Why you’re choosing MDMs all wrong

 In End-User Devices, Mobility, Security, Solutions

There are three types of people who search for MDMs:

  1. Those with no familiarity: People who know they need to manage their devices but don’t know where to start.
  2. Those with some familiarity: People who know what a MDM is, but have never used one before.
  3. Those who are very familiar: People who are looking to replace their current MDM or who have past experience with MDMs and are looking to implement one in their current organization.

Which one of these three do you think has the biggest issue deciding what to buy?

I can see why you’d think number one or two. But in fact, it’s more likely to be number three.

The more you know, the more you can get caught up in different features or functionality between two options. Numbers one and two have open minds and a clean slate to decide what they want. Number three is privy to a plethora of information that leaves them vulnerable to time-consuming line-by-line comparisons.

This is what psychologists call distinction bias.

What is distinction bias?

Distinction bias is a tendency to put too much emphasis on granular distinctions between choices when they are in “joint comparison mode.” In simpler terms, it’s when a person gets too caught up in the small differences when comparing things side by side.

For example, you want chocolate ice cream. You drive to the grocery store, and as fate would have it, the ice cream aisle not only has chocolate, but chocolate with cookies in it, and chocolate with cookies, fudge, and brownies. What you originally thought you wanted can blur as you see other options with different features.

So, how does this relate to an IT department trying to decide on an MDM for their organization?

How distinction bias affects your MDM search

Let’s say your criteria for an MDM is simple – you’re a small business and you’re looking for an option that lets you push software updates and wipe devices.

But when comparing the specs of two MDMs right next to each other in detailed spreadsheets, you get stuck. The MDM on the left fulfills your needs perfectly. The one on the right fits your needs and then some – you can also deploy custom code and enable single sign on. The second one has more features, you think. It must be better.

Honestly, it may not be. When implemented, the MDM with the extra features might not perform the way you need it to in your organization.

Quantitative data cannot be analyzed alone to make your decision, and comparing the MDMs down to the detail level side by side can completely skew your decision-making.

3 ways to avoid distinction bias

So now that you know what distinction bias is, we’ll show you how to avoid it when selecting an MDM, using three tips from Nir Eyal.

1. Decide what you want before you compare. A vision can stave off indecision. Make a list, check it twice, and don’t stray from it.

Consider adopting more than one MDM. Unless a single pane of glass is a must-have, you’ll probably need more than one MDM to manage all the different types of devices in your company. Apple, Windows, and Android may all require something different. Take note of all the ecosystems within your company, assess their individual needs, and then go from there.

2. Do not compare side by side! This point cannot be driven home enough. Comparing is important (how else can you make a decision?) but there are ways to compare that won’t drag the process out.

First, request demos of the MDMs you’re interested in. Try not to schedule too many demos in a day so you don’t overwhelm yourself with information. If possible, request a trial period so you can test it out yourself.

When viewing the demos and testing, take notes of exactly what you like and don’t like. Isolate those opinions from the other MDMs you’ve tried out.

Take some time to read reviews, but with a healthy amount of skepticism. Look for detailed reviews that list the pros and cons, not simply “I didn’t like it” or “I love it.”

3. Maximize for what you just won’t get used to. Some features you might not want, but you can get used to them. Others will never meet your needs. Once you’ve seen demos and tested MDMs, consider what you absolutely cannot tolerate.

For example, if you’re new to MDMs, you might need an extensive customer support system. If you find a perfect MDM in every respect except that its customer service is sub-par or isn’t available when you need it, don’t choose that MDM if you know you’ll be struggling without the help. Move onto the next option.

In short, don’t sweat the small stuff

You’re never going to make the perfect decision, but by following these steps, you can make the best decision. You can beat distinction bias. If you define your scope early on, look for only what’s important, and stay away from granular comparisons, you’ll be on your way to finding the best MDM for your organization.

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