Posted on 1st March 2018
by Michael Hart
Seven questions to ask before investing in mobile security

Previous blog posts have focused on how Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) can help organisations to stay secure and compliant in the face of an increasingly mobile workforce.

Here we move on to look at the specifics of selecting the company that can provide the EMM solution that will help you achieve the balance between risk and usability that is right for your individual organisation.

The EMM market is relatively immature, so it can be difficult to find the depth of information required to make informed choices. This means it’s easy to err towards a particular product based on gut-feeling rather than concrete evidence, resulting in a solution that does not resolve the issue for which it has been purchased – and may not meet specific compliance requirements.

It’s essential therefore to get it right. To safeguard an enterprise’s IT investment, we advise considering the following seven questions to help the decision-making process.

1. What are the compliance requirements for your industry?
Highly-regulated environments (such as the financial services sector) need a different solution to those that, because they handle data that is less sensitive, have more flexibility. But even within tight compliance restraints, it’s important to select a product and service level that offers maximum productivity.

2. Have you defined your organisation’s appetite for risk?
Within the confines of the industry in which it operates, an organisation will have its own specific level of acceptable risk, often shaped by its history, senior personnel and the role of the IT department within the enterprise. Because it will help to determine the EMM option that is the best fit, this risk level needs to be acknowledged and explicit; often benefiting from a consultative sales process in which an EMM partner drives the conversation.

3. Do you want to buy direct from a vendor or via a partner?
Large organisations, with IT departments to match, often prefer to deal directly with the vendor assuming they are cutting out the ‘middle man’.

This route however, may not be the best way for small and medium sized companies to get the EMM that does exactly what they need; the solutions are technically complex and engaging with vendors for support can be challenging and time-consuming. A partner offers a more consultative approach and provides interim support between vendor and customer.

4. Have you got accurate costs?
Pricing and licensing models are available online so it’s possible to research how much an EMM will cost to help with the vendor selection process. However, pricing on websites can be caveated, for example not covering service, which adds significantly to the end figure.

Partners may appear the more expensive option at first glance, but the consultation and support levels they provide can save valuable hours, both from an IT department perspective and the productivity of end-users. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what is included in each of their service bands; this will vary by partner.

Certified vendor partners also provide access to increasingly popular subscription-based license models, which offer simple and flexible ‘per-user’ costs, and are often not available directly from the vendor.

5. Do you need all the features being offered?
Feature-rich products and applications are always tempting as they offer ways of operating that may not have been possible or considered previously. However, features are often included by IT providers to encourage sales and facilitate up-selling; the reality is that they may not be used. EMM is no exception. Too many features push up initial costs without offering any tangible value, as well as increase the complexity of set up and clutter the dashboard.

Users therefore need to be clear about what they need to achieve and why in order to define the critical functions required by an EMM. At the same time, investment should be futureproofed with a scaleable solution that enables other products to be bolted on if required.

6. How many EMM products should be reviewed?
In view of the number of criteria that most organisations require their EMM to fulfil, a 360-degree review and analysis of the market would seem to be common sense. But this is time-consuming and requires in-depth knowledge of the technology, making it unrealistic for many organisations.

Working with a partner removes a lot of the legwork; their role centres round industry insight. But before taking this route, it’s important to check they have undertaken rigorous testing of all the major products in the market to ensure they can provide a comprehensive guide to what is available – and therefore the solution that best suits your needs.

7. Which partner is right for you?
As outlined above, a vendor partner can aid the EMM purchase process – but only if the one selected is the right fit. The partner should be able to provide details of projects with other clients that have similar needs – particularly on the regulation front. This will ensure they can leverage the thought-processes that have already been undertaken, resulting in a fast, knowledgeable decision-tree to meet your needs.

They also need the right technology credentials. An EMM links the corporate network to end-users’ devices which, depending on compliance requirements may also be their personal smartphone. Incorrectly configured it can significantly reduce the performance of the device, discouraging employees from engaging with the system.

Partners should also have a range of service level offerings; organisations will have different needs and budgets depending on the internal IT resource and EMM expertise available.

EMM offers a key to the growing challenge of managing mobility in the workplace without limiting productivity or compromising compliance. But finding the right solution is not straightforward.

To find out how Lanware can take the complexity out of your purchasing decision, get in touch.