Hearding mobile cats
Many organizations impose mobile fleet order by implementing Mobile Device Management (MDM) applications across their installed base and subsequent mobile device fleet deployments. MDM apps are designed to corral smartphone functionality in explicit, policy-based ways. As a by-product, many MDM applications also provide proof of compliance for regulatory and other audit needs. Indeed a hallmark of the current crop of MDM applications is heavy reporting. Popular MDM applications provide pathways for international regulatory compliance proof, carrier usage reports, group costs, fleet/group/individual usage patterns, even how popular games and apps are used.
MDM applications are hosted either as an in-house deployed and managed application, or externally deployed via SaaS or "online" hosted models. Some MDM applications are telco/carrier-specific. Carrier-hosted MDM applications often cover only devices issued by the carrier. Many of these carrier-based MDM applications are OEM versions of other MDM applications, modified in some cases to handle carrier-specific service level agreements/SLAs, or specific carrier features or policy controls.
Other MDM applications may have either organizationally-based and/or hosted/SaaS versions available for deployment. Licensing is often flexible. But no matter where the MDM application is hosted, the scope of an MDM's scalability is important as organizations that seek to corral smartphone and mobile device use often must do so for their entire organization's field deployment of mobile devices. This mandate is often spawned by regulatory needs, audit/compliance policy adherence, or the fear of liability, security breaches/data loss, and employee safety.
It's for the audit reasons that some current device tracking management application vendors have extended their desktop/notebook management applications to extend to smartphone and mobile device users. Organizations such as Wavelink and Fiberlink/MaaS360 already had industrial-strength fleet management skills before they launched in to MDM. Others, like Tangoe, built highly-focused MDM applications that were used by carriers before they became available for large organizations.
Mobile device OS factors
Some, but not all mobile device/smartphone OS makers have MDM applications available and their management capabilities are often specific to the mobile device they make. RIM, as an example, has the Blackberry Enterprise Server as a nexus for controlling the Blackberry.