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Managing Mobile in the Workplace

17 February 2014 No Comment


We bring our phones to work now and use them for everything.  Facebook, Candy Crush, and Twitter are a great use of a smartphone but these devices are also helping us become more productive: email, file and document handling and editing, as well as contacts, calendars and integration with sales, financial, and other third-party business apps.  This creates two things:  opportunity and challenge.  We want to seize upon the opportunity of best utilizing these devices to do our jobs while addressing the challenge of the resulting exposure of company data and security.  Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) is the overarching approach to tackle these issues. 

A traditional corporate IT approach to this problem is to “lock down” the devices: mandate phone models, configurations, and use.  Restrict employee access to certain apps using blacklists.   Tell people how to use their phones and how not to use them.  This approach is called Mobile Device Management(MDM).  You can imagine how well this goes down with avid smartphone users.  Our phone has become a part of our identity.  We put our music on it, access personal email, take personal pictures, play our favorite games, and use it to stay in touch with our friends.  MDM is the nuclear response to a problem that can usually be solved with a pocket knife.

A measured approach is application-specific rather than device-specific.  Instead of trying to lock down the phone, just lock down the apps that touch corporate data.  Firstly, this means email.  Have a corporate email app and employees cannot access corporate email without it.  This addresses those pesky company-sensitive attachments, killing two birds with one stone.  Then there’s file sharing.  Using a corporate file sharing app cannot prevent unauthorized Dropbox use, but it does at least provide a secure alternative.   After that there are contacts and calendars.  Then everything else, using company-secured apps.  The user can still play Angry Birds, use Facebook, and do all their personal stuff on the phone: personal email, photos, video, music, whatever.  All the fun is left intact.  The company gets relatively secure corporate data and it doesn’t matter if the device is yours(BYOD) or the company bought it for you. That’s Mobile Application Management(MAM).

So Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) includes both Mobile Device Management(MDM) and Mobile Application Management(MAM).  EMM is the overarching approach to tackle these issues.  MDM is a whole-hog lockdown approach to the enterprise mobile phone.  MAM is a kinder, measured, though newer and less-developed approach which provides customized, locked down mobile apps that address corporate email first.

Phones and tablets are here to stay and smart companies are finding ways to help people enjoy and be productive with them while subtly addressing the concerns they create.


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