Manage a Suddenly Remote Workforce with MDM Solutions

We're in the midst of a pandemic. Do your clients really know where their mobile devices are?


Mobile device management (MDM) solutions provide your clients with value in a variety of ways. They automate device management and provide real-time visibility into device status and location to reduce downtime, ensure compliance and protect data security. They can also improve their business operations by reducing costs, saving time, improving customer service and boosting worker productivity.

With the shift to remote work in 2020, MDM solutions rank even higher on businesses’ must-have lists. Shash Anand, Vice President of Product Strategy, SOTI, explains, “For many organizations, MDM helps companies remotely deploy, manage and secure mobile devices to keep their business running smoothly.”

As a managed services provider (MSP) or value-added reseller (VAR), you’re probably getting a lot of questions from your clients about efficiently and securely managing devices that their employees are using in remote work.

Anand provides answers and shares his insights to help you guide your clients toward the best decisions for their organizations.

Is it better for remote teams to use company-owned or personal devices?

Anand: Implementing BYOD policies and best practices for remote workers ensures data security, device efficiency and worker productivity while lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO) for BYOD. In fact, companies who adopt a BYOD approach can expect cost savings of $350 per year, on average, per employee.

When considering these benefits, however, it remains critical for companies to protect vulnerable endpoints against malware designed to steal sensitive data by blocking unapproved operating systems (OS) and updating old virus software. Moreover, as remote workers cannot physically meet with the IT team to resolve tech issues, it is crucial for companies to provide timely assistance whenever remote workers’ mobile devices go down, to help them continue to be productive.

Do users prefer to use their own devices even if a company-owned device is provided?

Anand: Many employees want to work from home and prefer to use their own devices while doing so, but need their companies’ support from an MDM perspective. When employees are working from home (or even in the office) they want to use their personal devices to perform business-critical tasks:

  • Many workers believe their personal devices are more effective and productive compared to company-issued devices.
  • Employees can save up to an hour per day thanks to increased productivity from using their own devices.
  • Not surprisingly, most employees already use their personal devices for work-related tasks

What’s the downside of not using an MDM solution when employees work remotely?

Anand: Mobile devices equip organizations with powerful capabilities, but they can also create real security risks if not managed properly with an MDM solution.

For many industries, mobile devices are essential tools for getting the job done right and on time, as well as to maintain a competitive edge in the market. However, coupled with these benefits is the unanticipated requirement of managing and securing these devices. Without complete visibility into a company’s mobile fleet — including device status, location, software updates, security and more — organizations are missing out on the full range of benefits the deployment was meant to achieve in the first place.

SOTI MobiControl, for example, has features that make it easier for organizations to onboard, configure, provision and track devices remotely, without downtime or disruption to regular business operations. It can also help keep network infrastructure and corporate data safe by tracking lost or stolen devices and locking down or wiping devices remotely.

What advantages did companies with MDM have during coronavirus shutdowns when they had to quickly transition to remote work?

We are seeing companies trying to support BYOD as well as making major purchases in laptops to accommodate employees that may have desktops in the office. Both options are beneficial, but it really depends on the business case for the devices.

For many organizations with MDM, the transition to suddenly having remote teams was seamless because policies were likely already in place to support BYOD or corporately-issued devices. Enrolling new devices into MDM typically takes a few minutes and can be achieved at mass scale.

An MDM solution allows customers the ability to quickly adapt to the rapidly changing business environment that we live in today.

For many companies, remote work may not remain their primary model, but what changes do you predict they will make with MDM in the future?

Anand: For many companies globally, large-scale remote work policies are only an interim solution and need to be revisited and adapted for every organization’s specific business needs. Organizations that normally depend on mobile technology in their operations will need to continue managing devices with the ability to remotely diagnose, troubleshoot and fix mobile tech issues.

Moreover, remote work has emphasized the business-critical need for companies to securely share data and wipe and lockdown devices remotely, build custom apps for their business and gain advanced data analytics into app, data, network usage, and much more. 

What advice can you offer MSPs and VARs regarding offering MDM solutions to their prospects now?

Anand: No matter which industries your prospects operate in, uncertainties about the duration and extent of the global pandemic make planning for the future a challenge. That said, there are endless opportunities for MSPs to share MDM solutions with prospective customers across a range of industries, from emergency services, retail and transportation and logistics to field services and healthcare.

During a time of fierce adaptation and innovative work practices, it is more important than ever for companies to plan their mobility strategy and invest in an MDM solution to ensure they have a leg up on the competition when normal business operations resume. 

Mike Monocello

The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of Managed Services Journal (formerly XaaS Journal) and DevPro Journal.