CompTIA's William Linard discusses mobile device management

How to empower your business with a comprehensive mobility strategy

William Linard asks: "Have you got a thorough strategy in place for managing mobile devices?"

The love of mobile devices is here to stay. We rely on our laptops, smartphones, apps and cloud solutions to get through the day – professionally and personally. And while the mobility offerings continue to one up each other, the business benefits seem to be growing just as fast. That’s why mobile device management (MDM) is becoming a hot topic within the industry.

As part of the mobility trend, solution providers are expected to push MDM as a valuable service to customers, but experts caution against limiting mobile offerings to only MDM. Instead, a mobility strategy, for solution providers and their customers, must address the various components of mobility usage, many of which tendril back into the native infrastructure of a business.

The question for solution providers is: Are you ready? CompTIA’s Quick Start Guide to Crafting a Mobility Offering leads solution providers through the process of building a successful mobility strategy, from start to finish.

The first step is evaluation. Many organisations lack a real understanding of the type and number of endpoints comprising their environment. An encompassing plan to replace or enhance those endpoints must be rooted in a full accounting. Solution providers should engage in billing and management audits, as well as audits of mobile device use. These usage audits often reveal more devices than anticipated, usage that varies significantly, and some devices going under- or un-utilised.

Once a full accounting is complete, consider the client’s priorities in terms of growth, innovation, technology adoption, employee enablement, and more. Armed with that knowledge, a consultative provider can better direct an organisation’s technology focus toward enabling its goals.

Solution providers should have a firm understanding that typically an organisation’s mobility strategy is driven by a desire to better support employees. They should make every effort to include end users in the fact gathering and testing steps of a mobility solution deployment. In other words, functionality should trump cool.

While keeping the end user top of mind, IT departments will have to contend with device choice and ownership. Resolving these questions involves understanding the daily usage of devices from tablets to smartphones for each business unit included in the mobile strategy.

Solutions providers should consider all access points made vulnerable by mobility, such as use of unsecured access points or network security gaps exploited by malware transmitted through mobile device synchronisation. Data is another consideration. A mobility strategy must address issues such as privacy and other legal requirements for data both at rest in the network and on a device, but also in transit.

The issue of security intersects heavily with application choices and development decisions. If a business determines some public applications have business relevance, how do solution providers address potential security weaknesses in consumer class apps? This may present the largest opportunity for solution providers as the need for custom applications increases.

Some solution providers make the mistake of thinking that MDM is an all- inclusive, turnkey solution for mobility strategies. The truth is that MDM serves as a policy enforcement umbrella that arches over the individual components of a mobile strategy. You will need to create the policies and solutions necessary for mobility success. MDM can only sanction what you have developed.

Ultimately, each decision – from MDM to security to apps – must evolve into policy form. These mobility choices should be delineated in an organisation’s mobile policy, which will often bridge – and, in instances, replace – existing IT policies.

CompTIA members have full access to the Quick Start Guide to Crafting a Mobility Offering and other mobility resources such as the 10-Week Guide to Mobility and current research on the mobility marketplace. CompTIA also provides educational materials to members free of charge.

William Linard is CompTIA’s Membership Engagement Manager

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