Freedom of movement and EMM
As the locus of personal computing moves from the desktop PC to the smartphone, organisations have tried to follow trends originating in the consumer space and apply them to the enterprise. No better example of this is enterprise mobility management (EMM), where consumer-grade devices mix with conventional business-oriented solutions. The standard bearer for this movement was arguably BYOD (bring your own device) whose effect has rippled outwards in the form of bespoke apps and data protection and security headaches. Now even EMM is being usurped by a more inclusive term: unified endpoint management (UEM).
Acronyms aside, the challenges of managing devices, users, apps, data and security remain and the sector is attracting big numbers. According to Market Watch, the global enterprise mobility market was worth $206.13 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $1,225.78 billion by 2026.
Adrian McInerney, general manager, Samsung Enterprise Business, agrees that while BYOD has fallen away as a popular term, even EMM is on the cusp of obsolescence. “What we’ve seen in the last number of months is EMM is being replaced by UEM, where you can manage multiple types of devices, not just smartphones but also tablets and PCs. The Samsung view on that would be ‘we build secure devices that would fit into any of those platforms so you can take a device and have the ability to enrol it into the management system, deploy it using very little touch from an IT administrator and to be able to manage and maintain that device. Whatever you call it doesn’t really matter’.”
McInerney says UEM isn’t felt so much in the SME space where the overlap between corporate and personal data usage make devices harder to manage. He points to efforts from operators Three and Vodafone in developing offerings that include GDPR compliance and data encryption.
According to CWSI, a contemporary approach to mobility management requires an auditing of systems with a view to combining under a single platform – in its case one based on Microsoft tools and services.
The alternative is to adopt a ‘best of breed’ with user experience at the centre. This presents the challenge of managing multiple operating systems in accordance with a unified company policy. “Over the last couple of years a move in organisations where the mobile phone would have sat on one side of the house as a differently managed or not managed end point is now moving to the IT side with all those processes behind it,” says McInerney.
“If you look at what we have from a Knox perspective every device we sell on the Irish market has the Knox platform to provide security and maintain the operating system. When you turn on that device it is secure from a hardware level the whole the way up to the application layer. We’ve improved that on some of the work we’ve done globally with government certifications – we have more than 50 around the world – so that gets the device to the stage where the its integrity improves but it doesn’t help in other areas such as how that device is enrolled, managed or how the operating system is managed.
“With a couple of the operators in Ireland we have a platform called Knox Mobile Enrollment. As you procure a device from the operator you can register that device as a corporately-owned device and as part of that portal you would create a profile. As that device is turned on and gets registered to the network it then pushes those credentials without IT having to touch it. Some of the efficiencies there are that the device no longer has to hit an IT person – it can go straight to the user.”
McInerney continues: “From a user perspective they shouldn’t see a huge difference between the personal and the private side of the device. A good example of that would be a lot of work we’ve done recently with a client who had a challenge but because of their policies they had a hard time sharing contacts and we have an API that will allow you to do that, so if you get into a car, for example, you don’t just see your private side or your work side, they’ll actually conjoin but as part of the security policy if you take a picture on the work side it won’t show up on the outside. There are different levels, but from a user perspective they should notice very little difference between the two.”
Looking down the road there are certain technologies likely to impact EMM, in particular those that can reduce the number of devices the user requires. HP, Microsoft and Canonical have all experimented with the idea of the ‘phone that becomes your PC’ with little success. McInerney believes the reason these devices did not catch on is a matter of convenience and capability.
“I think Dex is an interesting one,” he says. “From an enterprise perspective, suddenly you’re able to use your mobile device through some sort of thin client. From a SOHO perspective you can be out all day using your mobile device, go home, dock it using a single cable into a TV or monitor and start using as a desktop to edit Word documents or customer orders you might have made that day.
“What we’re seeing is the more powerful mobile devices are offering a lot more to the enterprise and and are easier to use. The challenge was you’d walk into a room and you couldn’t connect to a screen to show a presentation that wasn’t screening at the correct resolution. These have been addressed.
“If you look at the Dex, we’re now down to a single cable on the S9, which makes the user experience easier in the sense that you’re not carrying around a dock, a keyboard, a mouse and have to find a screen. I think we’ve seen the evolution of that over the last three devices. When it comes to VDI and the ability to deliver applications we’re finally seeing that at the higher end. People need to use it to see the value and it takes a while to get people used to seeing that value.”
Another technology McInerney sees EMM on the cusp of integrating is AI and digital personal assistants. Unlike Google, Microsoft and Apple, Samsung has gone the route of making devices easier to use through its Bixby offering. He conceded that AI is “a journey” and what platforms succeed and what don’t will come down to developer support. One thing he is certain of is that “voice, not gesture control, and digital assistants that can work cross-platform will be key”.
Another certainty is that as the sector moves on, so will the acronyms.