What is EMM? The impact of enterprise mobility management

By Jonathan Hassell

As an enterprise decision-maker, you may find yourself wading through an alphabet soup of mobile acronyms and asking, “What is EMM?”  Enterprise mobility management is a key concept to familiarize yourself with as you promote mobility within your company.

Mobility — the ability to work and communicate on the go through smartphones and tablets — has become increasingly central to the operations and marketing strategies of many orgs. In fact, the number of devices managed in the enterprise increased 72 percent from 2014 to 2015 according to Citrix. However, between all the phones and tablets bought and deployed by organizations and all the phones and tablets employees own themselves, there are tons of devices being used in any given organization.

Businesses need to be able to protect their organizational data, manage their expenses and safeguard their investments in devices and plans, all while making it simple for employees and consumers alike to use their phones to engage with the company.

This is where enterprise mobility management (EMM) comes in.

What is EMM?

EMM — enterprise mobility management — describes a software that gives employees mobile access to corporate assets all while protecting data and devices and capping expenses and mobility investments.

EMM software aims to centralize the management, configuration and security of all devices used within a company, either used entirely or in part, to carry out business functions. Most EMM platforms are able to handle both of the common operating systems, iOS and Android, and some even handle more obscure players such as Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

EMM solutions typically manage the following four areas:

1. Application management

EMM software operates directly on mobile devices and controls which apps are permitted to run and when. It also controls the scenarios in which permitted apps are denied. For example, some sophisticated EMM platforms can recognize the GPS location of a device and lock out certain features, such as when a tablet crosses an international border. Enrolling devices and installing the management software on devices is part of the core EMM software experience, and most platforms allow for some type of user self-enrollment or self-service.

2. Content management

The content or data on a phone or tablet is the organization’s bread and butter, and an EMM platform’s sworn duty is to protect that data if the device is lost or stolen. Most EMM platforms use a containerization approach to support bring-your-own-device scenarios where corporate data is segregated and able to be wiped remotely without interfering with the user’s personal data, such as pictures, videos and contacts.

3. Network management

In the same way, a networking team probably doesn’t consider a wireless local area network to be a different, unique network that needs separate management. So too goes mobile device management. EMM platforms should integrate mobile devices — regardless of their carrier and network connectivity — into a management structure that allows them to be touched, managed, configured and, most importantly, disconnected and wiped at all times. Many enterprise mobility management solutions on the market combine existing management tools so mobile endpoints appear just like desktops, laptops and servers in a management suite. This means discrete tools for dealing with mobile endpoints are not necessary.

4. Service management

Intelligent EMM platforms understand the need to keep mobile charges down and provide ways to control voice and data usage depending on a user’s role and the work being performed for the business on the device.

By understanding the core functionalities of enterprise mobility management platforms, you can make better decisions about how they can best fit into your organization and your mobility-related goals.

Written By

Jonathan Hassell

President, 82 Ventures

Jonathan Hassell runs 82 Ventures, a technical writing and consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. He centers his focus around network administrator, security, the cloud, and mobile technologies.

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