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Simplicity Bank Streamlines Mobile Device Control

Simplicity Bank gains automated controls and improves mobile device security without adding headcount by adopting AirWatch Mobile Device Management.

Paul Madore, Simplicity Bank
Paul Madore, Simplicity Bank
Like so many other institutions experiencing exploding mobile device adoption, Simplicity Bank quickly discovered that issuing tablets and phones to executive management and Board members created device management challenges. "We started issuing [Apple] iPads and iPhones in early 2012 and by mid-year we were manually managing 40 devices," explains VP Information Technology Paul Madore, who leads a lean seven-member IT staff at the Covina, Calif., institution.

"We experienced a couple of incidents with devices, including one theft," adds Madore, the bank's VP of information technology. "Although no customer information or sensitive data was affected, we realized we needed more effective controls."

After consulting the latest analyst research, Simplicity ($890 million in total assets) explored three mobile device management (MDM) solution vendors. "We wanted something cloud-based," says Madore. "One was a cloud/onsite hybrid, which we disqualified. Another was somewhat cumbersome for enrolling devices."

Ultimately, Simplicity settled on AirWatch (Atlanta) Mobile Device Management (MDM). "It was more intuitive and its features were more fully-developed," Madore says. "Plus it had very little impact on end users, only requiring their iTunes account, username and password. This permitted pushing out MDM unobtrusively in the background."

Starting in late summer Simplicity began testing AirWatch on mobile devices used by the bank's seven-person IT staff. Because Simplicity is an Apple (Cupertino, Calif.) iOS shop for mobile phone and tablets, no BYOD testing occurred.

[Read: Banks May Not Be Able to Resist 'Bring Your Own Device' ]

During the fall Simplicity conducted a successful phased rollout over a period of approximately 45 days beginning with onsite executive leadership devices, followed by offsite Board members.

Controlling Geolocation

Since becoming fully deployed in November 2012, only two significant challenges have arisen. The first surrounds the latest version of iOS, which permits users to turn off their device's geolocation functionality.

"But, the location is the first thing we want to check when there's an issue with a device," notes Madore. "Although we could use AirWatch to force compliance with keeping geolocation turned on, we chose to use a policy-based approach at this time."

The second hurdle involved enrollment functionality after AirWatch updated its solution. "Devices weren't as easy to enroll," Madore says. "So we contacted AirWatch and they restored the functionality in their next service pack. Such responsiveness is nearly unheard of in the tech industry."

Since deploying, Simplicity has expanded AirWatch coverage to include more than 50 devices. The bank now leverages various security features such as requiring passwords and pushing out device profiles the enforce iOS updates.

As a result, the deployment's benefits far exceed the costs. "Without AirWatch we'd need to add another third of an FTE to keep track of phones and tablets on spreadsheets, which would be a nightmare," asserts Madore.

"Also, without AirWatch we'd lack visibility and compliance," he continues. "For example, when a device goes over a certain data limit we can pinpoint the device and the user to know whether their usage levels are appropriate or not."

Paper, toner and express delivery costs also are down due to electronic document delivery via the secure NASDAQ OMX Group (New York) portal Directors Desk. "Using AirWatch to enforce the use of Directors Desk permits us to distribute our monthly board packets, committee meeting information and other leadership materials by .PDF," says Madore. "If Director's Desk is accidently uninstalled, AirWatch notifies us."

Moving forward, Simplicity intends to continue improving security, such as by enforcing strong and complex passwords, without adding more burdens to IT. "We've freed up our system administrator to do more important things," observes Madore. "And having AirWatch just plain helps us sleep at night."


Institution: Simplicity Bank (Covina, Calif.).

Assets: $890 million.

Business Challenge: Streamline and automate management of mobile devices.

Solution: AirWatch (Atlanta) Mobile Device Management (MDM).

Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio

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