What is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Mobile Device Management, also known as MDM, is software that manages and secures mobile devices and corporate data.

MDM provides organizations with the ability to monitor, manage, track and secure their entire fleet of mobile devices – such as scanners, tablets, smartphones, laptops, kiosks, etc. – from one central location.

The importance of managing mobile devices has increased in recent years in line with the move to mobile workforces. These devices can access sensitive corporate data and are a threat if hacked, stolen or lost.

Using an MDM solution, IT teams can keep all devices secure at the same time while supporting a flexible and productive workforce, regardless of the type of mobile device or the operating system it runs on.

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What Is MDM Used For?

Organizations with mobile workforces use MDM solutions to fully manage their mobile device networks in an easy, consistent and remote way. This allows organizations to react immediately to any issues from any location without interrupting or interfering with an employee’s ability to continue doing their job.

From a security standpoint, MDM is used by organizations to remotely lock devices and wipe all data if there has been a security breach or if a device is lost or stolen.

While addressing security issues is one of the main driving factors for deploying MDM software, there are many other reasons why it is used. These include having 24/7 visibility of devices, which ensures devices and employees are supported remotely.  

This remote support removes the burden of making sure mobile devices are running as efficiently as possible from employees. By using a central MDM solution, IT teams can monitor and keep mobile devices updated from any location.

They can also remotely troubleshoot any device issues, to get employees back on task more quickly, which reduces the cost of employees not being able to work because of device outages.

How Big Is the MDM Market?

As the mobile workforce continues to grow, the MDM market is expected to grow as well – from 4.3 billion USD in 2020 to 15.7 billion USD by 2025 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 29.6%.  

How Does MDM Work?

MDM gives IT teams the ability to remotely control, encrypt and enforce an organization’s security policies across large numbers of mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, from one single software solution.

MDM solutions usually have two components – the server and client applications.

The MDM server can be local or in the Cloud, and this is where IT teams interact, monitor and communicate with devices across the company. Client applications can also be setup and updated consistently across all devices or on individual devices.  

The MDM server will remotely push security policies, configurations and applications over a wireless network and provide IT with the ability to remotely manage devices throughout the company.

Typical MDM Features:

  • Wireless updates – mobile devices can be updated from any location by IT teams, so employees don’t have to spend time bringing devices in for updates.

  • Asset management – organizations can keep track of all mobile devices in case of loss or theft.

  • Location data – organizations can keep track of where mobile devices and employees are, which supports employee safety in case of an incident and tracks down lost or stolen devices.

  • Policy control – each mobile device has an organization-wide policy applied to ensure only authorized employees are accessing supported devices and applications.

  • Password management – ensures only authorized employees can access mobile devices and that the device and its contents are protected if lost or stolen.

  • Device diagnostics – IT teams can find and solve mobile device issues from any location, so the device can be fixed more quickly.

  • Reporting and security – IT teams can report on the maintenance, updates, correct usage and security of all organizational mobile devices remotely and in real-time.

  • Compliance enforcement – organizations can be sure their mobile devices are only being used by authorized employees and that these employees are only accessing approved apps and corporate data from these devices.

  • Ability to wipe data remotely – IT teams can, from any location, remove sensitive corporate data from a mobile device if it is lost, stolen or there is a data breach.

  • Ability to lock devices remotely – IT teams can, from any location, lockdown a mobile device if it is lost, stolen or there is a data breach.

What Led to the Rise of MDM?

As consumer smartphone usage grew rapidly through the 2000s following the launch of popular mobile devices, MDM software was developed to help monitor and secure the phones, laptops and other devices business workers carried. With the number and sophistication of mobile devices and operating systems used for work purposes expanding over recent years, MDM solutions have also evolved to better manage these large numbers of devices from a centralized viewpoint.

Why Is MDM Important?

The workforce of today is increasingly out in the field, travelling to visit customers or working from home. The office is wherever an employee can answer the phone or open their laptop. In the past, people who worked out of the office environment were at a disadvantage due to communication and network access challenges. However, being out of the office should no longer result in lower levels of productivity or contact, due to the advancement of mobile devices with MDM solutions. 

With mobile devices organizations can give employees the tools they need to complete their work tasks, even when they are on the road and working out of the office. And by using an MDM solution, organizations can benefit from the increased productivity of a mobile workforce, while ensuring corporate data is secure, and all devices can be tracked, monitored and supported remotely in real-time

What Tasks Does MDM Perform?

Because mobile devices like scanners, kiosks, tablets, etc., are now used across almost every industry, implementations of MDM vary. Here are some key tasks organizations commonly use MDM to perform today:

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Given the growth in employees working outside of the office, having to return faulty devices to a centralized location for support can be highly unproductive – especially for workers like delivery drivers who have busy days out on the road where any interruption could create delivery delays and customer service issues. MDM allows IT teams to access devices remotely, providing organizations with the ability to resolve mobile equipment issues without requiring the physical device.

Remote Device Management

With the number of mobile devices worldwide nearing approximately 15 billion, it is inevitable that of these devices will go missing or be stolen. This might include devices in large organizations ranging from mining or manufacturing sites to retail or healthcare settings being misplaced or picked up by the wrong person, and then being difficult to track down quickly. IT teams can utilize MDM to not only help locate any unaccounted-for devices in the field, but also remotely wipe these devices of any corporate data to keep sensitive business or customer information safe. 

User Permissions

Controlling who in an organization can access and alter key company information is important. Sensitive data must only be managed by the right people. This is particularly important for devices used in healthcare settings, where confidential patient information must only be accessed by certain people, or retail where confidential customer payment details must be protected. MDM allows companies to set user permissions dictating which employees have permissions to access information.

Software Updates

Software updates are critical for organizations across all sectors with a high volume of mobile devices being used by workers. These updates can help employees be more efficient in their roles and help avoid unnecessary device failures. MDM provides security patches for operating system vulnerabilities and supports software updates remotely so all devices are up-to-date.

Minimizing Security Risks

IT teams can use MDM to manage security risks through monitoring and detecting compromised devices, blocking unwanted or unsafe URLs and deploying proxy configurations to secure organizational communication. This can be helpful for industries such as transportation and logistics (T&L), where the safety of delivery and freight drivers out on the road, or forklift drivers within the warehouse, can be assured by blocking the use of mobile device touchscreens while vehicles are in motion.

What Are the Key Steps to A Successful MDM Implementation?

Thorough planning is the key to any successful MDM implementation. Organizations need to develop a policy determining which mobile devices will be approved for use. If an organization is making new investments in mobile devices, it should also research and test devices to ensure they support both their device and application requirements and have strong security and management capabilities. 

A common mistake businesses make with MDM is automatically deploying a default system, instead of understanding what their organization really needs. Organizations must understand their employees – what mobile devices they use in their roles, what they use these for and how they work. An MDM solution should take account of this, so the software directly supports work instead of obstructing it.

Organizations also need to establish guidelines around ‘how’ and ‘why’ employees should be using mobile devices. By having a clear picture of these corporate policies from the outset, implementation and enforcement through an MDM solution will be much quicker and straightforward.

What Are the Top Business Benefits of MDM?

MDM offers a range of business benefits. These include:


Enhanced employee productivity: Devices are remotely monitored and kept up to date in real-time, so employees have no issues with delays or downtime due to manual updates or software issues.

Organization-wide consistency: If users are required to share devices, or switch from one to the next, MDM ensures mobile devices are consistent across the organization, ensuring employees are immediately comfortable when switching devices.

Remote troubleshooting capabilities: If mobile devices require updates or maintenance, IT administrators can take care of these issues remotely.

Employee satisfaction: Less admin and technical knowledge is required by users due to remote support.

Reduced admin for IT resources: MDM streamlines the management of mobile devices, saving time and resources for IT teams.

Flexible workforce: MDM empowers the workforce to work remotely by ensuring mobile devices are fit for purpose in a remote work setting.

Reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) and improved return on investment (ROI): MDM helps organizations achieve the full benefits of using mobile devices and therefore gain the fastest payback on the investment in these devices.

Security: MDM helps secure mobile devices and the data they hold in the event of a malicious attack or a lost or stolen device.