Brother Industries turns to MobileIron for solutions to work offsite while maintaining tight security

Industry: Manufacturing

"Being able to access in-house systems and file servers has made it possible to seamlessly perform simple tasks on mobile devices, even on the go. Especially for managers, it's very nice to be able to carry out work flow approvals when not at our desks."

Masaaki Hibino , Group Manager, MIS Department

Brother Industries switches to MobileIron for optimal mobile business technology

During more than a century in business, Brother Industries has evolved from a company best known for making sewing machines into a major manufacturer of printing devices. Its range of products include all-in-one laser printers, inkjet printers and scanners for the home and office, as well as production models that can print on resin and metal. While Brother Industries still sells sewing machines in its home country of Japan, as well as abroad, printing devices today comprise the core of the company’s business.

Brother Industries and its Brother sales subsidiary, which handles sales of the company’s various products in Japan, began adopting iPhones and iPads as their standard mobile device in the fall of 2012. But only by partnering with MobileIron in 2016 did the company finally achieve its goal of highly secure and complete business mobility for its salespeople, managers, and other employees.

Limited business mobility

“Because of our heavy emphasis on security, we initially distributed mobile devices that did not provide access to Apple’s App Store and only permitted minimal mobile functionality when an application was required from the user,” says senior team manager Ryoichi Sasaki of the MIS Dept.

Because users couldn’t download applications directly from Apple, employees wishing to install additional business-related applications were forced to ask management for permission, resulting in a number of employees voicing their dissatisfaction with those excessively rigid limits.

Searching for a solution, the company found a compromise. They switched to a mobile management platform that allowed employees more freedom to install needed apps, while securely protecting the company’s network and servers. However, that solution fell far short of providing the business capabilities employees needed outside the office.

According to Sasaki, "Convenience was improved compared to before, but users still couldn’t read password protected files attached to emails. Also, email and calendar displays would lag without synchronizing, and calendars wouldn't display correctly. Additionally, we were not able to access information located on file servers so we started searching for a solution that would provide this functionality.

Introducing MobileIron, successfully used by US subsidiaries

Brother Industries chose to implement an enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform from MobileIron before their previous mobile management platform expired in March of 2016. They knew that MobileIron had been used successfully by their US subsidiary and that it would solve the issues their previous mobile management platform was unable to do. Prior to selecting MobileIron, Brother evaluated its effects on corporate governance as well as its Japanese language support, with concrete steps towards introducing MobileIron beginning at the end of 2015.

According to Masaaki Hibino, Group Manager, MIS Dept., "While researching the use of MobileIron together with our domestic sales subsidiaries, they expressed to us their strong desire to use demonstrations on iPhones and iPads to introduce their products and software to customers, a fact which also pushed us towards adopting MobileIron."

To increase business efficiencies, employees need to be able to view password-protected email attachments outside of the office. Because this functionality didn’t work with our previous mobile platform, employees were forced to return to the office in order to view file attachments. After demands to resolve this issue as quickly as possible, MobileIron was gradually deployed throughout the company and its subsidiaries.

One reason the MobileIron devices were not deployed all at once was because it took a significant amount of manual labor to move away from the previous mobile platform. The support team communicated installation methods to individuals who were proficient in using mobile devices so they could perform their own installation. However, it was necessary to temporarily collect the devices of the remaining majority of employees to perform installation work for them.

According to Yuki Nakashima of the MIS Dept., "Although replacing the mobile platform was challenging, MobileIron made it possible to use 1,400 iPhones/iPads at two companies beginning in May. We considered this to be a reasonable achievement in light of the fact that we were simultaneously carrying out both user training and in-house support."

Brother Industries’ domestic sales company was also quick to introduce MobileIron, beginning their transition at the start of the year and completing it at the end of February. Brother Industries and factories abroad also began replacement in February and completed their company-wide deployment in May. The robust support provided by the ABeam Systems Solution Department was a major factor in completing all transition work in a short time period, including configurations for each mobile device.

Using MobileIron increases efficiency

According to Hibino, "Some employees didn't feel the previous solution was inconvenient, and there was some dissatisfaction voiced by users who felt that the trouble of replacing the previous solution was greater than the advantages of its replacement. However, the manager of the MIS Department first adopted MobileIron himself and we were able to deploy MobileIron relatively smoothly thanks to his communicating the advantages down through management."

After introducing MobileIron, not only was it possible to view attached password-protected files, it was also possible to expand the use of apps. Currently, users can install apps for work as desired, while managers can monitor via MobileIron what apps are being used and how. "Company rules still exist, but users can now select apps as desired," saysNakashima.

Brother Industries uses MobileIron's security app for email functions, and in doing so, has eliminated any trouble they had previously with viewing emails and calendars on their iPhones. For content management, Brother Industries will also be using MobileIron's [email protected] solution.

"There are many people pleased with how easy it is to use MobileIron," says Nakashima, expressing the opinion of other employees. "MobileIron solved our previous problems, such as the lag with emails."

MobileIron's [email protected] also enables end users to access internal web resources, resulting in further increases in efficiency.

“Being able to access in-house systems and file servers has made it possible to seamlessly perform simple tasks on mobile devices, even on the go,” says Masaaki Hibino, Group Manager, MIS Dept. “Especially for managers, it’s very nice to be able to carry out work flow approvals when not at our desks.”

Global standardization of MobileIron

One idea for future development is the global standardization on a single mobile security solution. Currently, MobileIron is being used by Brother Industries, its Japanese subsidiaries, its factories abroad in Asia, and its US subsidiaries, but other Asian sales companies and European subsidiaries are using different solutions. This variation was a result of different use cases and preferences at the time these solutions were introduced.

According to Sasaki, "We considered a company-wide standardization but realized a three-year-plan might be more ideal. Since there are still 4,000 flip-phones left in-company, we would like to gradually replace these with iPhones.”

While monitoring the platform integration and maturation, Brother Industries says it plans to reduce management costs through volume discounts and will establish a global support system by standardizing management procedures."We want to create a completely secure environment to be able to use apps which can perform high-level tasks using company information," says Sasaki

MobileIron looks forward to supporting Brother Industries in their desire for highly efficient management using mobile devices that offer a high level of security.

Key Benefits:
  • Allows users to access password-protected files attached to emails on iOS devices
  • Eliminates delays in updating business-critical emails and calendar information
  • Allows “anywhere” access to company file servers
Why Mobileiron:
  • Used successfully by US subsidiaries
  • Password-protected files attached to email can be viewed on iPhones
  • Resolves email- and calendar-related issues
  • Provides safe mobile access to in-company servers
  • Provides extremely convenient management functions