Why Retailers Should Invest In An MDM Solution

25 July 2023

Your mobile devices are a significant investment and one that can be carried around anywhere. Not dissimilar in size to a phone, this can make them more difficult to protect, manage and secure and this is why we recommend also investing in mobile device management.

When we talk about mobile device management (MDM), the name can be deceptive. MDM is about much more than managing your devices. It is about securing business data, ensuring compliance with regulations, supporting store colleagues and protecting mobile assets too.

With numerous MDM solutions on the market, getting started can be a minefield. Working with retailers to help them make the right choice and get the best out of their MDM investment, we’re sharing our expertise to help you get started with MDM.

What’s the difference between MDM, EMM and UEM?

When researching MDM, you might come across other acronyms too; specifically, EMM and UEM. This creates confusion as they’re often used interchangeably so let’s simplify the differences:

  • Mobile Device Management (MDM)
    MDM stands for Mobile Device Management, and this is where better management of business devices began. MDM provides businesses with a system that they can use to enforce security policies, track mobile devices and monitor in real-time.
  • Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)
    Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) is an evolution, considering the distribution and control of ALL enterprise mobile devices including rugged devices, smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It also offers greater support for the enrolment process and more functionality around app management and customisation than MDM alone.
  • Unified Endpoint Management (UEM)
    Unified endpoint management (UEM) builds on EMM capabilities to support additional device types such as printers and wearables too, all within a single management interface.

Each of these are a form of managing your devices so try not to worry about the different terminology too much. Which is the right solution for your business boils down to the extent you plan to use it to – this is where working with a technology partner like TPP Retail is advantageous.

What can you do with an MDM solution?

MDM is an essential part of your toolkit, helping you save significant time but also ensuring that your mobile devices are properly protected, and your business data is secure. The list of what you can do with MDM is extensive, but here are the features we find are the most helpful in supporting our retail customers better manage their devices:

Device enrolment

How long does it take you to enrol a single device? Saving just five minutes per device enrolment adds up to big time savings for your business – a staggering 8 hours saved on just 100 devices. With an MDM solution in place the process is automated, and you can easily enrol and configure devices according to your security needs, for example, installing security apps, and restricting access to certain apps or features.

Permission management

While capabilities vary from provider to provider, one thing we have helped our customers achieve is the ability to manage permissions and access to certain apps on their devices. With a limited number of devices per store, it is not always feasible to have a dedicated device for managers which might house a different features and apps but there are ways to overcome this.

With a solution such as 42 Gears, you can pin protect apps or folders enabling the same configuration across all your devices but with the added peace of mind that only authorised users can access certain content. This gives you greater flexibility while also maximising the number of devices available to support store operations.

Remote troubleshooting

When your in-store colleagues hit a problem using their device, your IT team or service provider is empowered to assist immediately. Implementing an MDM solution means you can remotely access a device and help troubleshoot the issue without the need to send out an engineer or ship the device back to head office. Even better, the process is unassisted meaning you’re not reliant on the availability of a colleague in-store to support the process. This is important should the user need to help a customer, or their shift ends.

You can remotely control the device, able to interact just like if it were in front of you with access to all the files on the device without intervention. Another benefit is that you’re able to remote onto a device at another store location should you need to check whether the problem is a global issue or contained to that one device.

Lockdown devices

Your enterprise devices are expensive pieces of kit, and sadly this means that they are at risk of being targeted for theft. This puts your business data at risk. That shiny device accidentally left on a shelf by a store colleague is attractive to an opportunistic thief.

Leveraging the built-in functionality of an MDM solution, you can lock down your devices to protect sensitive information stored on the device and even prevent it from being factory reset. Other key features that help to keep your business data safe should the device fall into the wrong hands are the ability to remotely lock and wipe the device.

With MDM in place, you can ensure compliance with security standards and regulations by implementing policies and controls to meet requirements.

OS updates & upgrades

MDM is about more than managing your apps and their configurations, it’s also about keeping those devices up to date. When new security patches are released for your Android OS, MDM enables you to deploy them and prevent known software vulnerabilities in your device’s software from being exploited.

Periodically, Google releases new versions of the Android OS which are gradually made available for enterprise devices by the device manufacturer. After thoroughly testing compatibility with your applications, MDM can be used to update the operating system across your entire device estate with minimum disruption and little resource.

Deploy new apps

The day will come when you have a new app that you want to deploy. Without an MDM solution, this is both a logistical and time-consuming nightmare that could mean sending an engineer to each and every store.

Instead, with MDM in place you can do it all remotely without even needing to speak to the user. This saves your retail business significant time and cost, providing greater flexibility to rollout new technology that innovates your operations.

Mixed estate management

In your retail environment, it is likely that various technologies have been introduced over the years to meet the needs of different tasks. Managing a mixed estate can be a challenge, but it’s one that is simplified with an MDM solution.

When you have Apple iPads for assisted shopping, Samsung smartphones for your area managers, and rugged mobile devices for store operations, all of that can be managed through this one solution – it doesn’t even matter whether they are Windows, Android or iOS.

Reporting and analytics

There is a vast amount of data housed within your MDM platform available for you to tap into. Often the true extent of reporting and analytics capabilities isn’t fully understood but your solution can support much more than your need to enrol devices and keep apps up to date.

Armed with insight such as when a device was last connected, what apps are being used the most or not used at all and by which stores, you can build a picture that helps your business to understand how your devices could be better utilised by your stores.

Locate missing devices

From time to time, devices go missing and the knock-on effect on your retail stores can be significant – especially if they only have a handful of devices in each store to use. MDM keeps track of every device in your estate, including its status. This is helpful as you can locate missing devices through GPS, and should the battery have died, it will tell you it’s last known location.

Choosing the right MDM solution

There are a number of key players in the MDM space of which the most popular are SOTI, 42 Gears, VM Workspace One (formerly AirWatch) and Microsoft Intune. Each platform fundamentally does the job you need, but as with all software platforms there are nuances between them and some differences in functionality which will mean one is more suited to your needs than another.

Helping you select the right MDM solution starts with defining what you want to gain from it. If your main objective is simply to support the enrol of a device, you might not want to pay for an enterprise solution. However, if managing and deploying apps or monitoring your assets is important to you, this is where we would recommend looking at something like 42 Gears.

Thankfully, we have plenty of experience in implementing MDM solutions for leading retailers like you and we’re more than happy to assist.

Helping you to better manage, secure and your devices

There are so many different parts to MDM that we find no single company uses every part of the solution. Working across multiple customers, we help each one to maximise the value they get from their MDM investment, and this keeps our knowledge fresh.

To make the most of what an MDM solution can offer your business, there is a lot to get your head around and it can be tricky with a certain level of skill and experience required. Sometimes business invest in dedicated internal resource for this, but often they work with a technology partner like us, and we take care of it for them as part of a managed service offering.

If you’d like to find out more about MDM and how we can support you, contact us our expert team today.

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