5 MDM features and platforms for small businesses

Remote work has increased the use of mobile devices and tablets by end users, creating more ways to access corporate data and interact with various corporate systems.

Therefore, IT departments must be able to manage and secure endpoints from outside their network. This may be a simple task for organizations with large IT departments, but SME who may not have a dedicated IT professional need to be very careful about how they use resources and management platforms, such as mobile device management (MDM) — they choose.

Why do SMBs need MDM?

End users have an almost constant need for some sort of IT support, whether they know it or not. These needs include application installations, software updates, performance issues, security incidents, or just general support. There are also other common maintenance activities that administrators should perform on mobile devices to protect against malicious content and ensure that devices meet security requirements.

One of the main risks of not using MDM or another tool within an SMB is the security associated with devices that connect from home or public networks to enterprise systems. Additionally, using personal devices for this same purpose can have the same implications if those devices lack adequate protections, update their posture, or are compromised. This can lead to a breach in company systems and have catastrophic consequences.

An explanation of the MDM architecture displayed via a graphic.

To help secure devices that connect to the corporate network and data, SMBs should consider MDM – or a more comprehensive tool with similar controls such as unified endpoint management (UEM) — to demand tighter controls over devices accessing corporate data.

MDM tools provide several utilities to administrators that are essential to the health and security of the organization as a whole. Five of the most important functions that MDM can provide to an SMB are:

1. Asset management

MDM platforms should provide various controls for managing and monitoring hardware assets, inventory systems, security and update controls, and more. On the application front, MDM tools help with software licensing and management for the organization, which can improve license compliance and inventory for all paid and non-paid applications.

One MDM platform with strong asset management is Apple-focused Jamf Pro. SMBs that use Mac iPads, iPhones, and Apple TVs can deploy this platform to support business initiatives via a web interface. From here, administrators can easily identify all registered devices, view each one’s status and update poster, and get information about the various applications deployed.

One of the main risks of not using MDM or another tool within an SMB is the security associated with devices that connect from home or public networks to enterprise systems.

2. Security Protections and Policy Management

As safety continues to be a priority to concentrate device management in businesses of all sizes, mobile and personal device management poses a significant risk to small businesses without dedicated IT staff. MDM platforms can support the deployment of security policies that can help restrict devices and protect data by enforcing password policies, restricting certain app functions, and deploying protection apps .

MDM provider N-able offers a platform with endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools capable of protecting devices against a wide range of threats.

3. Remote Access — on some devices

Another area that is commonly needed for SMEs is the remote access feature to help users meet some of their device needs. When a user contacts the help desk, IT can use utilities from some MDM tools to remotely access devices and see what end users are experiencing.

Providers such as Hexnode offer remote access tools in their remote monitoring and management offering to facilitate remote access.

4. Application and update management

When it comes to installing applications and deploying updates, it is no longer possible for administrators to require their end users to be physically present in the office to run them. This is due to many factors, but the main one is remote work. To ease the need to keep apps and mobile operating systems up to date, MDM tools allow administrators to push apps and patch systems accordingly.

For organizations that use a lot of Apple devices like iPads, iPhones, and Apple TVs, Apple Business Manager has an MDM offering that meets those needs. It includes Apple account setup and management, mobile VPN managementsecurity policies, license management, data management and application management.

5. Remote monitoring of mobile devices

To track the health and status of mobile devices, administrators can use MDM tools to receive alerts on any device issues. These include storage issues, alerts, security risks, and any other relevant health details about the device to prevent malfunctions, performance issues, or security incidents.

Tools such as Microsoft Intune — now part of Microsoft Endpoint Manager — can provide technical reports and assessments, and benchmarks against best practices published by Microsoft for mobile devices. Administrators can use this information to make necessary changes recommended by the platform and to ensure that the appropriate policies and updates are in place.

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