IT trends in 2016: The evolution of enterprise mobility management

Mobility is always a hot topic; while it promises significant productivity benefits, it also brings security and management challenges to businesses. IT departments face a balancing act between empowering users and maintaining security. Users are bringing smart devices, such as phones, tablets and laptops into the office, which are neither owned nor managed by the company. While often improving personal productivity, these devices pose both security and data protection risks.

A well-defined ‘bring-your-own-device’ (BYOD) policy and mobile device management strategy can protect your organisation while increasing mobility for users.

So, how are businesses addressing the consumerisation of IT with mobile workforce solutions?

One of the most common customer complaints we heard in 2015 was the increasing lack of control they felt they had over their workers’ devices. End user computing today is unrecognisable to that of five years ago – many users have more than one device, and wish to connect to multiple networks via multiple Internet connections, which has created a mire of potential security threats for businesses’ IT teams to deal with.

It’s absolutely essential for organisations to have full management over the security of their devices, plus control over application integration and access.

Windows 10 has recently launched, which has really brought the issue of device management to a head for many businesses, as it includes an enterprise mobility suite that is helping businesses to re-evaluate how they’re managing their devices.

Businesses have traditionally been stuck with restrictive methods of managing their devices, which are flawed and rely on a lot of careful manual reviewing. I believe that the answer to this, in the form of Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), will gain in prominence this year.

What is EMM – and how is it transforming device management?

Device management has become a bane for businesses, but EMM directly addresses these challenges.

Loosely defined, EMM is the business management of mobile devices, networks and computing. It’s a comprehensive ‘next generation’ version of mobile device management (MDM) – with it you can control entire IT estates, basically anything that has the potential to connect to internal resources.

Enterprise Mobility Management can be divided up into three conceptual blocks. Each of these addresses a specific level of mobility management and enables a tailored solution to match the requirements of users and IT policies. Although these blocks can be applied in isolation, implementing all of these together provides a holistic Enterprise Mobility Management solution.

• Mobile Device Management (MDM): Setting device-level policies to enforce restrictions on the device itself. This includes device-level passwords and basic remote-wipe capabilities. MDM is most suited to organisations that issue corporate devices to users.

• Mobile Applications Management (MAM): Setting application-level policies to enforce restrictions on specific corporate applications. This includes application-level passwords, restricting interoperability between apps and selective-wipe of corporate data from devices. MAM is most suited to organisations with a BYOD policy in place.

• Mobile Content Management (MCM): ‘DropBox’ type functionality, enabling users to securely access and manage corporate data either in the cloud, or on-premises connecting to existing corporate file shares and SharePoint.

The reason EMM has come about is because of the explosion in use of mobile devices – organisations are struggling to manage the proliferation of new devices connecting to their networks effectively.

An EMM takes a ‘belt and braces’ approach where only a very limited number of devices are automatically deemed secure, and the rest are subjected to the same security checks each time they connect.

EMM focuses on the control and flow of information and data, ensuring that all devices are secure, providing users with complete control and freedom, whilst IT administrators can maintain control over business data and information on these devices.

It’s a tailored solution, which matches the requirements of your users to your IT policies. Setting device-level or application-level policies enforces restrictions on what users can access. This approach ensures information is password protected and devices can be wiped-clean remotely, should they fall into the wrong hands. Now users can securely access and manage corporate data either in the cloud, or on-premise – connecting to existing corporate file shares and SharePoint.

In 2016, more organisations than ever are likely to start using EMM to take control of their mobility management. Comprehensive and easy to integrate, EMM suites give users an incredible amount of control over both unapproved and regularly-connecting devices – it’s a more proactive solution for security-conscious organisations.

Colin Prime-Moore, CTO at Ultima Business Solutions