Whether you’re a large organization with a dedicated IT team of asset managers, mobile device managers and network administrators or a small company without one, managing all devices in your organization and their integrations with internal systems, is no easy feat. When selecting a rolling out devices to your workforce, it’s very important to consider the entire lifecycle management of the device and the costs and resources required to move the device through their lifecycle.
Here are are the components to consider when planning out an effective device management strategy:
Considerations For Device Management
You’ll likely come across compelling offers on older or carrier specific mobile devices. Considering the failure and loss rate of 5-10% every year, what if you want to buy another 50 of these devices? Will they still be available or will you have to buy completely different devices? Will these older devices still be upgradable to keep up with the newer ones? This can turn into a very difficult support scenario where you will be maintaining a multitude of different devices over the years with different operating systems and software which make troubleshooting and upkeep, very resource intensive. It’s crucial that the cost of the device be evaluated against the lifecycle maintenance costs of the system.
Operating System (OS)
Android and iOS both have advocates that support the OS specific pros. In short, iOS is a proprietary software and therefore easily controllable by its owner, Apple which has a curated app store and provides a higher level of security. On the downside, there are more limitations for customization in this wall-gardened ecosystem. Android on the other hand is an open source software that can be easily customized and even in-house applications can be easily created. The selection of phones is significantly higher with a bigger price spread across devices. Nevertheless, due to its open platform it is also more prone to malware and because not every Android version is exactly the same, the patching and updating can be troublesome on devices that do not follow the standard. Other OS systems out there, include Java or BREW. The selection of mobile devices with non-standard software should be carefully evaluated. Unless there are capable programmers available in-house that can work on specific platforms to develop custom apps, integrations with other systems could be very costly. However, If the device is solely used for a singular purpose without interactions with other systems, this could still be a viable solution.
Never opt for old devices that run on old iOS or Android which won’t be upgradeable in the near future. As apps develop further for new OS versions, an old OS on the phone might lead to significant issues which are not worth the hassle.
Software & Hardware Compatibility
It’s probably already on your radar to ensure that the PTT application of your choosing is compatible with the device, however compatibility goes beyond the OS version number. Does the device support the required data upload and download speed of the application? What is the storage capacity of the applications or can the processor of the device handle the multitude of all the apps that are supposed to run simultaneously? Are background applications (MDM software, tracking apps, antivirus, encryption) able to work on the device?
Mobile Device Security is a complex topic so it’s recommended that you discuss considerations that may impact your mobile device lifecycle with your IT security, mobile device management (MDM) team or qualified consultant. This includes: device theft, malware and storing sensitive data.
- Theft: Along with third-party theft, insider theft by disgruntled employees and those that find a second source of income stealing and selling company property is not uncommon. A PIN allows for blocking any unauthorized user from using a stolen device but impacts the ease-of-use of a device by the authorized user. There are companies that have reported loss rates of around 15% not including broken devices. It is therefore important for a company to be able to track and trace the devices; a solution that houses an inventory of the devices and who owns it and can trace the device’s whereabouts. Many PTT applications support geolocation to follow and record the route a user has been taking. But a system should also be able to withstand a factory reset that deletes all installed applications so that a stolen and wiped device can be traced back to the delinquent. Apple provides good solutions to track devices via iCloud. Samsung has Knox which also can survive a factory reset. A third solution is Absolute, a company that provides a persistent piece of software enabled through code embedded into the BIOS of over a billion devices.
- Malware: This is a smaller problem if the device is locked and can only be used by specific applications that only access specific internal data sources. Such white-labeled applications can be controlled by mobile device management (MDM) or Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions which also facilitate the deployment and configuration of such application to the whole device population. Leaders in this segment are: VMware Airwatch, MobileIron, IBM and BlackBerry. Should a device also use an email account and have access to a mobile browser and the user is free to download and install any application or software, the device is prone to cyber attacks. Should the device have access to more data than that in a demilitarized zone (DMZ) the company data is at risk. Devices can maintain a good security posture if they have an up-to-date OS and applications. Some companies have adopted a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy where employees can use their own devices if they subscribe to the security requirements of the company. This saves costs but also often mixes business and private data if not properly separated.
- Data: Storing any sensitive data like customer, pricing or employee data on the device’s hard disk drive, should be avoided. Through theft or cyber attacks, this data could get into the hands of the wrong people which can sabotage a company’s reputation and even lead to compliance breaches and fines. Are you thinking about device life-cycle management? Are you planning to sell the devices after a certain time period? How can you get all sensitive data off the devices? A simple factory reset may appear to delete all data but there is technology out there that does have the capability of resurrecting this once deleted data.
When considering costs, it is more important than ever to consider the whole device lifecycle and in consequence the total cost of ownership (TCO). These include hard costs as well as soft costs as shown on this image.
Most researches such as the VDC study suggest that the TCO of a ruggedized mobile device is significantly lower. For a consumer mobile smartphone, the post-purchase costs are 92% of the complete 5 year TCO. Although the VDC study is outdated and newer studies are not available or not independent enough, there is a reason why consumer device manufacturers have merged into the ruggedized space as there is a business case for it. So instead of consumerization which is defined as companies adopting technologies that originate in the consumer space, the manufacturers of consumer devices drive a ruggedization to improve the TCO business case compared to ruggedized devices that will increase their market share of the enterprise graded IT solution market.
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