Endpoint Management

Mobile Device Management (MDM) Buyers Guide 2024

How to choose the right mobile device management software.

Mobile Email Security

With remote and hybrid working environments becoming the norm for many organizations, it is a challenge for security teams to ensure corporate mobile devices are secure, patched and compliant. Organizations must have a robust mobile device management (MDM) solution in place in order to protect mobile devices and corporate data.

This article will cover:

  • How MDM works
  • The best MDM providers
  • Features Checklist
  • Our Recommendations
  • Future trends

Why MDM Matters: Security teams must be able to ensure that corporate owned mobile devices are secure against malware and vulnerabilities and compliant against company policies. As many companies move to remote and hybrid working models, it’s now harder for organizations to manage and secure their perimeter. 

  • 89% of organizations allow employees to use their own devices for work (Cisco)
  • 10 million such devices are lost every year (EE)

MDM platforms allow security policies to be implemented consistently, ensuring that work related tasks are handled in a secure and appropriate way, and allow admins to remotely lock devices if they are lost or stolen.

How MDM Works: Mobile Device Management works by installing an agent on the endpoint, which can gather information and send it back to a central hub. From this management hub, policies can be enforced, while statistics and behaviors can be monitored. The MDM process can be broken down into several steps:

  1. Device Enrollment: Devices are registered and added to the log of managed devices. This involves installing a lightweight agent on the device itself. The practicalities of this may differ depending on if the device is company owned, or an employee’s own.
  2. Policy Creation: Within the centralized management portal, there will be policy templates based on industry best practices. Organizations can use these default ones, as well as customizing policies to suit their specific needs.
  3. Policy Enforcement: Via the endpoint agent, admins can deploy and enforce policies on mobile devices. This might include restricting use of certain apps, ensuring all apps are up to date, and implementing robust data security protocols.
  4. Remote Management: Hopefully, this is a step that you will not need to take. If a user device is lost or stolen, you will be able to wipe or lock the device remotely, ensuring that any data on the device cannot be used by the malicious actor.
  5. Monitoring and Reporting: Data can be sent from endpoint device to the centralized hub, allowing you to understand how applications are being used. This information can help to ensure that productivity is maintained and that employees do not require further tools to help them achieve their aims.

Best Providers: Expert Insights have put together shortlists of the top Mobile Device Management solutions:

Features Checklist: When looking for a Mobile Device Management solution, Expert Insights recommends looking for the following features:

  1. Device Compatibility: Support for various mobile operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows)
  2. Reporting and Analytics: Detailed reports on device usage, compliance, and security incidents (you should be able to access information on data ownership, applications, and security configurations)
  3. Policy Enforcement: Ability to enforce security policies like password requirements and encryption, ensuring that security measures are enforced consistently
  4. App Management: You should be able to centrally control which applications are installed on devices, as well as ensuring they are updated when necessary
  5. Remote Actions: To prevent lost or stolen devices from becoming a data management issue, remote wipe, lock, and reset will ensure the data cannot be accessed and utilized by criminals (this can also include remote troubleshooting and monitoring)
  6. Compliance Monitoring: Ensuring devices comply with industry regulations and standards (particularly for organizations operating within highly regulated industries)
  7. Data Protection: It is worth checking that your solution is compatible with the regulations and compliance bodies that cover your organization – this can include encryption, MFA, and remote lock/wipe
  8. Pricing: To be effective, you will need to deploy MDM to a large number of devices which can result in a large cost. Ensuring that the cost is fair and proportionate to your company size will ensure that costs are managed effectively

Our Recommendations: When looking to adopt an MDM platform, you should consider more than the platform’s key features. Other things to be mindful of include:

  1. Scalability: Not only do you need to ensure that your platform can meet the size and demands of your organization as it is today, but it should also have the capacity to meet future demands. While this can be hard to accurately estimate, it is best to go for a solution that gives you room to grow or shrink, rather than being near a limit.
  2. BYOD: An increasing number of companies are working with BYOD policies where employees can use their own devices for work related tasks. While this can increase flexibility, it is important that your platform can manage the devices that your employees actually use.
  3. Compliance: Ensure that your platform has policy templates for the requirements and guidelines that you need to adhere to. It should be easy to verify these policies, as well as auditing devices, ensuring that your users are acting in compliance with these.
  4. User Interface: Some organizations will require very little management over their user’s devices, while other organizations will need complete control. It is important that your platform’s user interface allows for this management in an easy and straightforward way.
  5. Streamlined Rollout: As all devices within your network will need to have an agent installed, ensuring that the entire roll out and deployment process are streamlined is important. This will result in an easy, hassle-free process.

Future Trends: The global pandemic saw locations and methods of working diversify. Using their own device for work allows employees greater flexibility. This has created new challenges that MDM solutions aim to address. 

The MDM market shows no sign of stagnating, with a range of potential future innovations on the horizon. Over the coming years, Expert Insights predicts the following:

  1. AI & ML: As with all forms of cybersecurity, improvements in AI and ML will drive improvements in MDM tools. It will be easier to conduct analysis into behavior and other critical statistics, whilst also identifying areas of future breaches with efficiency and accuracy.
  2. Zero Trust Security: While this might not be a trend that is explicitly in the future, we will continue to see the widespread adoption and implementation of zero-trust security. This is, in part, due to a greater emphasis on zero-trust by mobile device developers themselves. Innovations within the mobile device market will inform the evolution of the MDM market.
  3. Broader Integrations: Some companies are already beginning to offer broader integrations with the wider security stack. This ensures that organizations can comprehensively manage their security, without any loopholes. This not only improves security, but it also allows organizations to manage these devices efficiently. 

Further Reading: