Mastering Mobile Application Management

By Dan Zeck, CTO, Antenna Software — October 02, 2012

Building mobile applications that mobilize business processes is the first step many companies take in getting a mobile strategy underway. Unfortunately, getting these mobile apps developed is far from the end — in fact, it’s just the beginning. And if you haven’t thought past the creation of your apps before they are completed, you have already missed a crucial step.

One of the most important aspects of a transformative mobile strategy is understanding how those apps will be managed once they’re available for use. To improve the probability of success for your mobile strategy, here are a few important considerations relative to mobile application management (MAM).

Understanding MAM
Companies need to approach MAM with a better understanding of what it is and what it isn’t. Most of what you’re hearing today in the market about MAM is coming from more traditional mobile device management (MDM) providers, who have created a perception that you need an MDM solution to do MAM. But depending on your requirements, you may have access to the MAM capabilities you need without knowing it.  

Certain device operating systems already have built-in application and device management features that allow you to separate business and personal data, and provide the ability to remove an app from a lost or stolen device. For some companies, those basic MAM capabilities are enough. For others, more in-depth controls and functionality might be required, so it’s important to know what you need and where you can get it.

Application Management and Security
When forming your MAM strategy, there are some additional security requirements you should consider. Often overlooked requirements include the security aspects of your app publishing workflow, who has control of assigning apps to appropriate users, and thus, which users have visibility to your enterprise data. Your MAM solution should allow you to control who can submit and approve apps, and who has the rights to assign these published apps to enterprise users.

Planning for Content Integration
Successful mobile strategies include considerations of mobile-accessible content, such as documents, recorded meetings, and training or product videos. A solid MAM offering will have a strong ability to either integrate with content management solutions or actually provide that functionality, ensuring you won’t need to reinvest when the time comes to distribute different kinds of content across mobile devices. In addition, the device landscape is rapidly evolving. Given the many media formats and the diverse capabilities of devices your employees may use, an enterprise app store solution with content adaptation will be helpful, particularly in adapting content to a specific device’s capabilities.

Balancing Control and Choice

From a discovery and consumption standpoint, an enterprise app store allows for a single point of enterprise control and provisioning, which makes it easier on both the IT department and the application user. As app store technologies evolve, they’re beginning to include more enterprise security along with app provisioning managed by administrators or individual users. IT needs control and security while users want ease of use and limited oversight.

To be successful, enterprise app store solutions must provide the best of both of these worlds. This includes having publishing workflow, lightweight yet sufficient governance, and both push and pull app deployment capabilities. In push app deployment, applications are pushed to users via deployment policies. In pull deployment, applications can be self-provisioned by users, while still enabling IT to have control over which apps are visible to users based on their role in the enterprise organization.   

Mobilizing business processes via well-designed applications can transform your business, and the best enterprise mobile strategies today include a well-planned approach to the management of them.

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