Three IT strategies for the new era of hybrid work

The usage of endpoint and mobile devices throughout the region has exploded as we shift to hybrid work. Asia Pacific companies are now recording billions of digital interactions, as 80% of employees work from home. Evidence suggests that hybrid working is here to stay, even beyond the pandemic.  As business and IT leaders begin to accept this new reality, how can they adapt their IT strategies to creatively solve the many operational challenges that this new future poses?

Leaning Left with Hyper-Automation

Automation is not a new concept. Organisations use it to streamline manual tasks these days — think about the apps you use to pay your bills and make insurance claims. Even the phone calls to your telco and banks are often greeted by virtual assistants. With hybrid work, the volume of IT requests has increased dramatically as people adjust to new work environments and have more devices to manage and troubleshoot. Employees also expect immediate solutions for issues impacting their ability to remain productive remotely. This has caused an unprecedented strain on IT teams and a more scalable solution must be sought out.

Enter: the ‘shift left’ strategy. The core idea of the shift left strategy lies in moving problem resolution or other simplistic activities as close to the end user as possible. Especially pertinent for the future of work, shift left solutions put automation in the hands of the frontline support analyst, or even the end user, so they can fix the problem themselves. The ultimate goal, however, goes further than this: enabling devices to autonomously manage themselves.

By leveraging hyper-automation tools, businesses can enable devices to be self-diagnosing, self-servicing, and self-healing. Think of a remote worker who exceeds the number of password entry tries on his device past office hours. Instead of waiting till the next morning to call the IT help desk, a self-healing device would immediately detect the dilemma and automatically run steps to verify the correct identity and restore the access to the stranded colleague. As hybrid work becomes the new normal, businesses will need to look at more complex applications of automation to simplify the end-user’s work experience, and free-up IT teams to focus on more critical issues.

Delivering Quicker Resolutions Remotely

While the hyper-automation strategy will make life much easier for IT teams by delivering on greater automated experiences, there will always be issues that humans will have to resolve. Organisations must equip their IT teams with the tools to handle these issues remotely and securely to succeed in an increasingly complex environment. This begins with utilising AI and building on deep learning capabilities that provide critical information to IT teams in real time.

Say an employee is unable to access restricted customer information from his home network to complete a sales order and needs to enable VPN access. With the right software platforms, the IT representative will be able to guide him remotely, to push the necessary VPN software to his device, configure the necessary access information and provision his access through automation scripts. IT would also be able to discover the model of the router used in his home network if required and assist in router settings if the employee assigns the rights and authorisation. IT can also assess its vulnerabilities and advise the employee accordingly. In the past, the work would have to completed in the office. With hybrid work environments, going back to the office may not even be an option.

By leveraging software platforms that can continuously conduct pre-defined diagnostics on the edge, IT teams can have real-time access to a world of pertinent information that could go a long way in resolving serious IT issues, quickly. Imagine if that same IT representative could immediately see all the different devices the employee had in use, what his network status was, or what software, applications or patches he recently did or did not install. With the right knowledge and access, the resolution process could be even faster than if the device was right in front of him.

Welcome to the New Normal

Surveys have shown that most millennials use multiple devices to do work. Discovering new devices in use for work is a cornerstone of endpoint management — and essential for security. As the number of employee devices accessing company information continues to increase from hybrid working transitions, companies must ensure that effective safeguards are in place to prevent the introduction of new threats into the enterprise.

For companies with thousands of employees using multiple devices individually, discovery and visibility can become a serious issue. By utilising discovery solutions that consolidate information from different sources within an organisation, IT management can have much greater visibility on the devices tagged to their employees. This includes information about the device’s network connection, hardware details, manufacturer, or even what software is running on it at the moment. The last is an essential piece of information in the fight against ransomware.

Gaining this base level of visibility and management will be fundamental for the future of hybrid work, as employees move from location to location, accessing different public and private networks from a multitude of devices. It is not all about security – the business applications of edge computing are limited only by our imagination. Picture a new staff joining the company and being sent the on-boarding kit and bare metal device from the local vendor. Upon login, the device is updated with all his credentials and access rights. He goes to the physical office for the first time. The “Robotic Reception” will be able to recognise him and greets him accordingly. His access card is updated to the proper floors and meeting room access. He gets a message on his registered mobile device to guide him to the right room.

On the backend, the system calculated the capacity of the location, the availability of meeting rooms and the safest route and rest points for the employee so that social distancing can be maintained. These are the new business considerations in post-pandemic world. The possibilities are endless, and it is up to business leaders to adapt, and innovate with the increasing amount of insights that end-to-end management technologies will provide them.

The Road Forward

The full extent of remote or hybrid work on both organisations and employees has yet to be discovered, but what can be said for certain is that there will be no return to what most perceive as the norm. In an increasingly digital business environment, tech leaders will have to adapt, innovate, and apply new learnings to deliver on seamless, flexible and productive work experiences for their staff.