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Four Obstacles to UEM Migration and How to Overcome Them

Oktober 27, 2022 / Unisys Corporation

Prioritize Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) migration to avoid extra delays and expenses

Most enterprise leaders realize the magnitude of tackling digital workplace transformation. The project can require millions of dollars in allocated budget and several months — or even years — to complete, depending on a company’s size, the project’s complexity and other factors. From cross-functional planning to implementation and onboarding, the list of tasks, stakeholders and complexity grows as new technologies, tools and best practices touch every area of the organization.

Leaders will often begin planning for digital workplace transformation by outlining the targeted outcomes they hope to achieve. They’ll focus on key performance indicators (KPIs), such as streamlining efficiencies, reducing operational expenses and improving compliance.

While identifying goals and KPIs is a foundational element of any effective strategy, stakeholders cannot afford to underestimate the importance of UEM, which helps streamline the orchestration of a wide range of technical resources and systems that must be in place to enable the desired KPIs. Just as an enterprise wouldn’t attempt to relocate an executive to a new city without securing a trusted moving company, neither should an enterprise launch a digital workplace transformation without a clear plan for UEM migration.

Traditional UEM migration: A long, costly and dangerous road

Because executing a digital workplace transformation can take months, if not longer, the last thing any stakeholder wants to encounter is a roadblock on the last mile of implementation. While unforeseen challenges can emerge, UEM migration should not be one of them.

For example, consider this scenario:

  • Company A makes an acquisition (Company B) and absorbs that company’s employees into its existing workforce.
  • Each organization uses a different system for managing and securing corporate- connected devices.
  • Company A uses VMware Workspace ONE as its cloud-based UEM solution, while Company B still relies on on-premises mobile and PC management tools.
  • Company A’s CIO and CFO agree that VMware Workspace ONE will be the single UEM solution moving forward.
  • They add “Company B device migration” as a final step in the high-level digital transformation plan.

After nearly a year of diligent effort and meeting milestones, the time has come for the final step in the plan – migrate Company B’s fleet of devices to VMware Workspace ONE. IT personnel quickly realize they’ll have no choice but to completely disconnect thousands of devices from the legacy system and reconnect to the new platform. With each device taking 30-90 minutes to fully disconnect, migrate and reenroll, it becomes clear just how time-consuming and tedious this process will be at enterprise scale.

Now the IT team must share with executives that the company’s digital transformation will be delayed by several months and, even worse, that the planned budget will need to increase. To nobody’s surprise, the leadership team is not pleased.

What went wrong in this scenario? Let’s explore the four greatest obstacles organizations face when implementing UEM migration:

  • Poor end-user experience: Traditionally, device migration has been a source of frustration for employees. When presented with a lengthy technical document outlining multiple steps they must complete by themselves, end users most often wait until the last minute and are unable to avoid the headache of manual device migration. What’s worse, if an employee is already dissatisfied in other areas of employment, adding a poor IT experience to the mix certainly won’t help workforce retention.
  • Loss of time and productivity: Reenrolling a device can easily take 90 minutes, and leadership often underestimates the true scope of the operation, while overestimating the capacity of the IT team and the existing infrastructure to support that migration. Ninety minutes per device translates to several months’ time to migrate an entire enterprise fleet, not to mention the 90 minutes of downtime each employee faces while manually implementing the switch. UEM migrations also involve replicating groups and policies from one platform to another, which can be time-intensive for IT.
  • Unforeseen expenses: If not properly budgeted, UEM migration can quickly become more expensive than a company’s entire transformation project. Manual UEM migration is often more costly than expected because of unforeseen engineering, operations and end-user support needs.
  • Loss of asset visibility: With any migration process comes a critical phase between the unenrollment and reenrollment of a device when the device is “unmanaged” or outside of the company’s jurisdiction. This loss of visibility introduces the risk of the device falling through the cracks and not completing reenrollment, rendering it unmanaged, untraceable and vulnerable to theft or cyberattack.

Not an IT challenge

While UEM migration is technically complex, it’s not necessarily an IT challenge; rather, it’s a people challenge.

The above scenario demonstrates exactly why: If the right people don’t have a seat at the table from day one when developing a comprehensive digital transformation strategy, UEM migration can get left by the wayside. IT managers often identify the need for a streamlined UEM migration solution, while leadership focuses on more high-level issues. Decision-makers are responsible for collaborating directly with IT teams and individual business units to understand why a solid UEM migration plan is critical to a successful digital transformation — in terms of both time and cost savings.

Organizations have two options to consider: Implement a manual UEM migration strategy using internal resources or deploy the migration using a SaaS solution.

The conversation about which path to take must be initiated during the earliest stages of budget planning — not flagged toward the end of the project. If leadership opts for manual migration, there must be flexibility to adjust the timeline and budget during implementation. Executives will also need to set expectations around the end-user experience and be transparent with business units about the downtime the migration path requires.

Alternately, if IT teams successfully make the case to leadership for a streamlined SaaS solution to facilitate UEM migration, a reduced budget and timeline can be identified and closely adhered to from the start — without the risk of unforeseen costs emerging down the road.

The Upshot

The essential ingredient for a successful UEM migration — and, more broadly, an enterprise digital transformation — is to implement organizational change management (OCM) practices and welcome the business’ critical players and stakeholders to the conversation early on. This proactive approach ensures leadership receives input from those whose teams will be directly affected by the change, empowering decision-makers to align organizational KPIs with end-user needs. Enterprises can avoid the IT challenge by approaching UEM migration as a people challenge.