Empowering Retail Efficiency: Unlocking MDM’s Full Potential

Over the past year, U.S. businesses have seen an increase in the number and types of devices used within their organizations.

Mobile device management (MDM) has become a must-have for retailers adapting processes to new consumer behaviors. Mikhail Ishkhanov, Senior Director of Product Strategy & Sales Enablement at SOTI, explains the features retailers need, mistakes to avoid, and how to deliver solutions that scale with your clients’ businesses. 

With enterprise retailers using a greater variety of mobile devices, which mobile device management solution features are most important to them and why?

Ishkhanov: Mobile technology has become the status quo to enable change and drive efficient communications between retailers and logistics partners in a constantly evolving consumer landscape. We are increasingly seeing the value mobile and rugged devices can have on the supply chain and customer shopping experience. From the warehouse to the truck and onto the store shelves, portable, rugged devices enable visibility and driving efficiency throughout the entire retail logistics ecosystem.

MDM and its evolution, enterprise mobility management (EMM), make it easier for organizations to manage the entire lifecycle of their expanding mobile fleets. They focus on key areas such as onboarding, configuring, provisioning, and tracking devices remotely while ensuring minimal downtime or disruption to regular business operations. In addition, the appropriate MDM/EMM solution can also help keep network infrastructure and corporate data safe by tracking lost, stolen, or misplaced devices and locking them down or wiping them remotely.

Every retailer must determine what features across their MDM/EMM solutions will drive the highest ROI through maximizing organization efficiency while reducing supply chain risk and improving reliability for their operations. The real question is, what challenges do retailers need MDMs/EMMs to address? Is it when they experience worker downtime, lack of visibility into the performance of their devices, lost and stolen devices, security breaches, or the inability effectively to troubleshoot device issues remotely? 

For retailers, MDM/EMM solutions that address some key challenges may include features such as: 

      • Diagnostics Intelligence: Get a complete view of all your devices in the field, investigate what’s happening with a single device, and react in real-time.
      • Device Downtime and Troubleshooting: Understand what is causing your device to underperform and prevent losing critical productivity time.
      • Battery Health: Being able to pull metrics behind the performance of your battery health to ensure every device in the field is performing at its peak is critical. 
      • Business Critical Application Usage and Performance: Having full visibility into app usage either at the device or application level with the ability to monitor critical application usage on a shift basis.

Should solutions providers manage devices based on MDM or EMM?

Ishkhanov: It’s essential to understand that EMM is the evolution of MDM. EMM manages a device, its contents, and connections, including applications, data, and networks. EMM includes all types of connected devices, such as printers, which are heavily used in retail and vulnerable to security risks. With more operations supported through mobile and rugged devices and printers, organizations may find opportunities to expand their current EMM usage and integration possibilities for mobile platforms and desktop operating systems. 

As such, enterprises must embrace new tools that strongly complement EMM solutions. This allows them to go deeper into an organization and solve more business-critical problems leading to significant cost savings and the ability to scale and adapt quickly.

As an extension, organizations that generally depend on mobile technology in their operations continue to adopt EMM solutions to remotely diagnose, troubleshoot and fix mobile tech issues quickly to reduce any possible downtime.

Are smaller retailers open to MDM or EMM? How do solutions for SMBs differ from what VARs provide to large or enterprise retailers?

Ishkhanov: Now more than ever, a mobile-first strategy is needed to enhance the retail experience. When combining e-commerce and in-store shopping, retailers realize they need multiple tools to manage the retail journey. With hundreds of thousands of mobile devices across stores, making real-time updates can be costly and time-consuming when consumers need accurate information to complete their purchases. 

For smaller retailers, an EMM solution can enable efficiency and ease with a simple and quick update to all devices remotely within minutes. By having visibility into the performance of all devices, IT teams or individuals can prevent mobility risks like unwanted device downtime and security breaches. 

A great example is Essmann’s Backstube, a family-run bakery based in Germany. The company needed an EMM solution to help streamline its business operations. Essmann’s Backstube was able to digitize and automate its logistics and customer processes – going from paper forms to apps. Through the use of apps created with SOTI Snap, branch employees were able to simplify and streamline workflows and increase productivity. 

Having the right VAR and EMM allows larger retailers to innovate, scale and add new form factors quickly. This will enable businesses to keep an edge globally and provide the highest customer experience while maintaining pricing power and revenue margins. In addition, enterprises need the right strategic product aligned with their three-to-five-plus-year mobility strategy and appropriate maintenance and support.

An EMM tool makes it easier for retailers to onboard future stores and train employees to use the solutions right on the device, simplifying the management of their business-critical mobile solutions.

What are a few critical tips solution providers should follow when providing MDM/EMM?

Ishkhanov: Solutions providers need to provide their clients the ability to transform their organizations rapidly and allow them to scale. When clients are considering an MDM solution, key factors to consider are:

A device management solution that can remotely monitor and repair a range of connected devices, from mobile handhelds to printers. Without complete visibility into a company’s mobile fleet – including device status, location, software updates, security, and more – organizations can miss out on the full range of benefits the deployment was meant to achieve in the first place.

Accessing servers through the cloud is critical because it allows IT teams to access business-critical applications from anywhere and continue to keep businesses running. 

Having tools that can quickly build and deploy applications to remote staff is vital as employees rely on those applications to complete their jobs out in the field.

Ensuring your clients can restore mobile data after a disaster can add value to your solutions.

Do solutions providers need to adapt their MDM offering to any current trends?

Ishkhanov: For many companies globally, large-scale remote work policies are only an interim solution and must be revisited and adapted for every organization’s specific business needs. Organizations that generally 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, at the same time, being able to support new technologies and form factors as they scale and drive efficiency through their operations, according to our distributed workforce report. We learned that over the past year, not only have U.S. businesses seen an increase in the number of devices used in the organization (48%), but the types of devices (scanners, smartphones, rugged devices, printers, etc.) used have also increased (46%). To manage this deployment surge, businesses need to implement an EMM solution.

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.