It’s hard to believe there was actually a time before mobile devices. It wasn’t even all that long ago. In fact, this month Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. While the iPhone was not the first smartphone, its introduction is credited with kick-starting the mobile revolution and initiating the “consumerization of IT,” forever changing how technology is developed, marketed, and utilized in business environments. In trying to relate these historical milestones to Millennials, I find myself more and more sounding like a crotchety old man: “Back in my day, we only had PCs—and we were glad to have ‘em, too!” Today, three-quarters of all business workers regularly use mobile devices to perform job tasks, so my nostalgic recollections of PC-only business environments are increasingly falling on disinterested ears.

It’s easy to forget that in the early days of iOS and Android devices, most enterprises did not even consider them to be serious business devices. It was only after employees began regularly using them to perform important job tasks that organizations broadly realized they needed to adopt security and management practices for mobile device use. However, at that time, traditional PC management platforms lacked even the most basic capabilities to support iOS and Android devices. Instead, new mobile device management (MDM) solutions were introduced that functioned as independent administration platforms. As a result, businesses had to purchase and maintain two separate management platforms to achieve the breadth of their endpoint support requirements.

Fortunately, unified endpoint management (UEM) platforms have since been introduced that enable comprehensive support for both PC and mobile devices from a single console interface. UEM solutions employ a common asset database, a consolidated reporting engine, and shared sets of user and device profiles, greatly simplifying endpoint management and ensuring consistent user experiences. In a recent EMA survey, 27% of respondents indicated they currently employ at least some UEM functionality to support both PC and mobile devices. However, more than twice as many respondents reported they expected to be using a UEM platform within the next three years, indicating broad recognition of the value of a consolidated approach.

 

For organizations planning to move to a UEM platform in the near future, the primary motivation is to simplify endpoint and security management. In particular, centralizing the management of security policies with a common set of profiles helps standardize deployments and reduce administration complexity. When organizations preconfigure access rights and other configuration elements for groups of users, administrators no longer need to be involved in the day-to-day activities of device provisioning and end users are granted the freedom to access business software without fear of violating enterprise requirements.

It is also undoubtedly true that growing UEM platform adoption is being driven by the increased introduction of Windows 10. Windows continues to dominate the enterprise laptop and desktop PC market, with 87% of business professionals currently relying on the platform, according to EMA research. Of these, 40% of users had already converted to Windows 10 just a year and a half since its release. Additionally, Windows 10 now accounts for 13% of the enterprise tablet market—a significantly large proportion given its relatively new introduction compared to its iOS and Android competitors. Since Windows 10 unifies the operating system with a single code base for mobile and PC devices, organizations want to manage a single set of applications and administrative processes for all of these devices.

Organizations are broadly recognizing that we live in a multi-device world and are embracing the UEM technologies necessary to meet evolving endpoint management challenges. Perhaps Millennials have the right idea after all in not dwelling on archaic, siloed management technologies but instead embracing unified approaches to enabling workforce productivity in a multi-device world.