by Curt Finch

Managing Multiple Tablets: MDM Software on the Rise

Feb 27, 20124 mins
BPM SystemsCIOLaptops

Rumor has it that the new iPad 3 is set to come out in March.  Ever since the first iPad came out, it has held the spotlight for tablets.  But other tablets, including Android tablets and the Kindle Fire, are starting to take center stage.  What does this mean for IT departments?  It means that IT departments will have to find a way to manage multiple types of tablets in the workplace.  Mobile Device Management (MDM) software firms are exploding in the market as well as Mobile Document Management vendors.  Can these new firms help your IT department manage the influx of multiple tablet platforms?  First, let’s explore what you’ll find beyond the iPad.


It’s Not Just the iPad Anymore

In many ways, the iPad will probably stay the most popular tablet in the workplace because of its popularity, its time on the tablet market and all the business apps that are available on the iOS.  But Android is coming fast as a second contender in the tablet space, especially since tablet providers have much more freedom when it comes to using the Android platform.  For people who want a more cost-effective tablet, they might turn to an Android tablet like the Motorola Mobility Droid Xyboard, a Sony Tablet, or a Samsung Galaxy.  The Android 4 platform will make these tempting options.  When Windows 8 ARM comes out, it will spur new developments in the tablet market and beyond. 

To manage all of these mobile devices infiltrating the workplace, a new market of software has opened up that is seeking to solve mobile device management.

What’s MDM Software?

MDM software has been on the market for the past couple of years, but is now starting to pick up speed.  MDM software addresses mobile security, and manages enterprise devices and mobile access to appropriate company data.  Analysts predict that the MDM market will grow to at least a half billion dollars by 2014.  When considering implementation of MDM software for your company, keep in mind the following:

  • Stage 1-Provide devices an enterprise persona:  The first step in MDM is to give each device an enterprise persona by using an enterprise’s existing certificate authority to secure the device, which leverages security and network investments already made by an IT department.  This gives IT teams peace of mind when it comes to securing and supporting enterprise mobile devices.
  • Stage 2-Active management of all mobile devices:  This ensures that all original enterprise personas remain intact.  Users are given wide-ranging access to corporate resources, which include apps, email, secure directories and cloud-based file storage.  At this stage, the IT teams create a clear guide for employees of what is acceptable for mobile use.
  • Stage 3-Reduce service plan overages:  This is accomplished with the MDM software API, which is designed to detect and reduce international plan overages.

A positive aspect of MDM software is that it keeps users from losing personal data upon leaving the company.  The enterprise persona is simply removed without removing personal data such as music, apps, pictures, etc.  MDM software can also completely wipe an enterprise-owned device before issuing it to a new employee.

Don’t Close Your Eyes

Does mobile device management really matter?  Yes.  Are employees accessing company data on their mobile devices without your approval?  Yes.  Should you go ahead and purchase a MDM solution?  Not so fast.  Gartner documented 60 vendors in the MDM space last April, and there are at least 20+ vendors that have popped up since then.  Many MDM vendors will eventually fold or be acquired by a competitor.  Who the top players are right now remains to be seen.  It would be wise to hold off until the market shakes out a bit and top players emerge. Look to the PC management market to get an idea of what the space will eventually turn into.

Have you considered implementing an MDM solution in your company?