Companies will spend an average of $7.4 million on data-related initiatives over the next 12 months, with enterprises investing an average of $13.8 million, and small and medium businesses (SMBs) investing an average of $1.6 million, according to a recent IDG Enterprise study.

Over 83% of organizations are prioritizing structured data initiatives as critical or high priority, and 36% are planning to increase their budgets for data-driven initiatives. These statistics foretell an important strategic shift that businesses are undergoing worldwide – they are becoming increasingly data-driven.

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, IT administrators walked into the office with a set of tasks in their mind to perform – configuration, software distribution, patching, and other endpoint management functions that required automation as an important component. A new patch had to be planned and deployed into all the endpoints in a phased manner, new content and configuration parameters had to be tested and piloted before any large-scale deployment, and so on.

Fast-forward to the present time, and IT administrators have become more data and insights driven -- rather than simply performing a set of actions in a transactional manner. In today’s fast-paced business landscape, companies can’t afford to only react to developing situations, but also need to proactively account for and manage them – being data-driven allows this.

Endpoint management today involves such data-driven decision-making based on historical insights, real-time endpoint status, live updates and notifications, up-to-the-minute compliance status, dashboards that draw information from multiple sources in the enterprise, and many other capabilities that are only possible due to better visibility across their network and devices.

In a recent research report on enterprise mobility and connected devices, VDC Research analysts Eric Klein and David Krebs state:

Next-generation [endpoint management] solutions must not only be endpoint agnostic but must be able to compile data from all potential sources across network elements, data on email and web gateways, mobile devices, software and applications, virtual environments, and the cloud to gain knowledge about their endpoint environment, identify potential threats, and enable the ability to enforce consistency in policies.

In the absence of well-integrated endpoint insights with operations, IT faces significant inefficiencies and additional costs when working, such as:

  1. Operations tend to remain transactional and hard to coordinate and prioritize amongst themselves with no clear way to analyze and report on them
  2. Fragmentation at multiple levels, including separate tools generating different reports in multiple formats – all of which makes it hard to reconcile actions
  3. Separate outcomes and results of actions that tell their own story, without providing a single overarching view of all operations in one place
  4. Exponential permutations and combinations of data points that are virtually impossible to manually take stock of
  5. Analysis that is time consuming with never-ending manual cycles, which is error-prone and increasingly untenable in an exploding endpoint universe of IT
  6. Lack of learning from past data and cross-pollination of information between various endpoint sub-functions

With increased intelligence of endpoints, actions are driven on the basis of a multitude of device and network characteristics. Even if the actions remain the same and need to be performed in the same order they are driven by up-to-the-minute dashboards, real-time data, and past experience of success/ failure.
Good insight information often goes into the meta-data of an organization and enables schema customizations, self-service, ad hoc view creation, and transformations. When successfully implemented, they can provide cohesiveness between systems that can be a very powerful tool in the hands of IT administrators.

Smart endpoint management tools provide IT with such historical and real-time insights in addition to the operational capabilities, which in turn enables IT to identify and unearth issues faster, optimize software distribution, make incremental improvements, eliminate duplication, and so on. By doing so, they free up corporate IT to explore other challenging issues. With smart endpoint management tools at its disposal, IT today can proactively look at real-time data and insights to drive their actions as opposed to performing a transactional set of actions and then reporting on them. This reversal allows administrators to make the right decisions faster and be more productive.

Shivesh Vishwanathan leads product marketing at Accelerite, a business of Persistent Systems.

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