I have no doubts that mobile device management (MDM) is a must for organizations of almost any size, irrespective of their field of business. But how burning is that need? Well, it often depends on the objective, meaning, what are they trying to achieve by adopting MDM?
When I meet our partners and their customers in Europe, Asia-Pacific or South America, we often discuss their MDM needs and then we discuss the features they need. This leads to dilemma #1. Let me try to explain what happens.
Someone in organization X decides that they need an MDM solution. This “decision” evolved from attending industry seminars and reading press articles on the topic. Next, someone (often in the IT department) is given the task of evaluating and suggesting possible solutions in the market. This triggers a list of features needed by this organization. This is where, very often, things go wrong.
The evaluation becomes an endless project, producing an interminable list of necessary features, where in reality, only a fraction of those features are must-haves. I read an RFP where the customer had listed 180 must-have features. Where did they all come from? Well, the list was compiled from the feature lists of leading vendors. It was obvious that no single product would be able to accommodate this RFP and tons of time was wasted by the customer, the partners and the vendors.
I have sat down with numerous prospective customers and discussed their MDM needs. In most cases, they cannot say why feature X or Y is needed. I tend to challenge them by saying: “If you cannot explain why you need feature X, do you really need it?” In most cases, those features are moved to the “nice to have” category. I often use the example of buying a new car. You browse endless list of options and choose many of them. Then, when you see the final price, you narrow down to what really matters for you and you end up skipping a long list of “nice to have” options and happily drive your new car until its time to change again. Yes, a four-wheel drive improves driving security but are you willing to pay premium for it?
To solve dilemma #1, you should focus on those features that your organization is comfortable with using and can benefit from. Start by asking: What are we trying to achieve with MDM? What are the business drivers? What operational benefits do we need to achieve? Most often this list of features will be short, including:
• Asset management and inventory data
– Make sure you know who has each device and when they were purchased
• Security features in case a device is lost or stolen
– Including selective or full wipe and device-locking
– Ultimately, it is not about the device itself but about the data within it and access to the company’s network
• Application distribution
– Make sure the users have the applications they need so they can make productive use of the devices
• Password and policy push
• Easy enrollment
– Make sure adoption is high
Dilemma #2 is about your MDM policy. According to a 2012 study by the Aberdeen Group, 78% of US corporations had a documented MDM policy but only 43% had methods to enforce it. At the same time, less than 20% of users had signed the policy and/or understood it. In other words, without a proper policy, enforcement methods and user understanding, MDM does not exist. In short, start by creating a simple policy around a simple must-have list of features.
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