Enterprise Mobility Management Explained

Most of today’s workforce uses mobile devices for work-related activities. Managing this extensive and expanding use of mobile devices for work is a massive burden for enterprises. Enterprise mobility management (EMM) is how organizations address this challenge. As more and more employees work remotely and access information on the go, having solid enterprise mobility management guidelines has become crucial to the success of many companies.


What Is Enterprise Mobility Management?

History of Enterprise Mobility Management

The roots of EMM can be traced mostly in part to employees starting to use their personal mobile devices for work, especially with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. The concept of employees bringing and using their own personal devices for work is referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). As BYOD became popular, and employees started to access privileged company information using their personal devices, EMM began to emerge as the means of securing corporate data.

Enterprise Mobility Management Definition

Enterprise mobility management is the collection of technologies and services that safeguard enterprise data accessed and used by employees’ mobile devices.

According to Andrew Hewitt, a researcher at Forrester Research, EMM is what enables companies to support employees’ choice and autonomy to use mobile devices for work while safeguarding the enterprise from threats that come from this activity.

Each company's unique mobile usage needs determine how EMM is implemented in an organization. For example, some organizations prefer to control employees’ devices completely so the devices can be completely wiped out if they are misplaced. Other companies may focus only on the security of specific corporate apps. Some businesses may just be concerned about the data that is accessed by the mobile device.

EMM is Evolving

While security is a primary concern of EMM, more and more organizations are now using EMM to support their employees in accomplishing more while on the go.

David Johnson, Forrester Research’s principal analyst says, “EMM should be a deliberate strategy for organizations and their people to substantially benefit from increasing workforce mobility, instead of a source of additional risks and costs, which is more common. 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."

EMM has also evolved to cover more types of devices beyond mobile, provide next-generation policy management capabilities, and contextual information not about not only the device, but about the employee using the device, to better understand and improve mobility throughout the organization.


Enterprise mobility management (EMM) was previously referred to as mobile device management (MDM). In the initial stages of this industry, MDM was an adequate name, as all the tasks centered around managing how mobile devices accessed and used secure data. Now, the industry has evolved to include a broader category of devices and use cases to enhance the overall mobility experience in an organization. Therefore, this industry is now referred to as EMM.

The Gartner 2018 Report Magic Quadrant For Enterprise Mobility Management Suites shows this change in naming convention from MDM to EMM. The 2018 report used the term enterprise mobility management suite, whereas the previous reports used the term mobile device management suite.

MDM is now considered one component of EMM. Enterprise mobility management has several other elements as well.

Components of Enterprise Mobility Management

The EMM ecosystem consists of several parts.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

MDM technology is used to manage the stages of mobile devices and their platforms remotely. Enterprise MDM works through a unique profile that is installed in each mobile device. Using this profile, the IT department can remotely encrypt, control, and enforce policies on tablets and smartphones. For example, if the mobile device goes missing, it can be wiped of all data and apps.

MDM is also used to take inventory of mobile devices, provision, configure the operating system, and other troubleshooting tasks.

Mobile Application Management (MAM)

Mobile application management (MAM) is used to manage the applications on a mobile device remotely. For example, MAM can be used to install new apps, update existing apps, manage licenses of apps, and even control the push notifications sent by apps. MAM also gives the IT department the ability to remotely delete a particular app and the data associated with it, instead of having to wipe out the entire device to contain a malicious app. Additionally, security policies can be configured to a particular app using MAM.

MAM has become more popular because of BYOD. Employees bring their own mobile devices to use at work, and MAM is used to control work-related apps on these devices.

Mobile Identity Management (MIM)

Mobile identity management (MIM) is used to make sure that only approved users and devices gain access to secure corporate data. MIM can take the form of user and device certificates, single sign-on, authentication, and code signatures within apps. MIM can also be used to gain metrics around apps and devices.

Mobile Information Management (MIM)

Mobile information management (MIM) is about databases that are remotely accessed from mobile devices. MIM is tied to MAM and MDM because remote app management and device management depend on tools in the cloud that can sync data between devices using the internet. Public services that provide MIM include Google, DropBox, Box, and Microsoft. Enterprise grade MIM services are usually deployed onsite.

Mobile Content Management (MCM)

Mobile content management (MCM) is used to control access to data on mobile devices. This control includes when content is pushed, security of content, how content is accessed, and protection at the file level for each document. MCM is used to force authentication procedures of the organization. Recent MCM frameworks can work directly with corporate services like Microsoft, Google, and Box to make sure that only authorized persons gain access to files and data.

Mobile Expense Management (MEM)

Mobile expense management (MEM) is used to track mobile communication expenses and control costs. The costs that are monitored with MEM include procurement of devices, device and services usage, and BYOD allowances. MEM is also used to audit mobile usage and enforce various corporate policies involving expenses from the use of mobile devices.

These EMM components and their capabilities are still evolving because EMM is still changing.

How to Select Enterprise Mobility Tools

There is a large and growing number of employees using mobile devices for work, and mobility is critical to most enterprises. Therefore, selecting the right mobile strategy and enterprise mobility tools may be one of the most crucial decisions taken by the IT department and organizational leadership.

EMM is evolving, so when evaluating enterprise mobility tools, consider current requirements and future requirements, and make sure to pay attention to user experience.

Current Requirements

The place to start when selecting enterprise mobility tools is the organization's current needs. For example, what business apps do employees typically use? What network and service management features are needed? What are the regulatory and security compliance needs of the organization? What reporting capabilities are required by the organization? What are the mobile operating systems in use?

Other considerations to keep in mind are whether the organization needs app management, device management, content management, and whether the company allows BYOD in addition to company devices. If there are employees who travel abroad, geo-fencing may be required to comply with the data privacy requirements of certain countries.

User Experience

If the EMM rollout makes using mobile devices harder, employees will try to circumvent the EMM policies and procedures. It is a good idea to have a trial rollout. Make sure to test the EMM rollout with a variety of mobile devices. Also make sure the test is long enough “to thoroughly test all the major use cases—on all supported platforms—that you’ll have to support with a new product. It’s not enough just to look at a list of supported features. In most cases, the devil is in the details, and these can only be reliably exposed through use,” says Bryan Taylor, research director at Gartner.

Not all employees will need EMM. Consider each type of employee use case and implement only the EMM features that are required for that type of employee. “This is one of the major failure points for EMM. We recommend that organizations segment their workforces and match EMM [policies] to the appropriate use case. Some employees won't require EMM [control] if they're only using one application or are only working for a short time for the organization,” says Andrew Hewitt, a researcher at Forrester Research.

Individual Products vs. Suites

Depending on the organization size, mobility needs, and existing EMM infrastructure, an organization will have to decide between an EMM suite and best-of-breed components.

In general, larger, global enterprises can benefit from an EMM suite. These suites cover MDM, MAM, and more. The EMM features of a suite may include most of the EMM requirements of large corporations, instead of having to rely on several individual products.

By contrast, individual EMM products may better suit a small or local company. Most of the capabilities of an EMM suite may be redundant for a small company. “We see organizations moving toward more comprehensive suites, but sometimes this is overkill. If all your employees need to do is approve an expense report using a mobile device on the fly, they probably don't need an EMM [suite]. Simpler products that provide mobile versions of applications are preferable in that case,” says Forrester’s Hewitt.

However, suites vs. products is becoming less of an issue, according to Gartner analyst Bryan Taylor. He states that suites vs. products “has become less of an issue over the years, as many of the products in this space have evolved to cover device, app, and often mobile content at a minimum. That’s the reason we started using the term EMM in place of MDM, which had a device-centric connotation.”

Future Proof of the EMM Rollout

Technology is changing, and so are the needs of regulatory requirements, end user needs, and customer requirements. While addressing the current needs of the organization, an EMM platform should be innovative enough to address future needs. Investigate if the EMM vendor is investing in emerging EMM considerations.

The New Areas of Focus

EMM has evolved from merely protecting corporate data on mobile devices to empowering the workforce to be more productive on the go. There are several new areas of EMM that are evolving.

More Focus on Mobile Identity Management

Security threats from employees using mobile devices and other endpoints are becoming more sophisticated and widespread. Mobile identity management is a mechanism for IT departments to mitigate these threats while providing a good user experience.

For example, IT admins can implement risk-based, conditional-access controls and granular policy controls, monitor device compliance, and create contextually relevant identity controls. Forrester Research researcher Andrew Hewitt says that EMM tools are providing contextually aware access to company resources where employees gain access to data based on the Wi-Fi network of the mobile device.

More Sophisticated Use of Mobile Analytics

More sophisticated use of mobile analytics is now possible through EMM thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence. MicroStrategy has released a white paper on best practices for maximizing the potential of mobile BI and analytics.

Data that mobile management solutions gather enable organizations to make workflow more efficient and react faster and more effectively to changes in employee behavior and demands, according to Ovum research analyst Adam Holtby.

Better Integration with Office 365

Office 365 has become more prevalent in the workplace. EMM vendors are trying to provide a seamless, native experience of Office 365 inside of the EMM environment. So far, EMM vendors have not been able to provide a good experience for using Office 365 within a mobile management solution, but vendors will provide better integration with Office 365 and better support for the Windows Store in the future, according to Hewitt.

These new areas of focus in EMM will be the future of EMM.

Future of Enterprise Mobility Management

The scope, usability, and demand for EMM will increase in the future.

EMM Will Transform to Support More Types of Devices

EMM is transforming to unified endpoint management (UEM), where a wide range of platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows 10, macOS, and EMM-manageable Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be managed through the same EMM system. Hewitt states that, in the long term, EMM will evolve into unified endpoint management, where EMM will be a player in the IoT ecosystems.

EMM Will Become More Context Aware

EMM will start to become more aware of the user’s context to provide services. For example, certain apps will be available based on the geolocation of the user. Some of the device features may be disabled in sensitive contexts. Screenshots may be disabled when viewing confidential information. Cameras may be disabled when visiting client locations.

EMM Will Start to Incorporate New Collaboration Methods

More organizations are starting to use new collaboration methods, such as chat. EMM will need to manage these new mediums of communication.

Enterprises Will Start to Consolidate on an EMM Vendor

Currently, companies tend to use several enterprise mobility management vendors, as no single vendor can meet all of the organization's requirements. However, going forward, enterprises are expected to consolidate on EMM vendors that can meet most of their needs. “We do expect organizations to consolidate their EMM portfolios as EMMs mature. Organizations will standardize on EMM vendors that can serve the biggest variety of use cases,” Hewitt says.

The Demand for Enterprise Mobility Management Will Continue to Grow

According to the report published by the technology market research firm The Radicati Group, worldwide revenue from the EMM market will grow from $1.8 billion in 2017 to $3.3 billion in 2021. This is an average annual growth rate of 18% over the next few years.

There are several reasons for this expected growth in enterprise mobility management: more employees using personal devices at work (BYOD), the expanding mobile workforce in which more employees are expected to work remotely while having access to corporate data, the availability and use of more enterprise apps, the increase in security threats, and the increase in corporate regulatory and compliance requirements.

For more information on finding the right enterprise mobility management vendor and deployment strategy, visit our deploy and administer enterprise mobile apps page.