Mobile technology and IT consumerization are together making Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) a norm in many Enterprise Mobility initiatives. Similar to corporate-liable device implementations before, BYOD devices need to be actively managed within a broad framework rather than as piecemeal solutions. For example, device inventory management will need to be integrated and mapped with enterprise asset management along with billing and service management. Additionally, mobile security will need to be managed and considered in terms of the overall business risk management.
In a recent survey, 78% of organizations identified Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions as a key component of their IT offerings in the next two years. The same survey also found nearly two-thirds of them accepting BYOD by their IT department. However, 31% are not employing solutions to manage BYOD. As MDM continues to integrate with IT Services Management and other mainstream enterprise process tools, managing BYOD will become an inseparable aspect.
MDM involves five elements:
- Software Creation and Distribution
With the variety of large platforms, many companies find managing software creation and distribution a roadblock to MDM implementation in a BYOD environment. Effective strategies could vary from building apps using one of the cross-platform technologies (such as Appcelerator and PhoneGap) to using or integrating with a Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) such as Antenna Software’s AmpChroma. The good news is that many enterprise apps are content or data centric, and can be built using cross-platform technologies without overly compromising on user experience or powerful native device capabilities. Having a rich mobility gateway that can re-purpose this data and content to and from the enterprise servers will be a bigger challenge than platform variety itself.
- Policy Management
Many companies today have either not defined enterprise mobility policies around BYOD or have ineffective ones. When defining the policy framework for a BYOD strategy, it is important for organizations to mirror larger enterprise security policies. Again, a key challenge lies in implementing policies consistently across a varied set of devices. Many MDMs now support policy management across multiple platforms like iOS, Android, BlackBerry by using thin clients or remote agents, which can be effectively used for a BYOD setting.
- Inventory Management
Companies are realizing that BYOD doesn’t mean a free-for-all strategy with them relinquishing control over devices and user activities. Effective BYOD strategies require proactive registration, management and separation of devices. Most companies that do not have a BYOD strategy are struggling with the level of support their IT department is capable of providing to their employees. While that may be a challenge in a landscape as dynamic as mobility, companies need to move forward with workable service levels for the small percentage of BYOD devices that are outliers. Again, the good news here is that companies will likely have to focus on data and content rather than software incompatibility issues.
- Security Management
Enterprise Mobility policy needs to cover the legal and security aspects properly covering a company’s governance, risk and compliance management strategy. Most MDM providers today enable security features such as password enforcement, strong encryption, remote lock/wipe, audit trail, jailbreak detection, etc. Ability to wipe data remotely is a key concern with BYOD along with the ability to differentiate between corporate and personal data is also very desirable. Since apps are the preferred delivery mechanism on mobiles rather than web browsers and enterprise data is tied to these specific apps, isolating and wiping corporate data is easier.
- Service Management
Similar to billing and expense management, Service Management is a key component of any MDM tool. Whether a company goes with full reimbursement, stipend tied to the seniority, or functions of an employee, using MDM for BYOD strategy can help manage and optimize usage, and also provide as much leverage in negotiating billing plans with operators as in corporate-liable devices case. In addition to inventory management, effective service management is also a direct reason to bring BYOD devices into proactive device management paradigm.
If mobile and tablet devices can indeed be considered the next-generation corporate productivity devices, then their management also needs to be integrated with the company’s larger IT Services Management initiatives. BYOD represents an interesting paradigm shift in ownership of assets where device variety is seen as a powerful means (providing choice to employees) to an end (employee productivity). With the maturity and security capabilities of MDM tools today, data-centricity of many corporate business models, and the advent of apps as a more secure mechanism for data delivery, accepting and proactively managing BYOD policies is well within reach of enterprises.