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Grow Your Business Technology

What is Mobile Device Management?

What is Mobile Device Management?
Credit: TATSIANAMA/Shutterstock

The use of both company-owned and employee-owned mobile devices in the workplace has exploded in the past several years. This trend, along with today's mobile workforce, has enabled companies to deliver faster, more efficient service to customers and greater workforce efficiency and productivity.

But there's a downside, and it's a serious one. How does an organization effectively monitor, manage and secure all employee-owned and company-owned devices and their disparate applications and operating systems, no matter where they're deployed and used?

Mobile device management (MDM) is a type of security software used by company IT departments to monitor, manage and secure employees' mobile devices (whether issued by the company or owned by the employee) that are used in the organization.

These mobile devices include laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile hardware. MDM secures apps, policies and permissions across platforms and multiple mobile service providers – it reduces risk to organizations and safeguards their networks and data assets. [Read related article from our sister site Tom's IT Pro: Best Mobile Device Management Solutions]

MDM solutions typically include the following broad functions:

  • Software distribution
  • Policy management
  • Inventory management
  • Security management
  • Service management for smartphones and media tablets

Editor's Note: Is your company in the market for a mobile device management system? We can help you choose the one that's right for your business. Use this questionnaire to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free: 

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There are many MDM providers, and multiple options are available in the marketplace. Feature sets of MDM software vary widely from provider to provider, but the following are considered essential:

  • Mandatory passwords
  • Password, blacklist and other security policy enforcement
  • Remote configuring and monitoring
  • Remote wipe, to safeguard data on lost or stolen devices
  • Backup and restore functionality
  • Device and data encryption
  • Malware detection
  • Restricted access to specific data and apps based on location
  • VPN configuration and management
  • Wi-Fi configuration and management
  • Fully managed, 24/7 monitoring of threats
  • Integration with existing security and management

While cloud-based services have been popular, some companies still opt for MDM systems (sometimes called EMM, or enterprise mobility management) that run in their own data centers. Many MDM solutions providers offer multiple options – on-site, cloud-based and hybrid. As with any important purchase, business owners should research their options thoughtfully.


Pamela Oldham

Based in Austin, Texas, Pamela Oldham writes on technology, healthcare, business and marketing topics. In her previous life as a senior-level marketing executive and continuing as an independent consultant, she's worked with small businesses and many of the world's best known brands in IT and healthcare.