If youre not using managed app configurations, youre missing out

True story: I while back, I was hanging out with a friend when a perfect enterprise mobility use case came up. This friend is a product manager (which often seems like a

24/7 job!), and in response to an urgent email, he had to rush home to log into his company's bug tracking software from his laptop. As a mobility blogger, I was excited show off my practical knowledge, and suggested checking the Apple App Store for a mobile client. Sure enough, it was there, and my friend installed it immediately. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to log in, since the app setup required some server settings that he couldn’t figure out on the spot. I was embarrassed that his enterprise mobility experience didn’t live up to my enthusiasm.

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This is a cheesy anecdote, but it’s a perfect illustration of why managed app configurations exist in iOS and Android. If you’re already familiar with this concept, then great! But if you’re not, or if you are but you’re not using them, consider today’s post as a public service announcement.

Managed app configuration is a feature of iOS MDM and Android enterprise. It’s been around for a few years, and it allows an MDM server to configure settings within individual mobile apps, via the MDM protocol. These settings can be anything that the developer desires, and the AppConfig Community has defined a standard schema that allows MDM servers/EMM consoles to consume these settings and present them in administrator user interfaces.

The first step is for app developers to be aware of and use managed configurations, and implementing them according to the AppConfig Community schema is helpful, too. Sure, this only applies to devices that are enrolled in MDM, but that’s still many devices, so software vendors, if you haven’t exposed managed app configurations for settings that are required to set up your app, consider making it a priority.

Next, it’s up to EMM administrators to take advantage of these settings. In my friend’s case, his company used MDM to enforce a passcode policy; configure email, wifi, and VPN settings; and encrypt email attachments—but that was it.

It seems simple, but in addition to configurations, users also need help finding all their mobile apps in the first place—My friend is a sharp product manager, but didn’t know that the bug tracking mobile client existed out there in the public store. I know for a fact that their EMM vendor has an enterprise app catalog that can suggest apps, and that the client app in question is a free feature of the bug tracking software.

There could have been more going on behind the scenes, but there’s a clear lesson here: managed app configurations, as well as app catalogs, are two key tools to evolve a company’s mobility mindset from just security to enabling productivity.

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