While desktop computing has been around for many decades, mobility is a far less mature space. The origin of each technology is subtly different but important as well. Traditional computing began in the workplace. Outside of initial investments in academia, the first major buyers of computers were corporations. Throughout the 80s and 90s, the workplace became increasingly digital, and it was only when Microsoft’s then-crazy idea to equip every home with a PC did these devices become more consumer-friendly. In fact, even today the home computer is not anywhere near as ergonomic or suited to home use as it is to an office.

Mobile, conversely, began partly in the consumer world first. Certainly the advent of the iPhone in 2008, which is often considered the marker of the modern smartphone, was targeted primarily at the consumer market. This is significant, as it meant that adoption of this important new technology was driven not by IT, but by the employee. This has resulted in strange quirks in mobility that might have been unthinkable to most IT teams a decade ago.

The Rise of BYOD

Firstly, BYOD remains a popular choice in many enterprises. Ask any IT leader in 2006 whether they would support the following.

  • Employees can purchase a computer from whichever supplier they like. Second-hand machines from independent stores are just as acceptable as a new model straight from the supplier.
  • Employees can choose whichever model of computer they desire. Chinese-produced models or self-built devices are a perfectly valid option.
  • Employees can choose whichever operating system they wish to run on their machine – any version of Windows is allowed, as are open source options such as Ubuntu.
  • Employees can use their computers however they like, accessing corporate data alongside recreational activity such as gaming, browsing inappropriate web content and downloading whichever software they want from whichever source they consider reliable.
  • Employers are responsible for almost every problem that manifests, whether that is a serious security incident, remediating any technical issues that employees might encounter or ensuring business-critical apps are supported on everyone’s device.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the answer would be a resounding and universal no. Somehow, with mobility it has been a different story. Partly due to the origins of the technology as explained above, and partly due to other factors such as the blurred boundaries between business and personal use, the constant physical proximity and personal attachment to mobile devices and the significant soft power wielded by some employees over IT teams, a large number of organizations find themselves in mixed-fleet or all-BYOD environments not dissimilar to the above example.

As well as carrying meaningful security, liability and financial risks, BYOD also presents a huge and almost unprecedented challenge with specific regard to Operational Intelligence: it’s very hard to get access to the data. Even in corporate-owned environments, visibility into mobile fleets is a remarkably common problem for many enterprises.

So what about EMM?

The adoption of Enterprise Mobility Management tools, now also known as Unified Endpoint Management, has provided half an answer to this concern. Emerging initially as a way to deploy productivity applications, EMM now provides a wide range of functionality catered to the needs of mobility teams. It offers insights into the status of each device, and also gives some control to administrators seeking to set policies around appropriate usage.

What EMM cannot provide, however, is visibility into the data flowing into and out of each device. In late 2016, the volume of web traffic taking place on mobile overtook desktop for the first time. Despite this, an incredibly low number of organizations have any visibility whatsoever into the traffic – the actual activity – taking place outside the four walls of their office.

Returning to the 2006 example, no IT leader would dream of allowing employees to conduct their work on devices that they have limited control of, with very limited visibility into – plus operating on networks they have zero control of and zero visibility into. Yet once again, in 2019, this is where many enterprises find themselves when it comes to mobility.

An EMM alone won’t protect your organization from malware, data exfiltration, mobile device or app vulnerability, network threats, or scores of other emerging attacks.

Domingo Guerra
Senior Director, Modern OS Security, Symantec

So how can organizations get more access to crucial mobility data? The answer is to look at tools beyond EMM. That means assessing solutions such as MTD, VPNs or other mobile-centric tools. None, however, grant the same level of visibility as NetMotion.

To learn more about how NetMotion offers more visibility into the data generated by work-assigned mobile devices than any other product, get in touch with one of our experts today.

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