As things start to get back to "normal", Australian businesses need to stop and evaluate what has worked over the past few months, what didn't work as well - and more importantly contemplate what’s yet to come. As we have seen, practically overnight - organisations around the world had to suddenly shift to a remote workforce, and very few were fully equipped and ready to face the challenge.
“In the early weeks of the lockdown, many businesses nationwide came to us in desperate need of setting-up a fully remote work environment" explains Dan Mandich, Managing Director of Altitude IT, who's been working in the IT industry for over 20 years advising organisations on the latest trends in technology.
The few companies that did have some sort of remote work policy in place, they were only set up to have a limited number of employees using a VPN to access data remotely. But as the pandemic grew, so did issues with scalability, all of a sudden leaders needed to support their entire workforce, and a simple VPN was not going to cut it. “For us, as an IT Managed Service Provider in Sydney, this was a great opportunity to help companies appreciate technology as an enabler of business continuity; and making sure their technology lifecycle and investments supported their organisation’s growth objectives” explains Dan Mandich.
Businesses of all sizes are discovering a great variety of tools and technologies that are not only cost-effective and scalable, but offer a great user experience along with better user adoption. From a business continuity standpoint, we know technology will continue to play a great role but being prepared is key to its success.
Here is a list of the top technologies we believe will shape the future of businesses beyond this Covid-19 and for years to come:
Cloud-based apps to enhance remote work
The first concern when it comes to remote work is productivity. The world is obsessed with it, businesses want to know how to get things done more quickly and with less effort. As we saw during the lockdown, many organisations turned to cloud (internet-based) technologies for answers. The appeal is clear - cloud-based applications are much easier to deploy and scale. And although end-user adoption is essential to capture a return on investment, many organisations are willing to take the chance based on the low up-front cost and risk this represents. “These past few months have shown leaders just how productive their employees can be working from home. We predict that more organisations will continue to make remote work a key part of their operations even after the pandemic” states Dan Mandich.
From players like Google and Microsoft to solutions like Zoom or Slack, there is a vast variety of technologies available for SMBs out there. Platforms like Microsoft365 and Microsoft Teams that had a great adoption in the enterprise market, are now becoming more appealing to small-medium organisations. We are seeing a growing trend where SMB organisations are adopting tools like Microsoft Teams as a great way to ensure high productivity in their remote workers. This positive adaption has opened up a pool of opportunities for business leaders to leverage highly qualified employees that are seeking a more flexible work environment. From now on, businesses will face more pressure than ever to innovate quickly and fulfill rising customer and employee expectations. Many of the technologies, trends, and cultural norms that will shape tomorrow’s workplaces are already transforming forward-thinking organisations around the world. In other words, the future of work is here, and more importantly, it will transcend at full speed into 2020.
Stronger Authentication Solutions
As remote work continues to grow in popularity, security priorities will need to adjust accordingly. In some ways, remote work technologies may provide a security boost as data shifts to centralized servers in the cloud instead of sitting on employee laptops, which greatly reduces the danger of a data breach resulting from a lost device. However, adopting remote cloud-based solutions will force your organization to think in additional layers of security for user authentication. For example, a username and password alone will pose a significant risk as hackers could easily find those on the dark web. What’s the answer to password leaks? Businesses need to deploy Multi-Factor Authentication, which is available in Office365, or with point-solutions like Google Authenticator. Platforms like Microsoft 365 will already include these security features, but they must be enabled by the system administrator.
VPN & Cybersecurity
Before the coronavirus lockdown, many organisations were relying on virtual private networks (VPNs) to allow employees to remotely access corporate resources. VPNs create a secure tunnel for workers and managers to remotely access data and applications, but the tool can sometimes be clunky, and many companies are running into trouble as they try to scale out VPNs to their entire workforce. One of the issues we often help to fix is VPN performance. For instance, organisations that have migrated to Office 365 have Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, and Exchange Online running through the corporate VPN, which really doesn’t allow for the scalability needed in a fully remote work instance. This is why we recommend routing data coming from these services over a VPN split tunnel configuration or VPN cascading. As cloud and remote work technologies continue to shape the future of the workplace, businesses need to carefully consider a more robust VPN strategy to avoid performance issues that can damage the work experience of remote users.
VDI or DaaS?
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) both offer employees a secure way to access their work desktops from practically anywhere, using any device. The main difference between these two is hosting. Typically, virtual desktops (VDI) are hosted in a company’s own datacentre, while DaaS is hosted in the public or private cloud. Both solutions allow workers to log into work using a browser on their laptop, tablet or smartphones, using a mobile network or home Wi-Fi connection, giving them immediate access to all of their work data and applications. Before Covid-19, only a handful of businesses had a Virtual Desktop Environment in place, mostly reserved for executives at large enterprises. During the emergency, we helped businesses quickly deploy VDI, it’s a scalable technology that provides a great user experience. And most of these environments will continue to exist beyond this pandemic, as our clients are starting to realise how well the technology actually works – it’s stable and secure. When deploying a VDI or DaaS environment, network configurations are essential to avoid performance issues. A poor internet connection will definitely affect the user experience in the virtual desktop, pushing the user away. Here is where partnering with technology managed service provider can be beneficial, as they will support and manage your network identifying performance issues in a proactive manner.
Amazing Technical Support
We cannot forget our experienced and dedicated IT team working behind the scenes and providing us with the technical support we need and making sure all our technologies align. Together, they save us time, money and unnecessary frustration. Building a remote workforce can create the competitive edge you need to survive in today’s tough marketplaces. The key is combining the right technologies with the right people. Together, they’ll create a remote workforce that cuts costs, increases productivity, and generates brand-building customer experiences.
These are just a few of the technologies we’ve seen first-hand have a greater impact on the ability to keep organisations going strong without major disruptions. With such rapid, massive movement towards a work-from-home model, one might be tempted to assume that the workplace is poised to become entirely digital. Although we don’t believe this will actually be the case, we do see businesses more willing to invest in these technologies as a way to shape their business models and offer a better work-life balance increasing productivity and innovation.
About Altitude IT
Altitude IT is a next generation Managed IT Provider serving companies nationwide. We specialise in helping companies go through a digital transformation and remove IT headaches so you can focus on achieving your business goals.
If you would like help to setup and get your remote technologies in place, Altitude IT is here for you. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org for a super-fast response.