How Do You Manage Mobile Devices?

Posted by Steve Knutson on August 7, 2015

Mobile devices are increasingly becoming the go-to devices at work – and at home.
Gartner, Inc., a leading industry research firm states, by 2018, more than 50 percent of users will pick up a tablet or smartphone first for all online activities. That will shift our workplace practices with 40 percent of enterprises making wi-fi the default connection for non-mobile devices, such as desktops, projectors and desk phones, according to Gartner.
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How do you manage these mobile devices? It’s a question that not only executives and IT administrators are asking, but also well-intended parents.

MaaS360 by IBM and Meraki by Cisco are two of the leading players in Mobile Device Management (MDM). These apps are robust enough to appease IT guys like me and easy enough for the non-tech professional to set up a management system for their family’s devices (a particularly handy tool when you have teenagers like I do).

The cost is minimal and sometimes free.

Here are 8 cool features of these mobile device management apps:

  1. Force a password-lock on devices.
    One of the best parts of these apps from my perspective is that they require users to password-lock their entire device. This often is a challenge to institute company-wide through just a written policy. Yet it is critical for security.
  2. Track usage.
    From one easy-to-view dashboard, account administrators can view the number of devices, users, apps and documents on the account.
  3. Push out apps and updates to everyone all at once.
    Administrators can select an app such as a Salesforce, a CRM or another line of business software, and with a couple clicks, make it available on every device. This also makes updates a snap.
  4. Set up rules (policies really).
    These “rules” can be applied to a user, a group of users or all users. They can be related to who can access certain apps or features, or who has certain privileges. For example, you can restrict the use of the camera on the device for specific groups of users.
  5. Receive alerts when rules are broken.
    Administrators can choose to receive a message when a device tries to break a rule  and even create messages to send to the user when it happens to encourage appropriate use.
  6. Disable or wipe the device.
    This is critical to ensure the data on the devices is not compromised should it become lost or stolen. Account managers can set up an automatic wipe, triggered by established rules within a set period of time. This can include wiping a device after a preset time period if the user tried to “jailbreak” the device.
  7. Turn off features or apps for a set period of time.
    The list of options on this is long, giving administrators great flexibility in ensuring appropriate use of the device.
  8. Receive notifications when devices reach a certain destination.
    It’s called geo-fencing. It allows administrators to identify certain locations or geographic boundaries when they want to be notified that the device (or the user) has reached that location. This often is the one that perks parents’ ears as a way to know if their child has snuck out or is visiting a love interest’s home without permission. But there are applications for business, too.

Mobile device management was easier when organizations supplied employees with the technology. That’s shifted dramatically over the past five years. Today, the majority of professionals use their personal smartphones for work. In many cases, they prefer to receive the reimbursement from their employer instead of carrying the dreaded two phones.

It can work for employees to use their personal devices for work, but organizations need to have policies in place around usage and particularly to ensure the organization’s data remains protected. Then, Mobile Device Management software can do much of the work for you.

Topics: Mobile Devices