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Embracing Device Diversity

Setting enterprise mobility priorities

One of the many questions I get from businesses grappling with managing mobile devices and keeping mobile expenses under control is: "@here do I start?" An effective enterprise mobility strategy is multifaceted, and for a business to be successful it must take into consideration a variety of drivers and factors. Regardless of a business' size, budget or IT resources, a first step in the critical path to achieving enterprise mobility stability is embracing device diversity. It impacts everything from actual device management to cost management for those devices.

To become fully accepting of device diversity, and on the road to an effective enterprise mobility strategy, here are three top considerations:

Device Diversity Is Your New Normal
Many businesses are under fire trying to determine how to provision and ensure secure access of iOS devices, especially iPads. In addition, you are painfully aware that many employees are now demanding support for their personal devices (and the applications running on them).

It is understandable, and rational, to prevent devices from accessing your networks and applications until you have a plan in place. The problem is that rapid device adoption is highly emotional for end users and they are very motivated to use whatever tools they deem necessary to maintain high productivity in their jobs.

For most enterprise customers, a mobility management strategy that delivers a wide range of device support combined with an MDM platform that controls those devices based on how you operate your business - as opposed to one-device-at-a-time due diligence with limited resources and time - is necessary.

Recognize the Evolution of Device Diversity
In order to accept device diversity, it's important to really recognize just how quickly it evolved. Here are what I consider the critical "points in time" that have shaped where we are today and why enterprise's priorities must shift.

  • iPhone launch (Summer 2007): Since, the application marketplace has rapidly become one of the largest markets in history and is driving end-user experiences that are integrated across multiple platforms - mobile devices, social media, and search engines.
  • iPhone sales (Summer, 2008): Global sales volume reached 4 million units.
  • iPad launch (April, 2010): first year projections ranged from 50 - 100 million units sold worldwide.
  • Android takes the lead (4Q, 2010): For the first time, Android is the leading mobile OS sold in the U.S.
  • Smartphones/tablets outpace PCs/notebook computers (2011): This year, it's widely expected that smartphone and tablet unit volume will outpace PCs and notebook computers.

The sales volume of devices and new form factors (different screen sizes, device thinness, and capabilities) will continue due to increases in device SoC (System-on-a-Chip) processing power with lower power requirements and battery technology improvements, increasingly ubiquitious network access (cellular or WiFi over broadband) with greater connectivity speeds, and the continued steep growth of applications. These new mobile platforms are, and will continue to be, utilized to connect via social media platforms and to browse, select, and purchase local goods and services via both social media and search platforms.

This is just the beginning.

Employees are highly motivated to achieve their objectives with whatever tools they deem appropriate to generate success. They will find workarounds for devices that are not approved for corporate access.

Therefore, the organization that does not embrace device diversity will be waging an uphill battle.

Embracing Device Diversity Starts with Strong with MDM
Once you have come to terms with device diversity, the challenge is is finding a strong MDM solution that will allow you to create, manage, and enforce standard and customized device management policies across a wide range of mobile OS devices, providing peace of mind for both you and your employees. This will enable you to give workers the flexibility they desire, without losing control over corporate policies and stardards.

Keep a broad perspective on what MDM actually entails. Don't think of it solely as a tactical function. Enterprise mobility management encompasses a significant range of activities including:

  • Procurement and provisioning
  • MDM
  • Application Management
  • Service Management
  • Security Management
  • Wireless Expense Management
  • End-User Support
  • Device Replacement and Retirement

Whatever solution you choose to support device diversity, the key is maintaining a holistic view of what functions are needed to support it.

More Stories By Troy Fulton

Troy Fulton is Director, Product Marketing at Tangoe, a global provider of Communications Lifecycle Management (CLM) software and related services to a wide range of global enterprises.

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