In its broadest sense, mobile device management (MDM) is the administration of devices in order to keep them:
What began as a way to equip employees in the field — such as salespeople and technicians with company phones and laptops — has now expanded to include many other types of devices and use cases.
Examples of Modern Mobile Device Usage
- Salesperson uses a tablet on external sales calls
- Technician uses a phone or phone-like device in the field
- Professional uses a laptop or desktop computer in the office or while working remotely
- Executive uses a company-issued mobile phone to conduct business
- Retail worker uses device to track product inventory and pricing
- Warehouse worker uses handheld devices for shipping and receiving workflow
One of the biggest shifts came with the demand for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) capabilities, which allow employees to access secure company information on their own personal devices. But the expansion of technology into other sectors and advances in 5G connectivity have evolved our concept of MDM even more.
Why MDM is a Necessary Security Measure
Consider the following statistics:
- A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds in the U.S.1
- 58% of laptop theft occurs within an office1
- A mobile device is stolen every minute1
- 80% of the cost of a lost laptop is from data breach2
That’s why it’s imperative that companies have and enforce MDM policies in place. The potential costs are astronomical.
MDM in Different Industries
Most companies that offered work-from-home positions prior to 2020 did so through MDM hardware and software. During the coronavirus pandemic, MDM made it possible for many businesses to continue operating remotely while maintaining data security.
Aside from enterprise mobility for service-based businesses, MDM has enabled schools to manage hundreds of computers and laptops remotely. This is particularly useful for large university campuses and school-owned laptops that students take home with them.
In healthcare, wearable medical equipment such as heart monitors and insulin pumps are on the cutting edge of MDM technology, allowing doctors to monitor their patients remotely. Because these devices collect and transmit patient data, healthcare organizations are required by HIPAA to make them secure — through Blockchain processes or other means.
How Does MDM Work?
In most cases, MDM begins with the installation of unique profiles on mobile devices. These profiles enable the company to remotely control, encrypt, and enforce usage policies across enterprise hardware.
Administrators make sure the correct software is installed and kept up-to-date, and they can also access real-time insights on device inventory, provisioning and OS configuration, in addition to live support and troubleshooting.
One of the most significant yet controversial functions of MDM is the ability to wipe a device of all installed apps and data or “brick” the device if it is compromised. While this is an important security measure for enterprises and proprietary information that’s backed up can be replaced, it can be a tough choice to make when the device belongs to the employee.
Some MDM solutions containerize sensitive information to prevent the necessity of a full reset. But the line between company and personal information must be kept clear for this to be effective.
The Future of MDM: More Devices, Better Security
Because of the risk to privately-owned devices, and additional security risks that come with accessing sensitive company information on them, companies are beginning to reverse the BYOD trend in favor of providing company phones, laptops, and tablets to their workforce.
Equipped with 5G connectivity, remote workers will be able to process greater volumes of information at faster speeds, from a variety of new IoT and AI-enabled devices, in addition to laptops, cell phones, and PCs. Access to business-grade internet connections from home through 5G can potentially cut overhead costs for employers while boosting productivity.
Now that working from home has become the norm for millions of people, the demand for reliable access to business software will remain high. While connection speeds get faster, organizations will need to strengthen their security end-to-end to keep supporting their employees and protecting their information. Ultimately, the most effective solutions should be determined based on the desired functionalities and outcomes.
Next Steps for MDM: Clear Policies and Procedures
Do you have questions about the right MDM solutions for your company? Get in touch with us today and connect with our team of cybersecurity and hardware security experts. We can help you establish an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) process that works for your organization and its customers.