Developing a Strategy to Manage Mobile DevicesBy Samuel Greengard Print
Savvy enterprises are developing a strategic plan for managing mobile devices in order to maximize business opportunities and minimize IT challenges and risk.
MDM is also about embedding a strategy into policies and workflows. Crucial tools and features such as authentication, sandboxing, and remote lock and wipe capabilities are essential. Many organizations, including IBM and Intel, are also introducing app stores that allow employees to download approved software.
Developing a policy framework is even more challenging in the global arena, PwC's Eckert says. As organizations dive deeper into BYOD, they often discover that it's necessary to have someone to oversee the initiative in a more holistic way.
"If you're doing business in 40 or 50 countries, every one of these countries will have different rules and regulations," he points out. As a result, large multinational firms must build policies and rules that not only match the laws of a specific country, but also "follow a person as they travel. Otherwise, they put the company at risk legally and also create security threats," he adds.
Likewise, business and IT leaders must increasingly consider how devices and apps function in different countries and situations—along with which services will work and not work. For example, in countries that block social media sites or deem certain types of activities and communication illegal, an organization might shut down access or block use of an app based on preset rules and conditions.
"More advanced companies are focused on managing the service and type of access, rather than simply providing an app and letting people use it however and wherever they want to use it," Eckert says.
Finally, regardless of whether an enterprise operates in a local or global environment, there's a need to understand how data travels and where it is stored. Cloud computing and third-party servers may require remote access through VPNs or an encrypted network. In some cases, it may be necessary to encrypt data on the mobile device as well.
For example, some organizations temporarily store data in an encrypted cache on a mobile device or render files read-only based on the device profile or a machine ID. As Eckert puts it: "It's important to approach the issue from a number of directions but ultimately maintain a focus on the data."
In the end, one thing is certain. Mobile device management has emerged as an essential component of IT. The opportunities and challenges surrounding the use of smartphones, tablets and other devices will continue to grow in the months and years ahead.
"We have reached the point where almost every IT project has a mobile component," Eckert concludes. "Executives must understand that the mobile infrastructure and governance models they adopt now will play a major role in determining the shape of their organization in the future."
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