After the shock caused by COVID-19, most organisations have mainly focussed on measures to keep their business running. One of the biggest challenges was the sudden shift to remote work and giving employees secure access to applications from different devices and locations. Things will not go back to the way they were before the crisis, so in the next phase organisations need to adapt to the new normal by optimising their digital work experience.
Digital transformation has been topping the agenda of many organisations for years. Some have really advanced on their digital journey, while others find it hard to change their business. The global pandemic has unexpectedly accelerated the evolution and by now it should be clear that postponing digitisation is no longer an option. When you look at the crisis from a business perspective, most companies go through three phases.
As soon as the virus broke out, organisations had to react by switching to survival mode. People needed tools to work from home and companies turned to fast solutions to ensure continuity. In a second phase, they responded to urgent problems by extinguishing fires before they could do harm. The initial stages were clearly about damage control, but now it is time to focus on the future and building resilience.
Digital transformation is not just the implementation of new technology. In fact, companies should start by looking at what they already have. To increase operational efficiency and agility, it is best to apply the principle of ‘ESSAI’, which stands for ‘Eliminate, Simplify, Standardise, Automate and Integrate’.
First, eliminate all redundant processes and tools in the organisation. Then simplify the remaining processes and add new technology if necessary. In the next step these processes must be standardised for other business units, so you don’t need different solutions. And finally, make sure to automate your solutions and integrate them with other tools.
Always keep in mind that we are not running a sprint but a marathon. Business continuity is more than disaster recovery. An important aspect of this challenge is workforce continuity: developing a digital workspace that is secure and offers an optimal employee experience.
Zero trust network access
Most organisations are well aware of cyber risks and consider security as an essential part of their strategy. And yet security was often neglected by companies in the react & respond phase of the crisis. To keep the business running, employees needed access to the company network while working from home. Surprisingly, research by the Identity Theft Resource Center indicates that the number of people who are impacted by data breaches has significantly dropped in the first half of the year. This could point to better awareness in organisations, although we should expect that most damage has yet to be done. Think about devices that are already infected, waiting for employees to return to the office and a chance to attack the network.
Enabling secure remote access goes beyond the urgency of the crisis. Three years ago, a survey by BetterCloud predicted that 73% of organisations would be almost entirely relying on SaaS applications by 2020. The workspace of the future (and today) must be based on the principle of zero trust network access: trust no device, always require verification.
Gartner believes that by 2023 no less than 60% of enterprises will phase out their remote access virtual private networks (VPN) in favour of zero trust. VMware has been anticipating this with Workspace ONE, which combines zero trust conditional access control with industry-leading modern IT management to help IT proactively secure the digital workspace of users, apps and endpoints.
Optimising employee experience
A second priority for organisations building an efficient digital workspace is optimising the employee experience. The employee should always be a major concern for any employer. Happy employees directly impact the productivity and performance levels in the entire organisation. Employee experience is a combination of cultural, physical and technological aspects, but offering the right technological environment can have a positive effect on the other two.
Organisations must verify if the employee experience is still satisfying since work has definitely changed over the past months. How are people using tools? And are these solutions properly working? By adding a number to each issue, employers can keep an eye on the overall experience and proactively solve problems.
All of this may sound very appealing but a lot of organisations have difficulties to see the current situation as anything more than disaster recovery. The stress caused by the crisis does not leave them with many resources to invest in innovation. Therefore, it is key to understand that optimising processes will lead to both operational and financial efficiency. For example, if the IT department is spending about 20% of its time on resetting passwords, it could be interesting to add technology that allows the user to do this on his/her own. By reducing the number of tickets about passwords, IT can save time and limit operational costs.
Reducing the number of tools is another important aspect of an efficient business strategy. Just have a look at the list of solutions and licenses you are paying for in your organisation. Remember the ESSAI principle we mentioned earlier … There is a good chance that you can eliminate some of these tools and standardise remaining solutions to other units. This will also increase operational profit as IT will have less tools to maintain and people require less training.
VMware has the solutions and expertise to help organisations save time and discover how this time-efficient approach can create more value. To build resilience, companies must understand that they need to solve issues on a more strategic level to create a solid foundation for a future-proof business.