With over 2.5 billion users, Android enjoys a dominant 85% market share in the mobile operating space. It does have one glaring weakness however: enterprise. Most businesses still favor iOS, the operating system of Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad.
As part of Google’s bid to secure more of the enterprise market, Android Enterprise is a software platform that provides application programming interfaces (APIs) to developers who build MDM solutions. The goal was to make it easier for them to develop these applications, give them more flexibility in how they do so, and increase the security of their MDM and devices.
Since its release, Android Enterprise has undergone notable changes that advance this mission. Enterprises should be aware of these new features, so that they can choose the MDM that maximizes their potential. Android Enterprise ultimately means little, after all, if the MDM provider is not tapping into its full feature suite.
Android Enterprise caters to the changing nature of work.
While the pandemic may be over, its impact remains. Some companies have gone fully remote. Others have gone hybrid, reporting to the office a few days of the week. Still others are once again fully on-site, with new protections for a post-pandemic world.
Because how people work has changed, what kind of devices they use has also changed. There are now a diversity of device policies. For example, some organizations are saving on hardware by encouraging employees to BYOD, or “bring your own device.” Other organizations still embrace top-down ownership, but this has fractured into different models, including corporate-owned, personally enabled (COPE); corporate-owned, business only (COBO); and corporate-owned, single use (COSU).
Android Enterprise succeeds because it caters to any of these models. With BYOD and COPE, for example, the line between professional and personal life can be challenging to manage. An IT team should be able to monitor and access a device, but this may cause them to inadvertently stumble upon private information, such as a person’s browsing habits, personal communication, or app usage.
An MDM powered by Android Enterprise now addresses this challenge with separate profiles. An employee will have a work profile, which IT teams will be able to configure, manage, and access. More crucially, the employee will also have a personal profile, where they will have complete privacy. This ability to compartmentalize one’s digital work life from their personal life makes BYOD and COPE policies much easier. Now enterprises can manage the delicate balance between securing these devices without infringing on employee privacy.
Android Enterprise has similar allowances for other device policies, which makes it ideal for modern organizations that rely on an MDM for their workforce: No matter which one the organization chooses, safety, security, and efficiency will be maintained.
Android Enterprise provides enterprise-level security.
The major reason that enterprises prefer iOS over Android is security. There are generally more cybersecurity threats to Android for several reasons. The first is that iOS is a closed ecosystem, whereas Android is open source, making it easier to develop malware and viruses which target that operating system. The second is Android’s sheer market dominance: From a cost-benefit perspective, it makes more sense for hackers to target them versus iOS.
These threats are substantial to enterprises for several reasons.
- Mobile devices can be used as an entry point for hackers to gain access into other technology systems of the organization.
- Because employees use mobile devices for work, hackers may use them to access sensitive information, such as the organization’s banking details.
- Successful attacks on mobile devices may lead to data or financial losses, inflict reputational damage of the brand, and disrupt business operations.
To win over more of the enterprise market, Android must understandably tighten its security. Android Enterprise is also meant to heighten its cybersecurity protocols through a variety of changes.
One is Android Enterprise Recommended, which is a vetted list of device providers that meet a high level of security standards, including quarterly security updates, the minimum device specifications for enterprise use, and support of the current and next operating system as well as the latest MDM features. Because device security begins with hardware, Android Enterprise Recommended makes it easier for enterprises to choose a strong foundation for their device ecosystem, which they can further strengthen with an MDM.
Another important security feature is zero-touch enrollment, which is exactly what it sounds like: IT teams can configure a phone without having it in hand. This makes it ideal for large rollouts and also as a fail-safe. If a device is stolen, the thief will most commonly try to reset it. With zero-touch enrollment, even this will not remove the MDM, which buys the organization time to locate the device via geo-location. They can also elect to remotely lock the device and wipe it clean of any company data.
Finally, the company can set policies around security, such as lock screen restrictions. If a company feels that a numeric passcode is not secure enough, they can require a longer password. Similarly, companies can prohibit employees from accessing apps that do not comply with the organization’s security policy. This automatic compliance enforcement acts as tight guardrails, keeping employees within safe, designated workspaces.
Working with the right MDM will enable organizations to execute these policies, and in some cases even exert even more granular control.
Android Enterprise facilitates content distribution.
The point of having a device dedicated in whole or in part to work is content. A sales person will need access to a mobile CRM, a finance person will need access to accounting software, a HR person will need access to the HRIS, and all employees will need access to messaging platforms, collaboration tools, and other productivity software.
It is an operational nightmare when these apps are not delivered in a standardized fashion. For example, if a company onboards a new timekeeping provider and asks employees to download their app, compliance will be low. Some will download right away, while others will put the task off for as long as they can. This lack of compliance increases switch-over costs for each company: Now the company must spend valuable time corralling employees into downloading the required app.
The same goes for any updates. Even if a device was deployed with a necessary app, employees cannot be counted on to regularly update it. In fact, they will likely put off this task until the last minute (all professionals can likely recall a virtual meeting that started late because various members had to update to the latest version of a given software). When businesses rely on employee-initiated updates, many operational issues are bound to occur.
Extended access to specific users for different apps has traditionally been just as cumbersome. Configuring these permissions takes much longer than it should be, and marks a notable departure from consumer-facing apps. On Facebook, for example, it only takes a few clicks to extend various administration roles for a page to different company representatives. The process for doing the same for work-related devices is notoriously difficult.
Android Enterprise makes app management significantly easier. Through an enterprise Google Play account, IT teams can enroll individual users, manage their accounts, and create app distribution rules at the per device level. They can also silently configure apps without any necessary work from the device owner, including installing, updating, or uninstalling apps. From Android Enterprise, they can also review app permissions and the entire app catalog.
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An MDM integrated with Android Enterprise will allow enterprises to operate with far greater efficiency as it relates to their device ecosystem. Rather than have these endpoints represent a logistical nightmare, they can further the aims of the organization, providing employees with the right access to the apps they need to succeed.
Android Enterprise means business.
When organizations begin the procurement process for their devices, they must begin with a tough choice: Should they go with iOS or Android? Up until recently, the answer for most organizations has been the former. With the evolution of Android Enterprise, however, Android should become an increasingly popular choice. The pairing of Android Enterprise with an exceptional MDM gives enterprises several key advantages.
The first is flexibility. Work has forever changed, and central to this is the merging of our professional and personal lives on our devices. Android Enterprise caters to this seismic change with the introduction of work profiles. Now organizations can have necessary access to devices, and employees can still enjoy their privacy. This setup is particularly apt for BOYD and COPE models.
The second is security. Cyberattacks have been more common on Android devices. This threat is a serious one for organizations, who can suffer significant financial losses, data theft, and reputational damage from even a minor hack. Android Enterprise beefs up security for enterprises through a suite of new features, such as zero-touch enrollment, lock-screen restrictions, and automatic compliance enforcement. Now security becomes a strongpoint for Android devices.
The final benefit is app management, which has traditionally been inconvenient. When organizations rely on employees to download or update the apps they need, work slows down. Android Enterprise gives businesses the top-down levers they need to manage work-related apps, so that employees can focus on what matters most: producing.
Given these advantages, organizations should choose an MDM that not only integrates with Android Enterprise, but maximizes its benefits.
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