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Published on June 1st, 2016 | by Craig Herrett

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4Gon speak to Comms Business Magazine on BYOD and MDM Solutions

4Gon Solutions have been featured in the June edition of Comms Business Magazine.

Craig Herrett, COO at 4Gon, discussed MDM solutions, protecting corporate data, consumer apps and trends in the next 12 months.

How prevalent are MDM solutions in the UK Plc?

MDM solutions are becoming more widespread across the board. You would expect the larger enterprise businesses to of course supply their own equipment and manage it by restricting applications etc, but this is becoming less and less the case, and they are allowing the use of personal devices to be used for business, ie smart phones etc (BYOD). Or they are allowing to CYOD (Choose your own device, tablets / smartphones etc), and as such the employee can use this as their personal device, with fewer restrictions on what they put on the device. MDM solutions will no doubt grow and will require the products to manage mobile devices better to evolve and improve.

However restricting apps, or device usage defeats the point of them. If you carry a mobile for work that limits the apps you can place on it, you are more likely to get your own mobile device and not carry the work device when not in work hours! Management solutions need to change their view from a restrictive view to enable people to embrace CYOD and BYOD. Our world is becoming blurred between work-life and social-life and as such MDM needs to embrace this and allow safe business practice but with no restrictions on social behaviours.

Is MDM now the primary function for protecting corporate data?

No, but it’s growing. We have just implemented our own MDM solution, however the product chosen does not manage all the devices used throughout the company, as we could not find the perfect product for us. So we chose the one that did a great job on 90% of the equipment and excluded 10% (mobile phones / tablets etc.).

This means we can manage the core equipment to an extremely high standard, rather than everything to a good standard. We use other methods to protect the corporate data such as encryption and other types of security. It would be great to have the UC equivalent of management of devices but I fear much like UC it will be a fractured offering between many different manufacturers for some time to come.

BYOD can be found throughout almost every business, what are the main challenges to securing personal devices that are brought in from outside the firewall?

BYOD is hugely beneficial, and it has been shown to hugely boost productivity levels, however there is always a potential security headache. Ultimately you don’t know anything about the devices that your employees are using, unless you are spending money providing them with phones or tablets. You don’t know whether there is reliable security software on the device, whether there are viruses or malware, or who else actually has access to these devices.

With many systems being cloud based now, it means that employees can have access to virtually everything at home. This means with irresponsibility, prying eyes could have access to a company’s information, including emails, files, systems etc. The biggest issue remains employee’s rather than external factors. A startling statistic (that can probably be disproven from many other websites) is that more than 40% of employees steal from their employer, be that data or anything else.

Which solutions are actively being sold by the reseller channel? Does MDM represent a high margin opportunity?

There is a lot of ‘buzz’ around selling MDM solutions and the margin at the moment looks healthy. From SysAid, AirWatch and Maas360 etc, there are a lot of good solutions out there but really this is just getting started, and as such these solutions will improve greatly. As this is a relatively new market for resellers the margin is higher than the more commoditised services, but expect this to come down as more players get involved. If you can find a good solution it really is a good time to add this to your portfolio.

Are consumer apps confusing this space? (i.e. Find my iPhone etc.)

I would not say consumer apps are confusing this space. I actually think the phrase “mobile device management” starts the confusion as it’s not just about controlling mobile devices, it’s about being able to control your equipment without being tied to one particular management system.

It’s a little like when UC came about, in the sense of what does it mean? Over time UC has shown how it isn’t just phone calls and messaging, but now its Visual Conferencing Systems, Online collaboration and Presence etc. MDM will grow in a similar way and people will be educated to understand the basic concept is management of all devices (not just mobile ones) from anywhere.

This is another potential breakthrough in the communication space that will add more features to the solutions as it grows. I’m sure one day, we will have one device that will manage all of our devices including our family’s devices and will collaborate with them. Apple has tried to do this on a consumer level, ie as you download an app it downloads onto all of your devices.

Is this a space that is being taken seriously by consumers and resellers, what kind of trends are we likely to see over the next 12 months?

I don’t think consumers are really paying attention to this space as yet, although they are using some of it, albeit not knowingly. In regards to enterprise customers approaching resellers, it is growing and resellers are looking for ways to satisfy these customers as they come in. This looks like the start of everyone talking about it, but I predict it to start taking off in around 12-18 months time.

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