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The increasing prevalence of BYOD in the work context is bringing with it a deluge of acronyms, including Mobile Device Managment (MDM), Mobile Application Managment (MAM) and Information Rights Managment (IRM).   This article attempts to demystify these acronyms to explain their relevance for companies ranging in size from SMEs to Fortune 100.

Simple stated, BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, refers to employees using  their personal wireless devices for work related purposes.  These include the increasingly diverse range of smartphones and tablets that are available in the market.  IT departments are all faced with a similar challenge of managing and securing the work related information that is accessed or consumed on these personal devices.  Some of the solutions that are available to meet this need include
MDM, MAM and IRM.

MDM is the most comprehensive solution that is available, and enables the IT administrator to support, manage, secure and monitor the devices that are on its network.  MDM gives administrators the ability for over the air distribution of applications and data, as well as to lock and wipe the  information if the device is lost. There are a number of companies that offer MDM solutions, including SAP, MobileIron, Airwatch, Zenprise and IBM among others. When considering a solution, it is important to ensure that it is scalable, supports all the wireless operating systems that will be used on your network, the ease of managing the devices through user friendly interfaces, and security features including encryption and malware management.

An alternative to MDM is IRM, which protects sensitive information from unauthorized access by establishing rights as to who can access information for the purpose for which it can be used.  It doesn’t matter if the information is being accessed via a desktop, a smartphone or a tablet, its access is governed by the rights that have been assigned to its user. IRM is often considered preferable to MDM as it does not impact personal information on a wireless device. However, the ability to secure information is restricted to changing or revoking user rights to limit access, but it cannot lock or wipe a device if it is lost or stolen. Solutions for IRM include Citrix for remote apps managment, Dropbox or  Box.net for document management, and Office 365 or Google Enterprise Apps for cloud based IRM to manage email, Sharepoint and documents.

MAM focuses on managing applications on mobile devices and not the device itself.  For this option, companies can manage mobile apps ranging from customized to commercially available on mobile devices, but they do not control the device itself. Which brings us back to the security aspect of the equation, which is available under MDM.  Tools for MAM include Citrix and Afaria.

There is no one size fits all solution for managing the evolving use of mobile devices in the work environment. MDM is increasingly emerging as the most comprehensive solution available in the market today, but even within MDM it is important to consider the flexibility, scalability, and security aspects of a solution that is being considered for implementation.

Companies need to evaluate the right fit for their needs as all three solutions have their own pros and cons. The one tool that offers all three in a comprehensive eco system today is SAP Mobile.

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