Mobile Device Management (MDM) is fast becoming the acronym of the moment as organizations struggle to deal with the ubiquity of mobile devices amongst their workforce.   As workers are more and more vocal in their desire to utilize their own devices in the workplace, security management becomes crucial in protecting the organization’s data.  Mobile Device Management (MDM) software monitors, manages and supports mobile devices deployed across mobile operators, service providers and enterprises[1].

“The era of fully supporting company-owned devices is giving way to an era of managed diversity in which tiered support for employee-owned, consumer-class devices is the norm. With the unabated growth of consumerization, IT leaders need to implement MDM to manage corporate and employee-owned devices, and assign employee-owned, consumer-class devices, and assign responsibilities inside IT departments for the service, application and security of all these devices.” – Terrence Cosgrove, Gartner

MDM functionality typically includes over-the-air distribution of applications, data and configuration settings for all types of mobile devices, including mobile phones, smartphones, tablet computers, etc., and apply to both company-owned and employee-owned (BYOD) devices across the enterprise or mobile devices owned by consumers[2]. Let’s take a look at the specific benefits.

Implementing a well thought out MDM policy will far outweigh the costs of doing nothing.  Without some sort of controlled MDM, companies will likely see reduced user productivity (if the IT standard does not suit the user’s needs), higher noncompliance costs incurred by users who circumvent IT standards, and the cost of users’ time and efforts in attempt to support themselves, increasing indirect costs[3].  An organization must enforce a unified security policy that incorporates control and the ability to remotely manage all supported devices. The benefits of implementing MDM include:

  • Remotely support all employee owned and company owned devices.  Support and updates can be done over the air (OTA), thus enabling employees freedom with corporate backing.
  • Ability to remotely wipe clean lost or stolen devices.  The MDM platform will enable security teams to quickly remove confidential corporate information from lost devices, regardless of location.
  • Control and direct what applications are allowed and which are restricted.  Remote monitoring of mobile devices will continue to ensure corporate security is not jeopardized by unauthorized apps.
  • Maintain detailed record of user device statistics.  Employee usage statistics can be very beneficial when reviewing employees for performance, productivity, cost, or reprimand.
  • Ability to automatically push software updates to devices remotely.  Devices can be automatically and uniformly updated without impeding on employee’s time.
  • Ensure employee devices are password protected.  MDM enables security teams to remotely manage passwords to ensure that information is protected at all times.
  • Employees can choose their own device of liking.   Staffs utilizing their device of choice are more likely to enjoy working on it.  Forcing a particular device, such as a BlackBerry, may hinder productivity.
  • Reduce employee downtime and cost per user.  Since security and updates are managed over the air, employees are not inconvenienced with schedule intrusions.

MDM does require a harmonization between enterprise operations, IT, and security teams to ensure that mobile device architectures match overall corporate security policies, but with BYOD becoming more of the norm within organizations, an effective optimization platform is vital to protect security while proliferating productivity.

[1] Wikipedia, 2012, Mobile Device Management-Definition

[2] Finneran, Michael, BYOD Requires Mobile Device Management, Information Weekly Mobility, May 7, 2011

[3] The Enterprise Innovator, Gartner Says Enterprise Mobility Management is Essential for IT Success, May 9, 2012

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When laptops hit the market they were a rage – everyone had to have one.  No longer was the global workforce chained to a desk, for with the laptop came the liberating freedom of mobility.   Fast-forward another few years to the introduction of the tablet and smartphones, and suddenly the entire physical landscape of modern computing has changed.   Unlimited mobility is no longer a luxury but a given, and each device seems to offer more and more through the context of less physical space.  With multiple device options and BYOD on the rise in many organizations, the addition of devices can undoubtedly increase the Total Cost of Telecom™ (TCT™).

The explosion in mobile computing has essentially left the laptop in its dust, and with users asking, “So I have a smartphone and a tablet, where does my laptop fit in?”

Laptop computers, portable and convenient as they are, have lost much of the luster once bestowed upon them.  Here are a few reasons:

  • Heavy – most laptops weigh between 3 and 9 pounds.  That’s like carrying around a small dog in your bag.
  • Ease of use – laptops must be fully charged and powered up in order to function.  This process can vary greatly depending on the age and quality of your hardware.  In the end, you have to wait at the least an agonizing few minutes before you can jump onto Facebook.
  • Ergonomics – carrying some significant weight to them, laptops become an ergonomic detriment to the carrier, causing back, neck, and joint pain.  Many an orthopedic surgeon owes his client base, maybe even his entire practice, to the laptop.

Tablets and smartphones, on the other hand, have come to prominence for the very reasons the laptop falls short:

  • Portability – tablets (most weighing less than a pound) slip easily into a briefcase or notebook and smartphones can be toted around in your pocket or purse.
  • Interactivity – using a touchscreen rather than a keyboard, your finger becomes the stylus, providing a much more tactile experience.  Tablets are widely used in educational settings and for special needs children who have difficulty with fine motor skills such as keyboard or mouse usage.
  • Convenience – as with the smartphone, your tablet is usually ready to go with the swipe of a finger.  Photos, videos, books and music can be stored and accessed quickly.
  • Battery – tablets and smartphones have longer battery lives than typical laptops.

As society continues to move down the ‘less is more’ path in personal computing, it becomes clear, however, that less is not always better.  Laptop computers do still offer benefits over tablets and smartphones in a number of key areas:

  • Keyboard – for anyone who has had the (frustrating) experience of typing out a long email or blog on a tablet knows the relief of getting back onto a physical keyboard.  Less mistakes, faster typing and more accurate content result.
  • Screen – typical laptop screens are 13 inches or larger, compared with an average screen size of only 8 inches for tablets, and much smaller for smartphones.
  • Multitasking – working on a laptop makes toggling between multiple programs a cinch, allowing the user to view them with ease.

When it comes to choosing between a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, it becomes a question of necessity:  which device is right for the intended job?  For convenience and speed, the tablet or smartphone is the hands-down winner.  However, for real, hands-on work purposes, the laptop computer still has a place in our repertoire of gadgets, and it likely will for some time to come.

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To suggest that telecom carriers lack a reputation for altruism is a pretty non-controversial opinion.  There is no harm of course in any business pursuing a healthy profit and telecom companies should not be scorned for the ultimate pursuit of capitalism. However, the concern that most mid-sized firms (500-5000 employees) face is not what the carrier reveals during contract discussions but rather what they don’t say and what you wish they did in the spirit of long term partnerships vs. short term financial gymnastics.

Inevitably, even while negotiating the most comprehensive, well laid out contract, there will likely be things left unsaid by your vendors that you really wish they would say. We’re referring to how telecom carriers conveniently lack that extra consultative instinct to to position your organization for the least risky, and most cost-effective solution for the long term.

Here a few things telecom carriers should tell you , but rarely do in the interests of trying to get the best deal for them vs. just you:

  1. Risk Mitigation Clauses offered proactively vs. reactively.
    Every business knows that the only certainty is change. As such most carriers have standard language that allows for multiple unforeseeable business changes such as business downturn, technology migrations, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were offered vs. bargained for?
  2. Market-leading pricing for like-sized firms the first time vs. the 5th time.
    There is nothing more frustrating than buying a new car. Every ‘deal’ often has a different price even though the buyers are all the same. Don’t you wish your Carrier treated you the exact same as the last best deal they gave a similarly sized firm?
  3. Don’t forget about the implementation costs-by the way, let’s see how we can work with you on that.
    So you’ve negotiated a pretty decent contract with impressive terms, then you get hit with implementation costs and realize that you may have to dedicate a full-time employee to manage the implementation. Some carriers include implementation costs within the service package while others can leave you hanging or even charge for it. Wouldn’t it be nice for your vendor to have a solid calculation of all of the hard and soft costs and a cost-effective implementation solution and offer you the transition credits up front vs. a usually tenuous negotiation process?

You can’t get away from vendor negotiations and certainly don’t want to be left disappointed all the time leaving the negotiating table wanting more. These are just a few of the simple things that your Carriers will likely relent on if you know to ask (and if you hold firm to voting with your wallet). But, wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to ask for them every time? Take charge of the relationship so that you’re not left wishing for more.

Engaging an expert in telecommunications management, like Renodis, can ensure you get what you want out of every vendor interaction.

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