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How to create an inclusive endpoint management strategy

Smartwatches, IoT devices and sensors -- oh my! Endpoint management can get confusing quickly, but you can figure it out by answering these questions.

With an endpoint management strategy, smartphones and tablets are usually top of mind, but it's equally important...

to consider the growing amount of nontraditional devices, as well.

The IoT movement has caused a massive shift in the number of new endpoints, from smart home sensors to industrial wearables. IT needs to prepare organizations for the issues that come with it, from security pitfalls to data management challenges.

Here are some ways to include nontraditional mobile devices in a broader endpoint management strategy.

What are the use cases for nontraditional devices in the enterprise?

Wearables are slowly gaining traction in the enterprise. About 66.4 million enterprise and industrial wearables will ship by 2021, according to Tractica, a research firm based in Boulder, Colo.

Wearables are particularly useful in industrial environments. Smartwatches can detect anomalies such as toxic gases, fires and raised humidity levels in coal mines, for example. Additionally, devices like biometric wearables and location trackers have entered the game to enhance safety in industrial fields.

Ruggedized devices are also experiencing a shift -- from rugged in-vehicle PCs to ruggedized smartphones. Ruggedized PCs are expensive, difficult to update and lack portability, but ruggedized smartphones offer an improved user experience and reduced costs. Employees in the healthcare and utility industries can use these devices to access important data while in the field.

Experts predict that ruggedized smartphones will experience a spike in adoption rate in the next two to three years, which will affect organizations' endpoint management strategies. For example, ruggedized mobile devices might have different lifecycles than standard devices, particularly because their batteries tend to last longer.

How should IT include IoT in an endpoint management strategy?

IoT devices, such as smart home sensors or health monitors, often don't fit effortlessly into an organization's pre-existing mobile management strategy. These devices often have hardware restrictions that prevent the use of advanced management software. They also often operate in harsh or remote environments.

IoT devices, such as smart home sensors or health monitors, often don't fit effortlessly into an organization's pre-existing mobile management strategy.

Surprisingly, unified endpoint management (UEM) isn't always the answer to manage, maintain and configure these unique devices -- although some UEM platforms support IoT edge devices better than others. Intelligent edge management (IEM), however, does the work of a traditional UEM platform and more. IEM can support legacy protocols, collect and analyze data, and support scaling millions of devices.

Organizations that use IoT devices should also determine a strategy to store, process and analyze data at the edge. IT needs to evaluate its current infrastructure and budget to make these decisions. For example, sending data to the cloud can be costly and time-consuming. IT should consider processing at least a portion of data at the edge to lower latency and costs.

How should IT approach endpoint management with different device types?

IT should focus on tools that can streamline management across all devices.

IT should also focus on supporting an OS that many devices can run rather than on individual devices. The same goes for apps; whether IT buys or creates a new mobile app, they should ensure that it is available across all device types.

Another important facet of an endpoint management strategy is education. Organizations should set users' expectations with an explanation of why IT might limit their device choices. Similarly, organizations should maintain a dialogue about the overall endpoint management strategy and how that might affect users' day-to-day tasks.

This was last published in August 2018

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