The Paradigm Shift in Mobile Device Management

Mobile devices, wireless networks, and applications have evolved tremendously over the past few years with capabilities that now enable line-of-business applications to extend to a wider array of mobile workers. Line-of-business applications were once the sole domain of traditional task workers who typically carried large, rugged devices dedicated to a single function. However, they are now expanding to the realm of the knowledge worker, who requires a smaller and more flexible device capable of running multiple applications.

Organizations taking advantage of the new mobile device capabilities have benefited from improved efficiencies, closer customer relationships, and sizable productivity gains. Of course, this paradigm shift does not come without its challenges. IT departments have grown accustomed to the protections afforded by comprehensive management solutions and want the same for their mobile deployments. 

Past mobile usage conventions and limitations

Until recently, the typical user of mobile line-of-business applications was a task worker whose job workflow was dictated by the app. Unfortunately, the older ruggedized mobile devices used for these applications had very limited CPU, memory, and display capabilities. Their basic operating systems could run only one application at a time, and their ability to connect to remote enterprise resources was extremely limited by poor or non-existent wireless coverage and slow speeds. While essential to the productivity of the user, the device resource limitations and connectivity options severely constrained remote device management capabilities.

Innovation in present mobile capabilities

Today, mobile devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many of these devices are efficient enough to run continuously through a full workday on a single charge, while offering powerful CPUs, ample memory, and vivid, high-resolution color displays. 

At the same time, the device connectivity options have expanded substantially to include near-ubiquitous, high speed wireless wide area network (WWAN) coverage, ultra-high speed wireless local area network (WLAN) mobile hotspots and in-facility infrastructure, plus traditional device cradle and dial-up connections to the Internet.

In addition to traditional task workers, these newer devices are used by knowledge workers, such as field and sales people who depend on mobile devices to extend their front and back office applications into the field. The success of these workers is completely dependent upon reliable, consistent device and application availability. Fortunately, software developers have been able to leverage today's more powerful devices to create solutions that deliver comprehensive remote device management to meet the need for constant availability of devices and applications.

Industry-standard enterprise management product expansions

The market is rife with industry-standard products that allow help desk and IT professionals to manage enterprise resources such as desktop computers, laptops, and servers. These management products typically deliver automatic provisioning of software updates to remote machines, interactive support functions such as remote control, and detailed reporting of the machine's hardware, software, and health information. This type of industry-standard management product would be ideally suited for use with mobile devices, where the native mobile device management feature set is not so limited. 

In response to this limitation, third-party offerings have emerged, which provide comprehensive server, desktop, and laptop management. The best of these have no affect on the performance of the mobile device, instead working seamlessly over all wired and wireless connectivity options, and most importantly, do not require proprietary server or console infrastructure. 


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