More retailers are reaping the benefits of mobility to streamline operations and improve the customer experience. But as more smartphones, tablets and other devices are deployed, the task of managing devices becomes more complex, adding yet another burden to IT to manage the unmanageable. A small number of devices can easily be managed “by hand,” that is, updating each individual device as needed. But managing a large pool of devices this way is inefficient, time consuming and fraught with human error that can lead to disruption and downtime.
The best way to manage large pools of mobile devices is to monitor and update them en masse with an automated system. That’s where mobile device management (MDM) comes in. Mobile device management solutions centralize control of mobile devices and provide complete visibility into device health, status and software update needs. For example, a new Android security patch can be installed on all devices with a few mouse clicks. Without MDM, you would need to rely on users to install the update or figure out another method.
As your mobile device pool grows, it may be time to consider a mobile device management solution to keep your devices secure, up to date and in peak operating condition.
Determine Your Need for a Mobile Device Management Solution
The first step in developing a mobile device management solution is to understand your requirements. For example, how many devices need to be managed? If you expect more than a handful of employees to be equipped with mobile devices, an MDM solution is recommended. Will devices be used in more than one location? If so, a centralized management solution is ideal to manage geographically diverse devices. What sort of reporting requirements do you need? MDM reporting features can include:
- An inventory of devices showing the status of each device
- Usage statistics for your mobile pool as a whole, along with usage stats for each device
- Location of each device
- List of applications installed on each device
- Permissions and other security information
Centralized device management gives administrators powerful tools to track device location, health and status. Usage stats help you know how efficiently your devices are being used or if a device is being used inappropriately. App and security information gives administrators a complete view of software and security consistency across the entire device pool.
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Mobile Device Provisioning and Commissioning
Mobile device management solutions streamline the process of provisioning and commissioning devices for consistency across the device pool. Since device and app configurations, access permissions and restrictions are managed centrally, it’s easy to provision and commission devices to comply with your company’s mobile device, data and security policies. MDM also allows administrators to make over the air updates to devices individually, in groups or en masse, and to evaluate configurations and permissions as the devices are used.
Device and App Security
Security tasks such as user authentication can also be managed centrally, along with the ability to enforce data policies. Malicious apps are a big security risk because they may be able to get unauthorized access to company data. Mobile device management solutions allow administrators to blacklist apps and routinely scan all devices for any third-party app that may pose a potential threat to sensitive data.
Lost and stolen mobile devices are a big source of data breaches. Mobile device management solutions can be programmed to remotely disable devices or wipe them clean of data if a device is reported lost or stolen.
End User Support
Mobile device management solutions simplify support, giving your IT professionals an edge in ensuring devices remain operational. A good MDM solution should support help desk functions like sending mass alerts from a centralized dashboard.
One of the most powerful features of a quality mobile device management solution is centralized monitoring and reporting on devices, particularly for flagging security vulnerabilities. This helps IT get ahead of problems before they turn into security problems or downtime. MDM allows the help desk to remotely update individual devices that have security, software or performance issues.
MDM: The Secret Ingredient to Mobility Success
A good MDM solution will give your IT department the tools it needs to keep devices running and your sensitive data secure. MDM can also reduce the total cost of ownership of your device pool with support features that minimize downtime and report on usage to optimize operations. MDM also improves the user experience by providing them with more reliability. And, MDM lessens the burden on IT to support hundreds or thousands of devices.
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