It’s not just the news cycle that’s 24 hours – it’s the workday too. Or at least it feels it, given that every employee has a mobile device making them accessible ALL the time. And this leaves companies to sort out ways to make online access as to proprietary data “safe” around the clock too!

Is being “on” all the time good for anyone? Probably not – but we can save the debate on what constant connectedness is doing to our society for another day. In the meantime, since we all DO have to be connected all the time, a conversation about mobile device management (MDM) makes sense. Mumble grumble.

A great idea that carries a lot of risk

It makes perfect sense that companies would want to allow employees to access company files remotely. One of the great advantages of the Digital Age is the ability for people to work from home – or even abroad. With 37% of U.S. workers claiming to have telecommuted, it’s possible telecommuting could become even more popular down the road.

As mobile and tablet technology advances, laptops and desktops are already becoming less necessary (depending on the task) than they used to be. And even if workers don’t telecommute during regular business hours, the option to access company files after hours, or while away at business conferences, for example, comes in handy.

At the same time, no one in the digital data space is unaware of the dangers, especially in light of major hacks of companies who should be big enough to prevent such things – namely Target, Home Depot, and Sony.

So businesses are right to be nervous about data security, and the potential for security breaches that increases exponentially the more people have access to any given system.

Still, many may be tempted to shrug off MDM as too cost prohibitive. Those in that group should think again and consider what a security breach similar to that of the corporations mentioned above could cost. Target, Home Depot and Sony are each paying out millions in settlement dollars alone.

Whatever it costs to protect a company’s digital assets, it’s worth it. And it could provide some productivity perks, to boot.

MDM beyond security

Customized solutions are available, offering businesses everything from streamlining all stages of mobile-device deployment, to data collection and location services – so businesses can use what works for their needs, and leave the rest. And although security is the primary focus, some MDM services provide additional bells and whistles to make workers that much more efficient when working remotely. These can include “mobile application management features, such as an enterprise app store and application sandboxing, as well as mobile expense management” according to TechTarget’s Matt Shulz.

Some features, like application sandboxing, may not work as well in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) situation, as sandboxed applications may need access to features (like a contact list) that are outside the parameters of the sandbox, rendering the app ineffective.

But if productivity shares top billing with security (which, of course it does), then added features that integrate well are a nice touch. How many features companies incorporate is up to them – and the limitations of the MDM service they choose.

As long as their data will be secure, no matter who is accessing their system, the rest is just gravy. But sometimes gravy DOES make the meal. And any upside to this 24/7 lifestyle is just that.