Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) software is an essential tool for IT administrators to ensure the security and appropriate use of employee smartphones and tablets.

MDM or EMM solutions are typically licensed as a monthly or annual subscription on a per-device or per-user basis. While pricing varies significantly depending on the MDM’s features and the number of licenses, a 2018 study on enterprise mobility by Oxford Economics found organizations are spending between $3.25 and $9 per device each month. Organizations can use our Mobile Cost Calculator — which draws on the findings of the Oxford Economics study — to compare their current investment in MDM software with industry averages.

What Volume Discounting Can You Expect?

Pricing for MDM or EMM solutions varies significantly based upon the number of users or mobile devices being managed. While leading MDM solution providers typically don’t publish volume pricing, larger organizations should expect to see significant discounts on list pricing when negotiating licenses for hundreds or thousands of mobile device users. The Oxford Economics study estimated, for example, that while a small business may pay $5 per month for a basic MDM tool, a large enterprise may pay just $3.25 per user for the same feature set.

What MDM Features Do You Need?

Not all MDM solutions offer the same feature set. In fact, many MDM solution providers have several tiers of products available with varying capabilities and price points.

Organizations should begin assessing their MDM needs based on a review of mobile device security risks, starting with what sensitive information is being accessed on the devices. Many MDM solution providers will provide consultations as part of the sales engagement, but it’s worthwhile for organizations to invest time in this themselves, as it will help determine the capabilities you really need.

Businesses operating in unregulated environments or with lower levels of mobile security risk may choose to deploy a more basic MDM tool. Core features of a basic MDM solution would include the ability to enforce the use of PINs, passwords or biometrics, to blocklist apps or websites, and to remotely lock or wipe lost or stolen devices.

On the other hand, organizations operating in regulated environments will likely need additional features to ensure higher levels of device security. Common features on more advanced solutions include secure “containers” to keep enterprise data and apps separated, per-app VPNs and other mobile application management capabilities. Many vendors distinguish between MDM and EMM, with the latter representing a broader set of features, including those mentioned above.

The Oxford Economics study estimated that regulated industry organizations are spending on average 80 percent more on MDM than unregulated businesses, reflecting the different level of capabilities required.

Per Device or Per User?

Many MDM solution providers offer different pricing models for licenses per device or per user. For organizations looking to take a unified approach to endpoint management, identifying an MDM solution that allows effective management of devices beyond smartphones, such as tablets, laptops and even smartwatches, makes a lot of sense. In enterprises where employees use multiple mobile devices, opting for per-user pricing can also help achieve significant savings.

BYOD or Corporate Issued?

Even organizations that have opted for a BYOD approach to mobile enablement will typically still need an MDM solution in place. In fact, the Oxford Economics study found that nine out of 10 organizations with BYOD policies have an MDM client deployed on employee devices.

When considering MDM solutions for a BYOD environment, it’s important to ensure the solution will enable management of all operating system builds. Some vendors have specialized MDM packages well-suited for teams with BYOD.

MDM or EMM software can represent a significant investment, but it’s critical for organizations to ensure the security and effective use of mobile devices. Using MDM solutions to support the deployment of devices will save time for IT administrators, while effective policies will reduce support calls and risk of exposing sensitive data.

Learn more about the opportunity to lower costs while strengthening mobile security posture in the study from Oxford Economics.