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Embracing Mobility with EMM, MDM, and MMS


With Forrester recently reporting that 70 percent of North American and European enterprises are set to offer increased mobile support to staff over the next year, it’s clear that this is not a passing trend. For enterprise leaders, this means defining and prioritizing how the organization will use mobility to tackle business challenges, empowering IT teams to collaborate with departments in developing mobility strategies (what they need vs. what they want), and helping to determine the technology investments needed to actualize their mobility strategy.

Many organizations realize that with rapidly-expanding mobile ecosystems, it just isn’t realistic to handle the management of mobility alone. Of course enterprises must go through the exercise: IT must understand if current resources can successful lead and manage strategic initiatives, or if outside help is necessary. That’s why it’s crucial for enterprises to first establish what problems they are looking to solve before jumping into a strategy. Only then can IT successfully evaluate what tools will help bring the company’s mobility strategy to life.

Given the explosion of BYOD, IT organizations often looks to MDM, EMM, and MMS (Managed Mobility Services) to manage mobile connections. These tools are too often referred to almost interchangeably; there are, however, important differences in these technologies and the functions they serve. It’s crucial to understand the differences in order to determine which is the right choice.

  • EMM: The overarching tool that includes applications and content management. TechTarget describes EMM as “An all-encompassing approach to securing and enabling business workers’ use of smartphones and tablets,” and includes application management, data security, and secure collaboration.
  • MDM: Largely prevents unauthorized access to the mobile device itself. According to Gartner’s IT Glossary, “Mobile Device Management is a technology-enabled discipline in which business and IT work together to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency and accountability” of devices with access to the firm’s intellectual property.
  • MMS: Enables enterprises to scale mobile spend by partnering with a firm that can provide mobile strategy and execution according to IT leadership requirements. Also noted in Gartner’s IT Glossary, “Managed mobility services (MMS) encompass the IT and process services provided by an external service provider (ESP) that are required to plan, procure, provision, activate, manage and support, mobile devices, network services, management systems, mobile applications and application stores.”

Gartner highlighted the confusion around these terms in its 2014 Magic Quadrant for Managed Mobility Services in which Tangoe was named as a “Visionary” for the second consecutive year. The report states:

“A common user question has emerged regarding the difference between the mobile device management (MDM) software market and MMS. The latter are generally consumed as bundled IT and process services in conjunction with enterprise mobility management (EMM) software (which includes MDM software). Managed mobility software (of which MDM software is only one part of the solution) is crucial to the delivery of MMS, in the same way that the use of IT operations and service management software is used in the delivery of broader IT managed services and outsourcing contracts.”

The misunderstanding in the market comes down to three key factors that make it difficult for many enterprises to pick which of the systems—EMM, MDM, or MMS—is the best fit for their business:

  • IT spend: The overall spend for IT is increasing at the long-term rate of inflation, ~3 percent, with a spend mix that includes BI, analytics, mobility, security, and applications. The convergence of multiple platforms including mobile, cloud, social, search, and big data/content is rapidly transforming the business ecosystems and how they efficiently compete for profits within their industries
  • The cost of not embracing mobility: The promise of real-time collaboration and response agility to influence outcomes in the markets it serves, thus maximizing net margin revenue by pervasively engaging end-buyers along an industry value chain.
  • BYOD: While this can be a strategic choice to optimize mobile spend, it is often a reaction to unauthorized consumerized devices accessing enterprise resources and data. There are choices for enterprises to optimize strategy, spend, productivity, security, and manageability without increasing lifecycle costs.

The key difference between MDM and EMM is leveraging existing staff to learn and manage constant “new disruption” such as they have done for the past 40 years, or challenge them to lead and manage a new hybrid architecture that scales their knowledge via a trusted partner.

The world operates increasingly less isolated, or linear, modes such as client/server. Mobility is much more dynamic in terms of end-user expectations and the services that users can self-source to achieve those expectations. Given that “hands-on” driving force, new ecosystems are emerging with automated engagement and management and requiring systems-thinking that integrates devices, apps, and services that will support a secure, fluid data exchange among authenticated (and authorized) people and machines to influence outcomes.

For most large businesses in 2014, this means choosing an EMM solution, but no two businesses are alike. The only way to know which solution best fits your organization is to assess what business needs are most crucial to your team. A first step in doing that is to take a deeper dive and learn what each of these three solutions can deliver—making sure you clearly understand the key differences between the easily confused acronyms. To start today, listen in to our webinar that looks at the differences between EMM, MDM, and MMS. And keep your eyes peeled for part two of this post focusing on how to make the best mobile management choice for your business.