Endpoint Management & the Remote Workforce
While they were important before the shift to WFH during COVID-19 lockdowns, endpoint management tools are now essential for protecting remote workforces. At minimum, IT admins require reliable access to remote endpoints and devices to maintain and patch Windows systems and third-party apps while minimizing user disruption.
But management and maintenance needs typically extend well beyond patch management. UEM tools significantly expand the capabilities available to IT and security teams, beginning with a comprehensive view of all devices connected to a business network. UEM automates creation of a real-time inventory of all hardware and software on the network down to the fine details of hardware configurations, drivers and software build versions, etc. The inventory becomes the foundation for virtually every other endpoint management function. After all, you can’t manage what you can’t see.
The inventory can tell you if software is properly licensed (neither over- nor under-licensed), if devices have correct and secure data access, and where and how devices are connected to the network. UEM software also provides usage data that can be extremely valuable in understanding how employees use their devices or applications. You can do all of that while protecting end-user privacy and company security at the same time.
That can come into play in a number of common scenarios. For example:
- Your IT staff deployed a new app that management expects to be used company-wide;
- Subsets of users were authorized to purchase a specialized (and possibly expensive) app with special patching procedures;
- You’re seeing unauthorized devices or apps on the network.
You’ll know in short order if users are adopting the new company app, if that specialized software is being used as expected, and exactly where and which “shadow IT” hardware and software is on your network.
Endpoint management tools also can greatly improve end-user experiences and save IT staff time that would otherwise be sucked up by tedious, repetitive work. For example, UEM tools enable zero-touch enrollment, where organizations can deploy thousands of devices without having to manually set up each one. By automating this process, employees are able to receive their devices with all applications, and configurations properly pre-set.
UEM also supports a variety of BYOD devices and push applications or even entire virtualized environments to devices to ensure a consistent (and secure!) user experience regardless of the endpoint type or manufacturer. You can configure a single sign-on for specific applications across devices to give the same up-to-date experience, and users can count on having the tools they need regardless of the hardware used.
Features like those that were important prior to the pandemic but now are essential. It’s a big reason why UEM adoption is accelerating among businesses of every size, from those with smaller IT departments to large multi-national enterprises. WFH hasn’t changed the specific tasks that IT admins have to handle per se, but it has increased the volume, complexity and urgency of many of those maintenance and management jobs.
In the end, IT and security teams need to do more, more quickly, and on constrained budgets. And that’s what UEM makes possible.