Remote Working & IT: Keep Calm and Automate Everything!
Many organisations have discovered that remote working is not only possible but desirable.
Some surveys suggest that half of the employees are in no rush to return. And many want to continue to work remotely, at least a part of the time. Is this an opportunity to increase productivity, cut office-based costs and improve employee satisfaction?
For more on tools being used by remote workers see this research from Telecompaper in The Netherlands – ‘Microsoft dominates home-work applications market’
To find out how the NHS is using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) see NHS uses basic technology to automate boring tasks.
Remote working poses 4 demands on IT
1. Secure Access to Systems
Remote access tools such as Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s) has made this an operational challenge, one of scaling and budget. Users can be equipped with laptops, security, and access software for remote use. But there are additional operational challenges, particularly for the IT support desk.
One opportunity is to automate routine user support via AI Bots, as we are seeing in Higher Education. This can reduce workload and provide 24/7 support, with a reduced headcount.
2. Secure access to Colleagues & Partners
Collaboration and conferencing tools such as Microsoft’s Teams and Zoom have enabled remote access to colleagues beyond email and chat. These are mature tools but COVID-19 has accelerated their development and adoption. Although not fully replicating the personal experience, most users have adapted to their use and often appreciate the experience.
The opportunity here is to leverage users’ enthusiasm for digital working. To quickly build on their enthusiasm and needs and expose them to the full range of digital productivity tools available. This might be through integrating Teams, using chat via Yammer or other productivity tools into their daily working.
3. Secure access to Data
A trickier area is remote access to data. This is because business processes (and the data that flows through them) are often not as ‘joined up’ as many imagine. Data are often siloed into applications. This then requires frequent manual interventions to extract, edit and upload data to ensure its flow across systems and the organisation. Often these ‘off-system activities are done via Excel and pose data access and privacy risks.
Technically these processes can still be actioned remotely. But reduced staffing has highlighted a dependency on key individuals, who may not be available. It has also highlighted the security and compliance risks of these off-system processes.
The opportunity here is to automate workflow and eliminate or minimise manual interventions, save time and improve business processes.
4. Secure access to new essential Information
Managers now need to answer new questions these exceptional circumstances demand. But they may not have access to the data they need, who to ask for access to, or whether access is even possible. And when they get permission, they may not know how to access it, what the structure and format of data are, or what tools are available to analyse it.
The more fragmented the data across business units & functions, systems and external partners, the greater the challenge this becomes.
Is this the opportunity for CIO’s and CTO’s to use these challenges as a trigger to ignite a focus on data as an asset?
Keep Calm and Automate Everything!
So there is a need to automate process workflow (operational, reporting and analytics) across fragmented systems, both cloud and on-premise. And to eliminate manual data transfer between systems and reduce dependency on key resources.
Besides saving effort, this will bring other benefits – higher quality information and improved customer and staff satisfaction.
But this all needs doing today and in weeks rather than months, and with proven technology ‘out of the box’.
This can be achieved with Microsoft’s Logic Apps workflow automation technology. Cost-effective and flexible, Logic Apps can automate and extend integration beyond core systems and business processes. And for large enterprises as well small – quickly, cheaply, and effectively. Welcome to Keep Calm and Automate everything!