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How to choose the right enterprise mobility management tool

Robert L. Mitchell | Jan. 24, 2014
Consider what's 'good enough' for what you need right now -- but don't neglect the future.

Do your employees travel to offices abroad? If so, a seemingly esoteric feature like geo-fencing—a feature that enables device management policy changes based on a phone's GPS location — could be all-important to stay in compliance with each country's privacy regulations. "Having an MDM that can change the policy of a device as it crosses from one country to another is one of those great features that organizations don't know they need yet," says Daniel Eckert, managing director in the advisory practice at PwC.

It's also important to understand whose devices you need to manage. Is it just employees, or do you need to include contractors, temporary workers, business partners or even customers?

Then there are the types of devices you need to manage — either now or in the next few years. Yes, most vendors support iOS and Android, but what about Windows Phone and the new Firefox OS? If you think those aren't a factor, consider that back in 2009 no one would have anticipated the decline of BlackBerry, Symbian and WebOS — or that Nokia would adopt Windows Phone as its core strategy because of an acquisition, says Winthrop.

Another concern: Is the EMM suite extensible enough to support other wireless endpoint devices, such as mobile printers and scanners? "We even had a request for Google Glass," says Eckert. "And I would expect, with wearable smart watches coming down the pipe, that we'll see more of those in the enterprise in the next two years."

In other words, "think beyond the smartphone," says Aberdeen's Borg. As the Internet of Things evolves, will you be able to manage endpoints of any type, whether they're temperature or seismic sensors? In a fast-moving market it's hard to know what devices will be popular a year from now, so make sure you hitch your wagon to a vendor that will keep up with new endpoints as they become popular, Borg suggests.

The number of companies we work with who say the CEO doesn't like the MDM they deployed is in the high 300s out of over 500 clients. Michael DiSabato, research vice president, Gartner for Technical Professionals

Winthrop concurs. "Buy the tools that allow you to have the flexibility you need to go with the flow," he says.

Versatility in EMM software is key in a world where the mobile OSes and endpoint devices change every year, says Michael DiSabato, research vice president at Gartner for Technical Professionals. The fluidity of the environment makes the choice of a tool more of a tactical decision than a strategic one, he adds.

Suites rule
IT should look for best of suite, rather than best of breed, says Lopez. Administrators don't want eight different tools to manage, she says, which is why the market will continue to consolidate. "You're looking for something that's not amazing at everything but that is great at some things and good enough for the others."

 

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