Not so long ago mobile devices in enterprises meant using BlackBerry for white-collared workforce and Windows based handheld devices for blue-collared workers. BlackBerry was the de facto choice for enterprises. No other company could match the security and encryption features that BlackBerry provided for the mobile ecosystem.
The advent of touch screen phones transformed the mobile device industry. The inclination towards touch screen phones forced enterprises to adopt BYOD or Bring Your Own Device. Similarly, introduction of tablets has positively impacted blue-collared workers helping them achieve efficiency. Tablets offer a cost efficient option to enterprises when compared to handheld devices. The handheld rugged device still have a specific use. However, the adoption of tablets in businesses is growing exponentially.
Touch screen mobile devices were primarily meant for individual use. They were made and designed with the end user in mind and not for use in businesses to start with. As a result of this approach where manufacturers focused on the end user’s needs, aspects such as security and reliability were overlooked.
Over time, touch technology and the ease of use of tablets and smartphones became too good to resist for businesses. The popularity of smart mobile devices has forced manufacturers to start specific programs for easy adoption of their devices in enterprises. It’s a big business and manufacturers cannot afford to ignore it any more. Smartphone and tablet manufacturers such as Samsung, Google and Apple have started targeting enterprise market by launching specific programs – such as Apple’s Device Enrolment Program (DEP) and Samsung’s KNOX. The objective of these programs and initiatives is to make their devices secure and ready for enterprise use.
Below are steps taken by platform owners to strengthen their enterprise readiness. Many of them offer Mobile Device Management services but need a lot of catching up to do with the pure play Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) vendors.
Apple’s Volume Purchase Program is a dedicated App Store that gives businesses an opportunity to buy software licences in bulk to allot them to multiple users. Getting into partnership with other companies to meet complex enterprise needs is a common strategy that manufacturers adopt to ensure large number of their devices end up in enterprise. For instance Apple partnered with companies such as Cisco and IBM as it was losing its presence in the market to Google’s Android devices.
Apple’s iOS comes with an MDM framework that is potent and scalable. This framework ensures the personal data and apps of employees are kept away from business resources. Apple’s MDM solution for business and education help in managing multiple devices remotely, distribute apps, check battery health among other things. Apple also launched the iPad Pro running on the iOS 9 platform last month that comes with a number of enterprise-friendly features such as per-app VPN enhancements and restricting AirDrop in managed apps and accounts. iPad Pro reduces the various barriers business users face and help them focus on the task at hand.
Google on the other hand is providing APIs with new Android releases, to ensure that businesses have control over devices. For example Marshmallow now has APIs to securely convert a device into a single or multi app mode, a requirement for businesses when devices are deployed as kiosks. Google plans to incorporate certain Samsung KNOX (See below) APIs to strengthen Android for enterprise deployments.
Google came up with a new program called Android for Work for enterprises to regulate data and apps that employees store and use on their smartphones and tablets. With the launch of Android for Work, Google has taken a huge step towards popularizing Android devices for workplace use.
While Microsoft had been popular with enterprises for rugged and handheld devices, it started losing market-share with the introduction of tablets. Now with the latest version of Windows one of the things Microsoft is trying to do is to ensure its relevance in the enterprise space.
Microsoft Intune helps enterprises provide their workers with easy access to company data and resources from almost anywhere on virtually any device, while helping to keep company information secure.
Much of Microsoft’s efforts to launch an MDM is focused on the use of container technology. It provides a stable interface for managing devices. MS Windows 10 comes with many features focused towards making enterprise deployment and adoption easier. For instance, there is Microsoft BitLocker encryption that protects data as it travels between systems, emails or storage devices. “Windows Update for Business” allows enterprises to control different aspects of Windows Update. Microsoft is also going to present multifactor authentication, preventing another way hackers use for unapproved access.
Samsung with its Galaxy series comes with a wide range of enterprise-friendly functions such as On Device Encryption, Exchange Active Sync support. They already have their own mobile security solution called Samsung KNOXthat allow personal and business content to coexist on the same device. Google partners with Samsung, saying that all its future Android versions will be combined with Samsung’s KNOX technology to enhance the security of all Android devices.
With Samsung KNOX EMM, employees can manage their own devices. It minimizes the burden on IT and gives employees the liberty to be more productive. Samsung KNOX EMM comes with the following capabilities:
- View location, device status and information
- View and edit Active Directory (AD) attributes
- Collect in depth user activity reporting
- Reset passcode and lock and wipe a device
Enterprises used BlackBerry for the comprehensive security and productivity features it provided. With BYOD there has been a big challenge to BlackBerry and now it has embraced other platforms too. BlackBerry PRIV has an Android OS. Similarly BlackBerry’s EMM, BES12 enables device management across iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and not just on its own operating system.
With platform owners and device manufacturers focusing on enterprise adoption, they seem to be stepping into the realm of device deployment and management solutions. A natural question to ask is – What is the impact on the Device Management Solution vendors? As such MDM (Mobile Device Management) is getting commoditized. Vendors that are specializing are doing well. Platform owners will offer an all-encompassing generic eco system. There will always be need for very specific features. Vendors who differentiate and specialize will thrive. The programs and features are a step in right direction but will take time to mature and cover the complete spectrum of Enterprise Management. There are new avenues for MDM/EMM vendors to explore. For example, so far the focus has been only on managing mobile devices. Many are now expanding by introducing MDM solutions for IoT. A multi-channel security and management platform to manage mobile devices, sensors and IoT devices is possible in the new frontier for the MDM/EMM industry.
It will be interesting to see the impact of platform owners on the enterprise mobility market. With the phenomenal rate of mobile device adoption in enterprises, it is clear that no manufacturer wants to be left behind as the enterprise pie is too big to ignore.