5 Must-Haves for an Enterprise Mobility Management Solution

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Mobility has become an increasingly important part of how organizations not only deploy technology, but also do business. Trends such as bring your own device (BYOD), telecommuting, mobile application development and anywhere/anytime connectivity have redefined IT architectures and reshaped infrastructure decisions from the data center to the network’s edge. IT consumerization has altered the boundaries between work and personal use: Research indicates that 88% of people use smartphones for work while they are on personal time.

But ubiquitous mobility often comes with the potential for increased complexity, security risks and confusion between the roles and responsibilities of IT departments and their business cohorts. A smartly conceived and expertly deployed enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution is vital to fulfilling mobility’s potential and allowing users to choose their own devices.

Not all EMM solutions are equal. The following are five major considerations that all organizations need to account for when putting EMM into place:

  • Device management
  • Identity authentication
  • Application management
  • Threat protection
  • Content management

Individually, each of these is a must-have for organizations looking to make mobility standard operating procedure to achieve key business outcomes. However, it is the collective, synergistic integration of these capabilities that makes EMM a game changer when it comes to improved productivity, end-user satisfaction and organizational agility.

Device Management
As the numbers and types of mobile devices utilized by business users grows, it becomes more essential for organizations to manage those devices—especially those in use in locations away from centralized IT support organizations. Mobile device management (MDM) is a fundamental technology that helps companies get started on their EMM strategies. To provide the greatest value to the organization, MDM has to take into account such functions as managing the actual mobile assets themselves, as well as device configurations and security.

This is made challenging by a number of factors, starting with the important task of identifying far-flung devices—often personally owned by employees rather than assigned by the organization—that need access to the corporate network. Essential tasks such as securing mobile devices through device passwords and configuring device settings automatically are critical MDM requirements.

MDM is a foundational element within an overall enterprise mobile framework because it can reduce IT cost and complexity, improve user productivity and enable real-time access to corporate resources, particularly for corporate-owned devices. It also can help IT organizations conduct over-the-air asset inventory and help deliver basic security requirements such as remotely locking and wiping devices.

Identity Authentication
With so many users—often with different device formats—trying to gain access to network resources from mobile devices, EMM solutions must have secure methods to authenticate identities. Without strong identity authentication, it’s much easier for hackers to gain access to proprietary organizational information or to mimic user identities.

EMM solutions need to provide multi-factor identification factors that go beyond traditional password-based access and approval. At the same time, identity authentication should be easy to use and deploy on mobile devices. No one wants to enter long, complex passwords that have to change every 90 days or toggle between apps to enter credentials to get to the information they need–especially on mobile devices, where the user experience is king.

For mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, look for an EMM platform that can support a one-time password credential or digital certificates. Also, the pervasiveness of mobile devices means that access to email and other business information is required around the clock. The ability to leverage one digital identity across the corporate network and provide the convenience of single sign-on across multiple mobile apps is a critical identity authentication requirement.

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Application Management
Application management encompasses a wide range of capabilities under an EMM umbrella, including managing the application lifecycle of distributing, updating and retiring apps, as well as implementing security policies on a per-app basis. The complex and interconnected nature of applications in an increasingly mobile-centric environment requires a management framework that works for all shareholders, from IT and developers to operations teams and end-user groups.

Your EMM solution should support such features as an enterprise app store with role-based app distribution, application security policies for data encryption, user authentication, local data storage, document sharing, copy/paste restrictions, jailbreak/root detection and secure versions of common productivity apps like email and browser. Look for solutions that provide a simple method to apply application security policies, without the need for developer resources or rewriting code to implement new policies.

Threat Protection
New security threats are popping up all the time, often using mobile devices for unauthorized entry into corporate systems. This puts added pressure on organizations to ensure that their EMM solutions fully protect all users and corporate data, applications and services against threats in real time. These threats are real and daunting: 38% of mobile users have experienced mobile cybercrime during the past 12 months.

Today’s mobile threats go beyond traditional malware: The widespread use of mobile apps and app stores make apps popular targets for hackers. EMM solutions should include app intelligence and reputation capabilities to protect against risky applications that steal or lead data, drain battery or consume too much bandwidth.

Content Management
The consumerization of IT has led to many employees adopting consumer-grade file-sharing services to store, share and access sensitive documents, putting corporate data at risk. A big challenge for IT organizations is enabling anytime/anywhere access to corporate content, while safeguarding data.

EMM solutions provide mobile content management capabilities that allow employees to access corporate content. Key features to look for include an intuitive user interface for easy access, content distribution, version control and content policies such as encryption, copy/paste restriction and sharing restrictions.

Conclusion
Enterprise mobility management is a vital requirement for just about any organization, due to the growing use of mobile devices and apps supporting distributed and virtual workforces. But not all EMM solutions offer the same level of functionality, security and flexibility. IT teams responsible for deploying and managing mobile infrastructure, applications and services should do their homework to ensure that their EMM framework covers all the bases to make enterprise mobility a corporate asset, rather than a liability.