Article (Manufacturing Business Technology) – Exploring MDMs: What The Manufacturing Industry Truly Needs

Originally published in Manufacturing Business Technology magazine – http://www.mbtmag.com/articles/2015/07/exploring-mdms-what-manufacturing-industry-truly-needs by Pankaj Thapa on 7 July, 2015

Every IT leader will have had at least one meeting with a mobile device management (MDM) provider over the last few years. And with each meeting, the IT leader would have been left aghast at what the MDM software provides and the actual on ground use case requirements for security and manageability. This holds true in specialized manufacturing industry, oil and gas, mining, solar, wind and construction sectors where big unique machines made only for this sector co-exist with people and processes. Most present day MDM solutions focus only on managing mobile devices and laptops. They do not integrate with, let’s say, the SCADA system or the AC control systems in a standard industrial unit. They even do not help manage the employees — workforce and field force tracking. MDM solutions have become limited and the requirement of IT leaders has moved beyond managing just mobile devices.

The New Age MDM Extensible Device Management (xDM) Solution for Remotely Managing People, Processes and Devices

Keeping in mind the current requirement of the industry, I have listed five things that an IT leader must think of while making their decisions on adopting an MDM.

  1. Move over MDMs to xDM to Manage Devices & Industrial Assets: Gone are the days of subscribing to an MDM that could manage only the mobile devices at hand. xDMs can help IT leaders and admins remotely control critical industrial assets, machines and inventory. An MDM can enable warehouse managers to remotely scan incoming and outgoing materials, give real time notifications to the ground staff to dispatch materials and provide live status updates of inventory to the plant admin. The plant admin can in turn communicate material requests or instructions to the warehouse manager.
  2. Integrating with SCADA & Unified Dashboards: Industrial control systems, also known as SCADA, help in real-time monitoring, control and data processing for diverse industrial units, machines and equipment spread across locations. A remote xDM solution can seamlessly integrate with these SCADA systems to gather and display data gathered from different types of devices and unique installations in a unified dashboard. For example, if a machine is experiencing any downtime at a site, the plant/IT admin will get an alert who can then immediately direct the ground staff to check and fix the machine. This would enable the maintenance and support teams to be more efficient and productive and minimize machine down times and resultant loss of precious overheads. In addition, it will also help plant admins to monitor and enforce enterprise security policies like disabling cameras, WiFi and Bluetooth on employee devices on industrial premises.
  3. xDM Solutions Should Manage People – In and Out of the Office: Organizations usually have their workforce distributed across different locations, sites and units along with a sizeable number of on-field employees like sales personnel who are constantly on the move. An xDM solution would enable attendance tracking, workforce tracking and route tracking and then automatically mapping it with corresponding reimbursements. It can remotely track total number of on-field sales staff, assigned leads for the day, number of leads closed, total distance covered in the day and the corresponding reimbursements and incentives automatically calculated. This would not only make it easier and save time for the accounts team, but also help companies to create various checks and balances to ensure correct reimbursement calculation.
  4. Extensible Device Management for Managing Processes: I know of a company that had adopted a culture wherein the majority of the team members would report late to work. As most members of the organization were assigned field work, there was no way to create any checkpoints for the employees. The company chose to manage their field force with MDM solution and each employee could be tracked over a GIS based system. This gave the company the right checks and balances over the employee and setting up an efficient process for tracking and managing late comers.
  5. xDM Should Integrate with Internet of Things: Today firms are dealing with new age devices like PoS, set top boxes, cooling refrigerators and many other specialized devices are used that are IoT devices. The IT leader needs to ensure that the MDM technology being used can reach out and manage these devices as well. Usually these devices are controlled using mobile devices which can be easily hacked and lack enterprise data security mechanisms. xDMs or manageability platforms provide on device encryption along with the ability to remotely lock or wipe devices to secure enterprise data.

The way forward is to have a remote extensible Device Management solution that connects different enterprise channels, backend and apps, which will ultimately make industries and organizations have more energy, overall increasing the people and process efficiency and profitability.

Pankaj Thapa is the VP Engineering at Mobiliya Technologies

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