IT: What is the New Normal?

Homeworking

Remote Working and IT

Many organisations have discovered that wide-scale remote working is not only possible, but desirable.

Some surveys suggest that almost half of employees are in no rush to return. And many want to continue to work remotely, at least a part of the time. Employers are seeing 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’

Remote working poses 4 challenges and opportunities for IT:

1. Secure remote 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. This can reduce worlkload and provide 24/7 support, maybe with a reduced headcount.

2. Secure remote 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 and COVID-19 has simply accelerated their development and adoption. Although not fully replicationg the onsite experience most users have adapted and often appreciate the experince. There may be additional licensing costs though Teams was probably available for many prior to COVID 19.

The opportunity here is to leverage users’ enthousiasm for digital working . To quickly expose them to the full range of digital productivity tools available. This might be integrating Teams, using chat via Yammer or other productivity tools into their daily working.

3. Secure remote access to Data

A trickier area is remote access to data. This is because business processes (and the data that flows through them) are not as ‘joined up’ as many imagined. Data are often silo’d into applications. This 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 done via Excel and pose data access and privacy breach risks.

Technically these processes can still be actioned remotely. But reduced staff availablity 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 remote access to new Information

Managers now need easy access to information to answer new questions these exceptional circumstances demand. They may not have access to the data they need to answer these questions;. Theymay not know who to ask, or whether access is even possible.  And if they get permission they may not know how to access it, what the structure and format is, what tools are available to anlayse it.

The more fragmented the data across business units & functions, systems and external partners, the greater the challenge this is. The lack of a coherent data strategy and clear data governance has been exposed by COVID 19.

There is an opportunity to use these challenges as a trigger to ignite a focus on data as an asset. For CIO’s to engage their peers ito identify a startefy for data and where to start.

Opportunity? Keep Calm and Automate Everything!

So there is a need to quickly integrate process workflow (operational, reporting and analytics) across fragmented systems, both cloud and on-premise. To emiminate manual data transfer between systems and reduce dependency on key resources.

Besides saving effort, it will bring other benefits, such as higher quality information and improved customer satsfaction.

And all this needs to be done in weeks rather than months, with trusted technology ‘out of the box’.

Fortunatly, this can be achieved with the adoption of workflow automation technology such as Microsoft’s Logic Apps . This is an example of a new generation of cloud-based integration solutions. Econmic and flexible, Logic Apps can automate and extend integration beyond core systems and business processes. For large enterprises as well small – quickly, cheaply and effectively. Welcome to Keep Calm and Automate everything!

Want to know more?

Contact us (details below) or download Corporate IT: A New Normal?