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3 mobile device deployment questions IT pros should ask

IT pros should be aware of different considerations when choosing mobile devices. Here's a quick guide on what questions to ask about mobile device deployment plans.

Organizations should have a step-by-step process when it comes to mobile device deployment, which includes choosing the right device supplier, model and enrollment plan. 

Here's what organizations need to know about deploying mobile devices.

What are the options for mobile devices?

When choosing a fleet of mobile devices to deploy, IT should be aware of options available in the mobile market. Today's mobile devices often come with more powerful processing units and longer battery life. For example, the latest Samsung Galaxy S devices offer 1TB of storage and 5G capabilities, which allow end users to have smartphones with the capabilities of PCs.

Vendors are offering mobile devices and docking stations that enable users to have a PC-like experience. Samsung DeX, for example, allows users to connect compatible Galaxy phones or tablets to an external display for a full desktop experience.

It's also important for IT to determine a smartphone's optimal lifespan. Some organizations may want to replace mobile devices only when they are broken, but a mobile device is in its best shape around 18 - 24 months. Older devices may be expensive to maintain and cost organizations more in the long run.

IT should look into programs that simplify mobile device deployment, enrollment and provisioning, as well. Features from Apple Business Manager, Android Enterprise and Samsung Knox now offer zero-touch provisioning to eliminate the need to manually configure and enroll new devices into enterprise mobility management tools.

BYOD or COPE?

IT administrators should weigh the differences between bring your own device (BYOD) and corporate-owned personally-enabled (COPE) policies and choose one that fits their organization.

A BYOD policy attracts organizations because it's often more cost-effective, but it is limiting when IT needs to secure and manage mobile devices. End users can be careless with their mobile devices and put corporate data at risk. Under a BYOD policy, IT cannot require users to lock their mobile devices. Administrators have no control over which applications end users download or when they download software updates.

With COPE, IT gains insight into end users' mobile devices, such as which applications end users download and use. IT can manage which applications users can download to prevent them from using unsafe apps. Organizations with COPE policies can buy mobile devices in bulk through mobile carriers, which often offer discounted services to businesses. For example, Verizon offers its enterprise customers volume discounts for mobile devices from Samsung, Apple and Google.

How can IT better secure these devices?

IT should consider the necessary steps to better secure mobile devices and protect corporate data. One way is to deploy a mobile app policy with a list of acceptable apps that employees can use.

IT can implement a mobile app blacklist in a mobile device management (MDM) tool to block users from downloading or accessing blacklisted apps. One commonly blacklisted app, WhatsApp, sends unencrypted data, which can allow hackers to gain access to users' information.  

Many organizations tend to neglect mobile device security and only have an incident response plan for desktops. Mobile devices are just as susceptible to risk, so it is important for IT to be prepared for security breaches. Another way to secure mobile devices is to create a mobile incident response plan, which should include incident preparation, incident detection and follow-up.

This was last published in April 2019

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