Bringing your own device to work may well become the new norm in the business world, but what about the software solutions that have sprung up to help companies manage BYOD in the workplace? MDM, or mobile device management, quickly made an appearance following the BYOD trend as yet another 3-letter acronym to add to the ever-growing list. Yet despite its speedy climb to fame in the tech industry (among star and newbie software vendors alike), mobile device management may still have growth to incur before securing its position in the software industry.
Why, you ask? To start with, MDM is designed to fulfill two basic needs: to monitor company devices in the hands of employees, and to secure the now-mobile corporate data accessible through each device.
Stepping back to look at the the software industry as a whole, it’s undeniable that the latest successful platforms address a multitude of software needs in one centralized interface. Now we return to the fate of MDM solutions — is there room for this type of platform to rise to the challenge of expanding vertically? It’s a possibility, for sure, but how realistic given the current state of device management software?
Mobile management may in fact be able to recover from its existing stance of nearly inevitable consumption by another software segment (enterprise-level mobile security systems, anyone?). However, in order to do so, the industry (still in its infant stage) must evolve — and rapidly — to remain a relevant player.
Currently, MDM is exploiting the new need for companies to regulate what their employees are doing on corporate devices as well as on company time. Hence its almost immediate short-term success. But, as we all know, technology will change: corporate approaches to BYOD will shift, security and software needs will diversify as different-size companies pursue different problems, hackers will improve their viruses and techniques for infiltrating mobile devices with access to corporate data.
Software aimed at mobile management must have the capability to quickly factor in all of these variables and refine the solution to better address each. That leads us to three key elements MDM needs to address if it wants to advance in the industry:
1. Security features must update constantly to stay ahead of hackers and viruses. Yes, security functionality has advanced at an accelerated rate to meet the needs of cloud software and hosted platforms. But can businesses producing MDM software adapt at a level that keeps data stored on a mobile app secure from complex hacker codes?
A secure platform needs to be the absolute top priority for mobile device management vendors, particularly considering that a majority of BYOD-using employees don’t understand the privacy risks. Companies want to invest in mobile solutions they’re confident will stay on top of security updates and evolve as new hacker techniques are uncovered.
2. Device management must keep up with mobile technological advancements. As anyone in the mobile industry knows, changes — big changes — can happen quickly. Just look at how Apple’s game-changing mobile features and aesthetic designs have impacted the device arena. Device management solutions need the capacity to adapt alongside these changes, not 5 months after the fact when another new functionality is being thrown into the mix.
3. MDM must evolve to more effectively balance the personal-versus-corporate divide. Sure, providing employees with company devices is a win-win from the perspective of the business, ensuring users can access company data when relevant on a corporate-managed platform. But the ability to effectively manage that division will only grow murkier as we move forward.
Employees will test the boundaries of what actions on these devices are work-appropriate (just consider how the personal-corporate division itself is slowly but surely deteriorating with the availability of such platforms as social media).
As Robert Westervelt pointed out in his article on why the MDM market won’t last, “BYOD has made…standard out-of-the-box MDM functionality” almost irrelevant, in part because of its complex security needs — pre-packaged MDM solutions are the equivalent of securing a bank vault with a chain door lock.
The future success of device management products depends on the market’s ability to adjust quickly and efficiently when new functionalities are determined necessary. It will likely take more than a three-pronged approach to save this industry, but the aforementioned suggestions demonstrate the extent of maturing MDM must undergo to save itself from the list of software segments that bled a fast, expensive death.
If you’d like to find out more about specific MDM solutions take a look at our exclusive Top 10 Mobile Device Management software report.