Managing an Employee's Multiple Devices

By Guest Author  |  Posted 07-10-2014
Mobile devices

Managing an Employee's Multiple Devices

By Snehal Parikh

Consider the salesperson in your organization that has a laptop, smartphone and tablet. This individual needs access to certain business apps and data to do their job well—and to do it productively. Ideally, the salesperson wants to access the same apps and data regardless of the device they are currently using. Delivering consistency across multiple devices and managing endpoint devices in a user-centric fashion is critical to enabling success. Separate methodologies and tools for the management of these individual endpoints lead to variability in user experience and confusion, which can hurt an enterprise's bottom line. There are both organizational steps that enterprises need to take and technical considerations they need to make in order to provide a consistent end-user experience across different endpoint devices.

Organizational Considerations
In most organizations today, the problem we are trying to address, when it comes to delivering a consistent end-user experience via multiple devices, is both a technology and an organizational problem. The world is moving to a single user model where employees have multiple devices, but want to have access to same apps and the same network. In most enterprises, there is an organizational misalignment in which CIOs have multiple teams dedicated to managing individual devices. Some devices, such as tablets, laptops and desktop computers, are typically managed by IT. Meanwhile, other teams handle mobility in that they are in charge of procurement, deployment and mobile device management. This set-up poses an interesting dichotomy, where a single user owns multiple devices, but must rely on multiple support teams to ensure a consistent, secure user experience.

Technical Considerations
Rather than manage device by device, it’s time to flip from a corporate device-centric view to a user-centric point of view. More and more employees want the flexibility to use devices of their own choosing, which enables them to be their most productive. But this arrangement also means employees can have multipurpose devices that, while on office premises, need to have corporate policies applied for security as well as enablement. When an employee takes their devices home, they need to be able to use them for personal use. How can an enterprise manage these situations?

Enterprises are facing enormous challenges and risks by having multiple teams manage each device by the way they are being used. To effectively coordinate across tools, teams and policies with uniform access, it’s time to make the move from the old corporate device-centric view to the new user-centric point of view.

Here are six steps to consider about making this transition:

Identify your objectives.
Your objectives will be defined by answering some basic questions: How mobile is your workforce? What types of devices and access are your employees asking for? What types of devices do you need to support? How strict do you want to be regarding security and access via devices? Which applications and services do you want to provide to your users on which devices?

Determine the appropriate organization to meet your objectives.
In the old model where management focused on specific devices, it was acceptable to manage by device type and have siloed organizations based on device type, such as fixed or mobile. In the new model that focuses on the user and the multiple devices they own, successful organizations can no longer have siloed organizations based on device types. There has to be a single organization that has the ability to enforce common policies across all devices for a particular user.

Select the necessary tools to help you manage to your objectives.
In the old model where you had a siloed organizational structure, each department acquired and deployed the tools they thought were best to manage in that environment. In the new model that focuses on the user, the tools utilized to manage the variety of devices per user need to be integrated, share data, share common components for policy creation, policy enforcement, device registration and reporting, and more.

Don't forget about scalability, security, redundancy and flexibility.
As your users bring more devices into your IT environment, the number of devices needed to be managed will grow exponentially. In this model, your management solution cannot be managing the individual devices independently due to the complexity and scale. A successful solution requires a policy-driven management philosophy that allows administrators to quickly create policies based on user, role, geography, department and function that can be automatically applied to all their devices without manual intervention. This tactic not only ensures all devices that belong to the user are managed consistently but it also allows a small team of administrators to manage a large scale of devices. As the number of devices per user grows, the scalability of the management solution becomes of paramount importance.

Managing an Employee's Multiple Devices

Deploy a single management foundation (or consolidate multiple management disciplines into a single foundation).
Given the new model of management, organizations that are starting out can deploy a single tool that allows them to manage across all device types, while managing in a user-centric fashion. Organizations that have multiple tools to manage devices today, however, need to make the leap sooner rather than later and consolidate device management into a single, streamlined management framework which will result in reduced software licensing, annual maintenance, labor and overall management costs.

Continue to adapt and evolve. 
As new devices, operating systems and platforms emerge, you will continually be challenged to revisit your objectives, re-evaluate your organizational structure, and ensure the tools you have selected are evolving to keep up with your new needs. Embrace that challenge by starting out with the right integrated, user-centric management approach.

If you follow these six steps, you'll be well on your way to providing a consistent end-user experience for your employees, regardless of their preferred devices.

About the Author

Snehal Parikh is vice president of enterprise products at Accelerite, a wholly owned subsidiary of Persistent Systems.