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IBM MaaS360 makes analytics elementary with Watson integration

IBM MaaS360 can now take advantage of Watson machine learning. Its new Advisor tool recommends policies based on analyzed user data for IT to implement on PCs and mobile devices.

A new IBM MaaS360 feature will help IT departments drowning in user data by sorting through that information to recommend better security policies, experts said.

IBM MaaS360 Advisor uses the company's artificial intelligence and data analytics software, Watson, to develop data protection policies that best fit individual users. It analyzes data regarding endpoint device type, network access, device enrollment, user identity, industry regulations and more.

"Watson is far better than humans at using big data analysis to answer questions," said Lisa Phifer, president and owner of Core Competence Inc., an IT consultancy and MaaS360 customer in Santa Fe, N.M. "It seems to offer hope for addressing key challenges that administrators face."

The nonhuman element

Many enterprise mobility management (EMM) products, including MaaS360, give IT admins access to a large amount of data about users. But it can be difficult for someone to sift through it all, spot patterns in employee activity and put detailed policies in place based on that information, Phifer said.

Watson is far better than humans at using big data analysis to answer questions.
Lisa Phiferpresident and owner of Core Competence

"I find MaaS360's user interface better than most in this field, but there are still limits to what any human can absorb," she said. "Given a large enough data set to learn from, Watson should be able to make policy update recommendations based on history far more efficiently and, thus, simplify life for MaaS360 admins."

IBM announced MaaS360 Advisor this week at its InterConnect conference in Las Vegas.

"Adding some predictive analytics ... is really interesting," said Ira Grossman, CTO of end-user computing at MCPc Inc., an IT consultancy in Cleveland. "It makes policies more contextual."

IBM MaaS360 Advisor will work for smartphones, tablets, laptops, internet-of-things devices and other endpoints running Apple iOS and macOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows. With unified endpoint management in MaaS360, admins can view analytics and create policies for all of these endpoints from one dashboard. They can also create different policies for each of a user's multiple devices.

Machine learning and EMM

The future of endpoint security will have a lot to do with analysis of user data and behavior, said Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates LLC, a mobile analyst firm in Northborough, Mass. There is not a lot of differentiation between the top EMM vendors, and IBM is leaning on Watson to change that, he said.

"IBM is really trying to leverage Watson in as many ways as they possibly can," he added. "This is another instance of Watson cognitive systems getting involved in the enterprise."

Next Steps

IT pros seem eager for EMM

How EMM fared in 2016

Steps to deploy IBM MaaS360

Dig Deeper on Enterprise mobility strategy and policy

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