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Mobile Device Management

My good friend and co-worker, Sydney Hill, blogged recently about ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) environments, and how the trend continues to increase, with 76 percent of enterprises formally supporting their employees bringing their own phones and tablets to work. Sydney lists several ways that adopting a BYOD strategy has positively impacted large enterprises, from increases in productivity to cost effectiveness; however, having employees use their personal devices for business purposes also presents its issues, with one of the main concerns being security. When employees are using their own phones or tablets, access to corporate assets is readily available, increasing the potential for data loss.

So here we are, with the number of personal devices being used in the workplace greater than it’s ever been before with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and a challenge to secure these devices. After recognizing this challenge, several companies started popping up to develop software to manage and secure multiple mobile device operating systems. BYOD, meet MDM.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) software “controls and protects data and configuration settings for all mobile devices in the network, and can reduce support costs and business risks.” These software systems (with a market size estimated at over $500 million and more than 100 players) are ensuring that company assets remain protected while they are living on employees’ personal phones, tablets and laptops. So how do these things work? How are we making sure that important company information remains in company hands and doesn’t get shared when someone leaves their phone in the backseat pocket of an airplane? MDM systems contain a component called “over-the-air programming” (OTA), allowing remote configuration of a set of mobile devices, as well as software updates and the ability to lock or wipe a device. This type of technology enables corporate IT departments to manage the assortment of mobile devices across the company, supporting the continual growth of BYOD environments, which isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Our mobile devices are so closely intertwined in our lives that it is difficult to recognize situations where company assets could be compromised. We upgrade to a new phone model, hand our tablets to our kids to keep them occupied, and as careful as we think we are, they fall from our pockets during a cab ride in the city; we are only human. For these reasons, and several others, when your work device is your personal device, and vice-versa, steps need to be taken to ensure secure data remains secure data.

MDM has become BYOD’s partner-in-crime. So, if BYOD is inevitable – expect MDM to tag right along with it.

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