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Enterprise mobility management: A guide to tips, tools and trials

There isn't one 'right' approach to enterprise mobility management, but nailing down the basics and some best practices can help you find the best way to handle EMM for your company.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in enterprise mobility management, and it can be tough to know where to start.               

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to enterprise mobility management (EMM), and many companies run into snags along the path to mobile enablement. But if you can build a solid strategy, set the appropriate policies, use the right technologies and plan for the challenges, your mobile initiative can succeed. Here's a refresher on the basics of EMM, plus tips and tricks to better enable employee mobility and advice on which road blocks to look out for.

Know the terms

1. Defining enterprise mobility management

Before jumping into the nitty gritty of enterprise mobility management, it's important to understand the terms that get tossed around. You may have heard of things such as MDM, MAM and identity management, but knowing the specifics around each facet of mobility management makes a difference when you're looking into which tools to buy or how to troubleshoot mobility issues down the line.

  • Enterprise mobility

    Employees work outside the office from their mobile devices, and corporate data itself is mobile. While enterprise mobility can improve productivity, it comes with security risks. You can mitigate those risks with appropriate policies.


  • Mobile device management

    The goal of mobile device management (MDM) is to deploy, secure, integrate, monitor and manage mobile devices in a manner that upholds the functionality of the devices while keeping corporate data safe.


  • Mobile application management

    As the name implies, mobile application management (MAM) is for delivering, licensing, configuring, tracking and maintaining software. MAM tools often let IT enforce policies and push applications to devices. Some MAM products enable dual personas or secure containers and selective device wipe.


  • Mobile information management

    Mobile information management (MIM) keeps sensitive data encrypted and only lets approved apps access and/or transmit that data. MIM is device-agnostic, so it's a promising option for enterprise mobility management. However, it hasn't gained traction yet, so there aren't any standards, which makes integration difficult.


  • Identity management

    The name of the game with identity management is controlling access. ID management systems let IT put users into groups -- by department, for example -- and grant them access to the resources the specific group needs.


Get a handle on EMM

2. How-tos and helpful hints

There are lots of approaches to mobile enablement, but no matter what, you can't ignore the mobile devices that have made their way onto your network. You're going to have to find ways to support workers' devices, whether that means using MDM, MAM, MIM, a combination of the three, or a vendor tool that puts them all together for you.

  • Come up with a mobility strategy

    Not having a mobile strategy means you're going blind into your mobile initiative. One of the best things you can do if you're looking to enable mobility is write policies around which devices employees can use, where they can store corporate data and how IT can enforce those rules.


  • Why MDM isn't enough

    Controlling, enrolling and provisioning devices are important parts of enterprise mobility management, but you have to find ways to manage employees' use of the cloud and various operating systems too.


  • Choosing the best approach to EMM

    There's argument over whether MDM, MAM or MIM is the best way to manage enterprise mobility, but the reality is that the best strategies use parts of all three. Just be sure to pick tools that don't have too much overlap in functionality, which can be a waste of corporate funds.


  • Using Citrix XenMobile for enterprise mobility management

    XenMobile is useful for EMM because it puts MAM, MDM and control over cloud storage and file sharing in the same console. XenMobile also comes with an enterprise app store and support for the most popular OSes.


What you're up against

3. Challenges of mobile enablement

Enabling employees' mobility is worth your time, but there can be a lot of bumps along the way. For one thing, the technology you use to manage users' devices and apps is always one step behind those devices and apps; it's almost impossible to come up with a perfect management tool before you know exactly what you'll be managing. Additionally, there are cost challenges and perception problems that can stand in the way of getting your mobility initiative up to speed.

  • You can't always trust EMM vendors

    Enterprise mobility management vendors touted the benefits of enabling employee mobility, but now those same vendors are pointing out the downfalls of mobility -- possibly to get you to buy their product. At the same time, these vendors aren't making advancements that IT departments desperately need to keep up with the consumerization movement.

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  • Mobility isn't always a money saver

    Many companies encounter problems with tracking and managing the expenses that come with enabling employee mobility. Keeping data roaming costs down can be especially tricky, and in many cases, reimbursing employees for the devices they choose won't cut down capital expenditures.


  • EMM isn't about devices

    It's important to get away from the mindset that managing mobility equals controlling devices. There's a lot more to enabling mobility than that, and focusing solely on the device level can make employees feel like Big Brother is watching.