Enterprise Mobility: More Than Just Mobile Devices
July 9, 2020
Gone are the days when “mobile device” simply meant a smartphone or tablet. With the proliferation of Chrome OS, macOS, Windows 10, ruggedized devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT), every piece of hardware is “mobile” hardware. And as environments grow in complexity, it’s become clear that the device itself is no longer the primary focus.
As early as 2012, Forrester found employees used an average of 2.3 devices on a daily basis3. In most cases, until a user interacts, those devices serve as expensive paperweights. It stands to reason that the new model for unified endpoint management (UEM) is a user-centric one.
In an era dominated by screens, employees have come to expect a level of freedom and flexibility to bring their own device—and use it whether in the office or on-the-go. In fact, Forrester notes that “the happiest employees are those who can make progress every single day.” It may seem like common sense, but as organizations find themselves in an arms race against faceless “malicious actors,” productivity and user satisfaction can fall by the wayside.
However, the two seemingly opposing forces of convenience and security can find common ground with UEM. Forrester notes vendors have heard the enterprises’ call and responded through the addition of “enhanced OS and app flexibility; improved authentication tools; and features to improve productivity, such as microapps” to ensure users are well-protected without being hindered.
This isn’t to say that UEM does not build on existing mobile security tools beyond the ones users typically encounter directly. In fact, Forrester goes on to say that “I&O teams are looking for [UEM] vendors to help them embed modern management and Zero Trust within their end user computing environments.”
In a study by Verizon2, it was found that one-third of nearly 700 IT & Security professionals surveyed admitted that their organization suffered a data breach due to mobile devices.
Forrester’s report, however, notes that UEM vendors should—and have already begun to—natively provide threat detection and mobile threat defense (MTD), conditional access, and risk-based scoring to develop profiles of users that either consciously or unconsciously pose hazardous.
These tools, and risk scoring in particular, allow defenses to be built around user productivity. An employee can work from any device they choose, with any app, and once they cross the threshold into risky behavior, that is when they’re sanctioned. The ability to keep business humming along is not impeded until it absolutely needs to be.
The idea is the consolidation of data to build an accurate snapshot of a user. Since those users are interacting with the aforementioned 2+ devices on a daily basis, the final piece of the UEM puzzle becomes the ability to support any device and OS.
Enter modern management, “a strategy for device and app management that leverages cloud-based APIs, self-service, and automation to improve end user computing manageability” according to the Forrester report. Essentially, it’s the idea that client management tool (CMT) functionality needs to be provided either in part or entirely through a UEM platform. Forrester finds many vendors in the space have taken to CMT integration and coexistence models, while others have included traditional asset management tasks such as peer-to-peer OS and patch distribution natively in their UEM platforms.
What this does is it allows for the consolidation of teams, adding a layer of cross-functional responsibility and oversight where previously many laptop management teams within the enterprise may have known little of what the mobile device teams were supporting on a day-to-day basis—and vice versa. In the context of getting the full user risk profile and enhancing overall employee experience, it’s now imperative to merge—or simply open lines of communication between—the two worlds.
The next step here is to consider which of these major pillars outlined is important to you. Chances are, you’ve already established infrastructure to support at least one, but to truly build an effective pathway to employee delight and flexibility without loosening the reins on your own internal defenses all three must be effectively balanced.