Tips for Field Service: Security and Mobile Device Management Pt. 2
Guest author: Kerry Doyle
For businesses, part of BYOD adoption has meant dropping the nine-to-five mentality and moving toward a near 24/7 offering. It has required company infrastructures that are always up and running, with almost constant availability and an awful lot of mobile devices.
With such an increase, field service companies face a similar challenge: How best to support endusers while maintaining adequate security. In Part 1 of “Tips for Field Service: Security and Mobile Device Management,” we looked at the three stages of device lifecycle management: Provisioning/Configuration, Production, Decommission, and how they relate to MDM.
In Part 2, we’re exploring the actual steps toward implementing MDM. These include: 1) Defining a Mobile Strategy 2) Identifying the Number of Devices 3) Reliability 4) Customization and 5) Choosing a License Model (on-premise, cloud, etc.).
More and more IT departments understand how important it is to manage and track the growing proliferation of mobile devices. A recent study by Nemertes Research indicates that IT departments have achieved a high level of success implementing MDM, and the statistic is the same (4.0 on a 5.0 scale) for the number of small business IT teams planning future MDM platform implementation.
Because data (and some applications) move between mobile devices and the cloud via off-premises networks, security is a major consideration. When you consider field service operations, reliance on WAN/WiFi and cloud services mean that opportunities exist for data loss or malware infiltrations. So an MDM strategy can be crucial. Here are the steps you should consider.
1) Define A Mobile Strategy: Field service leaders must address a range of questions before choosing an MDM solution. These range from questions about BYOD, a trend that most companies need to deal with, to workforce usage policies. For example, what’s our approach to BYOD? How will access to different types of data be handled? Will employees be allowed to access this data via personal devices? Can field service workers install personal applications on a company device?
This is just a sampling of the range of issues policy makers need to first address to properly choose an MDM strategy that works best for their operations. Without answers to these types of questions, they risk inadequate coverage that can result in performance and security-related issues later on.
2) Identify the Number of Devices: Defining the number of devices to be managed helps you to determine the scale of MDM coverage. Does the number of devices consist of hundreds of devices or thousands? Are they company- or employee-owned? Defining the extent of usage has implications for MDM features such as simultaneous registration and related IT tasks. Knowing the number of managed devices will influence which solution you choose.
3) Reliability: The nonstop 24/7 availability enabled by mobile devices has important implications in terms of MDM reliability. Such anytime/anywhere capabilities require a secure infrastructure, stable coverage and versatile features. Remotely enabled field service relies on data integrity and “always-on” connectivity. That also applies to a comprehensive, robust MDM solution. You should define at an early stage what downtime, if any, your organization can endure.
4 Customization: Some field service organizations have specific requirements related to the industry they serve. It’s important to determine in advance whether a standard MDM solution will meet your company’s needs, or whether a custom solution will be more effective. Few MDM vendors allow heavy customizations and this can further determine your choice.
5) Choose a License Model: Cloud-based? Proprietary? While cloud-based SaaS offers savings, the possible security breaches and/or temporary outages that are often inherent to cloud solutions may be unacceptable. However, the benefits of a premise-based solution may incur costs that should be projected over the long-term to ensure affordability.
When formulating an MDM strategy, following these steps is a good way to ensure that you choose the solution that best fits your requirements.
Read Part 1 here.