Modernise endpoint management

Network switch
Sheila Zabeu -

July 28, 2022

Past the worst phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies are choosing to keep all or part of the more flexible working model. According to Forrester’s The Anywhere-Work Guide For Tech Pros 2022 report, 51% of business leaders in the US indicated they will operate in a primarily hybrid format and 15% said they intend to migrate to an almost or completely remote model.

In this new scenario, endpoint management will serve as a critical foundation for these new remote working models, which according to another Forrester study must have six key characteristics:

1. Be unified: This feature makes it easier to manage all devices and applications. The complexity of endpoint management has increased as companies have needed to extend their BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies to fit the equipment their employees were using to work from home during the pandemic. The application landscape is equally complex. For these reasons, unified endpoint management helps control this complexity by managing them from a centralized console.

2. Be cloud-centric: With this feature, support for employees anywhere can be enhanced. Also with remote working, much of the traditional endpoint management processes went down the drain. Troubleshooting and patching, for example, could no longer be done in person. As a result, relying on the cloud to help deliver remote support services has become an increasingly widely used tactic. According to a Forrester report from a multinational food distributor, the trend going forward will be to buy devices, configure them with cloud-based APIs, ship them directly from the factory to the end user’s home, and automate all configurations.

3. Enable self-service: With this feature of endpoint management, employees will have more options to fix issues on devices or choose peripherals, for example. Forrester 2021 data shows that the majority of employees (66%) would prefer to use a service catalogue or chatbot to reset passwords. This is good news for IT professionals who currently spend too much time on issues involving low-value endpoints.

4. Be context-aware: This feature will allow endpoint management to apply user information to their tasks, as being device-centric no longer proves effective as more and more varied devices are used. Many companies are adopting user-centric endpoint management platforms to perform configuration, adjust policies and distribute applications across all devices of a given user. Some solutions with user-related risk analytics are able to identify behaviours during device use, such as phishing links clicked, abnormal typing or files accessed), and automatically raise the risk levels across all of that employee’s devices.

5. Be automated: This feature speeds up deployment, configuration and remediation tasks. Automation is also helping endpoint management at the policy level. For example, solutions of this type ensure that devices automatically return to a guaranteed compliant state if the configuration is changed. Imagine the productivity gain when you need to manage thousands of devices without spending a lot of time.

6. Be analytics-driven: Ever thought about being able to use telemetry to inform endpoint management decisions? The shift to remote working has created the need to seek more data about the end-user experience to learn more about the operational health, security, and performance of devices that are no longer confined to a single space. Modern endpoint management tools collect information to inform all of these areas. Many now provide analysis of boot performance, reboot frequency, use of older software versions and other data. Others can report problems associated with VPN performance and suggest potential fixes to remote users.

Key challenges

Many IT administrators still see endpoint management as a time-consuming process, preventing them from focusing on strategic priorities. The main obstacles cited have to do with the fact that management:

  • Include manual and costly tasks. A study by 1E revealed that only 10% of service tickets are resolved through self-service and that 71% of rebuilding processes require in-office imaging. All of this translates into costs that can run into the millions depending on the company’s size.

  • Being divorced from security. There’s no point in thinking about patch management, something fundamental to ensuring cybersecurity if there isn’t complete visibility and control over endpoints. There needs to be coordination between management and security tasks so that both sides perform their tasks effectively.

  • Failure to consider the impact of the experience. Endpoint management practices play an important role in ensuring good workforce performance, yet there is a lack of information on how management affects end-user experience. Forrester data from 2021 shows that only 33% of decision makers involving software are concerned about having End User Experience Management (EUEM) tools in place.

  • Not taking privacy into account. Despite efforts to clarify what employee data is collected while managing endpoints, many employees still refuse to log personally owned equipment to these tools.