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How to pick the best enterprise mobility management tool

With rapid innovation in mobile software and devices, managing everything can be something of a moving target. At the same time, user-owned devices proliferating at work means most businesses can't afford to put off upgrading their support infrastructure.

How can you choose the proper toolset, with all this activity? It's not an easy task, with vendors in the mobile device management (MDM) field adding on new features every 3-6 months and consolidating at a such a pace. The consolidation has also led MDM tools to evolve into so-called enterprise mobile management (EMM) suits which act as all-purpose tools that include everything from device policy controls, to content, application, service, and network management. Here are a few things to consider before you buy.

Focus on your current needs

Choosing the right EMM tool isn't just about which has the most features, but which features best compliment your organization.

Having MDM policy controls tends to be a baseline requirement. But does your organization also need content or application management? Will you have to support both company-owned phones and BYOD? Are your employees going to be traveling abroad?

If it's the latter, then having seemingly esoteric features like geo-fencing (which are features that enable changes in device management policy based on the GPS location of the phone) might turn out to be all-important so you can comply with different countries' privacy rules.

Also, whose devices exactly do you have to manage? Are you managing just employees’ devices, or will you also need to manage temporary workers, contractors, business partners, or perhaps even customers' devices?

Don't forget the types of devices you'll have to manage, both immediately and over the next few years. While most vendors have support for Android and iOS, the new Firefox OS and Windows Phone are also worth considering. Remember the market is changing fast, and niche platforms of today can become the mainstream of tomorrow.

Look for best of suite, not best of breed

You don't want to have to manage eight different tools. You want to look for something which isn't necessarily amazing at everything, but is great at a few things while being good enough at the rest.

Pay attention to how features are delivered and how well things are integrated inside a suite. At the same time you don't need to fear having one or two different products to integrate, especially if the suite you use isn't up to par in a key area. You may want to use a suite to cover your bases and another solution for a particularly critical one.

User experience is key

Get some hands-on time before doing any full deployment, because BYOD puts end users in the driver's seat. The employee, the user, is now a key arbiter of adoption, so you'll want to poll employees about their experience and be sure it's appropriate. 

Endpoint management is converging

A multiplatform strategy may mean EMM doesn't support every flavor of mobile operating system and device. While the mobile world is currently treated as a separate entity, consider some products which give you a single console to manage every type of desktop and mobile device in a single console. It's much easier for the administrator to have a "single pane of glass," and users also prefer having a single self-service place they can refer to, with a single user experience.

Image credit: Anatole.net

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