As countries begin to emerge from nationwide lockdowns, it seems as if we’re entering a more nuanced phase of the pandemic. But it’s one in which there’s still plenty of debate around what the future of the digital workplace will look like.
I’ve been speaking to some customers whose experience is that working from home has actually increased efficiency. For others, the very nature of what they do means they have to get back to the office or factory.
That’s why I was fascinated to hear first-hand accounts from 25 enterprise technology leaders at our summer roundtable, ‘Building Your New Digital Workplace Strategy’.
And while opinions differed around how far into the future this acute remote landscape will extend, there seemed little doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the move towards a new working environment that was – in many ways – inevitable.
“Instead of the new normal, we’re beginning to talk about the next normal. Where the pandemic was an accelerator for changes already well underway.”
Here at Tata Communications, we were well set up for a remote working model, with a distributed workforce already equipped with cloud-based tools and the necessary security processes for safe and effective home working. However, for businesses in other sectors, there was undoubtedly a more dramatic shift.
Enterprise technology teams across the world have done an incredible job in spinning up virtual capabilities to meet the needs of a remote workforce overnight.
Now though, tech leaders are revisiting their remote access technologies – re-examining configurations, and re-evaluating the governance around collaboration platforms, file sharing and information protection. As enterprises embrace the opportunities of the virtual workplace, we’re seeing a shift from survival mode to success mode.
Because as our roundtable panellists discussed, there are significant benefits for businesses that can pivot their infrastructure to support secure remote working beyond the current crisis.
This is something Visteon, who was on the panel too, has long recognised. The company’s agile, secure hybrid network – deployed and managed by Tata Communications – enabled Visteon to quickly adapt to pandemic priorities. The network could easily scale to support new working conditions, with a remote access solution based on our cloud-based security services. And because it’s a managed service, Visteon could stay focused on the evolving needs of its business and users.
The question of user experience is something we’re hearing from businesses on the panel and beyond. How do we ensure employees are (even more) productive in a new environment – while maintaining effective security and performance? And how can we continue to support our customers with a superior service that differentiates our offering?
On a purely fundamental level, network reliability is going to be critical. As is visibility over network operations and applications, so enterprises can act quickly to address any problem areas. This becomes even more mission-critical for the increasing number of businesses operating in a hybrid environment, and is leading IT teams to deploy more investigative tools to gain greater endpoint visibility – and therefore control.
Endpoint visibility goes hand-in-hand with endpoint security, and secure remote access was high on our roundtable agenda.
“With employees using personal devices to connect from home, endpoint security is now essential.”
The attack surface has grown exponentially. So, enterprises are beginning to consider all the ways in which their workforce is accessing the network – and putting in place targeted threat defence accordingly.
We talked a lot about how AI and machine learning can enhance productivity by automating business processes. And this is something the panellists were keen to harness to improve their security posture too. By using automation to assess alerts, security teams will have the visibility and context to focus efforts on the most pressing issues.
It’s a challenging time but it’s exciting too. The situation has created a climate – and appetite – for change that we really haven’t seen before.
From the very top, business leaders are realising the commercial advantages of a virtual workforce. So, like many of the panellists, I think a cultural shift has taken place whereby digital transformation will be driven from the top down. This opens up the opportunity to innovate and reshape every aspect of the enterprise environment.
As economies recover from the pandemic, businesses have the chance to redefine the way they operate – and make significant gains as a result. Whether it’s through the secure workplace solutions that support productive remote environments, or digital customer experience platforms that cater for the contactless economy, we’re supporting customers to become digital-first enterprises that can deliver secure connected digital experiences.
The tech leaders I spoke to are already pivoting their workplace strategy to enhance collaboration, productivity and security. They hail from a range of industries, each with different challenges and experiences to share.