Increasing mobility has been both a benefit and a challenge for enterprises. The number of endpoints being deployed, secured and managed has been growing strongly for several years, fuelled by the need for greater flexibility of working but also by a growth in IoT in sectors such as utilities and automotive. Needless to say, this growth trajectory became significantly steeper last year as remote working became more succinctly know as just working.
The connectivity, security and management of an apparently ever-increasing number of endpoints, data and applications is all very much still under the collective microscope as we begin 2021 in lockdown.
Recent research by Computing has established that, when selecting mobile devices, the security and compliance of those devices is, quite rightly, uppermost in the minds of those making the decisions. Last year the sudden increase in remote working led to a spike in phishing lures based on pandemic related information - and disinformation.
The upshot of this latest lockdown, is likely to be working parents sharing their laptops, tablets and phones with their children for the purposes of remote learning. Enterprises who are still relying on basic policy-based controls and the knowledge of users about the consequences of running unauthorised software are likely to have a much harder time of it than those with a mobile management solution which applies containerisation to devices in order that enterprise and personal data can be separated, and security and compliance policies applied accordingly.
Mobile device security for the pandemic - and post pandemic - era needs to be able to pull off the trick of being Zero Trust, whilst also empowering remote workers and not making them feel like the liabilities which, our research tells us time and time again, many in the cyber security profession frankly believe them to be.
UEM - no longer just a nice to have
Pre-pandemic, IT leaders were already turning to cloud-based Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) tools to enable them to manage and secure their increasingly large and diverse mobile device estates. Administrators need to be able to distribute, secure, manage and support mobile devices wherever they may be, from their initial setup at home, to their eventual return to the traditional workplace. They also need to ensure that security and access policies are up to scratch, in the face of the cyber threats imposed by distributed workforces. 86 per cent of contributors to Computing's research agreed that the increase in remote working had made robust enterprise mobile cyber security even more crucial.
The huge increase in remote working during 2020 has contributed to a changing perception of UEM from a nice-to-have solution to a non-negotiable necessity, and the research found a significant increase in its deployment. More than half of contributing organisations had begun to roll out UEM, and 37 per cent had finished their deployments. A further 31 per cent were either trialling solutions or in the planning stages. In fact, three quarters of contributors agreed that the rise of remote working has made a capable UEM solution essential to the effective management of enterprise mobile devices.
What are enterprises looking for in a UEM solution? The short answer is a great deal. When Computing asked contributors to our research to rank a list of features out of ten, very few polled less than seven. Enterprises demand feature rich UEM, including capabilities such as remote deployment (whereby client installation and enrolment can be automated), remote granular device management and real-time security updates. However, when making decisions about device vendors and partners, the main priority is cost - both up front, and longer term - as well as the transparency of those costs.
Enterprises, not unreasonably, expect the highest security standards and manageability for their networks of mobile devices, as well as excellent value for money. They can increase their chances of realising such an outcome by consolidating their purchasing of mobile devices, platforms and UEM suites via a single vendor. Viewing enterprise mobility as an end-to-end process via a single vendor, rather than the more traditional patchwork of deployment, management and security tools can boost quality of service for everyone involved - and right now, we all need the tools to make life easier.
To find out more read Computing's research paper: Mobility Must Haves: UEM, Cyber Security and Productivity for The Distributed Work Force which is featured on O2 and Samsung's content hub: