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Consumerization of Mobility and the Rise of Mobile Device Management (MDM)


It’s not hard to trace the events that pushed Mobile Device Management (MDM) into the lexicon of most every enterprise IT professional responsible for how users interact with their company’s content, applications and collaboration tools from their hand held devices. In the late 2000’s, consumer adoption of smartphones exploded, driven mostly by the runaway success of devices running iOS and Android.

The same people that were happy to check their work email from their BlackBerry in 2005, when few other options existed for those who wanted to connect with their job while not staring at their laptop, found themselves reaching for their iPhone in 2008 and wondering why accepting an invite for tomorrow’s staff meeting couldn’t happen right after placing an Amazon order or before updating their Facebook status.

Why not converge work and personal life on the best mobile experience available on the market? Enterprise users answered that question by flooding their IT departments with demand to support non-BlackBerry devices. IT professionals accustomed to thinking of mobility management in terms laptops, VPN and BES were suddenly confronted with devices and operating systems designed to meet the needs of the consumer first, and the enterprise second. A group of (mostly) small companies saw the obvious opportunity presented by the “consumerization” of mobility and created Mobile Device Management solutions capable of managing iOS, Android and BlackBerry (sort of) devices side-by-side in the same console.

While Enterprise IT professionals recognized the need for MDM and responded in kind, results were mixed. It quickly became obvious that early versions of iOS and Android did not allow the ease of management, security, and enablement of, say, a dedicated fleet of BlackBerry’s managed by BES. Additionally, thorny issues arose around the best way to ensure privacy, secure company data from inappropriate access and use–all the while providing excellent user experience.

Fast forward a few years. Android and iOS rapidly matured, allowing MDM platforms to provide many of the “enterprise friendly” features that were missing in the beginning. The MDM market expanded beyond device management, eventually renaming itself (Enterprise Mobility Management) and claiming application management, content management, identity and access management, etc.

MDM providers and smaller niche players struggled to find the best ways to manage personal and work interactions on the same device. Now, sending a text message to Mom and publishing a status report to Dropbox seamlessly happens on the same “managed device” for enterprise users. But it’s crucial that these tasks be treated as differently by Enterprise IT as they were by the users generating them.

In our next installment, we will take a look at a few of the important lessons to be learned from the difficulty in managing work and life on the same device and exciting developments in the last 6 months that may well represent a path forward…