Android Enterprise is Google’s unified management platform for Android OS devices. It has been around since Android 6 but is just recently gaining traction as Android 10 fades out the old device admin management methods.

Android Enterprise offers an extensive list of management capabilities, but most of them are focused on consumer and business devices. Since it is becoming our only option, supply chain has to move toward Android Enterprise management. But since our market isn’t Google’s focus, what does it offer us? Is there anything in this gigantic list of management options that actually applies to supply chain? The short answer is yes there is. Android Enterprise can be a powerful tool in the supply chain space. It is going to force us to change some of our common processes, but it offers a lot in return.

But first, how do you get started with Android Enterprise? It’s tempting to jump straight into discussing all of those features and process changes, but let’s lay some groundwork first to make sure we are starting with the right tools.

To manage devices with Android Enterprise, you will need to make decisions about two things: your EMM and management modes.

Enterprise mobility management solutions

To use Android Enterprise, you must have an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution. There are a lot of choices here, including Ivanti Avalanche, and they can all be found on Google’s Android Enterprise site for your convenience. Google’s certification process sorts EMMs into two categories: certified and recommended. Certified EMMs meet all of Google’s basic feature requirements, including standard provisioning, security, and management configurations. Recommended EMMs offer a selection of additional features, like advanced statistics and more specific usability settings. Certified vendors can have some of those advanced features in addition to the basics, they just don’t have all of them.

It may sound easiest to choose a recommended EMM and call it done. However, the recommended feature list was created with the consumer device in mind. Many of the included features are unnecessary for a supply chain device. In the developer’s pursuit of checking the box next to each recommended feature, the functionality that supply chain really cares about may have been rushed through and half-baked. When selecting an EMM, look for someone who developed their solution with supply chain in mind­—not someone who has spread themselves too thin to earn an extra star.

Management modes

Android Enterprise has three management modes to suit the different ways your devices can be used: work profile, fully managed, and dedicated device.

  • Work profile mode is going to be most useful for contractors. Work profile was built with the bring-your-own-device in mind. Work profile partitions the device to create a secure box for all of your enterprise data and apps. You manage that box, and the rest of the device is unaffected. If the personal side of the device is compromised, your company data is safe. As a quick example, let’s say you just hired a contract driver. They create a work profile on their own phone. You use your EMM to manage that profile. When the contract is up, you delete the work profile and all company data and apps are removed without affecting the rest of the device.
  • Fully managed mode is what most people think of when it comes to mobile device management. With fully managed mode, you have full access to the entire device. You can lock down the device as much or as little as you want. Data, apps, settings, configurations, everything can be managed through your EMM.
  • Dedicated device is the new name for kiosk, lock task, and COSU devices. This is probably where most supply chain devices will end up. You select an app, or a small set of apps, and that is all that will run on the device. The user can’t access device settings or anything outside of the selected apps, so your data and device are always secure. These kinds of devices do one thing, and they do it well.

Most EMM providers will provide all three of these options, allowing you to mix and match to fit your environment. Having different management modes for different types of devices might not be a new thing, but Android Enterprise brings all three management modes under one platform. You can manage your point of sale devices with the same technology and workflows as your contractor and employee devices.

Coming up next

In my next couple posts, we will talk about the specific features Android Enterprise offers that are important to supply chain and the things you will need to consider while migrating to an Android Enterprise setup.

Up next, the Android Enterprise features that you are going to want to use right away.

Learn more about Ivanti’s EMM solution with Avalanche