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Develop a device-agnostic mobile device strategy

Is your organization's mobile device strategy prepared for a device-agnostic future? In this five-part webcast, Craig Mathias, principal at wireless mobile advisory firm Farpoint Group and a well-known industry expert in the areas of wireless communications and mobile computing technologies, discusses the fundamentals of a mobile device strategy. In part one, Mathias reviews the fundamentals of mobile device management and the importance of a device-agnostic strategy. Watch the webcast and read the transcript below.

What I'm talking about today is essentially the complementary relationship that really exists between MDM (mobile device management) and BYOD (bring your own device). They're not the same thing. They're aimed really at very different sets of problems, but, being complementary, it's important that both of them be available in enterprises today. We're going to begin with an overview of mobility management. We'll talk a little about MDM and a little about BYOD and then how all of this is going to be evolving over time.

When we started looking at mobility overall, there's a lot of elements that go into a mobile IT strategy. What most people tend to start with is the mobile device, but in fact what you want to do is start at the other end here -- the top left corner of this slide: What information needs to be mobilized? Who needs to have it? Under what circumstances? What applications will affect it? What networks will ultimately transmit it? Then we can start worrying about which mobile devices are ultimately going to be used to access that information -- maybe locally and maybe in the cloud.

There are a few other elements, of course, to make all of that work with IT and network infrastructure. Security is always an issue and our topic for today: management, the optimal allocation of resources. [You want] to get the best possible result. Now, along those lines, just have a brief look at management.

We're talking today about IT management, application management, network management, device management, but really management can be applied to any resource. It's an inexact science, really more of an art, and we find that the best management techniques are really driven by objects -- what you are trying to do and putting in place a strategy behind that. So, both MDM and BYOD need to fit into an overall IT strategy but, most importantly, both of these are elements in lowering the total cost of ownership.

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Capital expense is driven by technology and manufacturing economies of scale. So, that's what you buy, but the really critical part is operating expense, and that tends to be driven by labor costs. We want to lower labor costs. We want to improve productivity and get the results that we need in concert with the overall strategy for mobility that we've put in place.

Now, when we look at IT management, there are a lot of pieces, obviously: computers and related devices, network management, security management. Many enterprises, particularly larger ones, have their own security organizations, even a chief security officer, personnel management. Then, of course, the management of devices, applications, data and information -- all of those elements are related to cost. The cost of telecommunications, and policy management as well, and it turns out that the vendor community has put together a good number of solutions in each of these areas. Each one has become a distinct element, and many of them fit into mobility management.

The most visible element there is mobile device management. This was the first that appeared and with very good reason. It's an extension of the element-management philosophy that's been with us since the very early days of IT management overall. Why not just extend management and control all the way to the mobile device? We are mostly concerned here with configuration issues, turning on antivirus, making sure the firewall's up to speed, a little bit of visibility, things like that, but it's about the mobile device. It doesn't really say anything about applications, data, how it's used [and] what networks it operates on.

Because of this, a number of other areas, now distinct, have appeared. One of them is the well-known field of mobile application management, which includes such areas as whitelisting and blacklisting, enterprise app stores, a variety of other capabilities, application rollout testing, monitoring, control [and] statistics in terms of usage. But perhaps even more important is what we've been calling mobile information management. We would have called it mobile data management but that would have been another MDM. In this case, we're looking at data integrity, security and tracking. This is most often implemented today through a containerization, or what some people call sandboxing, technique.

In other words, we take sensitive information, as defined in an enterprise or security policy. We put it in a container even on a device that's owned by the user, so this works nicely with BYOD, and then we can manage it, wipe it, whatever we need to do in terms of maintaining the security and integrity of that data in addition, of course, to tracking its use. Then there's mobile expense management, reimbursement [and] working with preferred carriers. These have all really appeared in separate and distinct solutions. One of the themes you'll hear me come back to later on is that we're beginning to see these roll up into more comprehensive solutions. Many of them are aimed at enterprises and some are even aimed at the carrier community and thus can be offered as services.

Listen to part two of this webcast, where Mathias delves deeper into mobile device management initiatives.

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I think Craig hits on a good point about starting with what information needs to be mobilized, who needs to have it, under what circumstances, what applications will affect it, and what networks will ultimately transmit it. It may seem tempting, but I would also caution people from simply mobilizing legacy apps. There’s a good article on it here on ITKE. A better way to a device-agnostic mobile strategy might be to first focus on switching to web-based applications, that are mobile friendly or optimized for mobile, and then move towards a responsive design that is device agnostic.