The Mobile Device Management (MDM) Software Market

Securely managing connected devices has become a critical enterprise requirement. Mobile device data security breaches have been on the rise in recent years, due to both loss and cyber-criminal activity. 

Comprehensive device management is a must whether enterprises opt to offer bring your own device (BYOD) policies or offer other policies such as corporate owned, business only (COBO) and corporate owned, personally enabled (COPE). 

Mobile device management (MDM) tools, as part of an overall enterprise mobile management (EMM) suite, have become essential. 

What is MDM? 

MDM security software enables IT teams to create and implement policies aimed at securing, managing and monitoring mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. 

Typically, MDM software is used in conjunction with BYOD and CYOD policies, where end users connect their own devices to an enterprise’s network. MDM tools enhance security and can help to improve productivity.

 man looking at smartphone with both hands office 

Key terms

To fully understand how MDM functions, it’s a good idea to brush up on some related terms. 

Content access

Users can pull content to their devices through a connection to a back-end repository. MDM software typically supports specific repositories such as SharePoint, allows teams to set roaming download restrictions and has the ability to track and log users as they access or download files. 

Content push

Administrators can push content directly to enterprise mobile devices for many reasons:

  • Document version control
  • User alerts 
  • To flag content expiration dates 

Enterprise mobility management (EMM)

EMM is the collection of tools, technologies, policies and processes involved with managing and maintaining the usage of mobile devices across an organization. At a high level, EMM deals with the business and technological sides of mobile device usage. MDM software is often a central component of a comprehensive EMM solution. 

Mobile application management (MAM)

MAM applies management and policy control functions to individual applications, which are managed by an EMM console. When a device’s operating system does not provide management capability (for example, iOS and Android), mobile application management is needed. There are two main types:

  • Pre-configured applications that include a secure browser supplied by the EMM provider or another third party as well as secure personal information manager (PIM) for contact management, email and calendars
  • Application extensions that apply policies to applications through a software development kit (SDK) or by wrapping

Remote monitoring and management (RMM)

RMM is software that allows managed IT service providers to remotely monitor client endpoints, computers and networks. Also known as remote infrastructure management (RIM).

Secure container

This enables users to securely store content from email, content pushes and accessed content, so EMM policies such as authentication, file sharing and copy/paste restriction can be applied. 

How MDM works

MDM software is designed around the concept of containerization. Data such as email and documents are encrypted and processed inside containers to ensure that corporate data is kept separate from personal user data stored on enterprise devices. 

MDM software typically allows enterprises to integrate secure email and document processing, a secure browser and a tightly controlled app catalog. 

Server and client components 

When mobile device management was first introduced, issues such as scalability and limitations such as client-initiated update requirements impacted its usefulness. Today’s MDM software feature automation and scalability. Most programs can automatically detect newly connected devices and have the ability to apply over-the-air commands that streamline policy updates. 

MDM typically includes two main components: a server component and a client component. 

Server component

IT administrators configure and issue policies through a management console or portal. 

Client component

The client component receives and actually implements commands on the mobile devices managed by the software. 

Common MDM features include:

  • Remote service management
  • Passcode security features
  • Mobile device tracking and inventory tools
  • Application permission interface
  • An alert system that keeps IT informed when users attempt to bypass restrictions

Benefits of MDM 

MDM simplifies and streamlines the way enterprises manage mobile device policies. These solutions offer several key benefits. 

Time savings

MDM can eliminate repetitive tasks that keep IT team members from other priorities. For example, MDM can set Wi-Fi settings on devices and remotely install apps. Before MDM, IT staff would need to address these issues on an individual basis, in person.  

Improved efficiency

MDM allows users to create tailor-made policies aimed at improving workflow efficiency.

Productivity increase

Policies such as blacklisting non-enterprise approved apps during work hours help to keep employees on task. 

Regulatory compliance

MDM can provide oversight across an enterprise’s connected devices to ensure the organization is meeting compliance standards such as those outlined in GDPRCCPAHIPAAISOCJIS and PCI

Enhanced security

MDM enables IT teams to apply security patches and lock down devices to protect corporate data from theft or being shared or saved to third-party services. The software can protect many enterprise assets, including applications, data and personal identifying information (PII).

Remote device management

Over-the-air updating capabilities allow IT staff to manage devices from anywhere, including devices used by off-site, remote employees.

MDM market

Enterprises have benefited from mobile device usage among employees since at least the early 2000s, when BlackBerry dominated the market. However, it wasn’t until around 2010 that MDM solutions were introduced to the market. At first, these solutions were limited to ad hoc approaches where specific tools allowed enterprises to manage specific elements of their mobile device programs. 

As MDM software evolved, management capabilities improved to the point where companies can now manage enterprise mobile devices with a single software solution. Everything from device inventory, configuration management and remote functions can be handled with modern MDM. 

More recently, EMM became an industry standard, one that refers to the totality of mobility management solutions, including content, application and identity management. MDM remains a part of this overall picture, but focuses solely on managing and ensuring the safety of connected mobile devices. 

Keep in mind that MDM is commonly used to describe processes and solutions that fall under the umbrella of EMM or unified endpoint management (UEM), which combines PC management and EMM into a single solution. 

EMM suites are tools that “provide policy and configuration management for applications and content, based on smartphone operating systems,” according to Gartner. The research firm differentiates EMM from previous-generation MDM products that lacked application and content management and views this evolution as a boon for IT as a whole. EMM gives organizations the potential to leverage mobility to “better run, grow and transform.” 

MDM market growth

Enterprise MDM adoption is on the rise. The global MDM market is set to reach $12.1 billion by 2027, which represents a growth rate of 19.7 percent since 2020, according to a recent report released by Global Industry Analysts.

The U.S. and China are the top markets for MDM, with Japan and Canada not far behind. 

MDM software companies

The report lists several key players in the MDM market, including:

  • 42Gears Mobility Systems 
  • BlackBerry
  • Citrix Systems
  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Mitsogo
  • MobileIron
  • SAP
  • Sophos 
  • SOTI
  • VMware

Looking ahead

In addition to the most critical MDM features — robust security, device compatibility and the right integrations — consider focusing on MDMs that have strong cloud capabilities. 

The increasing remote nature of today’s workforce will continue to impact the way enterprises shape their businesses in the coming years. 

Cloud-based solutions and the related need for MDM as part of a broader EMM solution are set to grow across most enterprises.

Related articles

• Enterprise mobility management: Trends and challenges for 2021

• The mobile application management (MAM) software market

• Mobile device policy guide: BYOD, CYOD, COPE, COBO


mobile device management, MDM, Enterprise Mobility Management, EMM