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BYOD and Mobile Device Management: The Walled Garden Downfall


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December 13, 2011

BYOD and Mobile Device Management: The Walled Garden Downfall

By Michelle Amodio, TMCnet Contributor

In an era where mobile computing devices are replacing their desktop counterparts, the concept of “bring your own device,” or BYOD, is becoming an attractive option in the enterprise.

From a corporate standpoint, the BYOD business model and its attractiveness to employees provides a competitive advantage over others in the industry. BYOD can help to attract and retain top performers who seek work flexibility, and often put in time outside of traditional work hours.

The proliferation of enterprise smartphones and tablets—both corporate and personally owned—makes secure mobile device management a top priority for IT organizations.

MobileIron, a mobile device management solution provider, talks about the limits and benefits of BYOD in a recent white paper titled “BYOD: Limitations of the Walled Garden.” The walled garden that they’re referring to is, of course, the control over applications, content and media on mobile devices. MobileIron’s take on this is that the walled garden approach doesn’t necessarily work. With mobile device management, all the walled garden does is prohibit user experience.

In mobile device management, the whole point of BYOD is to promote a better user experience. Professionals tend to be more productive when they can choose which devices to use, as opposed to being forced to use one they may or may not be comfortable with. While the concept of BYOD is still fairly new, mobile device management is not, and there are plenty of effective ways of approaching BYOD for the benefit of all involved.

The walled garden approach, when used, has a number of key shortcomings, even though for most it means control. The cost and ultimate price of quality of service and service customization and also the restrictions to subscriber choices make this model inadequate for mobile device management providers.

The problem with walled gardens and mobile device management is that they ultimately restrict growth. With the recent rollout of iOS 5, a BYOD program using the walled garden for e-mail would hinder sustainability.

The walled garden approach and mobile device management no longer have to go together. Rather than dismiss a BYOD policy because of the drawbacks, and rather than implement a walled garden approach, IT can develop a policy to help mitigate the risks with mobile device management and BYOD. Software solutions, for example, can help manage security needs as well as mobile device management needs.

Apps are part of the bigger picture, says MobileIron. While the most common mobile apps in the enterprise workplace today are e-mail, Personal Information Management (PIM) tools, and calendaring, users are accustomed to getting much more from their device. The move to mobile apps in the enterprise gives IT departments interesting alternatives to make the workforce more productive. A walled garden would limit an organization’s ability to utilize the many benefits of apps because often, MobileIron says, they fall outside of the confines of the walled garden.

As tablet computers become more powerful and capable, we will move into a future in which mobile devices can truly be the personal computer. That is why the proper mobile device management solution is key. If that's what the market wants, then enterprises need to consider not only a BYOD policy, but how they institute, manage and mitigate these policies without confining their users to the ‘garden’.

Michelle Amodio is a TMCnet contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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