Choosing the right EMM for your business

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Having been involved in the Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) sector for nearly two years, I have seen these technologies mature and evolve. The recent news of VMware purchasing AirWatch has left Gartner’s Leaders Quadrant with only two independent vendors, namely MobileIron and Good Technologies. What this means remains to be seen, but it certainly validates the importance of EMM technologies. With all the progress and changes in this space, choosing the right EMM for your business is becoming increasingly difficult.

Making sense of it all

With close to 50 EMM solutions out there, how does one identify the right one for your business? To simplify matters let’s start with similarities. All Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors promote their features and benefits, which in reality are almost identical across all solutions because they are closely tied to application point interfaces (API’s) made available by the operating system (OS) vendors like Apple, Google and Microsoft. Every vendor has their own app for all these platforms, and most make use of third-party apps like TouchDown to manage Email on Android devices. In addition most provide an enterprise app store, which links to public apps and custom-developed apps and makes management and deployment of apps easier.

So how do they differ?

Vendors are often playing catchup with each other in terms of device applications such as Samsung-SAFE or Knox. Not all solutions are multi-tenant. The intuitiveness of administration and dashboards varies. The architecture of the gateway servers vary. Certain vendors’ cloud-hosted solutions are restricted when compared to their on-premise offering. The telephone and data expense management functionality differs, and the user enrollment process can vary.
Where the solutions really differentiate is in the additional feature sets outside of the basic Email and calendar functionality. These include: the advanced Mobile Application Management (MAM) features like secure app tunneling into the corporate infrastructure, leveraging the gateway servers, or the ability to enable apps to communicate securely between themselves on the device; Providing access to company resources like file shares, Customer Relationship Management software or secure browsing, through the Mobile Content Management (MCM) features.
This is where choosing becomes tricky. Fortunately, most of this is vendor-centric and asking the right questions can you help make the right choice. Consider things like the product’s roadmap, how much emphasis is placed on support, and whether they have valid and adequate representation in your region. Are they able to demonstrate that they can solve your problem and potentially add value or identify issues you have not considered? In reality MDM solutions are much more alike than most vendors like to admit.

Focus on your business needs.
The key to choosing the right EMM solution for you organisation is identifying your key business needs. Going mobile for the sake of going mobile is seldom a good idea and often fails to meet user expectations. A great place to start is with your business requirements: the business case for mobility lies in core business processes which can be mobilized. These processes need to be measurable, and form part of your overall business goals. Securing mails and calendar does not necessarily warrant a full blown EMM suite. Deploying, securing apps and allowing secure access to business content and portals makes a stronger case for a complete solution.

Let’s not forget BYOD

I often ask what devices are planned for support and the answers vary from just Apple or Samsung to all of them. I then ask if they are corporate-owned or if supporting BYOD is a requirement. If you are only interested in supporting one platform (Apple iOS or Google Android) then the feature set on another platform is of little or no importance. The vendors approach to BYOD and offerings like BYOD self-service portals play an important role. Users like to be empowered and in control especially when dealing with their own personal devices, so enable them while protecting corporate assets.

End user experience and a human first approach
Too many businesses focus on the technology and forget the people. Supporting the mobile initiative requires more than just the right EMM, you need to support your staff and their devices. BYOD implies using a personal device at work, unfortunately IT and the users have a conflicting understanding of what this means. IT wants to lock down the device, and restrict access to resources while most users resist this, believing that since it’s their device, they should retain control. IT and the user need to meet halfway. IT can enforce encryption of corporate data, PIN codes and lock-down access to corporate resources, and the user gains access to the network and resources in return. IT then has the ability to remotely wipe all corporate information from that device in case of theft or loss. Educating and explaining the mobile policy and what the EMM is capable of doing can go a long way to reduce resistance brought on by fear of being spied on.

Justifying the need for and selecting the right EMM is a difficult task for IT without clear and measurable business needs. The MDM, MAM and MCM functionalities must drive the decision to purchase the EMM, but be underpinned by clear business objectives that must be achieved across all major platforms on BYO or corporate owned devices.

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