In today’s world of business and information technology, we are seeing more and more focus placed on mobile devices such as phones and tablets. It makes sense, seeing as the capabilities of these devices have taken leaps and bounds forward in just a handful of years – more and more office workers are doing away with immobile desktops and heavy laptops, and opting for sleek, lightweight 2-in-1 devices and powerful smartphones that they can easily carry between their workplace and their home. The ubiquity of smartphones means that almost every adult uses one, and this often leads to people using personal smartphones for work, for they have the exact same capabilities and computing power needed to work on.
However, it is not all happy days, for there are a number of challenges associated with the use of mobile devices in a business context. A lot of this has to do with user habits around mobile devices – many people seem to think there is not a problem using a mobile device for both personal and business use. It is precisely because smartphones are so ubiquitous that many people have a tendency to overlook fairly obvious risks.
We spoke to TechQuarters, a company providing IT services in London, about the challenges of using mobile devices in a business and IT context. They agreed that there are a number of important challenges around mobile device use at work, however, not utilizing mobile devices for work would pose an even bigger challenge for businesses looking to succeed – which is precisely why businesses need mobile device management.
What is Mobile Device Management?
In a business context, mobile device management (MDM) is the practice of administration for mobile devices – this includes smartphones, tablets, and laptops, although these days it is primarily used to refer to just smartphones and tablets.
In fact mobile device is often used as a catch-all term, but there are a number of different types of device management. MDM namely covers things like making sure all mobile devices used for business are configured the same, rolling out updates on apps, functions, and policies on all devices, and monitoring and tracking business mobile devices.
Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) is different and more encompassing than MDM, but many people confuse the two. Enterprise Mobility Management does everything than MDM does, but also covers information management, application management, content management, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.
The final definition many people talk about in relation to mobile device management, is Unified Endpoint Management (UEM). Unified Endpoint Management covers everything than MDM and EMM covers, but it is used for all endpoints, including IoT devices, wearables, and non-mobile devices like desktops and printers.
How does MDM help businesses?
With the widespread use of mobile devices among business, it is incredibly important that they are equipped with the same protections that we associate with a business’ hardware and network. The traditional IT equipment we think of is usually configured specifically to have the highest level of cyber security. Oftentimes, mobile devices are not equipped with this level of security, but this is precisely what Mobile Device Management is meant for.
Security – the more devices a business uses, the more opportunities hackers and cybercriminal shave to exploit weaknesses. This is why all mobile devices in a work context should be supported by MDM solutions, so that they do not become weak links, or access points for malicious users or viruses.
Network Access Control – mobile devices have been especially useful since the onset of COVID-19. With more and more businesses resorting to digital workspaces, there is a definite need for users to access corporate data remotely, which involves checking into the company’s private network from remote locations. The challenge is enabling this without making it possible for just any user to access the company network – this is something that EMM is capable of doing.
Network Protection – when enabled to do so, workers will naturally begin working more and more whilst they are outside of the office – perhaps, if a business has implemented working-from-home practices, they are always working out of the office. While the flexibility modern mobile devices offer is a good thing, it also means that a company’s network perimeter becomes stretched. Company data may be taken beyond the outer edges of what companies are capable of controlling. Users might connect to unsecured public networks whilst they are working. Solutions such as MDM and EMM are capable of implementing policies and tech solutions to ensure a company’s network is protected, even if a work device is beyond the perimeter.
Bring Your Own Device – more and more workers are electing to bring their own personal devices to work, and use them interchangeably. This used to be fraught with complications and risks. However, nowadays with solutions like MDM, EMM, and UEM, companies can implement strict access control policies on person devices, making sure that any corporate data or apps stored on personal devices are protected to a high degree.