What is EMM? Enterprise Mobility Management explained

The EMM market is evolving to provide ever more comprehensive (and specific) services for device and application management. Here’s a look at what it is and how it can meet the divergent needs of different companies.

Enterprise mobility management (EMM) is a set of services and technologies designed to secure corporate data on employees’ mobile devices. While it can manifest itself in various ways, it generally consists of a suite of mobile management systems and services that protect intellectual property; specific processes that ensure the security of data; and systems that must integrate with a wide range of enterprise IT systems to meet a range of corporate concerns.

In general, what type of EMM system works best for any one company depends on the specifics of that company’s mobile needs; what works for one enterprise might be inadequate for others. Some may want to lock down employee devices completely, allow them to be wiped if the device goes missing. Others may focus on securing specific apps. Still others may concentrate on data alone. And many companies now see EMM tools and services as a way of enabling their workers to do more while being mobile.

The definition of EMM is evolving,” said David Johnson, principal analyst at Forrester Research. “[EMM] used to be mainly about mobile device and application management, but now it’s more about enabling mobility more broadly – extending to Windows 10 and MacOS devices, identity and access management strategy, and how to design mobile engaging and productive mobile experiences for employees.”

Although EMM encapsulates a broad range of solutions, most vendors offer just a fraction of the services required by enterprises, according to Gartner. “Enterprise mobility management is transitioning to unified endpoint management, as administrators use EMM to support a broad range of device platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows 10, macOS and EMM-manageable IoT devices,” the research firm wrote in a recent report.

Not surprisingly, EMM and its various offshoots are in a state of flux, which makes sorting out the various services it offers confusing. Based on information from major analyst firms such as Forrester Research, Gartner and 451 the definitions below should help IT organizations find the best tools for their needs.

Mobile device management (MDM)

MDM is an underlying technology that remotely manages the lifecycle of mobile devices and their respective platforms. MDM usually involves the installation of unique profiles on mobile devices. These profiles give organizations the ability to remotely control, encrypt and enforce policies on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. They can, for instance, be used to wipe a device of all apps and data if it is lost or stolen.

MDM also provides companies with real-time insights on device inventory, provisioning, and OS configuration, and can provide tools for troubleshooting. The MDM market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18% through 2021, according to 451 Research.

Mobile application management (MAM)

MAM tools allow organizations to manage mobile applications instead of hardware. MAM covers the deployment and updating of mobile apps, including administrative push support and app license management. MAM also enables organizations to apply security policies to these apps and selectively remove them (including any associated data) from a specific device. Thus, corporate information can be protected without having to wipe a device entirely. This kind of approach has gained popularity as more workers bring in their own devices to the workplace.

MAM and the platforms used to distribute it represent the largest sectors of the overall EMM market. MAM and mobile application platforms (MAP) combined for $2.94 billion in global revenue in 2016; the combined sectors are expected to grow to nearly $10.2 billion in 2021, according to 451 Research. 

Mobile identity management (MIM)

MIM, or mobile identity management, systems take various forms in an EMM framework, including user and device certificates, app code signatures, authentication and single sign-on. The primary objective of MIM is to ensure that only trusted devices and users can access enterprise data or applications. MIM can also help organizations track app and device metrics and provide department-level credentials for the approved use of enterprise apps. 

Mobile information management (MIM)

Mobile information management, or MIM, pertains to remotely accessible databases. MIM is mostly integrated into MDM or MAM services because device- and app-management services rely on cloud-based tools that store and sync files across multiple devices. There are many popular public services for this from likes of Box, Dropbox, Microsoft and Google in addition to corporate-controlled versions of MIM that are managed on-site.

Mobile content management (MCM)

MCM is another flavor of EMM that enables professionals to access content on mobile devices. MCM has, according to Gartner, four fundamental roles: content security, content access, content push and file-level protection. MCM can also enforce authentication policies and many modern MCM platforms can integrate directly with enterprise services from Microsoft, Box, Google and others to authorize access to files and other data on a per-person basis.

Mobile expense management (MEM)

Mobile expense management is designed to help organizations control costs and keep tabs on mobile communications expenses. MEM services provide enterprises with insights into device and service usage, procurement of devices and other policies like BYOD stipends. MEM can also enforce corporate policies and provide IT administrators with a robust audit of mobile usage.

How EMM emerged, evolved from BYOD

The EMM market emerged in large part due to the rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs after the arrival of the first iPhone in 2007. As more organizations embraced flexible policies, they turned to EMM to overcome the pitfalls of allowing personally-owned devices to access corporate data.

That BYOD trend, while well-established, is waning – and as a result EMM is becoming less defined or constrained by that singular purpose. According to Forrester Research, the number of employee-owned mobile devices used in the office has declined 5% this year, because more companies are willing to pay for devices directly or provide a stipend to employees.

Rather than focus on device wipes, companies are embracing more granular app data and security protocols. The ability to do has helped push companies to rethink how they approach EMM. 

EMM has evolved from mobile device management to a more comprehensive framework of tools, said Raul Castañon-Martinez, senior analyst at 451 Research. The evolutionary path of EMM is also following digital transformation efforts allowing mobility management to be handed in a more integrated fashion under high-level operations and IT, according to Castañon-Martinez.

“EMM should be a deliberate strategy for organizations and their people to substantially benefit from increasing workforce mobility, instead of as a source of additional risks and costs, which is more common,” said Johnson. “In today’s enterprise, EMM serves first as a mechanism for managing risk, but it should be a strategy for seizing opportunity. 

Technically adept companies now see EMM as a tool that goes beyond management and allows them to be more agile and reduce employee workload, according to Johnson.

The EMM vendor landscape

Due to the perplexities of providing a wide range of services – and the need to constantly update offering – the EMM vendor landscape is fragmented. While the market is dominated by roughly 13 major vendors, there are dozens of others that fill gaps in coverage with more narrow and specific objectives.

At the moment, the EMM market is dominated by BlackBerry, Cisco, Citrix, IBM, Ivanti, Meraki, Microsoft, MobileIron, NQ Mobile, SAP, Sophos, SOTI and VMware AirWatch, according to a compilation of studies from Forrester Research, Gartner and 451 Research. Most of these vendors offer a suite of solutions that can be added a la carte; that’s often an appealing options for large, diverse workforces and organizations operating in highly regulated industries. Rarely does one size fit all.

“It’s a constellation of vendors,” said Johnson. “There are the primary EMM vendors that most tech leaders already know about…, but there are a whole host of other vendors in the ecosystem who offer capabilities that either extend the enterprise functionality of mobile or make the overall mobile experience better for employees.”

Some software vendors are also adding artificial intelligence to make their tools easier to use and more valuable to employees, he added. 

“A key contributing factor to fragmentation in the EMM space is the wide range of technologies included in this category,” said Castañon-Martinez. While recent consolidations have reduced the total number of vendors, technology fragmentation is still a challenge, he added.

“Enterprises are faced with a wide range of technologies and vendors, each of which contributes with a part of what we call EMM,” he said. “Some vendors are expanding to provide a more comprehensive offering, but technologies are still immature and it is still difficult for vendors to present enterprises with a strong business case for EMM.”

EMM in use

Applications of EMM in the real world vary greatly. IT professionals like Greg Meyers, CIO at Motorola Solutions, have had to deal with what he calls a “clumsy experience” in container services and have gravitated to policy managers and other remote enforcement mechanisms that don’t impose unnecessary limits on the workforce.

Instead of cobbling together a patchwork of EMM services from multiple vendors, Motorola Solutions relies on the Google Device Manager for Android and iOS devices, according to Meyers. “This way, we can get visibility into how the device is being used, it can automatically integrate with our guest wireless in our offices, but it also gives us the ability to wipe a device in case we need to,” he said. “We like the approach of a policy manager as opposed to a full container because it buys us the security we need but with a better user experience.”

The EMM market ahead

451 Research projects that global EMM revenues will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25% through 2021, with total revenue forecast to jump from $6.92 billion in 2017 to $16.29 billion in 2021. In addition, a recent survey of 2,114 global IT leaders by Forrester Research concluded that 77% of telecom decision makers plan to expand their implementation of EMM during 2017.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon