Mobile device management is something we’ve sold for many years and in the good old days of data capture there were but a few options. Like everything else however, these days there are a plethora of solutions, all bringing strengths and weaknesses in their own right so this week I’m going to attempt to lay it all out for us laywomen and laymen of course!
What does an MDM solution do?
From now on Mobile Device Management = MDM, my poor little fingers are sore from nibbling them during the England game on Saturday!!
MDM brings number of basic management solutions to your work force, here’s the main ones you should consider:
MDM is a tool that will naturally list, group and tag all your mobile devices in one place, making sure you can manage and sort any device at a glance. Some go deeper than others including barcode/RFID tagging and will also strip out some basic device information for you like IMEI numbers.
I was talking about KIOSK last week, but if you have lots of devices in the field that need software, firmware or settings updated or you need to rebuild a device whilst working in the field then MDM is the tool that will help you do that remotely. Most MDM solutions will let you create full update packs and then you can apply them to any device or group of devices. Most solutions also let you schedule so that you can update in the middle of the night, not disrupting workers during their shift.
MDM will usually carry its own KIOSK client with it so that your users are locked out of anything you don’t want them to use on the device like the Phone, Texts or god forbid social media or games!!
This allows you to remotely access any device at any time. Copy or get files to form the device, run apps manually, check logs or system information and some MDM solutions even have a remote access screen capture client.
If you need to send a quick message to a user or group of users then an MDM solution can do that for you and even manage responses. This saves you the hassle of having to use email or texts for basic message sending and receiving.
Manage lost or stolen phones so that data doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Remotely wipe, lock or ping devices that you believe have been lost of stolen.
Location based tools
Some tools allow you to do basic tracking so you can get a picture of where your devices are geographically. I’ve yet to find an MDM product that gives you a full tracking suite of tools including ring fencing, trails and speed monitoring etc etc but this is often enough for most. Also look for tools that will aid and assist workers who need help remotely. Man Down or last known position reporting can be an essential tool to implement remote worker health and safety processes.
Some MDM products will even integrate their repair centres with them so you can automate the process of getting repairs logged and completed reducing down time for your mobile estate.
There’s more than this but these are the main things an MDM tool can do for you.
How does MDM work?
MDM used to be about installing a server, installing an admin client and then spending weeks punching holes in firewalls so it could talk to you devices in the bog bad world. For some solutions this is still the way you do it and for some companies this is still the way they like to do things, however these days most MDM solutions have a cloud or web based interface. You simply sign-up, login and add devices. With cloud based solutions the norm
How much does it cost?
It varies and purchase models can be subscription or annual licence based but essentially I’d look to pay about £3-4 per device per month for a decent MDM product. Be wary though because even “Cloud” based products can lock you in for a period which breaks a fundamental rule of being cloud in my book. With so much choice out there now, go try one as it should be easy to move around and find one that suits your needs.
Make sure you know where your data is stored. Data held, backed up or mirrored in Europe or Asia has very different laws to the USA.
Watch for lock in models, some are very sneaky in my humble view. Pay monthly and move if you’re not happy as the choice is there.
Purchase MDM through your hardware reseller! Yes, yes, I know, that’s a biased view but just think about it for one moment. Who is the most likely partner to get off their arses when you have issues that are hard to find? A hardware reseller is always someone that will help, so if they sold you MDM they have a tool they can use.
Be careful of manufacturer supplied MDM products as you can fall in love with the MDM solution which can lock you in to their brand as they don’t work on other brands!
Don’t go blindly for the well known brands any more. There are plenty of very, very good tools out there that resellers have adopted and use that are very good and very well developed solutions. Like with hardware these days, look for the human element involved in your MDM tool as it pays dividends.
OK, so there we have it, MDM in 5 minutes. Hopefully that will give you a nice intro to MDM.