Mobile Device Management: A Comprehensive Guide

Mobile Device Management

We live in a very connected world. With the tap of an icon, we can access all of the data that we need to do our jobs, no matter where in the world we find ourselves, and no matter which devices we’re using. As remote working is rising in prominence, more and more people are foregoing desktops in favour of more portable devices – smartphones, tablets and laptops, which can move with them, rather than keeping them stuck to a single desk.

But with this shift in workspaces comes a new challenge for businesses to address. Suddenly it’s not enough to secure office machines. You need to make sure that every device connecting to your network is protected. And when your humans are using multiple devices to access your business data, this is more difficult than ever. Every device is a potential access point for a cybercriminal to take advantage of. But keeping track of every device in use is a difficult enough problem – how do you take it one step further and make sure that all of them are updated, patched and protected against both cybercrime and physical threats?

This is where Mobile Device Management comes in.

What is Mobile Device Management?

Mobile Device Management, or MDM, is all about putting steps in place to protect your business, your humans, and your data.

It’s an overarching term which can include policies that your company puts in place, technologies that your business uses using to access and manage mobile devices, and the permissions that you provide your teams with across the devices that they use.

It’s all about striking a balance in your remote working solutions between convenience for your humans, productivity and efficiency in the way that they work, and security for both them and your business.

Why Are Mobile Device Management Solutions Important?

The more devices are connecting to your network, the more exposed your business is to attack. Every single device needs to be regularly updated, and the same applies to all the apps that are being used on it.

It’s one matter when your teams are coming into the office. You can protect your network to ensure that only authorised devices have access to the internet, or limit access to specific apps. You also have a good idea of what devices are being used, and can add them to your network, manage their updates and more.

But when your teams are working from home, the responsibility to run updates, and to regulate the apps that they are installing, thoroughly checking the permissions that they’re providing to third parties, all falls on each team member, rather than an IT department as a whole. And since these are likely the devices that they’re accessing company information from, the risk to your business increases exponentially. A single app with a vulnerability can see a cyberattacker gaining access to your systems and compromising your business data. So, you’ve got to ask yourself, how many apps are your teams using, and how often are they being updated and patched.

When you are using Mobile Device Management technology, it becomes easier to keep track of the apps and cloud services that your teams are using, allowing for better transparency. But on top of that, by putting MDM policies in place, like a Bring Your Own Device policy or an agreement to regularly update devices, and by providing regular cybersecurity awareness training, your team members are better equipped. They can understand the risks that their devices pose to your business, and to be more careful with the apps that they use, the data that they access and the permissions that they give to apps in turn.

What Are The Advantages of Using MDM Solutions?

Now that you have a better understanding of why a Mobile Device Management system is an important aspect of running a successful business in a modern, digital world, let’s take a look at some of the ways that an effective MDM strategy can benefit your company:

1. Improved Data Security

As I’ve already explained, managing the devices that can access your network and your data can have a huge impact on the security of your information. Whether it’s encrypting data, regulating and managing updates, or being able to wipe company data from a device when a team member leaves (or if their phone, tablet or laptop gets stolen), having Mobile Device Management solutions in place will see your business protecting both your humans and your critical information.

2. Manage Available Apps  

With millions of apps available for your team members to use, keeping track of exactly what each person is using and what data they are allowing the apps to access can be difficult. MDM technologies help you to detect apps and cloud services that are in use, restrict access where necessary, and encrypt data to protect confidential information. It will also help your IT team to minimise the negative effects that Shadow IT can have on your business by regulating which apps can and should be used by your team members. This way you can have better visibility and understanding of which apps boost productivity, and can add them to your tech stack where necessary, allowing other team members to benefit from the same efficiency.

3. Increased Productivity

When Mobile Device Management is implemented in the right way, you can make sure that your teams have the right access across all of the devices that they need to use, while still maintaining your business’ security. This will see your humans working better individually, and also collaborating on projects together without needing to worry about requesting permissions at every step of the way, or stressing that their actions are compromising your company. Knowing that the apps they use are monitored and regulated will help them to work more confidently within them, and find ways to work smarter rather than harder.

4. Lower Costs

Time is money. And when you’re using MDM technology, the time that it takes to onboard and manage devices is significantly reduced, saving your IT team time and saving your business money overall. On top of that, the improved productivity will see your teams working more efficiently, making the most of their time, and adding as much value to your business as possible, all within their 8 hour work day. The focussed attention that they will be able to pay to their daily tasks will see your business thriving, and making more money, rather than spending it.

5. Compliance With Regulations 

The EU’s GDPR and South Africa’s POPI Act closely regulate the way that data can be gathered, processed, stored and deleted. When your teams are using multiple devices, it can be difficult to keep track of where data is being stored and ensure that you have accurate information at all times, without personal data becoming compromised. MDM solutions help you to manage this data, ensuring that it’s only accessible to those who need it to perform their jobs. Some Mobile Device Management tools, like Microsoft Intune, also help you to wipe company data from devices when an employee leaves your business, making it even easier to ensure that personal information is meeting IT compliance requirements.

How Does Microsoft Mobile Device Management Work?

When you use Microsoft 365, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to help you manage your mobile devices. And many businesses don’t even realise the potential that Microsoft’s solutions hold.

Take SharePoint, or example. Yes, it is a wonderful cloud storage service which can help teams to collaborate on documents and access the data that they need to do their jobs. But it can also help you to restrict access to only specific people, specific groups, or even specific devices. Adding or removing access is as simple as a few mouse clicks, but is incredibly effective in preventing the wrong people from accessing your data, or maintaining access to your files after they have left your company.

Then there’s Microsoft Intune, which helps you to manage the data that is being stored on individual devices, and even allows you to wipe data off a device if it gets lost, stolen, or becomes compromised. On top of that, Intune also help you to keep track of the devices themselves, their software versions, whether they are using encryption for data transfer, and whether they are meeting your security policies in general.

And while Microsoft’s Defender for 365 may serve as an email and cloud security platform, that’s not where its domain ends. You can set up Defender to act as a Cloud Access Security Broker, helping you to detect cloud apps and services that are in use, manage access across a range of platforms, encrypt data while it is in transit and more.

How Can MDM Solutions Be Used In Different Industries?

While there are plenty of use cases for Mobile Device Management across a wide range of industries, there are three particular sectors where I have found that MDM solutions can have a big impact:

1. Financial Services

Financial services providers deal with confidential information on a daily basis. It’s an industry where compliance with regulations is critical, since personal and financial data becoming compromised would be catastrophic for a business’ reputation. But it’s also one of the industries that is most willing to adopt new technologies that will see finance businesses analysing big data, predicting trends in the market, and putting information to the best use for the companies themselves, and for their clients.

This adoption of new technologies means that finance businesses have a particular need for Mobile Device Management to ensure that their employees are safely and securely accessing the data that they need, on whichever device they need it on, without any risk of compromise. Transparency in the data that is being accessed and in the apps that are being used is critical, as is their IT department (or the outsourced IT company that they use) having access to remotely manage and update devices.

2. SME’s

Small and Medium Enterprises are the perfect candidates for making use of cloud platforms and apps that will streamline their operations. But this also makes them a perfect example of the dangers of Shadow IT. Most SMEs are more than willing to allow their team members to use whichever tools will make their jobs easier and help them to work more efficiently – one of the benefits that Shadow IT can offer. But it also increases the risk to the company, since the more apps are being used without regulation, the more vulnerabilities there are to the company’s data.

Having an MDM policy in place will give SMEs better visibility into the tools that their teams are using, and from there better risk management in terms of controlling what data each app should have access to. This will allow them to continue allowing their teams the freedom to use whichever apps help them to work smarter, rather than harder, while at the same time protecting themselves and their data from becoming compromised thanks to better managed updates, patches and security maintenance.

3. Service Industry

The retail and service industries have adapted to use mobile technology in a unique way. Where most businesses need to be concerned about the number of devices that each individual is using, the service industry will often see a single mobile device being used by multiple employees thanks to the rise in mobile payment devices, and the increase in tablets being used as Point of Sale systems.

With multiple people using the same device, the risk to each device is compounded. A human error made by one employee in terms of forgetting to run an update, or using the device to quickly open a personal mail, for example, will have a far greater effect on your business as a whole than it would if they were the only person accessing the device.

This is where Mobile Device Management tools can play a critical role for the retail and service sectors, since many MDM solutions include kiosk modes, which allows a business to provide access to very specific apps without providing access to, for example, browsers or external apps and programs. This makes it easier to maintain the devices in terms of updates for the apps and the software on the device itself, and reduces the impact that a single employee can have in introducing vulnerabilities to the machines.

How Can Solid Systems Help?

Whether you’re an SME who doesn’t have your own internal IT team, or are looking for Managed Service Provider to free up your internal IT team and have them focus on your core product, Solid Systems is here to help. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we can help you set up the right Microsoft solutions to offer Mobile Device Management, keep your devices updated, provide regular training sessions for your teams, and help you to not only manage the existing technologies that your business has in place, but strategically plan for the future.

If you’re ready to take MDM to the next level for your business, securing your data and protecting your humans, get in touch with us today and we will work with you to see you leveraging technology, making more money, and stepping into the future with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does MDM help to secure and manage corporate data on mobile devices?

By effectively managing the devices that can access your network and your data, your business can boost the security of personal or confidential information. The right Mobile Device Management solutions can help you to encrypt data during transfer, track the status of device software, perform remote app and software updates, and even wipe company data from devices when employees leave your business, or if a device is lost or stolen.

Can MDM prevent data breaches and cyber threats on mobile devices?

Every device that operates on your network, every app that your team members use, adds risk to your business. By effectively monitoring those apps and devices, regularly updating them, and carefully managing access and permissions for your business data, you can reduce this risk, making the threat of an attack or a data breach less likely.

How does MDM integrate with my organisation's existing security infrastructure?

Businesses that already have Microsoft licenses may not realise that they already have Mobile Device Management software at their fingertips as part of their Microsoft security arsenal. Solutions like Intune, SharePoint and Defender for Microsoft 365 can form an integral part of your MDM strategy.

On top of that, while most businesses have a technology stack in place, many are unaware of the multitude of apps their teams are using for their day-to-day operations. This is known as Shadow IT, and device management technologies go a long way towards providing businesses with visibility into the software that their team members are using, allowing them to restrict access where necessary, or incorporate those apps and technologies into their tech stack where it will have a positive effect on morale or productivity.

How do I choose the right MDM solution for my organisation?

More important than the specific tools that you use for Mobile Device Management (and there are plenty of tools out there) is how you implement them. Having the right IT partner by your side will see you adopting MDM solutions in a strategic way which will make the management of devices easier, rather than more challenging.

Who Uses Mobile Device Management (MDM) Software?

While plenty of businesses see the advantage of managing mobile devices that are connecting to their network, we have found that there are three types of businesses in particular that benefit from MDM solutions. These are those in the finance industry, in the service industry, and SMEs.

What does mobile device management have access to?

Depending on the MDM solutions that you are using, Mobile Device Management can help businesses to gain visibility of the apps and software that their teams are using, grant and manage access to both apps and individuals, track the status of software across multiple mobile devices, perform software updates, and wipe data from devices in the event of a team member leaving or a device becoming lost or stolen.

Michael Claxton

Michael Claxton

Co-Founder and CEO of Solid Systems | I am a father of two, and a mentor of many. My calm focus makes me a natural leader, both in and out the office, and I have a unique skill in nurturing leadership qualities in others as well. But most of all, I understand the true value of time and the ways that technology can optimise efficiency within a business and see humans making the most of the time available to them, both in terms of productivity, and in terms of personal growth. 

Didn't find what you were looking for?