Dec 232012

Mobile device management will continue to play a key role in enterprise mobility in 2013 as organizations accelerate their use of smartphones and tablets in an effort to increase employee productivity and enable the business to respond more efficiently to customer wants and needs. Some important trends we can expect to see take place with mobile device management in the New Year include:

  • Mobile device management platform solutions will continue their evolution to encompass not just the ability to manage and secure mobile devices for enterprise use, but to offer more functionality for handling mobile apps as well.
  • New mobile devices will begin to appear featuring enhanced “dual-use” management features built into the device.
  • Organizations will increase investment in mobile device management platforms — both cloud-based and on-premises solutions.

Platform Trends: Mobile Device Management Meets Enterprise App Management

Mobile device management platforms provide features essential for IT to manage multiple mobile devices for enterprise use. One of the most important of these features, of course, is ensuring the security of mobile devices, including for providing identity-based network access control and access to enterprise and cloud-based applications and services. Remote management — the ability to separate and remotely delete company data while leaving personal data intact on the device — is another important feature. As is self-service provisioning, which allows (and assists) end users with enrolling their own new devices on the network and for discovering, approving, recommending, and blocking apps acquired from both inhouse and/or commercial marketplaces.

One of the more important technology trends affecting mobile device management is that the platforms are evolving beyond focusing primarily on providing facilities for managing and securing mobile devices themselves, to including features for managing mobile apps for enterprise use as well. In other words, in some ways, vendors are incorporating features into their mobile device management platforms — in their on-premise and cloud-based offerings — that have typically been associated with consumer and enterprise app stores. Consequently, we are seeing more facilities for securely distributing and managing mobile apps for corporate use, such as the ability to implement access management policies, app lifecycle management (e.g., updating and retiring apps), and security features for screening malware and managing and protecting sensitive business information and data associated with app usage (i.e., data accessed/utilized by mobile apps).

These developments are important because mobile app management is currently seen as one of the weaker links in enterprise mobility, especially considering that, according to our research, only about 16% of organizations have currently implemented enterprise app stores. On the other hand, as some colleagues have argued with me, the increasing inclusion of app management capabilities within mobile device management platforms may also be one of the reasons contributing to why enterprise app store adoption is currently fairly limited.

New Dual-Use Phones on the Horizon

Toward the fourth quarter of 2013, mobile device manufacturers will begin offering smartphones that feature two user interfaces: one intended for work usage and the other for personal use.

Such “dual-identity” devices will provide the ability to run two instances of an OS on the same phone. This will serve to keep business apps and data separate from the user’s personal apps and data. Thus, should a phone become lost or stolen, it would be a cinch to wipe the phone clean — easily removing business data and any apps that can access sensitive corporate systems — without deleting or corrupting the employee’s personal info and apps. The purpose, of course, is to help alleviate IT’s worries regarding loss of an employee’s phone (or their firing, etc.) — a concern that’s been heightened considerably due to the popularity of the BYOD to work practice. Currently, the ability to separate corporate and personal data and apps on an employee’s phone/tablet is typically provided by a mobile device management platform.

At least two software companies are developing technology for powering dual-identity devices, including VMware and Red Bend. And both reportedly are already licensing their technology to various smartphone makers.

Organizations Will Invest More in Mobile Device Management in 2013. 

This isn’t just a gut feeling; it’s what participants who took our latest mobility in enterprise survey told us. (This Cutter Consortium survey was conducted in September through November 2012 and asked 69 end-user organizations about their mobile technology practices and adoption plans, including the use of smartphones and tablets and issues associated with the development, deployment, and support of mobile devices and end users.) As shown in the figure below, 38% of survey respondents said their organizations currently have some form of mobile device management platform in place. However, we can also see that another (approximately) 27% claim that their organizations plan to implement a mobile device management platform within the coming year or so. This is a fairly good indicator that adoption of the technology will be fairly strong as 2013 gets under way. Unfortunately, I did not ask survey participants to indicate whether their organizations were using, or planning to use, on-premise or cloud-based solutions; however, I do believe that we can expect the latter to prove popular because they offer a practical way to get a mobile device management capability up and running fairly quickly and painlessly.

Has your organization implemented a mobile device management platform to allow IT to remotely manage and configure employees’ mobile devices?


[Editor’s Note: This post is part of the annual “Cutter Predicts …” series.]


  2 Responses to “Mobile Device Management Trends 2013”

  1. Excellent article. I’ve read that as much as 60% of user’s phones contain sensitive business information, while over 90% admit they ignore or disable mobile security. I think it comes down to ease of use. Mobile device management must be non-intrusive, yet highly secure which is a difficult balance.

    • Thanks for your insight. I agree, the tough part of mobile device management is making it practical so that doesn’t mess with the mobile user experience. But I didn’t realize that almost 90% ignore or disable the security. Ouch! This is a big problem that companies are going to have to get a handle on. Thanks again, Curt.

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