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Mobile Device Management (MDM) : How It Works, Best Practices, Benefits & Challenges

In a world where mobile devices reign supreme in the workplace, companies need a tool that can help them strike a balance between ensuring device and data security and fueling productivity. Enter Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools that provide a seamless blend of robust security measures and performance-boosting capabilities at your fingertips. This powerful solution enables organizations to enforce security policies on corporate mobile devices while empowering employees to work productively.

What is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Fundamentally, MDM is a set of tools and working practices used to manage, monitor, and secure mobile devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Key functionality within an MDM solution includes device enrollment, configuration, enabling security policies, and remote management.

MDM allows IT colleagues to control device settings, implement security measures, and perform remote locking or data wiping if a device is lost or stolen.

Why is Mobile Device Management (MDM) important?

Even a small business with only a few hundred employees has thousands of devices connecting to the company’s network and database daily. MDM tools help IT administrators conveniently manage the rapidly expanding world of mobile devices even as resources and budgets for technicians remain the same.

Using an MDM tool, technicians can easily implement security policies on all corporate mobile devices, including users’ personal devices enrolled under the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. The solution provides complete visibility into the IT infrastructure and helps technicians discover every device that connects to the network almost instantly. They can then access the device remotely to configure it, deploy security policies, change settings, reset passwords, troubleshoot glitches and even remediate security issues in real time.

Even on a regular day when there aren’t any security threats scaring everyone off, IT administrators have to field tickets from users, patch operating systems and applications, and undertake all sorts of tinkering to ensure the devices stay in top shape. Moreover, updating applications allows users to benefit from the latest technologies, improving user experience and productivity.

How does Mobile Device Management (MDM) work?

In order to manage the mobile devices within your organization, MDM works mainly through two components:

  1. MDM server - The MDM service is either in a data center or the cloud.

  2. MDM agent - The MDM agent is installed on the mobile device.

When the IT department needs to update the security policies on mobile devices, the policy is updated on the MDM Server Management console and then pushed out to the MDM agent. IT teams can also use the MDM server-agent connection to deploy new apps or apply updates to managed devices.

What are the best practices for Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Here are a set of best practices to follow to make the most of your MDM tool :

  1. Clearly defined goals and policies - Before deploying an MDM solution, precise your organization's goals and objectives for mobile device usage.

  2. Do your prep work - Create policies regarding MDM and security. Establish comprehensive orientation for device, data, and app usage, security measures, and acceptable use guidelines.

  3. Have a plan for device enrollment - Create an enrollment strategy that flexes to business needs. There are several approaches depending on your organization's cadence, for example, manual, bulk, or automated enrollment.

  4. Ensure devices and apps are updated regularly to protect your environment - Make sure your process is designed to guarantee devices are periodically checked for updates to ensure any security vulnerabilities are patched as soon as possible.

  5. Review your policies - Build a review cycle for your security policies so they are regularly checked and verified against current best practices so that they still meet the needs of the business.

What are the benefits of Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Effective MDM can transform how IT departments manage and support mobile devices. Some benefits of MDM include:

  1. More effective Device Management - MDM provides a way of managing mobile devices centrally. IT teams can remotely configure device settings, update software, and install applications.

  2. More effective support model - Because mobile devices can be configured remotely, the provisioning process is more efficient and ensures all mobile devices are set up consistently.

  3. Easier app deployment - MDM simplifies the deployment and management of applications on mobile devices. It allows IT to deploy applications to devices, ensuring that colleagues have the bright apps and services to perform their tasks efficiently.

  4. Better security - MDM enables IT departments to enforce security policies on mobile devices, ensuring that they meet the organization's security standards. It allows remote device tracking, lock, and wipe functionalities to protect sensitive data in case of loss or theft. MDM also facilitates encryption, password policies, and secure access to corporate resources, minimizing the risk of data breaches.

  5. Cost savings - MDM manages devices centrally, enabling organizations to reduce support costs and the human error associated with manual device setup activities and prevent unauthorized device usage. MDM also allows organizations to track data usage and enforce policies to prevent excessive data consumption.

  6. Remote support functionality - MDM enables IT teams to remotely manage, support, and troubleshoot mobile devices instead of asking the colleague to return to the office.

What are the challenges of Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

While MDM solutions offer numerous advantages, organizations should be aware of the potential challenges they may encounter when implementing and using MDM.

  1. BYOD maintenance - Implementing a BYOD program can increase productivity and save costs, but it comes with challenges. Choosing an MDM solution that supports a variety of devices is vital for enhanced security. This also enables seamless integration of personal devices with company resources and aids productivity and compliance.

  2. Increasing complexity - MDM solutions can be complex to set up and maintain, requiring specialized expertise. Managing diverse device ecosystems, including iOS, Android, Windows and Linux, adds another layer of complexity. To overcome these challenges, choose user-friendly MDM solutions with comprehensive support and seek vendors offering cross-platform compatibility.

  3. User privacy and friendliness - Despite many valuable features provided by many MDM solutions, they often lack intuitive interfaces, impeding basic tasks like app installations and data backups. Opt for a solution that is easy to use so your administrators can implement policies without disturbing the end user or compromising on security.

  4. Application management and integration - One of the biggest culprits of cybersecurity issues is unauthorized app downloads. Setting strict app download policies lets you keep your network safe from potential threats. Be vigilant and only allow low-threat apps on your users’ devices. Talking about integration — although Apple, Google or Microsoft may offer innovative MDM solutions, they usually do not support third-party apps. Trade-offs like this are not desirable and should be avoided.

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