Device Management: Workflow

MDM agents are endpoint software agents that are crucial to mobile device management. It also depends on an MDM server, which may be housed on-site or in the cloud. The device management console on the server is where IT staff members first set up device management policies. Later, the server pushes those very same MDM policies to the mobile devices' MDM agents. These policies are implemented through the MDM agent's communication with the operating system's built-in APIs of the device. In addition to these management policies, the MDM server can be used to deploy applications to the devices.

How Does MDM Operate?

Both on-site and cloud-based MDM solutions are available. Its function oversees a mobile device's use within an organization for the duration of its lifecycle, which entails the five stages below.

Enrollment

The first step in the MDM work is to include new devices in the framework for management. This could necessitate a variety of steps depending on the type of device in question:

Android: The operating system's devices are made simple to set up in business environments. Thanks to Android Enterprise and Zero Trust Enrollment, new devices can be configured and enrolled in remote management right out of the box.

Apple: Apple Business Manager is the company's answer to Android Enterprise (ABM). It is possible to set up devices bought from authorized resellers for zero-touch deployment or to add them to ABM using Apple Configurator.

Other: If a device does not support these solutions, an MDM solution should be capable of providing substitute, simple enrollment options. For instance, an MDM solution would just let Android users scan a QR code to sign the device up for the company's lifecycle management program. If this is not supported, it may be necessary for an MDM administrator to manually enrol new devices into an MDM solution, which can take a lot of time.

Personal Devices: Employees may use their devices at work due to BYOD and remote work policies. It may be a good idea for businesses to add these devices to their endpoint management programs. This is possible with the Apple User Enrollment program and Android work profiles for devices not owned or controlled by an organization.

An increasing portion of an organization's IT assets is mobile devices. To manage and secure these devices in the future, an organization must select an MDM solution that can support all of its mobile devices.

Provisioning

A company must set up a device to comply with company policy after adding it to the corporate MDM solution. Modifying configuration and security options, adding or removing specific apps, and controlling the content that is available to and stored on the device are all examples of this.

The Google Play Store for Android and the Apple ABM make this simple for businesses to do on their devices. Instead, a company can use their MDM solution to configure an Enterprise App Store. Instead of certain apps automatically loading on employees' devices, workers can install authorized and preconfigured applications as needed.

An organization can manage the content that is accessed and kept on company devices with the aid of an MDM solution. A business can provide employees with the tools they need to do their tasks by granting access to approved collaboration platforms, corporate data storage, and so on. This eliminates the incentive and potential to use unapproved tools/services that might put corporate systems and data at risk.

Deployment

Having got the devices to the employees comes after they have been configured and added to the company's MDM system. Device location tracking is a valuable feature because, with the rise of remote work, this may involve shipping devices.

Furthermore, any necessary personalization must be completed before deploying or lending devices to employees or students. For instance, any necessary security certificates for mobile devices should be preloaded so that users can immediately help connect to enterprise resources and utilize their devices to their full potential.

Management

The phase of lasting management lasts the entire useful life of the device. Several years may pass in both deployment and retirement for a device.

An organization must ensure that its IT resources continue to operate correctly and efficiently during this time. This entails investigating any potential problems, updating apps or operating systems on devices, monitoring data usage, etc.

Manual management can indeed be difficult and time-consuming when there are many devices. The process can be streamlined and scaled to meet the needs of a company by using an MDM solution to automate a number of the necessary administrative steps.

Retirement

When a piece of equipment has served its purpose no longer, it must be properly retired. This retirement may be anticipated or unexpected if a device is misplaced, stolen, or destroyed.

The process of retiring a device should be seamless and painless when using a device management solution. To prevent the theft of proprietary information or customer data, it should support the capability of remote wiping confidential data from devices and deleting them from the system.

The Significance Of MDM

With mobility enabling workers to work from anywhere and at any time, modern employees face more challenges than in the past. This makes it challenging for IT departments to stay abreast by keeping track of the company's devices and ensuring their security. MDM addresses these problems head-on, assisting organizations in monitoring and securing mobile devices to reduce risks.

Remote Employees

Businesses now have more options for allowing employees to work thanks to the expansion of 4G mobile connectivity remotely, and the recent introduction of 5G will help the workforce become more flexible. For several UK businesses, the idea of remote working is still in its infancy, but the advantages are generally acknowledged and valued. Businesses that adopt remote work can anticipate increases in employee morale and productivity.

The difficulties of working remotely are apparent, and they frequently serve as a determining factor for businesses thinking about changing their workforce. Businesses have the resources necessary to make mobile working a reality with out-of-the-box MDM solutions.

Bring Your Device (BYOD)

With the popularity of remote work, more devices will be able to access, send, and receive corporate data. The costs of providing new or refurbished mobile devices to employees can put a burden on company resources. Many companies are looking for new ways to let employees use their mobile devices inside and outside of the workplace.

Businesses are giving leverage to employees to use personal phones or laptops for work purposes under the Bring Your Device (BYOD) policy. BYOD significantly lowers the capital expenditure required by businesses. Additionally, it allows employees to use a device that is already a part of their daily lives and familiar to them; however,  security and control are still issues with a BYOD policy.

Hardware variety

Because of the rise in mobility, there is a wider variety of smartphones, laptops, and tablets available on the market and, consequently, inside a business. IT departments need help to update the wide variety of hardware, software, and productivity apps throughout the organization with no MDM solution. The inability to configure routine updates can have an impact on user satisfaction, in addition to putting the company at risk of data breaches.

An MDM system is crucial in any workplace because it can easily be set up and integrated across personal and business-owned devices due to its ability to integrate with a company's IT infrastructure.

Security

Any organization should prioritize security, so modern businesses need an MDM solution. It ensures that mobile hardware is secure against theft or loss, bolstering corporate data security. MDM solutions enable businesses to respond quickly by locating a stolen or lost device and remotely wiping corporate data.

When implementing flexible hours in a business, GDPR compliance must also be taken into account. Even if employees only use their mobile devices to read emails, SME businesses with mobile workers are advised to use an MDM solution to protect customer data. The available solutions can assist businesses in putting controls and procedures in place to ensure that business and personal data are separated on a device and to safeguard business data against external threats and unauthorized use.

Deployment

An MDM solution helps you save time and resources. Even with MDM, the workflow for configuring a new set of devices is complex, so streamlining the procedure is becoming more crucial for businesses. Major hardware manufacturers Apple and Android have implemented their rollout platforms, which make managing and deploying new devices inside an organization much easier to help overcome the difficulties of doing so. 

There has never been a more crucial time to implement an MDM solution, with cyberattacks on the emergence and mobile working becoming increasingly common. Channel partners must be proactive and incorporate security into all proposals for mobile communications. You must make sure that your clients are aware of MDM's advantages and the dangers involved in leaving their personnel and equipment unprotected.

The Most Crucial MDM Features

Different MDM tools have extensive features and support different operating systems. Typically, you can manage apps and configurations, secure devices and data, view your device inventory, enforce standardized device policies, and remotely update software. However, many solutions even offer expense, identity, and access management.

To make sure you choose the best MDM software for your organization's needs, it's a good idea to perform a comparative analysis of different MDM solutions have to offer. Here is a summary of the top seven functionalities that an MDM must offer:

Device inventory

MDM software gathers different software and hardware data on devices, assisting businesses in monitoring and tracking both company-owned and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) devices. For instance, among other things, you can view ownership details, security and warranty status, installed configurations and applications, and current location.

Limitations and Configurations

Remote device configuration is among the most important advantages of MDM. Organizations can protect data, follow compliance policies and give employees the tools they need by using various configuration and restriction options. MDM enables the installation of all necessary settings (such as VPN and Wi-Fi) on devices and establishes usage limitations.

Content and Application Management

Employees must have simple access to the necessary programs and files to be productive. MDM enables businesses to update applications and centrally manage all mobile content. Additionally, apps can be added to the device, removed from the device, or both.

Data and Device Security

It is possible to take a number of security measures to ensure the device's security and the confidential data it contains. Using MDM, businesses can, for instance, mandate disk encryption, create secure containers that divide corporate data from personal data and use strong passcodes. Additionally, MDM can help you find a lost device or even enable you to remotely wipe the data in case the device isn't recovered.

Enforcement of Policy

Standardized device policies assist businesses in standardizing device management, which ultimately improves efficiency and helps them comply with legal requirements. Companies can mass-deploy various policies to devices, allowing them to pre-select the configurations, limitations, and applications that should be installed on the devices.

Automation

When a business is handling several different devices, automation is advantageous. Most mobile device management systems allow security framework device enrollments via Android Zero-Touch Enrollment, Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager, or Samsung Knox Mobile Enrollment. Additionally, businesses can use mobile device management (MDM) to autonomously deploy all configuration updates and apps to devices in compliance with corporate policies when these built-in applications are connected to an MDM system.

Remote Maintenance

Employees don't need to visit the IT department physically because MDM allows devices to be upgraded and serviced remotely. Because all software configurations, device diagnostic testing, and troubleshooting can be done over the air, businesses can save considerable time.

What Is An MDM Solution Capable Of?

Modern MDM solutions, as previously mentioned, can control almost all types of business devices.

When researching, ask what kinds of devices and operating systems, the MDM solution supports. On a specific device, a few solutions only support one operating system (for example, android or iOS). Therefore, it's critical to identify a solution that meets your specific requirements.

Devices That An MDM Solution Can Manage

Mobile phones: Naturally, managing mobile phones is part of mobile device management! However, there are many different types of mobiles, including modern smartphones and vintage cell phones (also known as feature phones). Make sure the MDM solution you select is compatible with the mobile devices that your team uses.

Tablets: Some MDM programs support both regular and rugged tablets.

Computers: Both laptop and desktop computers can be managed by MDM solutions.

Wearables: Wearables are gaining importance in the workplace, and most MDMs allow you to manage rugged wearable computers and smartwatches.

Devices Made for Physically Demanding Work Environments: Mobile device management solutions must support rugged phones, tablets, and other devices. To make absolutely sure the tool is optimized for warehouses using the manufacturer's devices, an MDM solution, for instance, might collaborate with a company that makes rugged devices.

VR: Virtual Reality (VR): The use of Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) devices is one of the most significant recent trends in business. In response, the majority of MDMs support a few VR/AR headsets. They go by the name "head-mounted displays."

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): A few MDM tools can also control industrial routers, sensor-based equipment, and other data-gathering tools used in industrial settings. 

Non-Traditional Endpoints: Many MDM solutions handle IoT devices and gadgets that don't run conventional operating systems. These gadgets include standard office supplies like scanners, printers, battery cradles, etc., that were created prior to the rise of IoT technology.

Operating Systems: A good MDM program must support Android Enterprise and provide other practical features. An MDM solution must allow OEMConfig to administer Android devices from various manufacturers.

Android VR: An MDM can handle some popular VR headsets that operate on the Android operating system.

Wear OS: Some MDM solutions provide for the management of Wear OS, Google's wearable operating system that was initially known as Android Wear.

iPadOS and iOS: Apple separated the operating system for iOS in 2019 and called the iPadOS version. However, Apple Business Manager (ABM), which most MDM solutions integrate, allows administrators to control iOS and iPadOS devices.

Watch OS: MDMs can control Apple Watches through the control of the iPhones to which they are connected, but they cannot handle Apple Watches on their own.

Mac OS: Due to its exceptional reputation and performance, macOS, Apple's laptop and desktop operating system has flourished. Although Apple Business Manager offers management capabilities, many offices also employ macOS and Windows computers. Therefore, ABM is insufficient in such a situation.

Windows: A competent MDM program should handle Windows 10 devices, given the widespread use of Microsoft's operating system worldwide. Additionally, a lot of MDM programs provide only limited assistance for outdated Windows versions (including Windows 7 and 8).

Windows Mobile and Windows CE: Surprisingly, many businesses still use outdated hardware running these outdated versions of Windows. These devices and more contemporary ones may be supported and remotely monitored by an MDM system.

Linux: Because it is an open-source operating system, it takes expertise to set up and maintain. Robust MDM solutions support all Linux distributions.

Management Issues with MDM

Administrators must be aware of the expenses, use cases, and difficulties in advance to get the most from any managed mobility solution. Clearly, there are security dangers when remote work devices are not managed properly, but what does it mean in practice?

The following list of typical issues with mobile device management:

Access Control for Networks

Employees request to utilize both company-issued and personal mobile devices in their digital workspaces. It is challenging to control network access using this hybrid technique without jeopardizing security.

In order to keep everything safe and secure, it's imperative to guarantee that employees always have access to the business systems, applications, and data they require for work. In the end, a business is nothing if no one works there! But juggling security with pragmatism is indeed a significant challenge for IT departments.

Fortunately, administrators may impose security regulations that users and devices must adhere to access resources using network access control (NAC) technologies.

Data Security

Another issue with using personal mobile devices at work in virtual environments? The more networked devices there are, the more opportunities there are for fraudsters to access corporate networks.

Unfortunately, contrary to laptops and desktops, smartphones and tablets frequently come with less thorough anti-malware software, which increases security threats. However, despite advancements in endpoint security, laptops and desktop computers continue to be the main tools used for work, making them prime targets for cunning criminal groups.

Again, effective MDM solutions can aid companies in securing their mobile settings across all device kinds and plugging susceptible data gaps.

By segregating personal and corporate identities on personal mobile devices, utilizing "lock and delete" functions that ensure company data and automating the data encryption process doesn't get into the hands of the wrong people should devices get lost or stolen, they can achieve this goal.

User Experience 

Of course, when managing mobility, administrators must also take user experience into account. Employees may become irritated by MDMs that drastically restrict particular device functionality.

For instance, overly cautious settings may identify as "vulnerable" regularly used software that employees depend on to do everyday activities. This could encourage employees who depend on the software to jailbreak their handsets to conduct daily chores.

Having said that, it is crucial to consider how employees will feel before selecting an MDM solution and whether it would affect their performance and productivity.

Migration

A company's MDM software may eventually need to be replaced. Moving software can be difficult, to put it mildly, regardless of whether the transition is being made to reduce expenses or to improve.

Administrators frequently need to pay more attention to how long it takes to find, move, and sort data into a new system. In addition to taking precautions to prevent data loss or corruption, companies must take into account the resources needed to alter the course.

To guarantee that everyone is aware of their obligations moving ahead, create a task force, write down your plan, and disseminate the crucial information.

BYOD Guidelines

More than 75% of firms' policies on BYOD already included BYOD as of 2018. With the introduction of digital workspaces, the number of personally owned devices used for the workplace has only risen.

Supporting all of these gadgets has, needless to say, become very difficult. As remote workers acquire new devices and get rid of their old ones, there are continuous onboarding and offboarding events. Furthermore, it takes a lot of work to catch up with the release of new mobile phones and emerging technology!

Unfortunately, only a few businesses have BYOD policies that are actually effective. Why? Before purchasing MDM software, many administrators believed BYOD is handled automatically.

Guidelines for Improving MDM Strategy

Now that we've spoken about what mobile device management is and how it may help your company improve its security posture let's look at how you can improve your MDM plan. Here's how to go about it:

Lock Everything Up And Remove It 

A strong MDM strategy is designed to eliminate any chance of losing data from a mobile phone that is no longer physically in your possession or that you may have lost. A robust MDM strategy must enable the IT personnel to delete any files from the device that might contain confidential information in addition to email, calendar, and contacts. It must be locked and erased to prevent unauthorized access to the device's data.

Select the Device That Must Be Moved 

The first step is determining what needs to be accessible and which devices. An effective MDM approach must simultaneously support all required operational and management tasks and provide protection against risks. Ensure that all applicable security policies are in place and being followed. Establish MDM goals, assess options, and specify the range of permitted mobile devices. Five suggestions for improving your mobile application management strategy.

Recognize the MDM's Scope and Limitations 

You should be aware that MDM features could also comprise configuration management, security management, usage monitoring, local policy enforcement, reporting, auditing, and more before developing an MDM strategy. You will be able to create an effective MDM strategy once you fully understand the scope and constraints of MDM.

Make Sure MDM Is Incorporated Into The Entire IT Management Strategy

IT administrators must ensure the MDM plan adheres to all operational needs and limitations of the comprehensive IT management strategy. The two approaches must complement one another and not be at odds. For more convenience and scalability, you might use software-as-a-service options hosted in the cloud. Additionally, it should specify the terms of the vendor for both products and service licensing.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Policy

Data loss prevention, often known as DLP policy, is a security measure used by enterprises to prevent the leakage of sensitive and important data outside the company's network. A company can maintain its DLP policy using MDM by keeping track of its users' rights, and data flows to protect corporate data from potential internal dangers/threats.

Today: Heterogeneous Environments and MDM

Microsoft, Apple, and Google all developed MDMs for their respective Windows operating systems, while Apple produced MDM solutions for iOS and macOS.

Unfortunately, each option leaves a lot to be desired in today's workplace. Task sequencing, third-party integration, orchestration, and software metering were all added as afterthoughts. Put, having a workspace focused on Windows is no longer guaranteed.

Additionally, the number of businesses implementing BYOD, remote work rules, and cloud-based apps is expanding at an incredible rate. By 2028, 73% of all teams, according to Upwork, will likely have remote workers. Although remote policies could enable more efficient work, they also leave room for data breaches. These factors have made cloud-based MDM systems the best option for heterogeneous and remote work settings. 

MDM in Cloud Computing

Utilizing a third-party product with management features for certain mobile device suppliers is a common way to deploy mobile device management. Other times, hosted MDM (also known as "MDM as a service" or SaaS) is provided. Without technical knowledge of the individual mobile devices being utilized in the enterprise, this kind of solution enables speedy adoption.

The main goal of MDM in a professional setting is to keep an eye on and manage access to company data while preserving the user's device ownership. Other advantages include lowering mobile device support expenses by enabling end-user self-help support, enhancing enterprise security with a remote lock and wipe, enforcing adherence to company policy governing apps, and encrypting data on mobile devices.

Other advantages include lowering support expenses for mobile devices by allowing users to self-help; enhancing workplace security with remote locking and wiping features enforcing adherence to company app restrictions; protecting data through encryption; preventing unwanted access to corporate networks by barring non-compliant devices, and automatically establishing email profiles.

Device management has various facets, including:

  • How to manage access to business data on a device using security rules
  • Mobile application management: How to install or remove programs from a device using mobile application management
  • Mobile content management: How to exchange and keep documents on a mobile device securely: mobile content management
  • Identity management: Limiting access to company data on a device to only those who are permitted

The various suppliers have modified their platforms to suit various market areas. Some have chosen to handle only mobile phones, only Apple devices, etc., while others have chosen to ensure they are adequately prepared to manage the unique requirements of schools. If you need specific features, like delaying an OS upgrade, make sure your selected MDM solution has those capabilities because Apple has specified what MDM solutions can accomplish with its platform (also referred to as the MDM framework). It can be challenging to choose between them if you need clarification on what functional priorities are most important to you. 

There are more employees and devices which, if used correctly, can significantly improve an organization. MDM, or mobile device management, can be helpful in several ways. Despite using different hardware and operating systems, MDM can assemble your workforce. It offers the ability to distribute a set of uniform security options to each device with access to your data. It can remotely lock a lost device. The best part is that it can complete all these tasks instantly or while in motion, ensuring you never waste a moment of productivity.

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Mobile Security
A Guide To Mobile Device Management
Haseeb Awan
October 27, 2022
20 min
12

Early in the new millennium, businesses used mobile devices more frequently. Since then, it has continued to expand, and mobile devices are now indispensable resources in today's contemporary workplaces.

Although they increase productivity and flexibility, mobile devices can present several challenges to businesses if they need to be adequately managed. Security risks and inefficiencies can result from managing mobile endpoints in a non-standard manner with limited visibility and control.

In 2021, mobile device management (MDM) will be one of the most important and widely used technologies, but that doesn't mean everyone is familiar with it. People may misunderstand what is meant by the term "mobile device management" or use it to refer to something else entirely. While it is simple to discover mobile device management services, it is sometimes difficult to decide which mobile device management tool to go for. In this extensive guide, you'll find the solutions to many frequently asked questions and detailed instructions for implementing robust mobile device management in your company.

Mobile devices' multifaceted features have a number of benefits, but they can also have some drawbacks of their own. Using mobile devices to boost productivity can also result in serious security problems like data leakage due to several loopholes in security.  

However, you can streamline the difficulties brought on by mobile devices with the planned enterprise-wide implementation of Mobile Device Management. A robust Mobile Device Management app or solution can allow your system administrators and security professionals to manage and control the devices utilized throughout the enterprise from a single interface while maintaining security as the top priority. We'll walk you through the most crucial elements of mobile device management in this guide and explain how you can use it internally.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) – Definition

Companies use mobile device management software to monitor, control remotely and protect devices of all kinds, not just mobile ones. Anybody with mobile device management software can track and manage phones and other devices, just as a store manager keeps an eye on and tries to correct shop employees.

More than just mobile devices can be managed by MDM. MDM technology can be used to manage desktops, laptops, tablets, or almost any other type of device. For this reason, almost any business should implement MDM software.

MDM technology is now more crucial than ever. Mobile devices are now essential for all types of jobs as workers everywhere become more mobile. Businesses require methods for controlling, observing, and securing these devices.

A Comparison of MDM, EMM, and UEM

When looking up MDM solutions, you will most frequently encounter three terms: MDM, EMM, and UEM. You might already be curious about what each one represents and how they interact. Here is a concise explanation:

Even though many people confuse MDM, EMM, and UEM, each term has a specific meaning. It's important to realize how these terms have changed over time. It's important to realize how these terms have changed over time. Prior to EMM and UEM tools, the phrase mobile device management was used.

MDM, EMM, and UEM

All mobile devices used at work are tracked, controlled, and secured using mobile device management (MDM). The phrase dates back to a time before cell phones could communicate with other office equipment. IT teams concentrated on doing so to manage office-owned devices separately from other devices. Managing employees' devices ethically was impossible, assuming they had any. Additionally, since managing data and other device-based content was usually sufficient on older phones during this time, system administrators only sometimes required access to such tools.

EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management): What Is It?

Enterprise mobility management, or EMM, is the management of mobile devices and the content and applications that run on them. Mobile application management or MAM, mobile device management (MDM), and mobile content management or MCM are all included in EMM. EMM is significant and has phone management capabilities for both employee-owned and company-owned phones. All of these adjustments made it easier for businesses to accommodate highly mobile workers.

Unified Endpoint Management: What Is It?

The term "unified endpoint management" (UEM) refers to managing all types of business endpoints or devices using a single management framework. This covers various devices, including mobile phones, laptops, IoT gadgets, tablets, and much more. This is both much more practical and effective than earlier methods.

Any effective UEM solution today is really an MDM solution. The ability to control nearly every office device from a single console is a feature of the top MDM solutions. Additionally, each of these solutions can handle the content on those devices. Significant industry benchmarks, such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UEM Solutions, now refer to UEM instead of MDM or EMM.

MDM and EMM are still used frequently because they are well known. EMM and MDM offerings may have fewer features and aren't UEM solutions. Always take the time to confirm that any EMM or MDM solution you come across is a UEM solution.

Mobile Device Management: Workflow

MDM agents are endpoint software agents that are crucial to mobile device management. It also depends on an MDM server, which may be housed on-site or in the cloud. The device management console on the server is where IT staff members first set up device management policies. Later, the server pushes those very same MDM policies to the mobile devices' MDM agents. These policies are implemented through the MDM agent's communication with the operating system's built-in APIs of the device. In addition to these management policies, the MDM server can be used to deploy applications to the devices.

How Does MDM Operate?

Both on-site and cloud-based MDM solutions are available. Its function oversees a mobile device's use within an organization for the duration of its lifecycle, which entails the five stages below.

Enrollment

The first step in the MDM work is to include new devices in the framework for management. This could necessitate a variety of steps depending on the type of device in question:

Android: The operating system's devices are made simple to set up in business environments. Thanks to Android Enterprise and Zero Trust Enrollment, new devices can be configured and enrolled in remote management right out of the box.

Apple: Apple Business Manager is the company's answer to Android Enterprise (ABM). It is possible to set up devices bought from authorized resellers for zero-touch deployment or to add them to ABM using Apple Configurator.

Other: If a device does not support these solutions, an MDM solution should be capable of providing substitute, simple enrollment options. For instance, an MDM solution would just let Android users scan a QR code to sign the device up for the company's lifecycle management program. If this is not supported, it may be necessary for an MDM administrator to manually enrol new devices into an MDM solution, which can take a lot of time.

Personal Devices: Employees may use their devices at work due to BYOD and remote work policies. It may be a good idea for businesses to add these devices to their endpoint management programs. This is possible with the Apple User Enrollment program and Android work profiles for devices not owned or controlled by an organization.

An increasing portion of an organization's IT assets is mobile devices. To manage and secure these devices in the future, an organization must select an MDM solution that can support all of its mobile devices.

Provisioning

A company must set up a device to comply with company policy after adding it to the corporate MDM solution. Modifying configuration and security options, adding or removing specific apps, and controlling the content that is available to and stored on the device are all examples of this.

The Google Play Store for Android and the Apple ABM make this simple for businesses to do on their devices. Instead, a company can use their MDM solution to configure an Enterprise App Store. Instead of certain apps automatically loading on employees' devices, workers can install authorized and preconfigured applications as needed.

An organization can manage the content that is accessed and kept on company devices with the aid of an MDM solution. A business can provide employees with the tools they need to do their tasks by granting access to approved collaboration platforms, corporate data storage, and so on. This eliminates the incentive and potential to use unapproved tools/services that might put corporate systems and data at risk.

Deployment

Having got the devices to the employees comes after they have been configured and added to the company's MDM system. Device location tracking is a valuable feature because, with the rise of remote work, this may involve shipping devices.

Furthermore, any necessary personalization must be completed before deploying or lending devices to employees or students. For instance, any necessary security certificates for mobile devices should be preloaded so that users can immediately help connect to enterprise resources and utilize their devices to their full potential.

Management

The phase of lasting management lasts the entire useful life of the device. Several years may pass in both deployment and retirement for a device.

An organization must ensure that its IT resources continue to operate correctly and efficiently during this time. This entails investigating any potential problems, updating apps or operating systems on devices, monitoring data usage, etc.

Manual management can indeed be difficult and time-consuming when there are many devices. The process can be streamlined and scaled to meet the needs of a company by using an MDM solution to automate a number of the necessary administrative steps.

Retirement

When a piece of equipment has served its purpose no longer, it must be properly retired. This retirement may be anticipated or unexpected if a device is misplaced, stolen, or destroyed.

The process of retiring a device should be seamless and painless when using a device management solution. To prevent the theft of proprietary information or customer data, it should support the capability of remote wiping confidential data from devices and deleting them from the system.

The Significance Of MDM

With mobility enabling workers to work from anywhere and at any time, modern employees face more challenges than in the past. This makes it challenging for IT departments to stay abreast by keeping track of the company's devices and ensuring their security. MDM addresses these problems head-on, assisting organizations in monitoring and securing mobile devices to reduce risks.

Remote Employees

Businesses now have more options for allowing employees to work thanks to the expansion of 4G mobile connectivity remotely, and the recent introduction of 5G will help the workforce become more flexible. For several UK businesses, the idea of remote working is still in its infancy, but the advantages are generally acknowledged and valued. Businesses that adopt remote work can anticipate increases in employee morale and productivity.

The difficulties of working remotely are apparent, and they frequently serve as a determining factor for businesses thinking about changing their workforce. Businesses have the resources necessary to make mobile working a reality with out-of-the-box MDM solutions.

Bring Your Device (BYOD)

With the popularity of remote work, more devices will be able to access, send, and receive corporate data. The costs of providing new or refurbished mobile devices to employees can put a burden on company resources. Many companies are looking for new ways to let employees use their mobile devices inside and outside of the workplace.

Businesses are giving leverage to employees to use personal phones or laptops for work purposes under the Bring Your Device (BYOD) policy. BYOD significantly lowers the capital expenditure required by businesses. Additionally, it allows employees to use a device that is already a part of their daily lives and familiar to them; however,  security and control are still issues with a BYOD policy.

Hardware variety

Because of the rise in mobility, there is a wider variety of smartphones, laptops, and tablets available on the market and, consequently, inside a business. IT departments need help to update the wide variety of hardware, software, and productivity apps throughout the organization with no MDM solution. The inability to configure routine updates can have an impact on user satisfaction, in addition to putting the company at risk of data breaches.

An MDM system is crucial in any workplace because it can easily be set up and integrated across personal and business-owned devices due to its ability to integrate with a company's IT infrastructure.

Security

Any organization should prioritize security, so modern businesses need an MDM solution. It ensures that mobile hardware is secure against theft or loss, bolstering corporate data security. MDM solutions enable businesses to respond quickly by locating a stolen or lost device and remotely wiping corporate data.

When implementing flexible hours in a business, GDPR compliance must also be taken into account. Even if employees only use their mobile devices to read emails, SME businesses with mobile workers are advised to use an MDM solution to protect customer data. The available solutions can assist businesses in putting controls and procedures in place to ensure that business and personal data are separated on a device and to safeguard business data against external threats and unauthorized use.

Deployment

An MDM solution helps you save time and resources. Even with MDM, the workflow for configuring a new set of devices is complex, so streamlining the procedure is becoming more crucial for businesses. Major hardware manufacturers Apple and Android have implemented their rollout platforms, which make managing and deploying new devices inside an organization much easier to help overcome the difficulties of doing so. 

There has never been a more crucial time to implement an MDM solution, with cyberattacks on the emergence and mobile working becoming increasingly common. Channel partners must be proactive and incorporate security into all proposals for mobile communications. You must make sure that your clients are aware of MDM's advantages and the dangers involved in leaving their personnel and equipment unprotected.

The Most Crucial MDM Features

Different MDM tools have extensive features and support different operating systems. Typically, you can manage apps and configurations, secure devices and data, view your device inventory, enforce standardized device policies, and remotely update software. However, many solutions even offer expense, identity, and access management.

To make sure you choose the best MDM software for your organization's needs, it's a good idea to perform a comparative analysis of different MDM solutions have to offer. Here is a summary of the top seven functionalities that an MDM must offer:

Device inventory

MDM software gathers different software and hardware data on devices, assisting businesses in monitoring and tracking both company-owned and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) devices. For instance, among other things, you can view ownership details, security and warranty status, installed configurations and applications, and current location.

Limitations and Configurations

Remote device configuration is among the most important advantages of MDM. Organizations can protect data, follow compliance policies and give employees the tools they need by using various configuration and restriction options. MDM enables the installation of all necessary settings (such as VPN and Wi-Fi) on devices and establishes usage limitations.

Content and Application Management

Employees must have simple access to the necessary programs and files to be productive. MDM enables businesses to update applications and centrally manage all mobile content. Additionally, apps can be added to the device, removed from the device, or both.

Data and Device Security

It is possible to take a number of security measures to ensure the device's security and the confidential data it contains. Using MDM, businesses can, for instance, mandate disk encryption, create secure containers that divide corporate data from personal data and use strong passcodes. Additionally, MDM can help you find a lost device or even enable you to remotely wipe the data in case the device isn't recovered.

Enforcement of Policy

Standardized device policies assist businesses in standardizing device management, which ultimately improves efficiency and helps them comply with legal requirements. Companies can mass-deploy various policies to devices, allowing them to pre-select the configurations, limitations, and applications that should be installed on the devices.

Automation

When a business is handling several different devices, automation is advantageous. Most mobile device management systems allow security framework device enrollments via Android Zero-Touch Enrollment, Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager, or Samsung Knox Mobile Enrollment. Additionally, businesses can use mobile device management (MDM) to autonomously deploy all configuration updates and apps to devices in compliance with corporate policies when these built-in applications are connected to an MDM system.

Remote Maintenance

Employees don't need to visit the IT department physically because MDM allows devices to be upgraded and serviced remotely. Because all software configurations, device diagnostic testing, and troubleshooting can be done over the air, businesses can save considerable time.

What Is An MDM Solution Capable Of?

Modern MDM solutions, as previously mentioned, can control almost all types of business devices.

When researching, ask what kinds of devices and operating systems, the MDM solution supports. On a specific device, a few solutions only support one operating system (for example, android or iOS). Therefore, it's critical to identify a solution that meets your specific requirements.

Devices That An MDM Solution Can Manage

Mobile phones: Naturally, managing mobile phones is part of mobile device management! However, there are many different types of mobiles, including modern smartphones and vintage cell phones (also known as feature phones). Make sure the MDM solution you select is compatible with the mobile devices that your team uses.

Tablets: Some MDM programs support both regular and rugged tablets.

Computers: Both laptop and desktop computers can be managed by MDM solutions.

Wearables: Wearables are gaining importance in the workplace, and most MDMs allow you to manage rugged wearable computers and smartwatches.

Devices Made for Physically Demanding Work Environments: Mobile device management solutions must support rugged phones, tablets, and other devices. To make absolutely sure the tool is optimized for warehouses using the manufacturer's devices, an MDM solution, for instance, might collaborate with a company that makes rugged devices.

VR: Virtual Reality (VR): The use of Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) devices is one of the most significant recent trends in business. In response, the majority of MDMs support a few VR/AR headsets. They go by the name "head-mounted displays."

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): A few MDM tools can also control industrial routers, sensor-based equipment, and other data-gathering tools used in industrial settings. 

Non-Traditional Endpoints: Many MDM solutions handle IoT devices and gadgets that don't run conventional operating systems. These gadgets include standard office supplies like scanners, printers, battery cradles, etc., that were created prior to the rise of IoT technology.

Operating Systems: A good MDM program must support Android Enterprise and provide other practical features. An MDM solution must allow OEMConfig to administer Android devices from various manufacturers.

Android VR: An MDM can handle some popular VR headsets that operate on the Android operating system.

Wear OS: Some MDM solutions provide for the management of Wear OS, Google's wearable operating system that was initially known as Android Wear.

iPadOS and iOS: Apple separated the operating system for iOS in 2019 and called the iPadOS version. However, Apple Business Manager (ABM), which most MDM solutions integrate, allows administrators to control iOS and iPadOS devices.

Watch OS: MDMs can control Apple Watches through the control of the iPhones to which they are connected, but they cannot handle Apple Watches on their own.

Mac OS: Due to its exceptional reputation and performance, macOS, Apple's laptop and desktop operating system has flourished. Although Apple Business Manager offers management capabilities, many offices also employ macOS and Windows computers. Therefore, ABM is insufficient in such a situation.

Windows: A competent MDM program should handle Windows 10 devices, given the widespread use of Microsoft's operating system worldwide. Additionally, a lot of MDM programs provide only limited assistance for outdated Windows versions (including Windows 7 and 8).

Windows Mobile and Windows CE: Surprisingly, many businesses still use outdated hardware running these outdated versions of Windows. These devices and more contemporary ones may be supported and remotely monitored by an MDM system.

Linux: Because it is an open-source operating system, it takes expertise to set up and maintain. Robust MDM solutions support all Linux distributions.

Management Issues with MDM

Administrators must be aware of the expenses, use cases, and difficulties in advance to get the most from any managed mobility solution. Clearly, there are security dangers when remote work devices are not managed properly, but what does it mean in practice?

The following list of typical issues with mobile device management:

Access Control for Networks

Employees request to utilize both company-issued and personal mobile devices in their digital workspaces. It is challenging to control network access using this hybrid technique without jeopardizing security.

In order to keep everything safe and secure, it's imperative to guarantee that employees always have access to the business systems, applications, and data they require for work. In the end, a business is nothing if no one works there! But juggling security with pragmatism is indeed a significant challenge for IT departments.

Fortunately, administrators may impose security regulations that users and devices must adhere to access resources using network access control (NAC) technologies.

Data Security

Another issue with using personal mobile devices at work in virtual environments? The more networked devices there are, the more opportunities there are for fraudsters to access corporate networks.

Unfortunately, contrary to laptops and desktops, smartphones and tablets frequently come with less thorough anti-malware software, which increases security threats. However, despite advancements in endpoint security, laptops and desktop computers continue to be the main tools used for work, making them prime targets for cunning criminal groups.

Again, effective MDM solutions can aid companies in securing their mobile settings across all device kinds and plugging susceptible data gaps.

By segregating personal and corporate identities on personal mobile devices, utilizing "lock and delete" functions that ensure company data and automating the data encryption process doesn't get into the hands of the wrong people should devices get lost or stolen, they can achieve this goal.

User Experience 

Of course, when managing mobility, administrators must also take user experience into account. Employees may become irritated by MDMs that drastically restrict particular device functionality.

For instance, overly cautious settings may identify as "vulnerable" regularly used software that employees depend on to do everyday activities. This could encourage employees who depend on the software to jailbreak their handsets to conduct daily chores.

Having said that, it is crucial to consider how employees will feel before selecting an MDM solution and whether it would affect their performance and productivity.

Migration

A company's MDM software may eventually need to be replaced. Moving software can be difficult, to put it mildly, regardless of whether the transition is being made to reduce expenses or to improve.

Administrators frequently need to pay more attention to how long it takes to find, move, and sort data into a new system. In addition to taking precautions to prevent data loss or corruption, companies must take into account the resources needed to alter the course.

To guarantee that everyone is aware of their obligations moving ahead, create a task force, write down your plan, and disseminate the crucial information.

BYOD Guidelines

More than 75% of firms' policies on BYOD already included BYOD as of 2018. With the introduction of digital workspaces, the number of personally owned devices used for the workplace has only risen.

Supporting all of these gadgets has, needless to say, become very difficult. As remote workers acquire new devices and get rid of their old ones, there are continuous onboarding and offboarding events. Furthermore, it takes a lot of work to catch up with the release of new mobile phones and emerging technology!

Unfortunately, only a few businesses have BYOD policies that are actually effective. Why? Before purchasing MDM software, many administrators believed BYOD is handled automatically.

Guidelines for Improving MDM Strategy

Now that we've spoken about what mobile device management is and how it may help your company improve its security posture let's look at how you can improve your MDM plan. Here's how to go about it:

Lock Everything Up And Remove It 

A strong MDM strategy is designed to eliminate any chance of losing data from a mobile phone that is no longer physically in your possession or that you may have lost. A robust MDM strategy must enable the IT personnel to delete any files from the device that might contain confidential information in addition to email, calendar, and contacts. It must be locked and erased to prevent unauthorized access to the device's data.

Select the Device That Must Be Moved 

The first step is determining what needs to be accessible and which devices. An effective MDM approach must simultaneously support all required operational and management tasks and provide protection against risks. Ensure that all applicable security policies are in place and being followed. Establish MDM goals, assess options, and specify the range of permitted mobile devices. Five suggestions for improving your mobile application management strategy.

Recognize the MDM's Scope and Limitations 

You should be aware that MDM features could also comprise configuration management, security management, usage monitoring, local policy enforcement, reporting, auditing, and more before developing an MDM strategy. You will be able to create an effective MDM strategy once you fully understand the scope and constraints of MDM.

Make Sure MDM Is Incorporated Into The Entire IT Management Strategy

IT administrators must ensure the MDM plan adheres to all operational needs and limitations of the comprehensive IT management strategy. The two approaches must complement one another and not be at odds. For more convenience and scalability, you might use software-as-a-service options hosted in the cloud. Additionally, it should specify the terms of the vendor for both products and service licensing.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Policy

Data loss prevention, often known as DLP policy, is a security measure used by enterprises to prevent the leakage of sensitive and important data outside the company's network. A company can maintain its DLP policy using MDM by keeping track of its users' rights, and data flows to protect corporate data from potential internal dangers/threats.

Today: Heterogeneous Environments and MDM

Microsoft, Apple, and Google all developed MDMs for their respective Windows operating systems, while Apple produced MDM solutions for iOS and macOS.

Unfortunately, each option leaves a lot to be desired in today's workplace. Task sequencing, third-party integration, orchestration, and software metering were all added as afterthoughts. Put, having a workspace focused on Windows is no longer guaranteed.

Additionally, the number of businesses implementing BYOD, remote work rules, and cloud-based apps is expanding at an incredible rate. By 2028, 73% of all teams, according to Upwork, will likely have remote workers. Although remote policies could enable more efficient work, they also leave room for data breaches. These factors have made cloud-based MDM systems the best option for heterogeneous and remote work settings. 

MDM in Cloud Computing

Utilizing a third-party product with management features for certain mobile device suppliers is a common way to deploy mobile device management. Other times, hosted MDM (also known as "MDM as a service" or SaaS) is provided. Without technical knowledge of the individual mobile devices being utilized in the enterprise, this kind of solution enables speedy adoption.

The main goal of MDM in a professional setting is to keep an eye on and manage access to company data while preserving the user's device ownership. Other advantages include lowering mobile device support expenses by enabling end-user self-help support, enhancing enterprise security with a remote lock and wipe, enforcing adherence to company policy governing apps, and encrypting data on mobile devices.

Other advantages include lowering support expenses for mobile devices by allowing users to self-help; enhancing workplace security with remote locking and wiping features enforcing adherence to company app restrictions; protecting data through encryption; preventing unwanted access to corporate networks by barring non-compliant devices, and automatically establishing email profiles.

Device management has various facets, including:

  • How to manage access to business data on a device using security rules
  • Mobile application management: How to install or remove programs from a device using mobile application management
  • Mobile content management: How to exchange and keep documents on a mobile device securely: mobile content management
  • Identity management: Limiting access to company data on a device to only those who are permitted

The various suppliers have modified their platforms to suit various market areas. Some have chosen to handle only mobile phones, only Apple devices, etc., while others have chosen to ensure they are adequately prepared to manage the unique requirements of schools. If you need specific features, like delaying an OS upgrade, make sure your selected MDM solution has those capabilities because Apple has specified what MDM solutions can accomplish with its platform (also referred to as the MDM framework). It can be challenging to choose between them if you need clarification on what functional priorities are most important to you. 

There are more employees and devices which, if used correctly, can significantly improve an organization. MDM, or mobile device management, can be helpful in several ways. Despite using different hardware and operating systems, MDM can assemble your workforce. It offers the ability to distribute a set of uniform security options to each device with access to your data. It can remotely lock a lost device. The best part is that it can complete all these tasks instantly or while in motion, ensuring you never waste a moment of productivity.

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or haseebawan@efani.com for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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