Managing commercial mobile devices efficiently and securely is difficult enough, but the challenges of managing rugged mobile devices are even greater. Rugged device users are much more likely to spend the day out of the office, perhaps in the field servicing customers, on the manufacturing floor, or driving a vehicle. These employees and their mobile devices often work in harsh environments, such as extreme heat or humidity, areas with dust and dirt, or even up in the air on scaffolding. They use their devices for everything from customer interaction and asset tracking to inventory management, route planning, call progress and time management. All types of mobile applications connect back to enterprise-wide corporate systems. This makes it even more important that devices and applications run smoothly, and that data remains safe and secure.
The way rugged device users work requires a different approach to mobile management from that of typical office staff. Of course, some of the functions of an enterprise mobility solution will be similar. Any worthwhile Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) system, for example, will be able to scale as businesses grow and change. Effective EMM solutions also should maintain security in four vectors: at the physical, device, data and network levels.
Because rugged devices are typically used outside an office setting, the ability to keep track of where and how they are used and accessed is critical. That means looking for an EMM solution with excellent asset tracking, as well as security features that protect not only the device itself, but the data and the network. It’s also important to be able to remotely configure and troubleshoot devices and manage applications and content. In fact, automation is a theme worth repeating; the ability to manage devices throughout their lifecycle, from deployment to retirement, is essential.
Look for these capabilities in an EMM supporting rugged mobile devices:
Automated and remotely controlled device management and support: When devices are routinely used by employees who spend the majority of their time out of the office, deployment, management and troubleshooting become critical. When employees are issued new mobile devices, for example, automated enrollment and device provisioning based on user roles and profiles are key. Ideally, each device can be automatically configured with the appropriate settings, apps, content and VPN settings. During the lifetime of the device, it’s important to be able to quickly and efficiently support, manage and troubleshoot on demand. Services in this area might include remote helpdesk, file and data transfer, remote task management, system and battery status, soft and hard device resets, remote lock/wipe, and location services. Administering these functions remotely and in an automated fashion increases both uptime and productivity.
The ability to restrict devices to a single application or suite of applications per user: This capability is particularly important in industries where different users on different shifts use the same device. The best way to achieve this type of security and control is through software that can create different user or department profiles with associated applications and data available to each specific user on the device. SOTI MobiControl’s Kiosk mode, for example, restricts devices to a custom display that allows users to access only their own authorized applications. It also can monitor devices for unapproved activities and move them to the background, where users can’t access them.
Automatically configured device connectivity: Maintaining productivity and customer satisfaction requires consistent and reliable connectivity. That means employees need to be able to connect securely from wherever they happen to be. Users in remote locations, for example, may only be able to access the Internet via 3G or 4G, while they may be able to take advantage of Wi-Fi and VPN when they travel to more urban areas.
The ability to manage diverse devices with different operating systems: Your employees may be required to work with a specific operating system as a result of their environment, the time they acquired their device, or their day-to-day job requirements. It’s the company’s job to ensure that the EMM system it chooses can manage devices running Android, Windows, iOS or Linux on all types of mobile endpoints.
A forward-thinking mobile strategy: Your chosen EMM solution should continue to evolve as requirements and technology evolve, and it’s worth looking at the track record of the company to evaluate whether it has been keeping up with important changes. One important area EMM solutions should address today is management of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and endpoints. These sensors and endpoints, already in billions of connected devices, are a natural fit for mobile devices, which can monitor and control those endpoints. In the manufacturing sector, for example, warehouses are incorporating sensors to improve asset management down to the pallet and item level.
When reliability, productivity and customer satisfaction are critical, taking the time to evaluate enterprise mobility management solutions is well worth the effort. Focusing your search on the critical features and functions that really matter is half the battle.
Learn more about what it takes to get mobility right.