There’s a lot of discussion and hype on the market right now about the Internet of Things, and for good reason. If projections are correct, by 2020 over 30 billion objects will wirelessly be connected to the internet. One of the “elephants in the room” on discussions about IoT are exactly how all these objects will be managed within the burgeoning IT infrastructure of the not-too-distant future. Over the last few years, IT has undergone a major shift as result of the “consumerization of IT” and BYOD. As a result of rising employee demand for use of personal devices, MDM (or mobile device management) platforms have come online to provide a framework for establishing the policies, best practices, and technologies to address the realities of BYOD.
Mobile devices are commonly understood to be the primary framework for controlling the Internet of Things. But IoT is bringing major changes to the digital workplace and specialists are fast realizing that MDM simply won’t be able to support the tsunami of devices that are projected to sweep the enterprise in the next 5 years.
Gartner gets this point. In fact, they’ve addressed this new paradigm shift head-on. Their contention is that mobile device management is a misnomer when it comes to the future of so-called device management. Even the name changes; in the universe of IoT everything is now going to be an ‘endpoint’. Gartner analysts Ken Dulaney and Terrence Cosgrove write in their May 2014 report entitled Managing PCs, Smartphones and Tablets and the Future Ahead that the whole world of PC and MDM is shifting, including necessary skills and IT processes. As they summarize, “the management framework approach going forward will result in a product category called Unified Endpoint Management” (quote taken from this article).
Given the momentous changes that IoT and wearables and other ‘endpoints’ are precipitating for IT, let’s take a look at a few dominant matters that business owners and leaders should know about UEM.
1. Mobile dominance will continue to impact the realm of device management . . . for now
Once upon a time mobile enterprise infrastructures were fairly straightforward – Blackberry devices were the big thing. Then thanks to the launch of the smartphone and the “consumerization of IT” employees started to call the shots by bringing their own smartphones, tablets and other personal devices to work. Pretty soon everyone joined in. BYOD is now fairly standard. By and large corporations have transitioned to the new reality of supporting iOS, Windows, and Android devices, in addition to the traditional Blackberries. Mobile numbers continue to rise and the impacts on MDM will be felt, but up to a point. Over the next seven years everything about PC and mobile device management will begin to shift as we enter the new landscape of UEM.
2. Big Data & IoT will lead to Unified Endpoint Management
Researchers predict that by 2020 over 30 billion objects will wirelessly be connected to the internet. With the massive levels of information processing we’re already seeing, it doesn’t take rocket science to imagine the kinds of data that will become available from these sources . . . and the kinds of resources needed to capture and process and share all of this data. Truly, the dawn of the Big Data era is only beginning! As such, businesses need to get comfortable with a new framework for device management that focuses on the integration of wearables, IoT, smartphones and tablets into one holistic management framework involving data, cloud, and mobile interactivity.
3. Apple Watch and Wearables will scale up UEM
Even before its release the Apple Watch has drawn tons of attention, and some of it focused on its pending role in reifying the Internet of Things. As one writer has well stated, “iOS 8 is the hidden revolution in personal computing, pulling together smartphones and tablets with car infotainment centers, home automation devices, health and fitness devices, and Macs.” He goes on to say that Apple Watch “rejuvenates” the whole smartwatch concept and in the process creates a new kind of personal computing device. In other words, Apple has just created a “new dimension for the Internet of Things.” It’s likely that the Watch will become a record selling item within months of its release next month. With more users come more data endpoints. More data endpoints means more Internet of Things. And as the Internet of Things explodes and expands, this will mean more Apple Watches sold! The reciprocal nature between Apple Watch and the growth of Internet of Things can’t be stressed enough here. By revolutionizing the user experience of smartwatches, Apple is creating a major “new dimension,” or endpoint, for the Internet of Things.
4. IT infrastructure changes from UEM will be pronounced
If you think about the “consumerization of IT” trends over the past 5 years and the impact of BYOD on the enterprise and scale that up ten-fold, then you can begin to understand the implications of Internet of Things and wearables on the realm of mobile device management. As we start to shift our thinking from devices to endpoints, businesses need to start envisioning this shift and considering how the wide range of emerging wearables, IoT connected devices, smartphones and tablets will fit into a unified management framework involving data, cloud, and mobile interactivity.
2015 is going to be a pivotal year for shifting organizational thinking away from MDM to embrace what is now called “endpoint” management. Everything we can see at this point suggests that wearables and Internet of Things are going to have profound impacts on businesses and how data, services, and platforms are managed. There is no better time than the present to start evaluating your IT infrastructure and management approach to ensure support for the integration of wearables, mobile devices, and Internet of Things into a Unified Endpoint Management framework. Don’t try to boil the ocean but at least start today by adopting a mindset that makes “endpoints” a key part of your 2015 mobile device management strategy.