The advent of mobile devices and BYOD, along with the IT department’s deployment of new technological capabilities, has brought on major changes in the way corporate IT manages productivity devices. In particular, these implications for endpoint management and endpoint security implementations will likely necessitate an update of your business’ enterprise mobility strategy and toolkit.

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The IT landscape can be broadly classified into five key areas – Devices, Networks, Users, Applications and Data – with each experiencing major disruptions in the last few years:

Devices – Usage of smartphones and tablets have skyrocketed, and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) has drastically changed how we view endpoints today.

Network – Work is no longer confined solely within the corporate “walls” of the business LAN/WiFi connectivity. Today, it can be completed from home, using a cell network, public WiFi, and Hotspots.

Users – Users now encompass, not just employees, but often vendors, partners, and customers as well.

Applications – Applications have undergone a huge upheaval–from being web-based, running on the browser and essentially safe behind a firewall, to going outside the firewall and directly onto the endpoint.

Data – Data used to be well secured in the ERP backend; whatever data did come out of ERP was safeguarded within a controlled and standardized browser environment. Today, data is on the device local store and outside any system-controlled security zone of the enterprise.

These five key areas are all in need of adaption in response to the evolving IT landscape, especially considering the security implications for increasing mobile, work from anywhere environments. However, even amidst this sea of changes, the basic needs of IT are not drastically different. IT departments would still like to be able to:

  • Efficiently configure, manage, and retire devices
  • Reliably distribute apps, software and updates that support their business
  • Ensure security and compliance on endpoints.

However, some of these changes are not only disruptive, but could ultimately be transient in nature and more of a moving target, as they will evolve or fade out over time within the enterprise. Additionally, solving problems at the margins is usually expensive, with tools often charging top dollar for something that is still untested.

The result is either indecision that leads to IT falling behind the curve, or being decisive only to then be left in the lurch

So what is the solution?

IT needs to ensure that the solution they are evaluating covers each of the five aspects listed above – at least at a basic level. However, at the same time, it is important to be prudent in setting the right expectations when it comes features.

Here are some guidelines to ensure that you get the right “bang for your buck” from your mobility implementation without getting sidetracked or overwhelmed by complex, time-consuming, and expensive features:

  1. Devices: While evaluating device management features, it is important to understand that devices are only a means to an end, and that, in most cases, it is most important to secure the corporate data on the device as opposed to just the device itself. When evaluating enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions, look for device registration, configuration, and management capabilities–choose elaborate device-level security only in instances when you have a compelling reason to secure the entire device. The corporate landscape is littered with failed BYOD initiatives that were undone either by stringent device-level policies that rendered the devices difficult to use, or by the device agent expecting the end-user to provide too much control.
  2. Users: Emphasize seamless integration with your existing directory services, groups and roles. Also, demand a superior user enrollment and onboarding experience that includes self-service and role-based access through an app store. In other words, pay attention to features that improve employee experience and satisfaction. Remember, the simpler your user-related workflows, the better the adoption and acceptance will be amongst your employees. Finally, straightforward end-user workflows reduce burden on IT teams and have a direct impact on reducing costs.
  3. Applications: Application distribution and lifecycle management capabilities can provide a powerful set of tools for the enterprise. However, while advanced features such as location-based app policies, geo-fenced apps, app social features, app development, and runtime management features have their use cases, these features also create unnecessarily complex workflows that might end up being counterproductive to implement, depending on your organization’s needs. Understanding and prioritizing requirements around app management and working with business functions is critical. This will ensure that you get the necessary set of features for your organization, which will, in turn, make your mobility implementation more focused – and affordable.
  4. Application Data: Security of application data is perhaps the most critical aspect for an EMM solution. However, often the applications themselves might be able to securely handle and manage their own data. So, while security of application data is critical, consider how applications are built and incorporated into your organization and determine if some of the security is, or can be, built into the applications rather than be added on top of them as an afterthought in your application management solution.

IT is challenged to manage risk in the face of constant change. In order to rein in costs and reduce the potential for unwelcome surprises in the fast-evolving mobility landscape, IT should look to cut out the frills that add little value to their endpoint management and security strategy, and adopt the most stable set of EMM features. After all, there is a good reason why enterprise IT usually follows the consumer market’s lead. A critical evaluation of tools and planning for the set of features that are really needed can mean the difference between a well-timed entry into mobility adoption or mobility becoming a blunt instrument that turns out to be expensive and overly onerous to manage for IT.