Managing the challenges of staff devices at work

Managing the challenges of staff devices at work

As organisations increasingly allow employees to choose their own mobile devices for use in the workplace, effective management is becoming an issue, writes Jamie Davidson.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) programs are creating challenges for IT teams as they struggle to maintain security of systems and data. Rather than managing a standard fleet, they have to deal with a range of different operating systems and configurations.

In many cases, the management challenge is involving growing numbers of Apple devices including MacBooks, iPhones and iPads.

A survey conducted by JAMF earlier this year found that in organisations where staff had a choice of laptop, 75 per cent of them chose a MacBook over a Windows-based device.

When asked about mobile handsets, those surveyed reported that 79 per cent of employees choose iPhones over other options.

Overall, the survey found 68 per cent of companies are increasing their Apple Mac adoption rates, 46 per cent are increasing their iPhone numbers, and 36 per cent are boosting the number of iPads.

It’s clear that Apple is increasing its penetration into the business market, and Apple itself has encouraged the trend by including a range of business features. These include native Exchange support, a volume purchase program, native disk encryption and a device enrolment service.

The management challenge

Traditionally, IT departments have used two methods to manage mobile devices. Client management tools have been implemented to manage laptops, while enterprise mobility management (EMM) tools have been deployed to manage phones and tablets.

Many organisations opt to use their EMM tool to manage any Apple devices that form part of their infrastructure.

While this approach does work, it can result in extra complexity for users. For example, if they have a Windows laptop and an Apple iPhone or iPad, they will have to use the client management tool for one and the EMM tool for the other.

This clearly creates an inconsistent user experience, as they have to deal with the different interfaces and functionality of both systems. It can be difficult for them to know where to get support or how to fix any issues that arise.

Some organisations tackle this challenge by adopting a unified endpoint management approach. In theory this combines the abilities of both management tools, however some find it ends up being similar to having a combined toaster and fridge – it does both jobs but not quite as well as separate tools could achieve.

A better approach

When it comes to managing the growing fleet of Apple devices within organisations, a better approach is to focus on the user rather than the hardware.

Instead of having one management system for MacBooks and another for iOS devices, IT teams should instead take advantage of tools that make the task as seamless as possible across both groups.

In most cases, before Apple devices are issued to staff, they have tended to be prepared by the IT department. A standard set of applications is installed and security and user settings adjusted as required. Staff are then trained in how to use them.

A better approach is to allow staff to use their new device ‘out of the box’. With the right tool, users are able to open the box, power on their new device and get it ready for work.

By harnessing a sophisticated device management platform, organisations will be able to provide staff with the devices they prefer without causing disruption and extra work for the IT department.

Jamie Davidson is the regional sales manager ANZ at JAMF.

 

Managing the challenges of staff devices at work
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