Mobile device management continues to broaden

Think 'enterprise mobility management,' which includes app and data security, among other things

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Mobile device management (MDM) products continue to evolve as mobility takes on an increasingly important role in the enterprise, and as vendor consolidation continues.

Research firm Gartner Inc. describes MDM as one of "three pillars" that make up an enterprise mobility management (EMM) suite. The others are mobile asset management and mobile content management (the latter includes enterprise file synchronization and sharing).

"Organizations are looking beyond the need for MDM to a more holistic suite of EMM capabilities" that includes the management of mobile apps, mobile content and how devices and services are actually being used, says Philippe Winthrop, global mobility evangelist at Computer Sciences Corp., who follows the mobility industry as an analyst.

While many companies are still rationalizing their bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approaches, others are also considering, or have already adopted, a corporate-owned, personally enabled (COPE) scheme "that can mitigate some of the more common challenges around developing a BYOD policy," Winthrop says.

With COPE, an organization provides devices and resources such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and software to employees, which they use and manage. It's the opposite of BYOD, in which workers use their own devices for work.

What's helping to drive the need for more comprehensive mobility management is the expanding use of mobile devices in the workplace. (Here's a detailed chart of features and functions in 10 different products.)

"Organizations are rapidly moving from using mobile devices simply as communication tools -- email, voice -- to using them as general-purpose computing tools," says Bryan Taylor, research director at Gartner. "In the process, they are deploying greater numbers of apps for both productivity and business enablement, and facilitating access to content securely."

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