Smartphones and tablets are great for business, giving us the tools we need to stay in touch, manage schedules and even get some good, solid work done, no matter where we are. Yet they also give IT professionals a whole new headache. How do you keep track of them? How do you control which apps a company’s employees are installing and using? How do you keep the device and the data it holds secure? For PCs and laptops there are well-established administration tools, but how do you manage your smartphones and your tablets?
3CX Mobile Device Manager is an effective all-in-one solution, and one that scales to cover organisations from the smallest small business to the largest SMEs. It’s also free to try right now, with a free edition of the standard, hosted version that keeps track of up to five Android or iOS devices.
The initial set-up is hassle-free. Sign-up for the service, then sign in at the 3CX Mobile Device Manager admin page, and you’re presented with a Web-based management console. Then all you have to do is install the Mobile Device Manager client on each device you want to manage from the relevant app store. From the device you select an account to activate it with and authorise the app to administer your phone’s apps, data and settings. After that, it’s just a case of going back to the Web-based console and approving the device. From then onwards, the admin is in full control, using an intuitive interface that makes the whole business of administration simple. With the main functions on the left and a series of tabbed panels, features are sensibly grouped and easy to discover.
Tracking your Devices
3CX Mobile Device Manager offers a range of features to help you manage and secure the company’s devices, but the key features that will save IT professionals from sleepless nights are to do with tracking and security. The service not only tracks the current position of each device, complete with latitude and longitude, but keeps a detailed log of everywhere the device goes. The location updates automatically if the device moves a specific distance (by default 50 metres) or after a set amount of time, and if you need an at-a-glance view, the console displays current and recent locations on Google Maps.
That’s obviously a benefit if a device is stolen; you can see roughly where it is and where it’s been. However, it can also be useful if, say, you want to check whether an employee has made it to a meeting, or whether the guy who handles your deliveries is taking the most efficient route from A-to-B. If they’re lost, you can even nudge them in the right direction by sending the target location directly to their phone.
Securing your Devices
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. 50,000 mobile phones are lost or stolen during any given two-week period in London alone, and as smartphones become the norm, that means a lot of sensitive data is at risk. With 3CX Mobile Device Manager the risk all but disappears. The service has a number of features that enforce security and enable you to lock or wipe the smartphone or tablet – even if Wi-Fi and mobile Internet connections have been switched off.
For a start, you can use the console to enforce a more robust password policy, ensuring that no device goes without a strong password. You can also control whether the user is able to manage, exit or de-authorise the Mobile Device Manager client on their phone, so that a stolen phone can’t be quickly de-protected. Most importantly, you can remotely lock the smartphone, securing the data unless the user enters a password you define, or wipe it remotely, resetting it to factory settings and removing any apps and data installed. And if a canny thief has the sense to disable Internet connectivity, that’s still no barrier. The management console can send an SMS to the phone, initiating the wipe that way.
Many end-users find app stores and their wares irresistible, downloading and installing everything from novelty apps to streaming video players to 3D games. That might be fine on their own hardware, but not on a company phone. There might be ramifications not just in terms of misuse of company kit on company time, but for security as well. After all, more than one rogue app has made it through Google’s gatekeepers on the Google Play store.
3CX Mobile Device Manager puts the admin back in charge. You can see what apps are installed on each monitored device and remove them from the console. You can also add apps you’re happy to have installed to a whitelist, while pegging others as off-limits through a blacklist. And if you want to, you can actively push apps to devices, either through messages requesting that users install the app manually from their app store, or, in the case of Android devices, the option to deploy apps directly from your own library of .APK files. That’s great news if you want to push a common set of business apps across a fleet of devices.
All of this is great if you only have a few smartphones and tablets to manage, but what if you have tens or even hundreds? Here the management console really shows its power. It’s surprisingly easy to set up groups of devices and then assign group policies, covering access by different groups to applications, and what access rights those groups have to the configuration options for the Mobile Device Manager client app. You can decide which groups need more frequent location updates, or maybe no updates at all, and define password policies on a team-by-team basis.
Needless to say, if you want to deploy specific apps to specific teams or departments, then these group policy features can be a huge time-saver. The same goes for a feature to push Wi-Fi settings to groups of devices at once. Meanwhile, detailed system information screens make it easier to maintain a full inventory, automatically capturing all the details you need if you have to query anything with the police, your supplier or your mobile operator. And none of this means sacrificing control of individual devices; you can override group policies with a tick of a checkbox.
The free option is fully-featured, and so handy that even your average gadget-fiend with a clutch of devices could easily find a use for it. However, the professional versions are very affordable, and should return the small investment in time saved on admin, stress and security.
If you want to know more, signup for the free fully-featured, five device (Android and iOS) version of 3CX Mobile Device Manager now.