When it comes to mobile device management versus modern device management, they may sound similar, but there’s a significant degree of difference between them. The explosive growth in these devices within enterprises makes it crucial for organizations to choose the right platform for overseeing them.  

In this blog post, let’s examine:  

What's mobile device management? 

Mobile device management — we’ll call it “mobile MDM” in this post — can be defined this way:  

Mobile device management is a technology that helps an organization’s IT and security teams to manage and secure their enterprise’s mobile devices, such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, across different locations, formats and operating systems (OS). 

Mobile MDM solutions help sysadmins efficiently configure, monitor and update the hardware and software settings on multiple mobile devices from one dashboard.  

In this way, mobile MDMs ensure that an end user’s device usage — whether directly managed or permitted to access organizational apps through bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies — complies with company policies and protects any confidential data stored or accessed through the endpoint. 

Mobile MDM solutions typically include features such as: 

  • Policy enforcement. 
  • Software installation/update management. 
  • Remote wipe capabilities. 
  • Device tracking/monitoring. 
  • User authentication/authorization controls.  
  • Asset inventory management. 

By allowing administrators to remotely manage these settings on all their organization’s mobile devices from a single console or dashboard — regardless of the device type or operating system — mobile MDM solutions make it much easier for organizations to maintain consistent security policies across all of their connected assets.  

Plus, most mobile MDM solutions provide robust support for enterprise mobility management (EMM). EMM provides additional layers of security for mobile endpoints by allowing administrators to enforce granular access controls over which applications can be installed or accessed by specific end users.  

This granularity ensures that specific employee user profiles only have access to approved applications through an organization-approved app store, while also providing detailed visibility into each user’s application usage and data sharing activities. 

In addition to these security features, many mobile device management solutions also provide advanced analytics capabilities that allow organizations to gain valuable insights into endpoint device and data usage trends across their connected device base.   

These endpoint analytics help organizations: 

  • Identify potential problem areas so they can proactively address issues before they become serious threats.  
  • Optimize IT and technology resources while improving user experience. 

Overall, mobile MDM solutions represent a powerful tool for organizations looking to streamline the process of managing multiple mobile devices while maintaining a high level of security for their confidential data assets.  

What's modern device management? 

Modern device management — which for this post, we’ll call “modern MDM” — solutions represent an innovative evolution in managing the devices of an organization, and can be defined this way: 

Modern device management is a form of endpoint management technology that focuses on standardizing, tracking and controlling all the devices used by employees within an organization’s network environment. 

More specifically, a modern MDM solution helps organizations protect their data, applications and networks from malicious attacks and unauthorized access. It also enables them to centrally manage all their devices within one unified system. 

Modern MDM solutions are designed to help companies establish control over the various types of devices they use in their businesses — ranging from smartphones and tablets to laptops, desktop computers and servers.  

Modern MDM solutions help sysadmins: 

  • Configure settings on each device remotely. 
  • Monitor usage activity. 
  • Apply restrictions on certain features or applications. 
  • Enforce security policies. 
  • Deploy application updates and patches. 
  • Protect organizational data stored on or accessed through an employee’s phone and other devices. 

Modern MDMs also offer advanced features such as: 

  • Remote wiping of sensitive data if a device is lost or stolen. 
  • Geofencing capabilities for locating misplaced hardware. 
  • Location tracking for better asset management. 
  • Software distribution for installing new applications quickly and easily across multiple endpoints.  

(Of course, all these features must be used responsibly to legally support every employee’s privacy rights.)  

Comparing MDM to MDM: what’s the difference between mobile and modern device management? 

There are two primary areas of difference between modern device management and mobile device management:  

  1. The kinds of devices covered by each MDM. 
  2. Each MDM’s primary focus.

MDM difference #1: Modern device management solutions cover more types of endpoints than mobile device management 

When comparing mobile device management versus modern device management (MDM), the first and most obvious difference between the two lies in their scope of coverage.  

  • Mobile device management covers traditional mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. 
  • Modern device management reaches a wider range of connected network devices, including but not limited to: 
    • IoT sensors. 
    • Wearables (e.g., smart watches). 
    • Medical equipment. 
    • Industrial machinery. 
    • Desktops. 

MDM difference #2: Mobile device management focuses on controlling configurations; modern device management primarily collects and gathers usage data 

Additionally, while both mobile device management and modern device management platforms are designed to manage corporate-owned mobile or connected devices within an organization’s environment, the scope of control that each type of management provides varies greatly.  

  • Mobile device management provides IT administrators with comprehensive control over the configuration settings of each mobile device they manage, including access restrictions on applications or certain features.  
  • In contrast, modern device management is focused on monitoring user activity and providing insights into usage trends across all managed devices. It also allows for remote wiping of any sensitive data stored on the device if required.  

Comparing MDMs: what do both mobile and modern device management have in common? 

Despite these fundamental differences in scope and focus, these two types of device management solutions share some commonalities. Both: 

  • Offer enterprise-level security capabilities through encryption and authentication techniques. 
  • Allow for quick application patching. 
  • Provide device location tracking. 
  • Support geofencing capabilities.  
  • Enable software distribution.  
  • Have inventory management capabilities.  
  • Provide detailed reporting insights about each managed device.  
  • Enable automated backups.  
  • Ensure compliance with industry privacy standards, such as HIPAA or GDPR regulations.  
  • Reduce costs associated with managing a large fleet of devices by automating manual tasks. 
  • Increase productivity by streamlining processes related to device management operations, among other features.  

Clearing up confusion over mobile device management versus modern device management 

The similarities between the two MDM platforms offer quite a bit of room for confusion — even if modern device management solutions clearly cover a wider range of possible endpoint devices. 

For example, both systems offer encryption technology for data security. However: 

  • Mobile MDM focuses more on authentication techniques. 
  • Modern MDM offers more detailed monitoring of user activity.  

Similarly, both systems provide location tracking capabilities, but: 

  • Mobile MDM is better suited for managing fleets of devices or assets in remote locations.  
  • Modern MDM is better suited for tracking individual user device behavior.  

Another area where confusion arises is software distribution. Both systems can deploy application updates and patches to devices remotely. However: 

  • Mobile MDM focuses only on over-the-air deployments. 
  • Modern MDM provides more comprehensive control over configuration settings. 
Encryption and security Location tracking Software distribution
Mobile device management Focuses more on authentication techniques.

Better suited for managing fleets of devices or assets in remote locations. 

Focuses only on over-the-air deployments.
Modern device management Offers more detailed monitoring of user activity.

Better suited for tracking individual user device behavior. 

Provides more comprehensive control over configuration settings.

Finally, there are also differences in terms of reporting insights and automated backups. While both systems provide these features to varying degrees, depending on device type and usage requirements, it’s important for customers to understand which system best meets their needs before making any decisions.  

Mobile device management Modern device management
Primary devices focus Phones, tablets, PDAs, COSU, etc. Same as mobile, but with additional device types including servers, desktops, laptops, IoT, etc.
Management scope Mobile device focus User focus
Application deployment Yes – via MAM Yes – via in-house apps store
Endpoint configuration and policies

Mobile only

Device tracking

Mobile only

Reporting and trends Limited Yes
OS and application updates Over-the-air Comprehensive patching and management

Which MDM is right for you? 

There are clear differences when contrasting mobile device management versus modern device management. And both offer extensive benefits to organizations looking for ways to optimize their IT infrastructure while ensuring their assets remain secure at all times. 

The best practice in picking between the two? An organization should select an MDM system based on its individual requirements. For example, while both mobile and modern device management systems offer similar features like encryption technology or authentication techniques, they vary significantly in terms of scope and focus.  

Make sure you select the solution that matches best with your current security protocols and desired feature set — because while they may share an acronym, their differences may make all the difference for your enterprise.