Modern CIOs and their IT departments face a new, complex set of mobile device security and manageability challenges as employees bring their various smartphones and tablets into the workplace and as additional devices are rolled out across the enterprise.
Many IT managers are looking to outside MDM (mobile device management) products for assistance in securing and managing these disparate devices, but with the majority of these services still in their infancies, it pays to wade slowly into the MDM waters -- and with caution.
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Technology research firm Forrester Research wants to help, and it has just released a new report, titled "10 Lessons Learned From Early Adopters Of Mobile Device Management Solutions."
Here's a quick breakdown of the lessons offered within the report, which Forrester culled from conversations with four I&O (infrastructure and operations) executives who have already spent time with various MDM products.
1: Different employees require different kinds of mobile support from IT
No one-size-fits-all solution exists for mobile device management and support today, according to Forrester, and IT must be prepared to offer varying degrees of support. Individual staffers and groups of employees will require access to different applications and systems -- and therefore different types of support -- often depending on their job functions, their mobile platforms of choice, and whether or not their devices are corporate-issued.
2: IT should query users to understand staff needs and preferences
Forrester suggests surveying the employees who will be using smartphones and tablets regularly to learn more about their needs and preferences, and then determine the products that suit the various job functions. This allows IT to more effectively procure and deploy the appropriate hardware and software to the staffers that need it most.
3: Create one clear policy for corporate- and employee-owned mobile devices
Organizations should come up with clear mobile-device policies and usage statements that apply to all mobile devices that will be used, including those owned by the business and employee-owned devices, Forrester says. Start by clearly stating the levels of security and support IT will provide, so it's responsible only for apps and services IT delivers and approves of.
Secondly, it's a good idea to draft official policy documents and usage guidelines to ensure that users are clear on what devices they're eligible to use and how they're expected to responsibly employ them, according to Forrester.
4: Know mobile platforms' limitations and prioritize support for those that need it most
Employees are sick of using only the officially sanctioned mobile platforms of choice, and they're increasingly finding ways to circumvent IT policies and controls so they can use their devices of choice -- often iOS and Android devices. Instead of merely resisting these devices and platforms, IT should attempt to identify the security and management weaknesses and at least try to find ways to address the shortcomings to the best of its ability, according to Forrester.