4 things apple picking and MDM shopping have in common
It’s apple picking season, and orchard workers are harvesting the main ingredient for apple pie, apple cider, candied apples and other festive, fruity treats just in time for fall festivals and holiday baking.
Unlike apple picking, enterprise mobile security is always in season. In fact, with companies across industries expanding BYOD policies and mobile threats on the rise, cybersecurity grows more timely by the day.
As any experienced apple picker knows, you can’t just grab the low-hanging fruit and call it a day. Choosing the perfect apples — or the perfect mobile device management (MDM) solution — means knowing what you’re looking for and where to look.
When evaluating MDM solutions for your organization, consider these tips for sorting the good apples from the bad ones:
1. Know your varieties
There are more than 7,500 varieties of apples grown throughout the world, according to the University of Illinois, and 2,500 are grown in the US. Even apples that look the same often taste and feel different. They’re grown in different areas, harvested at different times of the year and used for different purposes.
MDM solutions might all look alike on the surface and secure devices across an enterprise, but they each have their own approach. Each solution has its strengths and weaknesses, its unique bells and whistles and its functionality gaps.
Just as sweet apples work best for pie and sour apples make great cider, the right mobile security tools vary from one enterprise to another. Start your evaluation by learning the basic features and capabilities different vendors offer and then narrowing down the list to solutions that include what you need.
At the very least, the solution should provide inventory management, device policy management, security management and monitoring and reporting capabilities. This functionality enables IT to establish a detailed database of enrolled devices, remotely set restrictions to enforce BYOD policies and access and protect devices.
2. Look for wormholes
What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm in your apple. This old joke is a good reminder to always check for wormholes when picking apples — and especially before taking a bite.
When evaluating mobility solutions, it’s important to know about functionality gaps before you invest. You don’t want to find out later the solution lacks capabilities you need. Worse yet, it might not play nice with all the devices and operating systems in use throughout your organization. If a solution doesn’t secure both your legacy technology and the latest devices on the market, it won’t adequately secure your enterprise and will likely cause user experience hiccups and IT headaches.
3. Determine which solution is ripe enough for your business
Experienced apple pickers can tell whether an apple is ripe by noting the subtle color and texture changes. For novices, there’s a more reliable method: Give the apple a gentle, upward twist. Ripe fruit will come off the branch easily, and the rest will try to hang on.
Just as some apples on the tree will be riper than others, some managed mobility solutions are more evolved than others. If you choose a solution that’s too advanced for your organization, you risk wasting money on bells you’ll never ring and whistles you’ll never blow. If the solution is too simple, it might not offer the functionality you need to secure the enterprise or innovate as the business grows.
A good rule of thumb is to look for a scalable solution that enables your business to add users and functionality if and when you need it, from a vendor that has expertise with companies of your size and in your industry.
4. Know your apples from your oranges
Apple pickers are traditionally only concerned with apples, but apples might not be all you need for your enterprise mobility pie. After all, MDM only provides control over data on mobile devices. It doesn’t secure data at the app level, nor does it manage computers, servers or other non-mobile, internet-connected devices that access enterprise data.
There are some standalone device management platforms, but most MDM vendors have evolved their solutions into enterprise mobility management (EMM) platforms. EMM typically includes MDM and a variety of other abbreviation-heavy services, including mobile application management (MAM), mobile expense management (MEM), mobile content management (MCM), mobile identity management (MIM) and secure email and document-sharing tools. For even greater control over enterprise data, there’s unified endpoint management (UEM), which does everything EMM does and also works with non-mobile devices such as laptops, PCs and servers.
Ultimately, device management is one piece of the mobile security puzzle, but it certainly is an important piece. So, whatever solution you pick, make sure to choose a vendor you trust. Talk to other IT leaders, get referrals, read reviews and thoroughly test the technology before you sign any dotted lines. Apple pie is yummy, but no one likes eating crow.