First there was MDM, or mobile device management, which gave organizations better visibility into and control over smartphones and tablets. Then came EMM, or enterprise mobility management, which added content and application management capabilities alongside device management.
The latest evolution is UEM, or unified endpoint management. This represents not just another acronym, but also a leap forward in how organizations can manage the growing number of devices. Specifically, UEM tools go beyond the iOS and Android operating systems, supporting desktop OSs such as macOS, Chrome OS, Windows 10 and others. This means that, for the first time, organizations can manage notebook computers with the same platform they use for other mobile devices.
Some companies will stick with their existing tools for a while longer. But there are four specific situations where, I believe, organizations would be wise to adopt a UEM solution sooner rather than later.
1. Companies with Limited IT Experience
Many mature companies use heavy-duty tools from major technology vendors to manage their device fleets. While these can be powerful solutions, they’re also highly complex, and they come with a steep learning curve. Technology professionals who don’t already have expertise working with these tools may find it difficult to get up to speed and will typically have more success with newer UEM tools. Especially for startups (which often have small IT teams, perhaps with young, inexperienced staffers), I recommend rolling out UEM solutions from the start.
2. Organizations That Support Remote Users
The tools that many organizations employ to support and manage laptops require users to connect to an enterprise network for functions such as patching and configuration of updates. That’s fine, if all of the company’s users work in a physical office that is on the network. However, more and more companies support remote workers throughout the world, and some of these users may go months without connecting to the corporate network. If the organization is using legacy management tools, this means that workers will be missing out on important updates — and potentially exposing the organization to security vulnerabilities.
3. Environments That Are Extremely Complex
End-user devices have proliferated rapidly since the introduction of the smartphone roughly a decade ago. And some organizations are finding it difficult to manage their environments now that many users carry more than one corporate device. In addition to introducing management hurdles, a complex device environment can create problems for users. For example, some employees experience “alert fatigue” when they receive IT alerts on several different devices (rather than being warned only once). By embracing UEM tools, companies can support all of their devices on a single platform, simplifying life for both IT staffers and other employees.
4. Situations in Which Enrollment Is Cumbersome
Historically, organizations have put laptops through a desktop imaging process before deploying the devices throughout the organization, which can cause delays and hamper productivity. Today, Windows Autopilot can automatically set up and preconfigure new devices, getting them ready for employees more quickly without tying up IT staff in the process. However, enrollment tools such as Autopilot need to pull device configurations from a UEM solution. If device enrollment is creating bottlenecks within an organization — not uncommon for a large enterprise that needs to deploy a significant number of devices simultaneously — it might be time to embrace UEM.