What is the Difference Between Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)?

Mobile Device Management, also known as MDM, and Enterprise Mobility Management, also known as EMM, both emerged to help address the challenge faced by growing numbers of organizations of maintaining device and data security and privacy – across a range of mobile devices such as scanners, tablets, smartphones, laptops, kiosks, etc.

The main difference between MDM and EMM is MDM is limited to managing a mobile device, while EMM manages a device, its contents and connections, including applications, data and networks.

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.

MDM was the original piece of software to emerge in the market to help organizations manage and secure large numbers of mobile devices. EMM is a more recent evolution that built upon and, incorporates MDM and a range of other device management tools and services into a single piece of software.

EMM initially grew out of the capabilities offered by MDM to cater to the increased use of personal devices in the workplace – or the growing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. EMM was developed to go beyond MDM to further enhance the security of corporate data and application integration on any mobile device – whether organization-owned or personal.

Looking to Simplify Mobile Device Management?

Give SOTI MobiControl a try and have visibility and control over where your business-critical mobile devices are, what they're doing, how they're performing and what security or compliance risks they're facing.

SOTI ONE Platform

What is Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is software that manages and secures mobile devices used in the workplace.

An MDM solution provides organizations with the ability to fully monitor, manage, track and secure their entire fleet of mobile devices 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.

Using an MDM solution, IT teams have 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. They can also remotely troubleshoot any device issues to get employees back on task more quickly, reducing the cost of having employees not being able to work because of device outages.

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

What is Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)?

Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) is a set of software tools and processes that organizations use to secure all mobile devices, applications, corporate data and associated networks used by employees.

EMM provides real-time visibility into an organization’s entire fleet of mobile devices, such as scanners, laptops, kiosks, etc. – including mobile device status, location, software updates, security and more.

Generally, EMM is offered as a single software solution capable of being rolled out on a wide range of commonly used enterprise IT systems to provide easy management and simplify corporate data on large fleets of mobile devices.

EMM can centrally and remotely enforce a corporate mobility policy or a set of guidelines governing the use of mobile devices in workplaces. EMM also helps control device security through the ability to lock and wipe them, while also managing which apps and content are available to the user on which devices, as well as troubleshooting device problems remotely. This avoids any costly device outages and employee downtime.

Managing security threats is another major benefit of EMM, with the ability to block untrusted sites and minimize phishing and malicious attacks. An antivirus system can also prevent malware in files and apps from being downloaded or installed on any device. EMM will enforce complex passwords, encryption and separation of personal and work data, which prevents breaches of sensitive or confidential content within corporate apps.

An EMM solution can manage not only organization-owned mobile devices, but also employees’ personal devices if an organization has a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place.

How Big Are the MDM and EMM Markets?

The MDM market is expected to continue to grow as mobile device use in workplaces continues to increase – from 4.3 billion USD in 2020 to 15.7 billion USD by 2025 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 29.6%.  

As the more recent and advanced mobile workforce management software, EMM has acquired an even more prominent position within the market and is expected to grow from 16.6 billion USD in 2020 to 63.6 billion USD by 2026.

How Big Are the MDM and EMM Markets?

With mobile workers expected to make up 60% of the total U.S. workforce by 2024 alone, the need for EMM has been expedited. As a result, we can expect to see the wider adoption of EMM solutions across all industries, to ensure workers can be as productive as possible from any location.


What Does EMM Offer that MDM Doesn’t?

EMM solutions go beyond the capabilities of MDM by typically incorporating four types of technologies, one of which is MDM, as well as Mobile Identity Management (MIM), Mobile Application Management (MAM) and Mobile Content Management (MCM). Let’s take a look at each of these four technologies.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Mobile Device Management, also known as MDM, allows organizations to manage mobile devices and the platforms they operate on in an easy, consistent and scalable way. It gives IT administrators the ability to remotely control, encrypt and enforce security policies across large numbers of mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, from a central location.

MDM can be used to setup and update applications, software and tools consistently across all devices. It also provides real-time visibility of mobile devices, which helps monitor and track device status and usage and troubleshoot from any location.

Importantly, MDM can be used to wipe a device of all data if it is lost or stolen.

Mobile Identity Management (MIM)

Mobile Identity Management, also known as MIM, allows organizations to authenticate the identity of users and grant access to trusted devices and applications. It uses various tools such as single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), user and device certificates and app code signatures to ensure only authorized users have access to data and applications on approved mobile devices.


MIM can also be used to track app and device usage and approve the use of apps for specific teams and employees – rather than blanket approvals for the entire organization.


Mobile Application Management (MAM)

Mobile Application Management, also known as MAM, is focused on the management of the applications on mobile devices, rather than managing the device itself. MAM helps organizations install, update, configure apply security policies to apps.


Additionally, MAM can remove specific apps and any data they hold from select devices, avoiding the need to completely wipe all apps and data from these devices. This is particularly useful when managing any employee personal devices used for work.


Mobile Content Management (MCM)

Mobile Content Management, also known as MCM, manages and secures the content held, accessed and shared on mobile devices. MCM allows organizations to ensure corporate data is accessed and shared only on authorized applications and mobile devices, and not via unapproved third-party services.

With EMM, all of these capabilities are integrated in one piece of software to fully secure any device – from kiosks, laptops, tablets, etc. – and their applications, data and networks.

How Do Organizations Know If They Need MDM or EMM?

Many people still use the term MDM, and sometimes even refer to EMM software as MDM, so it can be quite confusing to work out the differences and determine what is the best option for an organization. However, it’s important to know MDM is now understood to be one component of EMM, not an interchangeable term.

That’s why you’ll notice companies selling software that manages mobile devices in the workplace now have prefer using the term EMM.

Because EMM software includes and goes beyond MDM in its capabilities, MDM is generally being phased out as a single piece of software in favor of the all-encompassing EMM option.

EMM is able to better adapt to the introduction of new types of mobile devices and operating systems, as well as data locations in the Cloud. This is because EMM software is constantly being updated to allow it to offer more specific areas of control as new technological needs arise.

With mobile device use in the workplace rapidly increasing, the importance of having the most advanced software to protect devices, applications, data and networks, is of the utmost importance to organizations. This is why the EMM market is growing rapidly.

What Do MDM and EMM Have In Common?

While EMM offers the widest range of benefits for mobile workforces, there are many commonalities in the business advantages of MDM and EMM. These include:


Enhanced employee productivity: EMM provides employees with real-time access to the corporate data and applications they need to be productive regardless of their location. MDM also supports employee productivity by ensuring devices are monitored and kept up to date to avoid any issues, delays or downtime.

Organization-wide consistency: If users are required to share devices, or switch from one to the next, both EMM and MDM ensure 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 with EMM or MDM.

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

Reduced admin for IT resources: EMM and MDM streamline the management of mobile devices, saving time and resources for IT administrators. EMM goes even further with this by being able to go beyond just device management to also manage the device's applications, data and networks.

Flexible workforce: EMM and MDM empower 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): EMM and MDM both help organizations achieve the full benefits of using mobile devices and therefore gain the fastest payback on the investment in these devices.

Security: MDM protects the device, while EMM also helps to secure corporate data held on mobile devices and applications, in the event of a malicious attack or a lost or stolen device.