Dec 08 2023

How to Keep Endpoints Secure with the Right Mobile Device Management Solution

As mobile devices options skyrocket, tech leaders need help to find the right solution and keep companies safe.

As mobile workforce manager at Spirit Airlines, Terrell Bramwell does the kind of work that almost everyone depends on but few people ever get to see.

At last count, Bramwell says, Spirit employed around 3,500 pilots, 6,500 flight attendants, hundreds of frontline workers and nearly 1,000 mechanics. All employees at the company have one or more mobile devices that they use on the job, and it’s up to Bramwell to ensure that these technologies are up to date, operational and secure.

“I have a few tricks up my sleeve,” he says.

Spirit equips its mobile workforce exclusively with Apple devices, including iPads, iPad minis, and iPhones. Bramwell’s “tricks” include using Apple’s own tools to reset passwords if users forget theirs or to track and locate lost tablets or phones. When it comes to companywide mobile device management, though, Bramwell relies on VMware’s artificial intelligence-powered Workspace ONE.

The cloud-based platform provides his team members with a bird’s-eye view of every mobile tool deployed across the Spirit workforce. It allows them to push profiles and apps to devices, to apply and enforce policy restrictions, and to automatically verify that technologies are secure, no matter where they happen to be. The company moved to Workspace ONE in 2019 following what Bramwell describes as a “challenging” spell with another MDM solution.

“We had lots of issues with things like apps disappearing for no reason right when the flight attendants needed to use them,” he recalls. Employees sometimes had to stop what they were doing to reinstall a tool or reset a device, and — far more often than anyone would have liked —  that led to the airline’s customers having to wait. “We’d hear about it afterward, because it was inevitably frustrating for everyone involved,” he says.

MDM Challenges

 

More Endpoints Increases the Management Challenge

Just as Spirit was before it made the switch to Workspace ONE, many companies are increasingly frustrated with mobile device management, experts say.

“The problem really has to do with the sheer number of mobile devices that are out there,” says Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research. “Any company without an effective device management strategy is going to run into trouble pretty fast.”

Kerravala points to a recent survey of 300 IT decision-makers at businesses with annual revenue between $500 million and $50 billion. The survey found that companies had an average of 68,000 mobile devices in circulation and that IT teams spent more than a third of their time managing these technologies.

WATCH: Check out how these businesses are managing mobile device management.

Complicating matters are challenges associated with recruitment and retention, Kerravala says. At companies dealing with high employee turnover, and especially at businesses where BYOD is the norm, “keeping track of devices and everything on them can be difficult,” he notes. With different device types using different operating systems and typically running a wide range of applications, organizations can face security issues in particular.

The biggest thing for me is that our end users aren’t complaining. When they’re happy, I’m happy. It means that everything is working like it should.”

- Terrell Bramwell, Mobile Workforce Manager, Spirit Airlines

 

How to Automate Device Updates

The Workspace ONE unified endpoint management solution has helped resolve such challenges for Spirit, according to Bramwell. Now, devices are updated automatically, making them less likely to malfunction or fail. His team creates customized groups to determine which users and devices should get which specialty applications, and they leverage the solution to enable single sign-on and ensure compliance with company security policies.

Through the platform’s “intelligence” service, Bramwell’s team can analyze data from workforce devices to identify and fix problems proactively. They can also easily share internal manuals and other files with individual employees.

Bramwell notes that Workspace ONE also allows him and his colleagues to remote into a device “to see exactly what the user sees.” That’s made them more efficient, and issues that once took hours to resolve are now often addressed on the spot.

Spirit’s shift to a better approach to MDM has paid dividends all around, Bramwell adds.

“The biggest thing for me is that our end users aren’t complaining,” he says. “When they’re happy, I’m happy. It means that everything is working like it should.”

Click the banner below to learn how organizations can benefit from mobile device management.

MDM Makes Life Easier for IT Staff

Over the last two decades, the Georgia Banking Company has expanded from a one-branch operation into a regional bank with seven locations in Atlanta.

“We’re a small organization, but we’re growing rapidly,” says Neil Natic, Georgia Banking Company’s CIO and senior vice president. To help manage that growth, the company made a shift to the cloud in 2021, migrating to Microsoft Azure to improve operational scalability and efficiency. From there, Georgia Banking Company decided it was also a good time to modernize its approach to device management.

Source: Oxford Economics and Samsung, “Maximizing Mobile Value,” July 2022

The company chose Microsoft Intune, which “makes my job easier, no question,” Natic says. The bank has a relatively lean IT staff, he notes, “and with MDM we’re able to accomplish way more than we ever did in the past.”

Today, every computer at the organization is enrolled in the MDM platform, Natic explains. The bank has set up compliance and configuration policies to ensure that each device meets their specifications, and they’ve used the system to automate previously cumbersome processes and simplify security for end users.

“Now, it’s a seamless experience with no friction whatsoever,” Natic says. “You grab a device and you have access to everything you need.”

The ability to do more with less is critical, says Kerravala. IT organizations are often small relative to the number of employees in a business, and especially relative to the number of devices in circulation. Without the right solution, it’s inevitable that devices will fall out of the control of the IT team, leaving them unpatched, unaccounted for and vulnerable to all manner of security threats.

In addition to persistent cyberthreats such as phishing attacks, even one misplaced laptop can provide a bad actor with a full set of keys to the corporate kingdom. “You really open up a big can of worms when you don’t have control of your devices,” he says.

Kerravala recommends that companies consider an MDM solution that aligns with their corporate IT structure.

“Depending on your business, you may want a platform that provides different levels of management and different support options,” he says. For example, it’s worth considering whether the platform permits some level of end-user self-service. If end users can reset their own passwords, for instance, it may make life easier for everyone.

“With self-service capabilities, you accomplish two things at once,” he explains. “You’ll help your employees feel more empowered, but you’ll also take at least some of the burden off of IT.”

RELATED: Find out how businesses can simplify mobile device management.

MDM Empowers Employees to Do Their Best Work

Like Spirit’s Workspace ONE platform, Intune allows Georgia Banking Company employees to work on their devices from anywhere. It’s a benefit just about everyone appreciates, but it also led to a recent incident in which a user left a laptop in an airport.

The employee was “freaking out,” Natic recalls, worried about everything that was lost. He ensured the workers that with just a few keystrokes, everything would be OK. “I said, ‘Don’t worry about it at all. We’ll have a new computer sitting on your desk. Just log in when you get to the office and you’ll be all set.’”

The employee returned, and sure enough, everything was ready to go. “They were absolutely dumbfounded,” Natic says. “It was really as if nothing had happened.”

Natic adds that this is the kind of experience he and other Georgia Banking Company employees are coming to expect with MDM: “It’s reliability and availability, every single time.”

Courtesy of Spirit Airlines
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