Why MAM is important for CIOs

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jun 10, 2013

Mobile Apps

The Bring Your Own Device trend is swiftly spawning new Mobile Device Management (MDM) strategies. However, corporations are also busy investing heavily on mobile applications. A few are developing custom mobile applications. It isn’t surprising that some CIOs have made an alarming guess: the coming mobile application sprawl within the enterprise will soon lead to chaos.

Anand Kale, Mobility Solutions Head- Banking and Financial Services, Wipro Mobility Solutions, writes that the Mobile Application Management (MAM) or specifically Mobile Application Portfolio Management (MAPM) is going to be as big and as important in 2013 as MDM was in 2012. The mantra “manage the application, not the device” is going to ring across IT departments. The reason? Enterprises are discovering that MDM is only a part of the solution to enterprise mobility. It is even more important to ensure that enterprise applications are delivered in a secure fashion with adequate compliance controls to meet the mobile lifestyles of end users.

Many of the applications being used by enterprises are off the shelf. The challenge for IT is to deliver these enterprise apps (and control them) without impacting the user’s privacy or taking control of the user’s personal mobile device. MAM performs a critical function. It ensures that the enterprise does not have access or visibility to personal apps and data on the device.

Why is it Important for enterprises?

MAM is about implementing a repeatable process to assess applications, their health and their value to the enterprise. At any given point in time, the enterprise must know:

Which applications are performing/ not performing

Which applications fall within and which fall outside the architectural requirements

Which applications need to be retired

Which applications need to be upgraded/ enhanced

Which applications need to be replaced

The answers to these questions help dramatically reduce the costs of maintaining existing applications. The result can free up budgets for investment in better apps. This brings us to the definition of apps, so that strategy around app management remains clear and decisions are easier to make. Kale says that the definitions around apps can become an issue leading to delays in implementation of MAM strategies, loss of focus in the MAM initiative and inadequate ROI.

There are two terms that need clarity:

Mobile application client: This application leverages the native platform library and/or web to deliver some or all processes needed to create, update, manage, calculate or display information for a specific business purpose. The client interacts with backend systems to acquire information related to business processes.

Mobile application component or series of components: This is a library comprising of UI, business rules and data acquisition and integration processes available as native, third-party or web components. These components are controlled by either platform OEMs or third party Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP) vendors.

To be effective, MAM should ideally embrace both of the above, writes Kale.  

Way forward

Custom enterprise app store: A custom portal enables the distribution with platform-wise or device specific catalogues of internal apps. Using enterprise or ad-hoc provisioning mechanisms, users access and download the apps from these stores to their devices. Update or change notifications can be configured to be delivered via SMS or email to users. Among the biggest advantages of a custom enterprise app store is that app distribution can be controlled based on user roles.

Enterprise app catalogue on device: The mobile device holds a shell application that contains all the enterprise apps. Complete app management (additions, upgrades, deletions) is enabled from within the shell. The enterprise app catalogue on the device provides employees with a wider and deeper level of freedom to choose the apps they want. The answers to these questions help dramatically reduce the costs of BYOD where employees don’t feel constrained by restrictions placed on apps and their usage. Such an implementation also implies the need for greater control over device level security.

MDM enterprise app store: MDM vendors provide integrated app stores along with standard device control capabilities. The stores enforce security policies on the devices as well as the apps. Before adopting such a solution, the enterprise must ensure that the MDM enterprise app store is capable of capturing and reporting critical usage metrics that are in turn used for app store enhancements.

Third party MADP controlled app store: MADP vendors provide app management from their middleware. This helps control the mobile app lifecycle. Such app stores come with a standard look and feel and the customization capabilities of such an app store are non-existent or limited.

Recommendations for Enterprises

Before creating an enterprise MAM strategy three detailed exercises must be completed. These are meant to ensure ROI on BYOD initiatives:

A comprehensive definition of mobile apps that ensures the creation of a dependable catalogue of apps installed in the enterprise

An assessment of apps which includes an audit of apps, infrastructure and security policies

A gap analysis that maps current state and clearly defines the desired end state

MAM is meant to keep employees and customers happy. But more than that, it is meant to improve productivity and deliver strong results to the enterprise in terms of increased ability to innovate, meet market changes, and lower cost of operations.

Mobility is now central to the modern enterprise and investments made in mobility cannot be underestimated or delayed. As your business begins to adopt BYOD practices it must simultaneously build app management capabilities.