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Mastering Endpoint Management in the Age of Mobility

6 Feb 2018 by Claudia Hrynyshyn

You might be surprised to know today’s workforce now spans five generations with birth years ranging as far back as 1946 and as recent as 2004.

This may sound like it creates a maze of differences — but the truth is that most of us are more familiar with workplace technology than we are with its absence. Baby boomers, for instance, have been using workplace technology since the personal computer explosion in the 1990s (when many of them were just in their 30s).

But a new shift in the workforce is making enterprises rethink everything from their deployment strategies to their support systems. The workforce has gone mobile.

Despite research showing a striking relationship between enterprise mobility and employee engagement, many organizations are scrambling to truly marry the two.

Let’s dig into mobile trends and workforce engagement and explore tactical approaches to address the disruption mobility brings.

The shift to mobile-first

“The runaway growth of mobile consumption by the modern workforce is forcing enterprise IT (and their service providers) to view reality through a mobile-first prism,” says Evan Tomlin, director of mobility and end-user compute at Insight. “This impacts all dimensions of a given worker’s perception of his or her career — and their effectiveness in furthering company goals.”

A report by The Economist expands on mobility’s impact on these dimensions. It found that workers who consider their employer a “pioneer” in mobile adoption and support have significantly higher levels of productivity (16%), creativity (18%), satisfaction (23%) and loyalty (21%) than those who say their employer’s use of mobile technology is subpar.

Other notable findings from research within the past two years reveal:

  • 60% of the U.S. workforce says technology provides the freedom to work where and when they want (Adobe).
  • More than half of job seekers say remote work options are important when they’re considering a new job (MRINetwork).
  • 55% of workers would prefer mobile text messages in place of receiving work emails (Samanage).
  • Companies that have remote work options report 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t (Owl Labs).
  • 65% of workers who currently don’t work remotely would like the option to do so at least once a month (Owl Labs).

And, as Figure 1 shows, the general usage of smartphones has surged dramatically since 2010, with an expected 271 million smartphone users by 2022. This rise presents the devices’ growing pervasiveness in the work world (as both digital natives begin their careers and older parties carry on with theirs).

A bar graph depicting the number of smartphone users in the United States from 2010 to 2022, in millions
Figure 1

The future of endpoint management: Less is best.

As technology, the workplace and consumer habits converge, the tools and processes used to manage, for example, Windows laptops versus those used to manage iPhone and Android devices are slowly unifying as well.

According to Loren Langley, manager of product management at Insight, the combination of devices and services can enable a superior out-of-the-box experience for users.

“Traditionally, an end user might see their device being set up by IT, then have additional interference as updates are needed or as support issues arise. Now, the devices and services have merged. Everything can be pushed to that device via the cloud, and the user will no longer be able to discern between the two. Right out of the box, everything will simply work,” he says.

But as IT looks for more ways to transition from a cost center to a value-add for organizations, IT staff faces a whole new crop of questions to find answers to:

  • Which management platform is best based on my business environment?
  • How do we monitor identity and access controls?
  • What’s our best support option for end users?
  • How should we continue to adapt our business model as the market changes (for example, the eventual proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices)?

The truth is, finding the proper means of deploying, securing and managing an increasingly diverse device landscape — throughout the entire lifecycle — can be overwhelming for IT teams. Most are left cobbling together fragmented solutions to wrangle all of these devices out in the wild, but efficiencies and agility are dwindling as a result.

Choosing the right partner

If unified endpoint management is the future, what should organizations look for in a solution? Insight Managed Mobility comprises three pillars of a truly consolidated offering:

  • Consulting & design — This involves assessing the environment and mapping all new tools and processes as they align to business goals. This also includes outlining economies of scale, projecting year-over-year costs, advising on proper device types and more.
  • Build, integrate, deploy — Based on consultation, this consists of finalizing your mobile device choices, licenses, specialty Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) products and lifecycle services. This also covers carrier activation, zero-touch engineering and configuration, staging, kitting and shipping.
  • Manage & refresh  — This includes ongoing support for end users, such as tier 1, 2 and 3 service desk and engineering services (both proactive and reactive) while also handling logistics, repairs based on warranties, remarketing, asset disposal and OEM service augmentation.

While many solutions in the marketplace boast strengths in a few of these pillars, the true value-add for organizations will emerge from fully actualized, end-to-end solutions that can deliver on all three.

A nod to Generation Z: Are you ready?

In a Livestream on Apple and mobility in the workplace, Langley asserts that the high standards millennials have grown to demand over time won’t even be a request Gen Z workers (those born between 1998 and 2016) consider — they’ll just be expected.

“Gen Z are really the native users, and it won’t make sense to them without that technology in their work environments. The change is going to happen when those native users enter the workforce — whether we want it to or not,” he explains.

As innovation propels artificial intelligence, augmented reality and more to new heights, enterprises will have to reassess, yet again, to accommodate the next era of work.

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