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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.

The way some features are delivered — and the level of integration within a suite —can vary. Vendors may have developed most capabilities natively, but many have acquired features through acquisition, or have added them through partnerships. For example, BoxTone relies on Mocana for application containerization, while SAP uses NitroDesk Touchdown as its secure email client. If a suite doesn't offer a desirable feature set natively, make sure the vendor you choose has a good partnering strategy for the capabilities you need, says Lopez.

"A single solution is better for security, providing that the user experience doesn't get trashed in the process," says Gartner's DiSabato.

But don't be afraid to go best of class for important capabilities if the suite you're using isn't up to snuff in one key area, says Winthrop. "We have one major customer with an MDM solution, but when it comes to mobile application management (MAM) they're looking for best of breed. Even though the MDM offering includes MAM capabilities it's not sufficient for their needs."

You can't spend all of your time integrating five or six products, but having one or two is fine, says Lopez, so if you're happy with an existing tool, think about augmenting it. Take security, for instance. "Many regulated industries have Good Technologies for secure mobile messaging, but they might want, for example, Mobile Iron for everything else." Or, she says, if you really need a secure browser you may want a suite that works with Mocana.

There is one worry with suites over best-of-breed tools, says Lopez, and that's the potential for some features to fall behind those offered by smaller, more nimble competitors. "Startups are very good at thinking out of the box. That's a huge handicap for any big company," she says.

But large vendors such as SAP and IBM are plowing enormous resources into their EMM suites. And the biggest vendors have another advantage: They can provide enterprise-scale support, integration and even development services.

User experience is paramount
BYOD has put the end user in the driver's seat, so it's vital to get hands-on time with the tools before a full deployment. "The user and the employee are the key arbiters of adoption," Aberdeen's Borg says. "Polling your employees about their experiences is increasingly important."

"The only thing that matters is the user experience," says Gartner's DiSabato.

Unfortunately, the MDM policy controls that many businesses have put into place haven't fared well with users. "The number of companies we work with who say the CEO doesn't like the MDM they deployed is in the high three hundreds out of over 500 clients," he says. Things like user self-provisioning and mobile application delivery should be transparent and scalable, he says.


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