Nigel Seddon, VP Northern Europe, Ivanti explores the opportunities that remote working has bestowed on many businesses and their staff.
It’s fair to say that businesses in every sector have experienced a major evolution in the way they work over the past nine months. With COVID-19 showing no signs of abating as we head into a new year, businesses are evaluating existing infrastructures and technologies to ensure business continuity. While most employees have always been able to work fluidly to some extent – such as when travelling for a meeting – the pandemic has been a catalyst for the redefinition of fluid working. Many companies have actually experienced an unexpected surge in productivity as a result of their staff working remotely, and are keen to keep this up. As such, 2021 will be the year of truly fluid working, with employees able to seamlessly work between their offices and homes as they please, with IT and security systems effectively supporting them along the way.
The channel opportunity
For channel partners, this shift is sure to bring new opportunities as businesses increasingly turn to them for knowledge and expertise about how best to manage their new and ever-evolving IT environments. This will enable them to demonstrate their value and be seen as trusted advisors as they work to solidify remote working infrastructure, much of which was implemented in a rush back in March. MSPs that can facilitate IT support, security and remote access will be in high demand over the next year, which will be exacerbated as IT complexity and appetite for new and innovative technologies grow simultaneously.
To keep up with how the market is changing, the channel needs to evaluate the technological tools at its disposal, and examine new, innovative solutions able to meet the ever-changing needs of end-users. Proactivity is key to staying one step ahead of the competition – which is more important than ever as challenging economic conditions and budget cuts prevail – so channel businesses should investigate these solutions and how they can best support their partners now, before they’re asked.
The crux of fluid working is that employees need to be supported and secured at all times, even if they’re far away from the watchful eye of IT and security teams. Previously, employees could take their problems to the service desk in person, but this is no longer a possibility in most cases. The answer is to give staff more ambient support, before they are even aware of an issue. This can be achieved with hyper-automation, which is one such innovative technology that channel partners must look to invest in or else risk being left behind. Hyper-automation explains the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to automated processes, enabling predictive actions to take place in the background. In practice, hyper-automation enables devices to self-heal, self-serve and self-secure, without the user realising anything is taking place. If businesses, with the help of channel partners, leverage this technology well, they can ensure their users stay productive while working fluidly.
Autonomous IT for the new working world
At a time when the need for productivity is unparalleled, enabling devices to self-heal is invaluable. The first phase of self-healing is shifting issue resolution left – moving it as close to the user as possible – and automating the solution, enabling users to solve issues independently. Then comes hyper-automation, which enables proactive and autonomous device management, by resolving issues in the background without distracting the user from their work and without adding to the ever-growing to-do lists of IT support staff. In practice, a device could identify it is running low on disk space and take steps to clear it autonomously.
Productivity has been an added benefit of remote working, but other areas, such as cybersecurity, have taken a hit. A recent survey from Gigamon found that 84% business leaders have seen a rise in the number of threats since the start of this year. Fortunately, with its self-healing capabilities, hyper-automation can also work to minimise this risk as businesses progress their fluid working initiatives. It will enable them to rapidly respond to threats by autonomously discovering changes in the environment – such as a new update – anticipating and prioritising the resulting threats and autonomously responding in priority order, remediating the problem – for example, by automatically patching.
Finally comes self-serving, which is made ambient and automatic by hyper-automation. Gone are the days of clunky chatbots, hyper-automation negates the need for a user or IT support analyst to create a ticket, instead identifying and resolving the issue itself. If a user needs a new laptop, a hyper-automation bot can create a ticket, which would automatically send the users’ location and request to send a new device to the supplier. After delivery, the issue is resolved without human involvement, saving users time spent identifying the issue and requesting a new device and saving IT support staff from manually serving the user.
By investing in technologies that facilitate productivity and security for remote users and devices – such as hyper-automation – channel partners will make themselves invaluable to businesses by supporting them through the set-up and management process. It’s impossible to predict what 2021 holds for the channel but what’s for sure is that enterprise tech has proven its worth this year, and decision-makers will continue to invest in efficiency where they can.
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