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Time to get on top of mobile device management: Gartner

Market is nascent but growing rapidly, with revenue to top $500m in 2012

By Steve Evans

Analyst house Gartner has given its full backing to mobile device management (MDM), saying it is ‘essential’ for IT success.

Unsurprisingly it is the rise of smartphones and tablets that has caused this, as companies look for ways of allowing employees the flexibility mobile devices bring without compromising on security.

Mobile device management aims to ensure that corporate security policies also apply to a mobile fleet, such as password strength and the ability to wipe information if needed.

"The era of fully supporting company-owned devices is giving way to an era of managed diversity in which tiered support for employee-owned, consumer-class devices is the norm," said Terrence Cosgrove, research director at Gartner.

"With the unabated growth of consumerisation, IT leaders need to implement MDM to manage corporate- and employee-owned devices, and assign responsibilities inside IT departments for the service, application and security of all these devices," he added.

Cosgrove suggested that it might be a good idea for companies to look into giving someone the specific task of managing mobile devices and the ecosystem around it.

"Because of the complexity of the mobile device landscape, there must be a person or group responsible for monitoring this landscape and for understanding users’ demands for new types of device and the impact that new platforms have on applications," he said.

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"This person or group must work with the security team regularly to address the impact that platform changes and demands for mobile services have on the organisation’s security," Cosgrove added.

The increasing number of workers who are bringing their own devices into the workplace and the diversity of hardware and software that comes along with the devices are changing the way mobiles are managed in the enterprise, Gartner claimed.

"Organizations are moving from a single-standard approach to controlling mobility to a more flexible approach that Gartner calls "managed diversity" — one that supports the variety of mobile devices found in the organisation," its report said.

Cosgrove said this is the only approach that helps IT leaders maintain control over mobility and support any BYOD strategy in place.

Gartner added that without its self-proclaimed ‘managed diversity’, organisations are likely to face increased costs, "for three reasons: reduced user productivity, if the IT standard does not suit users’ needs; a perception on the part of users that the IT department has lost relevance, which prompts more users to support themselves and increases indirect costs; higher noncompliance costs incurred by users who circumvent IT standards", the report says.

Gartner describes the MDM market as ‘nascent’ but ‘growing rapidly’ with over 100 vendors operating in this space. Gartner predicts that pure MDM revenue, excluding revenue relating to messaging and security, will exceed $500m in 2012.

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