user with tablet and phone (Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock.com)

Mobile device management, visualized

Mobile device management may get a little less complicated with a new service that helps IT administrators analyze user behavior, location, security and connectivity data through real-time visualizations.

Available as a software-as-a-service or on-premise solution, NetMotion Software’s Mobile IQ creates digestible bar charts, graphs and maps from data collected by the company’s Diagnostics tool on Wi-Fi and cellular networks. It uses Splunk’s technology to translate the data into visualizations that can be customized. Users can also create email and text alerts keyed to specific metrics.

Although the company knew there was value in the data collected by its Diagnostics program, there was no easy way for administrators  “to analyze that data and understand how to take appropriate actions or measures to better manage”  the employees and their devices, John Knopf, NetMotion’s vice president of products, said.

Announced May 16, Mobile IQ was beta tested with government users, but they were unavailable to comment because of the solution’s newness.

Mobile IQ collects data from all NetMotion-enabled devices running common mobile operating systems, including Android, Mac OS, iOS and Windows. The software sits in the background, unknown to most mobile device users, such as patrol officers or social workers in the field. IT administrators at headquarters are the active users.

“They’re the ones that would be actively using our software both in terms of the collection of data that our Diagnostics software is doing on that mobile device as that patrol officer drives around over the course of their day,” said Lee Johnson, NetMotion’s marketing director.

The customization is key, Knopf said, because not all governments have the same needs for mobile workers. For example, an agency in a large Northeastern city needs to know that when police officers go to a scene, they will have wireless coverage, Knopf said. Using NetMotion’s software, IT administrators can pull up historical data on that area to determine what connectivity there has been like in the past.

Another customer wanted to enable patrol officers to use a community’s Wi-Fi networks but had concerns about security, Johnson said. Mobile IQ let administrators see the hotspots to which the officers’ devices were connecting and determine whether they were safe.

Mobile IQ can generate a system summary dashboard, which provides details on the connectivity and security status of a mobile deployment; diagnostic reports, which let users look for problems’ root causes; Wi-Fi security dashboards; wireless wide-area network dashboards, which grants visibility beyond the firewall; and device dashboards, which let administrators track data usage, device states and locations, and other operational metrics.

Users can also set up alerts based on most anything, Knopf said, including when something goes under or over a threshold or a trend indicating an atypical change.

Mobile IQ can speed the help desk’s response time, making employees in the field more productive, Knopf said. For instance, when a user contacts the IT department to say a device is not connecting, the administrator can get the data from the device using Mobile IQ and immediately see what asset is affected, how it’s configured, how it’s used and what the problem is. Previously, the user would have had to bring the device in for diagnostics -- a process that would have taken days, Knopf said.

“Return on investment is very much related to how quickly we can resolve incidents out in the field and get people back and productive again,” he said.

Mobile IQ also eases one of the biggest problems that government agencies face: lost devices. “One of the most common things that we see across all industries is they have these mobile assets -- laptops, handheld tablets, phones -- that are connected and have active application on them, and they get lost,” Knopf said. With Mobile IQ, administrators can identify when and where the device was last heard from.

What’s more, it gives managers visibility into which users are not using their devices enough or properly. That information can inform decisions to either decommission the device or redeploy it, saving the agency money, Johnson added.

Mobile IQ pricing depends on deployment size and runs from $2,000 for on-premises deployments or $125/month for a SaaS subscription.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.

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