As mobility becomes the norm at work, many businesses are struggling with the management of mobile devices — some of which may be deployed by the IT department, some of which are part of a bring-your-own-device program.
But it’s not just management of the devices they’re struggling with; it’s also the management of apps, content and user identity. And as more mobile devices enter the workforce — think smart watches, personal printers and the Internet of Things — this issue will only magnify in the coming months and years.
That’s what enterprise mobility management (EMM) is meant to address, which can help organizations tie their mobile strategy into business workflows, security frameworks and IT lifecycle management.
Mobile strategies used to revolve around email, contacts and calendar, but that’s changing. Gartner estimates the average enterprise has now deployed between eight and 15 mobile apps to employees, including role-specific apps that are being pushed directly to their devices.
“As this trend matures, the need for application-level controls and reporting along with the ability to deliver and consume a growing number of content types is at the heart of many mobile strategies,” says Gartner in its Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Mobility Management Suites.
Previously, managing mobility was about managing hardware. That’s no longer the case — and that means most mobile management tools are no longer sufficient to do the job. According to Gartner, enterprises need tools that will provide managed access, deliver and manage mobile apps, and facilitate access to content on tablets and smartphones as part of an overall EMM suite.
This is particularly challenging because employees often use a personal smartphone, tablet or laptop for work purposes as part of a formal or informal BYOD program. Not only does the IT department need to know if an employee is connecting to the network with a corporate-authorized device, but also whether the apps being used on that device are compliant with corporate policies.
It’s one of the reasons Gartner has identified mobile identity as a key pillar in EMM, which ensures only trusted devices and users access enterprise applications. Other key pillars include mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM) and mobile content management (MCM).
While different vendors tend to focus on different pillars, enterprises should consider EMM suites that provide a single point of administration for all capabilities.
“As a single point of policy and accountability, EMM provides the opportunity to avoid agent bloat, which is so often seen on PCs, where an endless parade of add-on utilities steal local resources, duplicate, and complicate the task of policy coordination for system administrators,” says Gartner.
Eventually, managing mobility will simply become part of managing the overall IT ecosystem, whether PCs, mobile devices and even smart devices. But the market isn’t quite there yet. EMM serves as the glue that holds a mobile strategy together, helping IT departments cope with a growing number of mobile devices, apps and content in the workplace.