Conventional wisdom says mobile device management (MDM) is the "cure" for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) headaches. But I have a slightly modified view. When the media and MSPs spot a business challenge, we all go stampeding to Google to search for a technical cure. Instead, we should spend more time listening to customers' true business challenges.

BYOD -- where employees bring their own smartphones, tablets and computers to work -- is only one symptom of three larger trends:
  • Employees and employers increasingly want anytime, anywhere access to applications -- from any device.
  • Employees want to "blend" their business tasks with their personal tasks.
  • Employers want to mobilize some or all of their employees to get closer to customers -- without compromising company data and business assets.
MDM certainly fits into that conversation. But have you had the bigger conversation with your customers?:
  • What are you goals for the business for the next 12 months and the next five years?
  • How can IT and specific business applications help meet those goals?
  • How will all devices -- tablet, smartphone, notebook, desktop and any IP-enabled device -- securely access those applications?
  • Finally, you get to the MDM piece: How will you source, secure and manage all the devices that fit into this strategy? The answer to that question needs to blanket BYOD devices and corporate-acquired devices.
Bottom line: The vast majority of MSPs better have an MDM strategy in place for 2013. But don't "leap" to an MDM answer. Instead, sit down with your customers and ask your customers a lot of questions. Figure out where they plan to take their businesses next? Chances are, a lot of the statements will involve empowering employees regardless of where they are working.

The best MSPs will find way to strike a careful balance -- giving customers a great end-user experience, while protecting business data and associated devices.