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What Is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?
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  • 5 minutes read
  • Modified: 4th Apr 2024

    April 27, 2023

What Is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Trio Team

Towards the end of the 2000s, when businesses began using the early versions of smartphones, IT experts were met with a new challenge.

Mobile devices like smartphones and laptops brought about an unprecedented level of agility and mobility to companies and their workforces. However, their additional data storage and processing power meant that company networks were more exposed to security risks.

In this article, we explain what a mobile device management solution is and some of the reasons why your company needs it.

 

What is mobile device management?

Mobile device management solutions were born out of these security concerns. They were developed to help companies protect their IT networks, regardless of the location of the devices connected to them.

 

What Is a Mobile Device Management Solution?

A mobile device management solution is an end-point management software. It was initially developed to secure and manage smartphones and their users’ data but were later extended to support laptops and desktop devices as well. Nowadays, you can rarely find a stand-alone MDM solution that only manages smartphones. However, there are MDM solutions that support only one or two operating systems — such as ones that can only manage Apple devices.

Mobile device management software allows for centralized monitoring and management of a company’s entire fleet of devices from a single point. This enables an IT admin to perform various IT tasks like device deployment, maintenance, app or OS updates, and policy enforcement remotely.

MDM also allows IT managers to make more informed decisions about a company’s IT assets through real-time reports.

A mobile device management software uses a traditional client/server architecture and is made up of three main components — an admin dashboard, a server, and an end-point agent (app).

The MDM process begins when the IT manager uses the admin dashboard (interface) to control the MDM software which is run on-premises or cloud-based server. Using the dashboard, the IT admin can deploy new IT policies or make changes on individual devices. These new changes are then communicated over the air to the end-point client installed on users’ devices. Finally, the client interacts with the APIs built into the device to enforce the changes made by the admin.

 

Man using Mobile Device Management in tablet

 

How Can Mobile Device Management Software Help your company?

Now that we know what MDM software is and how it works, let’s see how it can help your company tackle the challenges in its IT network.

 

Policy Enforcement

Even in a small company, there can be several devices at use at the same time. Managing all these different devices individually is not always feasible. Therefore, a large part of IT management becomes creating and enforcing various policies.

MDM solutions help IT managers come up with these policies based on real-time data, and mass deploy them across all the company’s IT assets. These policies help keep the company network secure, transparent, and agile with minimal effort.

 

Remote Device Management

Over the past decade, many companies have adopted hybrid or even remote working models. These new trends have provided employees with more freedom and comfort, but have also posed a challenge to IT departments. Because when users are working from different locations around the globe, it is impossible for them to physically bring devices to the IT department for maintenance or updates.

With a mobile device management solution, an IT admin can remotely perform many tasks — such as app installation, license renewal, OS updates, and applying security measures. This ensures that the company’s IT fleet is working optimally while protecting user’s flexibility.

 

Multi-Layer Security

One of the major functions of a mobile device management solution is keeping a company’s IT network secure. An MDM software accomplishes this goal by applying security measures on multiple levels.

In the first step, MDM applies a layer of security to the devices. Some of these broad security functions include Alerting admins if a user attempts to jailbreak/root a device, restricting users from making changes to their device’s operating system, and remotely tracking and wiping a device in case it is stolen or lost.

Next, extra security measures are applied to the apps installed on users’ devices. These measures include placing user authentication for app access, limiting copying, pasting, or storing data from the app, or restricting file sharing on the app.

Finally, MDM protects the data stored on user devices by enforcing minimum password strength requirements, encrypting disks, containerizing/separating personal and company data, and applying data loss protection features.

 

Process Automation

When managing a large number of devices in an IT ecosystem, automating processes can significantly reduce the time and effort needed to get tasks done. MDM solutions can automate the following tasks:

  • Onboarding and offboarding employees
  • Setting up and deploying new devices
  • IT asset detection
  • Updating apps and operating systems
  • Creating functional and inventory reports
  • Security threat detection
  • Software license and patch management

 

App and License Management

Organizations rely on commercial third-party apps to perform various tasks. Ensuring that users have access to the tools they need as easily as possible can make workflows more efficient.

At the same time, certain apps can distract users from their work and even pose security threats to the company network.

That is why MDM solutions allow IT admins to manage apps on user devices. The app management options include disallowing/uninstalling apps, limiting access to them during work hours, and sourcing the pre-approved work apps through the company’s app store.

Additionally, some MDM solutions offer automatic software license management to ensure the efficient use of licenses and prevent infringement penalties.

 

Asset and Inventory Management

A mobile device management solution offers great possibilities for asset and inventory management. Asset management is one of the major tasks in IT departments that was previously done manually using pen and paper or Excel sheets.

With an MDM solution, an IT admin can detect and log all the IT assets connected to the company network. An MDM software also helps with logging essential data on an asset such as who it is assigned to, its configuration, usage data, and location.

This simplifies asset and inventory management for IT departments which ultimately helps with the organization’s efficiency and productivity.

 

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

Identity and access management is a tool that ensures that the right people in your organization have access to the tools they need to do their job. At the same time, IAM protects various data and tools in the organization’s network from unauthorized access.

IAM is usually one of the main functions of an MDM software which improves the security of the network while increasing the users’ productivity.

Within an MDM context, IAM can manage user authorization, identities, reporting, and also integration through single sign-on (SSO).

 

Mobile Device Management across platforms

 

Conclusion

Any company with an IT network in place needs to protect its users, their devices, and their data. At the same time, the advent of new technology has provided incredible opportunities to automate and streamline various processes in businesses.

An MDM solution, for instance, with highly useful features for managing security, user access, and assets can contribute significantly to reducing the cost, time, and human resources required to perform IT tasks.

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