Reporting: The Oft-Forgotten Benefit of Mobile Device Management

Mobile device management is everywhere. Every software company seems to be offering some type of device management solution, adding to the complexity and confusion of trying to compare products before you buy them. One way to help you narrow down your mobile device management decision is to consider solutions that offer robust reporting capabilities. This intelligence can give insight into the types of devices being used at your organisation, what apps BYOD users are installing and whether user policies are being followed.

Hardware and software assets

Mobile device management tools with reporting capabilities offer a way for organisations to manage their hardware and software assets, which lets IT get a handle on how many types of devices are in your workforce in a BYOD situation. Reporting dashboards should indicate the device model, platform, ID and operating system version and offer graphical interpretations of areas such as overall device breakdown in the organisation. Some mobile device management tools also let you track related assets such as wireless adapters. This data will be continually updated, so you have a clear picture of what mobile devices are floating around your business at any given time.

Reporting dashboards can also help the IT department keep an inventory of installed apps and how many of each have been installed on devices in the system. An added benefit with some mobile device management tools is the ability to integrate with other inventory systems that track additional hardware assets.

Security and compliance settings

Perhaps most crucial for businesses steeped in a BYOD program is the ability to track and report on policy compliance, device registrations and restrictions for mobile devices users. Additional reporting dashboard information such as enrolment status, policy violations, jailbreak status and security settings will be available from the best device management tools. The IT department will also be able to check on the status of deployed applications and whether employees have installed any restricted ones. Of course, for this and any feature of device management to work, Datacom recommends you have a BYOD user policy or policies in place for the different segments of your workforce.

Device activity reports 

Another benefit found with advanced device management tools is the ability to produce standard and customised reports on the activities of your BYOD and other mobile device users. These reports will track areas such as what applications employees are using, what networks they are accessing, how many device deployments there have been and instances of downtime. This will give the business a sharper sense of how well a BYOD program or other mobility plan is working and help in tracking trends and predicting mobile needs down the road.

If you’re on your way to a mobility or BYOD program, don’t forget to critically assess these reporting capabilities of your mobile device management provider.

Shaping Your Mobile Device Management Strategy: Part II

By Jean-Pierre Walle

Often I sit down with a company looking for a mobile device management solution to oversee a Bring Your Own Device programme only to discover they don’t have any policies guiding the use of personal smartphones or tablets at work. In my research, 72 per cent of organisations do not have defined policies for BYOD.

MDM tools are the vehicles by which you enforce company policies for BYOD; they do not set these policies for you. Fortunately, Datacom mobility experts can help organisations develop these policies in the early stages of their BYOD programmes. But this is just the first step. There are other boxes to tick before you choose a MDM tool for your workforce. Most crucial are deciding how you want your MDM solution to handle security, provisioning and configuration, user support, enrolling new users and exiting former ones, personal data and end-point protection.

Do you auto-lock your devices? Less than 10 per cent of people who bring their own devices to work use auto-lock, according to an ESET/Harris Interactive study conducted earlier this year. If a device isn’t locked – the most basic security measure –, no MDM solution will be able to protect it. Before you even entertain managing devices, you must ensure every employee enables auto-lock on their mobile device. Start with your own phone or tablet so you lead by example.

Which device types will you support? This is the million-dollar question for many organisations and being choosy can reduce the chance of too many devices taking over the workplace. You will need to consider platforms, operating systems, models and versions to get a sense of how much support you will need to allow through your MDM solution. You might also consider blocking unauthorised, modified or jail-broken devices. If you’re struggling with choosing which devices to support, Datacom mobility experts can tell you which devices are more manageable than others.

How will you classify and manage assets? You can group mobile devices by operating system or version, classify them based on whether they have been provisioned or decommissioned and monitor specific physical details and device location. You also have choices related to integrating this inventory with your other hardware assets. You can elect to report on these assets, tracking any compliance status and policy violations.

How will you activate the MDM solution on each device? IT can do this physically on each device or you can allow desktop or mail gateway sync. Datacom also offers organisations the ability to conduct over-the-air enrolment and configuration. Keep in mind how you want to remove users who leave the organisation.

How will devices be configured? You can choose to self-service provision, which personalises devices, activates security policies and sets up the network connection.

How do you want to secure the device? What sort of password policy do you want for personal devices? How many characters will be required and how many login attempts are allowed before it must be reset? MDM services offered through Datacom also allow two-factor authentication and may be able to leverage native device encryption depending on the device OS. Your BYOD policies will guide much of the end-point protection you leverage.

How do you want to secure the data? This item is separate from device security, as how you protect the data is ultimately what will keep corporate information safe should a device be compromised. You can elect to do a remote data wipe if you find the device has been left in a public place, operated by another user or lost.

What restrictions will you enforce? It’s possible to restrict access to music downloading applications, cameras and non-enterprise applications and block document sync.

How will you monitor apps? MDM services allow you to keep an inventory of which apps have been installed, lock access to the app store and host custom enterprise apps. You can also offer enterprise software via downloading, web links or access to third-party stores.

Who will help users when they need it? MDM tools can be configured so users can help themselves for easy tasks such as password reset. You can also allow your help desk to interact with remote users through settings on certain MDM products.

Jean-Pierre Walle has over 23 years of experience in IT and telecommunications. He currently serves as a Business Unit Manager for Datacom NZ, a role in which he oversees End-User Services. His teams specialise in managed services for mobile device management, 24×7, global remote desktop support and end-to-end service for SME/SMB customers. In addition to managing these teams, Jean-Pierre oversees the service delivery, P&L and development aspects of these managed services. He is also an ITIL® practitioner. 

Tips for Choosing Mobile Device Management Tools

By Lauren Fritsky

Mobile device management is often touted as a cure-all for handling the consumerisation of IT, and for good reason. MDM software can help IT departments better secure and manage a variety of devices, including controlling how employees access certain applications and corporate data. Like most technology solutions, getting the most out of these tools depends on what specific needs your organisation has regarding mobile device use at work. Here are a few areas to consider before you choose an MDM solution.

Determine the core features required

Your device management options are almost as vast as the number of devices you could allow in your workplace. Organisations working with Datacom have used a number of different MDM solutions – it all depends on which features are most relevant to your organisation. Some device management tools focus more on policy or application management while others have extra security functions, such as data containers. There are other mobile device management options which carry extra features such as automated enrolment, enhanced reporting capabilities and integration. You also have the option of hosting the solution onsite, in the cloud or using a third party service through a managed services provider.

Pick the devices to support

Key in choosing a mobile device management solution is determining which devices and operating systems to support in addition to whether you will allow employee-owned devices and company-issued ones to co-exist. MDM functions vary based on device operating system, make and model and in how much access the IT department has to native settings. Mobile operating system fragmentation is also creating challenges that increasingly require IT to choose which devices and features to allow so they don’t have to perform manual setup on a regular basis.

Consider the depth of security

Most mobile device management systems will include elements such as authentication, encryption, virus checks and data wipe. Certain MDMs can use native APIs to manage devices used remotely, and you also have the option of tacking on third-party features for added security. Data wipe sounds like a final, harsh solution to dealing with compromised devices, but certain management tools actually target only corporate data, not the complete device. If you do institute a complete data wipe policy for compromised devices, Datacom recommends letting users know this is a possibility so they can ensure they back up their personal data.

Manage your assets

One of the riskier things that can happen when you allow a flurry of devices into the organisation is losing track of what data and business applications are being stored on them. Regardless of which type of MDM tool you choose, best practice dictates you manage devices from enrolment to deactivation so you can fully monitor all corporate data and applications stored on them. This asset management approach helps IT get a better handle on security, software licenses and application deployment.

Which mobile device management solution has worked at your organisation?