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Enterprise mobility management: Back to basics

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / ImYanis)

As the number of mobile devices leveraged in enterprise businesses continue to grow exponentially, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) has acquired a prominent position within the market – which is predicted to be worth over $3.3 billion by the end of 2021.

To keep up with the ever-changing mobility landscape, EMM grew out of the capabilities offered by Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions to enable enterprises to enhance their productivity as well as efficiency. Specifically, EMM is a set of services and technologies designed to secure, manage and better understand corporate data on employees’ mobile devices. Generally, this consists of a suite of mobile management systems and services that integrate with a wide range of enterprise IT systems to provide more intuitive management of mobile devices and endpoints.

Events such as the Covid-19 pandemic have further expedited the need for enterprise mobility, with remote working having become the new normal for many organisations. As a result, we can expect to see the wider adoption of EMM solutions across all industries, to ensure workers can be as productive as possible while adhering to social distancing measures.

About the author

Stefan Spendrup is Vice President of Sales, Northern and Western Europe at SOTI

As the demand grows, the landscape evolves to more broadly enable mobility solutions. Previously, these solutions mainly focused on mobile device and application management. As we move towards an innovative future where people will increasingly need mobile devices to work, EMM now incorporates an identity and access management strategy, while offering an engaging and productive mobile experience for users.

EMM vs. MDM: What's the difference?

MDM has been around for almost as long as mobile devices have. Software use grew in parallel with the adoption of smartphones and tablets as standard endpoints for corporate IT and communications networks.

While MDM seemed an effective solution to manage the rapid influx of new devices when organisations started to use mobile devices on a mass scale, just a few years later it was clear that MDM alone was not enough to address all of the needs that organisations have when deploying an extensive mobile device network.

EMM covers a broader set of functionalities for larger enterprises which need a comprehensive set of features to cover their mobility needs – remote work, employee devices accessing corporate data, connecting from external networks into an organisation, remote servers and cloud-based applications. In contrast, MDM involves the installation of unique profiles on individual devices, not on a mass scale.

As remote working and mobile devices become ever more prominent in this new age of business, EMM will continue to operate as a business-critical component to any organisation that is leveraging mobile devices as part of its operations.

What are the benefits of EMM?

EMM provides organisations with complete visibility into a company’s mobile fleet. Without this visibility – including device status, location, software updates, security and more – organisations can miss out on the full range of benefits the deployment offers. An EMM solution encompasses a corporate mobility policy, controlling device security, while managing which apps and content are available to the user, as well as troubleshooting device problems remotely.

Mitigating security threats is another benefit of EMM solutions. When successfully deployed, a secure EMM browser can block untrusted sites and minimise phishing and social engineering attacks. Integrated within this solution, an antivirus system can prevent malware in files and apps from being downloaded or installed on any device. Minimising these privacy risks further, EMM will also enforce complex passwords, encryption and separation of personal and work data, which prevents breaches of sensitive or confidential content within corporate apps.

For many organisations that have already implemented an EMM solution, the transition to remote teams is seamless because policies were likely already in place to support remote or corporately issued devices. Enrolling new devices into the solution typically takes a few minutes and can be done on a large scale.

How to plan a successful EMM implementation

Now that business mobility is bigger and more complicated than ever, securing and managing mobile technology has become a critically important job. However, there are challenges associated with deploying mobility management solutions such as EMM. It is key for businesses to establish guidelines around the ‘how’ and ‘why’ in terms of using mobile devices and apps. Setting this groundwork then enables deployment to endorse and enforce a company’s mobility policies.

A successful EMM implementation stems from planning. Businesses must consider hardware that not only satisfies their device and app requirements, but also its security and management capabilities. Prior to purchasing, businesses need to research a product so that there is no disconnect to ensure full efficiency. By taking the time to plan and test for any issues, businesses can mitigate the risks of a failed service deployment.

Future of the EMM market

For many global organisations, large-scale remote work policies are only an interim solution and need to be revisited and adapted for every organisation’s specific business needs. Organisations that normally depend on mobile technology in their operations will need to continue managing devices with the ability to remotely diagnose, troubleshoot and fix mobile tech issues.

Given remote work is on the rise, having a modern diagnostic help desk solution designed for mobile devices is critical for businesses to operate and support their employees. There is no doubt that this new normal will cause frustration or challenges with remote workers and having the right tools to diagnose problems quickly is essential. A help desk solution that is tightly integrated with an EMM solution provides a deeper level of diagnostics that then helps to ensure operations are streamlined. 

The biggest takeaway from this year is that it is never too late for businesses to adjust and, in many instances, businesses will be forced to. Supporting mobile technologies, such as EMM, allow organisations to stay operational during times of international crisis where restrictions are imposed that would otherwise threaten the operational and commercial success of a business.