Taking the Stress Out of Software Choices: How to Manage Mobile Devices in Multifamily
Increased productivity or security pitfalls? Mobile devices represent tremendous opportunity and significant risk in the workplace. Luckily, there are several software options to manage them! Here’s your guide for multifamily.
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Like so many other industries before it, multifamily is going mobile. While cell phones and tablets ease so many tasks in our daily lives (and working ones!), they pose tremendous challenges for companies large and small. As Forbes explains, when employers allow employees to bring their own devices to work (an arrangement known as BYOD), their companies face “the very real prospect of cyberattacks.” Indeed, “the dangers posed by malicious applications and viruses disincentivizes many organizations from implementing BYOD” altogether, according to Forbes.
Yet, there are also considerable benefits to letting employees use devices they know well. HuffPost makes clear this kind of policy can: “save money,” “increase happiness,” “boost productivity” and, ultimately, “create a more open, efficient, and relaxed environment that benefits both parties.” Fortunately, whether employers decide to provide company devices or allow the use of personal ones, there are several software options that can help them manage the aftermath.
They fall under the umbrella of MDM, or mobile device management: security software that’s monitored by an IT team and “deployed across multiple mobile service providers and across multiple mobile operating systems.” This kind of management system can also be referred to as: enterprise mobility management (EMM): “the collective set of tools, technologies, processes, and policies used to manage and maintain the use of mobile devices within an organization.”
Should large multifamily organizations worry about the prospect of implementing this software on a grand scale, the federal government serves as a promising example. The Department of Homeland Security recently launched a pilot program combining two device management systems “to detect and blacklist potentially malicious third-party apps on employee phones.” All told, DHS uses EMM tools to monitor 100,000 mobile devices. The question becomes: just what should you look for when making the call on software?
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First off, as PCMag reports: it’s a very different ballgame when companies assign devices to employees, “down to the level of providing a minimal number of apps, and restricting or disabling the ability to install new apps.” No matter which option you choose, you want to be able to act quickly in a fix. For example, “if you get a phone call from an employee who just landed at a distant airport and they lost their mobile device, then you want to be able to take action right away.”
To serve a range of security needs, here are the must-haves you want in your MDM software:
* Cloud-based (for automatic updates)
* 24⁄7 monitoring
* Remote configuration & monitoring
* Passcode requirements
* Blacklist capabilities
* Remote data wipes (preventing unauthorized access)
* Geofencing (to restrict access to certain data based on location)
From finding and adding devices to locking them out for good, the best software allows you to be nimble. However, PCMag notes that there are plenty of gray zones to consider, too: “some vendors provide a secure file sharing and syncing capability while others go further to protect copy and paste of information from a corporate app such as email to a personal account.” With all of this in mind, it’s time to see what’s on the market!
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Earning Editors’ Choice recognition from PCMag, this MDM option scored high marks for its remote control feature on the Android platform as well as a range of profile and rules-based functions. Overall, the takeaway is:
* Updated UI with “device-centric design”
* Search tool that stands apart from competition’s “tree view” approach
* Revamped dashboards with grouping options like: “All Android Devices”
* Can add files to content library with seamless drag-and-drop
* Manage remote printers and Windows CE devices
* Profiles have to be configured using the previous UI, less user-friendly
Also deserving of Editors’ Choice recognition on PCMag, VMware AirWatch earned high praise after thorough testing, as it: “gives users everything they need to track, manage, and grow a fast-changing device portfolio.” Here’s why:
* Its Workspace One product allows users to “deliver and manage apps for both mobile and desktop machines”
* Dashboard allows you to gauge different problems based on color scheme
* Interactive graphs can be customized
* Somewhat cumbersome device registration process, with “limited support” currently for Windows 10 devices
P.S. VMware Airwatch even decided to invest in covering enterprise smart glasses, believing they could be “particularly useful in places where it’s difficult or dangerous to use your hands.” Here’s more on just how the company is supporting these devices.
Just shy of an Editors’ Choice mark, Citrix Endpoint Management still earns a very respectable 4 out of 5 stars from PCMag. Here’s how the product stacks up to its rivals in the space:
* User-friendly management dashboard is quite customizable, allowing for up to four dashboards stemming from seven different layouts
* Manages a wide range of devices, including most recent Windows 10 for mobile.
* NetScaler remote access hardware and software enables management of a range of desktop users
* Partnership with Microsoft means access to several security, identity management tools
* Tempting price! ($2.25 per unit)
* Somewhat complex to navigate, even at the IT administrator level, according to PCMag
* Importing users and devices requires “flat files” instead of the expected CSV format
Boasting IBM’s Watson technology, this MDM product earns plenty of positive marks from PCMag.
* Customizable management console, allowing administrator to move around alerts or other items
* Option to choose the penalty (from lockout to wiping) if a device goes outside an approved location
* Manual enrollment is required for Windows Mobile devices
* Adding extra perks like secure chat and syncing corporate documents can drive up price considerably
Just shy of the 4 / 5 mark on PCMag, ManageEngine Mobile Device Manager Plus earns praise for its “broad product offering.” Here are the details:
* Graphical dashboard includes data items that can be clicked on
* Profiles can be linked to an individual device or a group of devices, allowing administrators to establish a generic security profile multiple devices can use
* Manual enrollment is required for Windows Mobile devices, so companies with a significant number of them might be wary
* There’s no support for geofencing in this model
No matter which MDM model you choose, its success will hinge on implementation. From the outset, the product should align well with your company’s policy. Still, the software’s value will be under the microscope when it comes to curveballs (say, an employee termination) or legal matters (how to separate business vs. personal data). Another factor to keep in mind has to do with company culture. As HuffPost warns, “your HR team may need to encourage managers not to send emails after hours because employees may feel compelled to reply.”
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First thing’s first: a switch to mobile inspections can enhance your ROI in powerful ways, providing the kind of transparency that streamlines operations and strengthens communities. Yet, this kind of business transformation does spur considerable change: suddenly, a range of employees using company-owned or personal devices to capture valuable data across properties. The best way to ensure their workflow is seamless and secure? MDM software.
By managing the information stored on and shared from employee devices, you’ll truly get the most out of your multifamily operations. The ability to smoothly install or wipe devices will be a major asset as you work to keep residents safe in the winter, upgrade amenities, or promote sustainable living. As the multifamily sector turns from clipboards to tablets, now is the time to learn how MDM can boost your operations for the long haul.
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What goes hand-in-hand with MDM? Happy Insights!
Like the sound of user-friendly dashboards? They don’t just live in MDM realm. Happy Insights out-of-box dashboards give you real-time intelligence on every community under your watch. Learn more today!