Companies today are embracing the concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and it’s no wonder. In today’s economic climate, even cash-heavy organizations are looking to cut costs in every way feasible. Allowing or even encouraging employees to buy their own computing devices to use for work can save thousands or even millions in hardware costs, depending on the size of the company. The employees themselves like the idea because they get to choose the type and brand they want, and the sense of ownership they have in the device makes it more pleasant to use – plus people tend to take better care of their own property than property that belongs to the company.
Unfortunately, there is a down side to all this goodness. Some organizations are now discovering that they’ve created a monster with their BYOD policies, and are overwhelmed by the diversity of devices that are now connecting to their networks. Therein lies the opportunity for managed service providers, who can bring order out of the chaos by offering Mobile Device Management (MDM) services.
The problem(s) with BYOD
In the five and a half years since the iPhone was introduced, heralding a new consumer-focused smart phone race, the mobile devices market has exploded. Apple is on version 5 of the iPhone and has released five iPad models, including the Mini. Manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG have released, as of last May, almost four thousand different models of Android devices. Two years ago, Microsoft re-entered the phone fray with a totally redesigned Windows Phone, and a few months ago got serious in the tablet space with dozens of Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets, including its own Surface models. A tour of the exhibit floor at CES this year revealed a plethora of new phones and tablets poised to hit the market over the coming year.
The sheer number of different mobile devices has IT admins pulling their hair out as they try to support users who are bringing all these phones and tablets – not to mention Windows, Mac, Linux and ChromeOS laptops – into the workplace. The biggest issue is security; different operating systems and implementations make it difficult to apply standardized policies.
The solution: cloud-based MDM
Many companies that aren’t yet ready to migrate all their applications and data to the cloud are, nonetheless, interested in cloud solutions to address specific needs – particularly those areas that their internal IT departments may have trouble handling. Mobile device management is a natural for this role. Companies can offload the tedious task of monitoring and controlling all these BYOD systems to you. They don’t have to invest the time in researching MDM software and learning how to use it, and they save money by cutting down on administrative overhead and not having to buy the software or the hardware to run it on.
This simplifies life for the customers, who only have to pay a monthly fee, generally based on the number of managed devices and/or the number of users. They don’t have to worry about security and support. This allows them to maximize the value of BYOD without the headaches.
How to be competitive
A quick web search will tell you that there are already many such services on the market – including offerings from tech giants such as IBM and Dell. However, with more and more companies implementing BYOD policies, there will be a growing need. To be competitive in this space, you’ll need to be able to provide management for all the popular device types, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone/RT/8, and perhaps Blackberry and Symbian. By supporting the up-and-coming (Windows) and “old school” (BB and Symbian) mobile devices as well as the “Big Two,” you can gain an advantage over those MSPs that limit their services to just the most popular operating systems.
Regardless of the device type, customers will expect features such as:
- Enterprise-grade security (digital certificates, encryption, remote wipe, etc.)
- Provisioning and deprovisioning of devices
- Ability to configure devices with custom profiles
- Automatic updating of applications
- Monitoring of devices
- Help desk support
- Data recovery
You can stand out from the crowd by offering extras such as loaner devices, repair services, comprehensive reporting and more. You’ll want to take a scalable approach to MDM and be sure to focus on customer experience.