The COVID-19 pandemic has been the largest work-from-home experiment to date, with organizations in a variety of industries testing out their remote capabilities and deploying new digital technologies to help bridge the gap. Prior to the outbreak, an estimated 5 million U.S. employees worked from home at least half the time, according to a 2019 survey from Global Workplace Analytics, which is roughly 3.6% of the U.S workforce. Now, more than half of all American employees are working in a remote capacity, per research from the Brookings Institution Center, a trend that many believe will continue even after the health crisis has passed.
Supporting a remote workforce has proven to be a real challenge for companies that have, until recently, taken a cautious approach to digital transformation. Whether due to budgetary constraints, compliance and regulatory issues, mismatched legacy systems or some other operational limitation, companies may not have felt that modernizing their IT frameworks was urgent or necessary. However, the sudden and unexpected impact of the coronavirus has exposed weaknesses that were either hidden or ignored, including a lack of secure telecommuting infrastructure, the need for real-time remote monitoring tools and more. In such an uncertain business climate, IT leaders are having to justify new technology investments and locate solutions that will allow for more visibility and control over remote workstations.
The role of IT automation
Technology has played an essential part in the facilitation and enablement of remote work environments, with cloud-based products and services taking a leading role. In fact, research from IDC found that while worldwide IT spending is expected to decline 2.7% because of COVID-19, investment in cloud software will likely see a growth of just under 2%. However, despite the wide benefits offered by the modernization business IT, many decision-makers are struggling to future-proof their critical workflows. One Gartner survey discovered that 54% of HR leaders felt that poor technology and infrastructure are major barriers for remote connectivity and workforce management. For example, when employees use their personal devices to access private networks, IT administrators rarely have the oversight needed to ensure cybersecurity practices are upheld and users are keeping their software up to date.
Another pervasive challenge involves remote worker productivity. As noted by Deloitte, technical issues can prevent employees from completing their work, taking full advantage of digital tools and staying connected with managers and peers. When these tech issues become an enterprise-wide problem, IT teams can be inundated with support tickets that can take days (even weeks) to resolve. Typically, minor computer problems are treated as low-priority tickets, but in the era of remote work, even mundane support tasks take on a higher level of urgency. Without some level of automation, IT managers may not have enough time or resources to efficiently manage remote workstations, especially if employees rely on traditional software and personal devices. Some of the leading challenges include:
- Deploying new workstations and business applications
- Keeping software and operating systems up to date
- Managing Windows and Mac devices remotely
- Rolling out batch updates across different user groups
- Tracking application and device usage
By remotely automating these (and other) IT tasks, companies can eliminate a variety of technical and operational vulnerabilities that may lead to cybersecurity incidents and dropped productivity. While this level of adaptability is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no telling if or when another global event will disrupt the business ecosystem. To stay one step ahead, companies should focus on integrating advanced IT systems and cloud-based platforms that can help solve specific challenges.
Automate IT support with Faronics’ Deploy application
At Faronics, we understand the coronavirus pandemic will have significant and lasting implications for business operations and IT enablement. Even after the health crisis has passed, companies will need to prioritize their business continuity and disaster recovery to remain adaptable in the face of future uncertainty. With Faronics’ Deploy application, you can take control over your remote workforce and automate a variety of time- and labor-intensive tasks. Deploy can help your organization cut down on IT support tickets, maintain complete visibility over remote workstations, send out critical updates without the need for end-user intervention and more.
Deploy offers the following capabilities regardless of the number of devices on your network or the size of your business:
- Application management: The Deploy platform does not require a local server, as each workstation (whether company- or employee-owned) connects to Deploy individually. This allows IT administrators to quickly locate at-risk devices and failed updates. When new application versions are needed, you can send out individual patches or enterprise-wide updates to ensure all software is free of zero-day exploits and code vulnerabilities. Deploy can also be used to freeze application patching, disable self-updates and set granular controls for individual devices.
- OS deployment and updates: Whether your company relies on Windows or Mac devices, Deploy can help ensure all operating systems are kept up to date. IT administrators can initiate a patch scan to view all managed computers in their environment and identify those with pending updates. What’s more, the category-based policy management interface lets you automate patch management or integrate a test-and-approve process.
- Remote monitoring and control: Like with most business technologies, the end user is often the biggest single point of failure. With Deploy, IT managers can proactively monitor remote workers’ devices, applications and usage. This feature can not only help ensure remote employees are practicing effective IT hygiene, but it can also identify security risks they may have overlooked.
Remotely automating IT systems, device management and business applications comes down to two key capabilities: Visibility and control. Without real-time oversight, IT administrators may struggle to safeguard private networks from external threats and maximize the efficiency of business-critical workflows. Thanks to Deploy’s centralized, cloud-based architecture, internal tech teams can monitor employee workstations from a remote location and send updates as soon as they’re made available.