When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in January 2007, it marked the birth of a new era in mobile technologies. The mobile revolution has come a long way since then with enthusiasts now talking about wearables, targeted apps, remote charging, and more. In the next two years, the Internet of Things will make automation a part of daily life.
Businesses are also taking part in the mobile revolution by using mobile technologies to improve employee productivity and customer loyalty. But this adoption of mobile technologies by businesses has not come without challenges. For example, company CIOs are scrambling to put management controls on mobile computing, such as bring your own device (BYOD) policies. IT management of mobile devices will thus become more and more critical as mobile technologies continue to evolve and proliferate. Here are some recommendations for IT managers looking for Mobile Device Management (MDM) strategies for the present and the very near future:
1. Demarcate between work and home: Mobile technologies have blurred the line between the office and home. The IT team should compartmentalize or sandbox corporate data to give employees a smooth mobile experience. The employee would access personal and official data by using the same interface, but on the back end, there should be a clear demarcation between the two. If the employee resigns, the IT team should be able to administer a corporate wipe. And, if the employee loses the device, the team should be able to administer a full device wipe.
2. Provide security for wearables: Employees will soon start using wearables to achieve business targets and compete better. For example, a sales manager on a customer visit may use her smartwatch to collaborate via video with her marketing manager. This may enable a faster pricing decision that can win the project for the company. The IT team should have a clear strategy for securing wearables and ensuring that unauthorized people does not intercept data. MDM solutions of the future would give IT administrators the exact location and time the wearable was put into use as well as the identity of the employee who used it. It would also ensure that only the right employee uses it through ECG validation or other advanced, biometric techniques.
3. Manage assets centrally: Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops need to connect seamlessly to maximize productivity. It is necessary to track all the assets assigned to people, manage data access and passwords, and create user or department profiles from a central location. The IT team should also be able to configure any device from this central location. This will eliminate redundancy and improve productivity.
4. Deploy and scan apps: If an employee downloads a blacklisted app through his home network, it must be deactivated as soon as he enters the office network. For example, it is possible to block apps with a built-in camera function. IT must also be able to deploy apps for all chosen user profiles. This will allow employees to download the approved apps.
5. Enhance user experience: Professors have used virtual learning environments such as WebCT to complement their teaching for years. Universities have now started using learning apps to complement the curriculum. For apps such as these, IT managers must be able to give access to select students who enroll for the course. They should also be able to disable the app in certain situations, such as when a student is in class and ought to be focusing on the lecture.
6. See from the cloud: Just as corporate data can be stored in the cloud; MDM can also be performed from the cloud. The cloud allows the IT team to enroll, lock, and manage devices from remote locations. Furthermore, a cloud-based MDM solution is easier to set up.
7. Stop APTs with the power of data: Mobile endpoints are an easy target for advanced persistent threats (APTs), which work on the principle of stealth. The company should monitor each endpoint, log all user activity, and proactively look for threat patterns. The IT team must be alerted as soon as a threat pattern is noticed. Virus definitions must also be automatically updated to prevent any security lapse.
Mobile Device Management of the Future
In the future, employees may use multi-language conference calls with real-time translation to collaborate. They may also use mobile to send 3-D prototypes to their peers, who will then use their feel screen to “experience the product.” It may one day also be possible for mobile devices to read thoughts and share with others. And, the day this happens might mark another turning point – the end of the physical office. In this brave new world, the challenges of asset management, profile management, network management, and APTs are going to get bigger.
IT administrators of tomorrow would be trained to handle just these challenges. IT management apps would be integrated with IT hardware to facilitate quick decisions. For example, future MDM solutions will feature deep packet inspection, which would make it easier to detect security breaches. The IT admins would wear a smartwatch to get an immediate alert when there is a security breach. A tap on the smartwatch would activate their smartglasses, which would show data in an actionable format in real time. They could then act on the threat through their smartphones. In fact, they would also have an intelligent MDM solution that learns from the past and adapts itself to demolish threats. And, just like today, MDM and the IT administrator would be up to the task.
Note: This article was originally published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation here.