MDM Horror Stories: Why Some Mobile Containers Don’t Make the Cut


Below view of bizarre male dentist holding pliers and looking at the camera.

“How often do you access your work apps on your phone?” I asked a Vice President of Marketing of a global luxury goods company over coffee at the Harvard Business School. “A few times a day or if I know I have something incoming, if you can believe that. I really don’t like it,” was the answer.

Staying out of your mobile device’s work container, even at work, clearly does not help corporate productivity. But using personal channels to communicate also defies the sole purpose of the work container: to ensure that corporate information stays protected. Poor container experiences have led many CIOs to peel away the enterprise security and management tools from the handheld until they know they will only see satisfaction on users’ faces.

While there are many metrics that IT is held accountable for, in mobile there is one metric that reigns: end-user experience. Many CIOs are measured on end user satisfaction before any other metric. Productivity, cost-effectiveness, and enterprise security are on the list, but make no mistake – the fear of user dissatisfaction is so strong that it will overshadow the risk of security incidents and related financial impact and loss of brand image.

Failing to meet user experience expectations comes with immediate and certain consequences for IT leadership, while other worries are mere future uncertainties. Poor user experience gets escalated quickly and transparently all the way to the CEO and the board. The most vocal users are often the senior leaders themselves.

A Failing Grade

Why the dislike and resistance from end-users? Some smartphones do not have a native OS container that elegantly separates work and personal activity. This is why IT implements an MDM sandbox or container solution. But MDM containers do not deliver an equally fluid and effortless user experience to what the end-users are used to on their personal smartphones and tablets. MDM containers often have lagging startups, different interfaces for email and calendar, delays in establishing VPN connections, higher battery drains, inability for personal notifications to come through while in work container (and vice versa), and other usability shortcomings. Many organizations wrongly believe that the poor experience they had with one or two MDM solutions applies to the rest.

In reality, MDM and mobile platforms differ significantly in these key areas because vendors have different core competencies.

Can a container be user-friendly? The security-by-design approach in developing a containerized MDM solution can achieve excellent user experience coupled with strong security. Security-by-design is an approach to develop every product component and feature with the security of the whole system in mind. This enables security controls to become transparent to the user, and yet very effective.

Instead of being an add-on born as an after-thought, security-by-design becomes the DNA of the product. It makes the container lightweight and responsive. Moreover, VPN becomes optimized for always-on mobile connectivity without extra battery drain, and end-users can fluidly interact with the system, while never being aware of all the layers of security. Keep looking for the right tool for your mobile fleet, and do not settle for “good enough” security or impaired user experience.


Smart IT managers know that there are three very good alternatives to BYOD. But what are the strengths and weaknesses of mobile deployment models such as CYOD), COPE) and COBO)? And how do you choose what’s best for your organization?

These questions and more are answered in our eBook, The Definitive Guide To Enterprise Mobile Security. You can also view an archived version of the webinar To BYOD or Not to BYOD: Choosing the Right Deployment Model for Your Business, hosted by Alex Manea.

About Sinisha Patkovic

Sinisha is Vice President of BlackBerry Government Solutions. He works closely with Government and Fortune organizations' C-level, boards, and IT leadership on improving Cyber Governance and mobile business transformation of their processes towards Faster, Smarter, and Better delivery of services to their customers. Sinisha has been leading public-private dialog with national security agencies on the issues of enterprise security, user privacy, data monitoring laws and compliance.

Join the conversation

Show comments Hide comments
+ -
blog comments powered by Disqus