What is EMM? Exploring 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?” This important software 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 organizations. However, between the numerous phones and tablets bought and deployed by organizations and the phones and tablets employees own themselves, there are many devices being used in any given organization. As such, businesses need to be able to protect their organizational data, manage their expenses and safeguard their investments in devices and plans, all while still making it simple for employees and consumers alike to use their phones to engage with the company.

This is where EMM comes in.

What is EMM?

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

EMM software aims to centralize the management, configuration and security of all devices being used within a company, either in whole 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 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 in management and installing the management software on the device 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 that have nothing to do with the business.

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 important, disconnected and wiped at all times. Many EMM solutions on the market combine existing management tools so mobile endpoints appear just like desktops, laptops and servers in a management suite. This means no discrete tools for dealing with mobile endpoints.

4. Service management

Awareness that mobile devices consume data and cost money on a monthly or yearly basis is starting to become a requirement for enterprises. Intelligent EMM platforms understand this 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 EMM platforms, you can make improved decisions about how they will best fit into your organization and its mobility-related goals.

click here to download the gartner EMM report

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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