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Mobility Management: Balancing Security And Productivity

Mobility Management: Balancing Security And Productivity
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Security is always at the top of everyone's list, and with mobile devices in the enterprise you don't have to relinquish security to deliver great service. Here's how organizations can find ways to balance security with productivity.

The bring your own device (BYOD) revolution was supposed to usher in a new era of productivity. As smartphones and tablets turned the world into technophiles, more people were not only buying technology but carrying the technology that they chose with them at all times, including bringing it in to work.

The BYOD movement gained steam and looked like it would change business policies towards employee owned devices. Companies altered their cell phone policies to accommodate employees that only wanted to carry one phone, often with the company reimbursing them for it. The concept expanded towards laptops and other personal devices, too. Employees carrying their own laptops, so it was thought, should be able to connect in as long as they were enabled to use the right software.

But for reasons on both sides, BYOD seems to be fading away. There's no longer a push for it and it's no longer "the next big thing." Companies implementing mobile strategies are finding that dealing with personally owned property adds an extra layer of complication, if not from a technical standpoint then from a social one. Employees who were so sure that they wanted all of their email on one phone, are finding that corporate environments with regulatory compliance are stricter than they had first imagined and the benefits of using their own devices for work are worth the headaches.

While BYOD still works for some organizations, the enterprise mobility trend seems to have settled on a compromise. Organizations looking to adopt mobile strategies now tend to provide the mobile devices, finding corporate owned, personally enabled (COPE) policies easier to navigate. By adopting a COPE strategy, organizations can fully take advantage of owning the whole solution from endpoint to infrastructure. There is no cause for concern about employee owned mobile devices and there are no compromises to be made regarding the security and privacy of the device.

However, there are still some organizations that are not even aware that mobile devices can improve productivity for their employees and play a bigger role for their business. And more still are not aware of what current enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions are capable of. 

If your organization is still in the situation of handing out smartphones, tablets or laptops to employees and just wondering if they're keeping corporate data safe or are breaching security, you need to become familiar with what modern mobility management solutions can provide. 

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Mobile Device Management (MDM) Basics

Encrypting data on mobile devices is an important part of an organization's overall security strategy. Today, most mobile devices, whether it's an Android phone or a Windows laptop, have some type of security settings; the question is how can you manage the settings from a single place on all of the mobile devices your employees use? That's where mobile device management comes in.

With MDM you can enforce different settings on all devices from a central console, whether it's encrypting the devices or disabling location services. As the devices are powered on, they check in with the corporate server to download any new or updated setting policies automatically.

Another important MDM capability is giving an organization options for dealing with the inevitable occurrence of an employee losing a device. Whether it was stolen or just misplaced, by using MDM you can lock a smartphone, preventing it from being unlocked even with the right passcode until the phone has been unlocked on the server. In other cases, if the phone appears to be gone for good, the ability to remote wipe the phone gives that final option to remove all data from the phone, no matter where it is, the next time it's turned on.

MDM also offers visibility into how employees use their devices and is key for configuring and provisioning multiple devices remotely. 

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Find a Mobile Device Management Solution for Your Business

Editor's Note: Looking for a mobile device management solution for your company? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

Mobile Application Management (MAM) Basics

Settings aren't the only important component to a successful mobile management strategy. Being able to push new or updated applications to users, groups and all devices is the realm of mobile application management (MAM) and there are some real benefits to using this type of solution.

MAM is great for delivering a suite of applications that the company or administrators feel are beneficial to employees, such as the Office 365 suite or alternate keyboards from Swype. But it is really essential for custom made corporate applications, or vertical application used by field technicians, doctors, or salespeople. Managing those line of business applications means that the employees don't have to remember to download or update them. When there is new or updated software, it can be very easy to deploy those apps to individuals, groups or everyone within the organization.

Sometimes it's the apps that you don't want employees to use that are the pain point. MAM can often provide whitelists and blacklists to prohibit specific apps from being installed. IT admins can use a blacklist to exclude specific applications, but to create an even more secure environment, a whitelist offers the ability to say which apps are allowed to be installed, so you don't even have to know about the latest and greatest malware-infected game to hit the app store, since it's already blocked.

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Balancing Mobile Security With Productivity

Productivity is an area where your mobile management solution has a chance to shine. Controlling the encryption, privacy settings and which apps are installed on mobile devices is the foundation. They are the most important features and without them you'll be missing the whole picture.

But there's another group of features that make the entire infrastructure mobile friendly. Productivity solutions for file editing, sharing and printing can empower mobile users to continue working when they need to. Document can be sent and received securely, reviewed then sent to the printer in the director's office all from the checkout line at the grocery store. Even if you're not on the go, just having the ability to print an email or document that's on your phone while you're in the office can come in handy.

Mobility management solutions allow IT admins to control how corporate data is accessed and shared between employees and outside parties. Some EMM products even offer the ability to sync documents and folders between mobile devices, notify users of activity on specific content and use federated search to locate content across different sources. 

Finding The Right Mobility Management Tool

There are many vendors in the enterprise mobility management space including giants like AirWatch, Citrix and IBM that offer countless features and can scale to thousands of mobile devices. But there are also smaller companies that are geared towards small and medium-sized businesses that are still able to offer a rich feature set and a great experience, for both end users and IT admins. There are even some free MDM options for organizations that are either unsure that they need mobility management or simply don't have a budget for it.

As you start researching mobility management products you'll notice that many offer the same set of features and capabilities. That's why in addition to looking at what they can do, it's important to consider how the tools will integrate within your current infrastructure and what support they're able to offer. Examine your organization's security and compliance needs first to make sure your bases are covered, but after that dig into how the tool works and how well it will work for your IT team and your end users.

Here are additional resources to get you started:

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