Not only for big players: How small and medium-sized enterprises benefit from Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Remote work – working from anywhere – is a megatrend. Mobile device management (MDM) solutions can help small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to keep track of the growing number of mobile devices. AppTec CEO Sahin Tugcular explains in an interview for which companies the use of an MDM is worthwhile and what SMEs should look for when selecting an MDM solution.

Sahin, even if the infection situation is currently very dynamic again: the time will come after the crisis when many employees will more often again work from their offices in the company. Does the topic of mobile device management (MDM) then lose its urgency?

Sahin Tugcular: No, not at all. The topic of mobile device management was already very important before Corona. The pandemic made it very, very urgent because employees were no longer on site. After the crisis, a hybrid model will prevail: Many people will work three to four days in the office and one to two days from home. Overall, mobile working is gaining popularity worldwide. This makes it all the more important to be able to configure and manage devices from anywhere at any time. Large corporations have been automating the management of mobile devices for some time. Now smaller and medium-sized companies are following suit.

What is the decisive advantage for smaller and medium-sized companies to introduce MDM?

Sahin Tugcular: With an MDM solution, not only the configuration of mobile devices but also their security can be automated. That is the decisive aspect for most medium-sized companies. For example, they can define password policies and thus only allow passwords that are a certain length or include biometric authentication. If this framework is not created with a tool such as MDM or UEM (Unified Endpoint Management), each employee can do as he or she pleases – to the detriment of security.

You talk about Unified Endpoint Management – what is the difference between this and Mobile Device Management?

Sahin Tugcular: The newer term is Unified Endpoint Management. Mobile Device Management was the name of the solution until around 2012, when it was only used to manage devices. After that, app management was added step by step to be able to distribute applications, then content management to be able to provide content on the devices, and finally security was added.

When is the introduction of an MDM or UEM solution worthwhile for a small or medium-sized company?

Sahin Tugcular: The crucial question is: How sensitive is the data that is worked with on the devices? Take, for example, a small company with five employees who work together in an open-plan office. It is difficult to convince the head of the company to buy software that has to be administered just to configure five devices.

But if there is only one person working in this company who accesses highly sensitive data with their device – think of the medical or military sector – then the use of a UEM is actually indispensable.

In general, the decision for or against an MDM should always depend on the level of use of the smartphone and how much sensitive data is on that device.

What do you recommend to smaller companies that are primarily concerned with device management?

Sahin Tugcular: These companies can purchase our AppTec MDM even more conveniently via a lifecycle management partner directly with the device. In this case, the partner buys the MDM, equips the devices with the MDM and then delivers the Samsung smartphone or iPhone or other device to the customer. When a repair is due or the device needs to be replaced, the end customer can reach the managed service provider at a central number, who will take care of everything.

What should SMEs look for when choosing an MDM solution?

Sahin Tugcular: The solution must be usable without much training, i.e. it must be easy and intuitive to use. It should also be available in the cloud so that there are no setup costs. And even if the solution is to run on-premises, the setup must be easy to carry out. At AppTec, we therefore offer an appliance. To get this up and running, the customer only has to download the virtual machine, install it on the appliance and can then immediately start with Mobile Device Management.

And what is the important issue of security and compliance?

Sahin Tugcular: This is indeed a crucial aspect. Under Donald Trump, it has become clear how quickly and seriously a government or even a single person can intervene in the market: In 2020, the US president banned Android operator Google from offering its Play services on Huawei devices. For the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, this meant the loss of a huge market. With the CLOUD Act, Trump also enabled US authorities to access data from cloud providers, even if it is stored outside the US.

Based on these experiences, the use of a regional product is definitely recommended. AppTec’s Mobile Device Management, for example, was developed in Germany and Switzerland. The code does not contain backdoors that allow access to company data through the back door, because there is no such obligation in the EU.

What should SMEs consider when introducing an MDM solution? What are the first important steps?

Sahin Tugcular: The first step should definitely be an target/actual analysis. Where do we stand today and where do we want to go? That is, which functions do we want to restrict? Users must determine, for example, what their password policy should look like. Whether they want to configure their WLAN or set up a VPN automatically so that users don’t have to set anything. Also: how many and which apps should be installed, which apps should be banned and so on.

It comes down to achieving a balance between security and productivity. One must not restrict the device so much that it is no longer usable. And finally, companies should think about what else they want to implement in the next one to three years. A product that is introduced today should also cover the wishes of tomorrow.

(The interview was conducted by Ima Buxton of Buxton Kommunikation in Munich).

About AppTec

With its Enterprise Mobility Manager, AppTec helps companies manage the multitude of company-owned or private smartphones, tablets and laptops in an intelligent and controlled manner. The solution for managing and securing mobile devices features an intuitive management console and numerous useful security functions. Customers are free to choose whether they want to use an in-house server or AppTec’s cloud-based offering – with server locations exclusively in Switzerland and Germany. Founded in Basel in 2011, the company has won more than 6,400 customers with its lean and easily accessible mobile-first solution. AppTec is a Leader in the current Crisp Vendor Universe Quadrant 2019 and has previously been awarded several times as a leading solution.

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