The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally shifted the business landscape of today’s economy. Entire congregations of professionals began to work from home virtually overnight, introducing new challenges for small businesses and enterprise-level organizations alike. While this was a temporary situation for some, it became a permanent change for many. Twitter, for example, announced that all of their employees would be allowed to work from home “forever.” Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple all accelerated virtualization across the board, even going so far as to make remote conferences a possibility.
With these systemic adjustments, certain needs were highlighted. Solutions that were on the leading edge of technological advancement became mainstream; among these, zero-touch deployment/provisioning and end-user computing became increasingly popular.
Zero-Touch Deployment & Provisioning
Traditionally, when employees were handed a device — be it a desktop, laptop, tablet or company-owned mobile phone — that device first passed through IT for hands-on configuration. The operating system and standard software packages were installed, and it was then assigned to the user. While this works with small numbers of devices for employees who are physically located in the same area, it ceases to become a cost-effective model for doing business with medium to large companies or those who are primarily working remotely.
Zero-touch provisioning and deployment permit this effort to be done remotely. Your company’s IT department can design a universal image for each device, then provision it via the network without physically touching the device. This standardized schema drastically increases company efficiency, resulting in cost-savings, less employee frustration and more efficient use of resources, all of which directly contribute to your bottom line.
The introduction of the original iPhone in 2007 changed the way we think about technology. Rather than receiving a cell phone that had identical programs to every other cell phone of its type, devices suddenly became infinitely customizable. Users could select which apps they needed, then adapt it to their needs, preferences and unique working styles.
Business computing has lagged behind this evolution. According to McAfee, 68 percent of U.S. employees use non-approved applications. When businesses refuse to adopt an approach designed around end-user computing, it results in immediate and systemic disadvantages. Motorola surveyed manufacturers and found that when employees were allowed to use the mobile applications they needed, they saved an average of 42 minutes per day, per employee.
The next generation of business evolution combines zero-touch deployment with end-user computing. Employees are able to work remotely, and IT requirements can be handled without physically touching the device. Computers and tablets can be customized for each organization, department and individual, maximizing efficiency and productivity. A few foundational approaches need to be adopted to make this happen.
How to Gain These Advantages
First, find out what your employees need, how they work and what they prefer. Use that to build a standard software package for each device. Review the systems IT is putting on your employees’ computers and see if there are any that can be removed, replaced or updated. This will allow you to create an updated schema that applies across your entire business. It’s also the perfect time to evaluate the systems you’re using and find out if there are better, more efficient or more cost-effective programs available.
Second, dive deeper into what every department needs. Although “one-size-fits-all” thinking is what you’re trying to get away from, you can almost certainly discover consistent themes. For example, your entire HR team almost certainly uses a few different software applications than the accounting department. Putting together a standard image for each team maximizes the benefits of both standardization and customization, while removing extraneous programs some people don’t use. You won’t be able to adopt every individual preference, of course, but there’s likely quite a bit of room for improvement.
Third, move apps into your data center and virtualize as much as you can. Today’s technology allows users to leverage apps that aren’t physically installed on their device, centralizing installation and updates across the entire company. Work with your IT personnel to roll out zero-touch provisioning across your organization and find out what they need to do so.
Make Your Systems Synergetic
Although you can likely gain efficiencies by implementing individual pieces of these approaches, putting them together in a planned, comprehensive system will accentuate the advantages you get with each. Revising the way your organization approaches working virtually can truly make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.