We learned a lot in 2020, not least that business agility – and particularly IT agility – is vital for businesses to respond quickly to changing market requirements. As time rolled on and workers remained at home, applications such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom saw spikes in adoption and industry surveys conveyed increasing demand for employers to offer permanent remote or hybrid-remote working options.
As more companies realize cost benefits from reducing office space and the advantages of leveraging a global talent pool, the next destination in their transformation journey aims to allow them to strengthen organizational resilience and enhance productivity.
‘Anywhere Operations’, a term coined by research firm Gartner, describes an operating model that assumes employees and customers could be working or accessing services from anywhere. Gartner expects 40% of organizations will have applied anywhere operations in as little as two years’ time.
The model extends beyond remote working, seamlessly blending the physical and virtual experience. That means more intuitive ways for remote workers to collaborate and for customers to connect or experience new products.
The need for agility
As with any digital transformation, it’s going to fall on the shoulders of IT to deliver anywhere operations. The assumption that end users could be anywhere will require a more distributed and adaptable environment. Enterprise cloud adoption and multi-vendor cloud strategies will accelerate, and IT must focus on optimizing performance to support new capabilities and capitalize on cost-efficiencies.
To tackle anywhere operations, here are five focus areas for IT teams to prioritize:
Automating Endpoint Operations
Managing digital transformation programs manually seems to be contradictory but these processes are so entrenched in the way many IT teams work, they’re hard habits to break. Consequently, programs end up being costly, time consuming, and prone to risk.
As more endpoints and applications are accessible on-prem, in the cloud and at the edge, managing them throughout their lifecycle becomes more complex. Organizations need real-time visibility into where assets are located, how they are being accessed, and who is accessing them. By automating and orchestrating endpoint operations from one central command and control platform, organizations can manage costs and reduce security risks.
Enhancing End User Productivity and Collaboration
Enhancing end user productivity and collaboration will mean streamlining the introduction of new applications and services. To accomplish this, IT teams will need to improve the way they collaborate with those end users to understand requirements and to roll out transformation programs. By automating end user communications, providing self-service capabilities for data attestation and scheduling, and equipping service teams with greater knowledge about the environment, IT teams will be able to launch new applications faster while reducing the risk of business disruption.
Optimizing Cloud and Edge Infrastructure
As end users become more distributed, data center consolidations or a move to a multi-cloud infrastructure can offer cost savings or enable new flexibilities and performance levels. It’s going to require careful planning to understand where investments are placed to best meet demands and how to optimize resource use on an ongoing basis as those demands change.
With so many moving parts, the task is made more complex by the growing adoption of IoT – as companies connect more devices at the network edge. Shadow IT – already made possible using the cloud and personal devices – will become more of an issue as new sensors are connected by business teams to automate operations. If IT teams don’t know what they are supporting, how can they allocate resources to ensure high performance? How can they keep everything secure? How do they understand if they are complying with industry regulations?
It’s clear that, due to the dynamic nature of this environment, IT needs to adopt automation to gain visibility and make intelligent decisions on an ongoing basis. Teams will be fighting a losing battle if they attempt to optimize the cloud and edge infrastructure using manual processes.
Improving the Digital Experience
To support anywhere operations, IT will need to focus on enhancing the digital experience – whether that’s delivering services to remote end users or by enhancing physical locations digitally. This could be enabling smarter workplace hoteling – tailoring spaces to meet the needs of teams that work there. It could be allowing user devices to interact with the building and assets itself – whether that’s allowing employees to scan a workstation to see if it is available during an office drop in, for customers to scan products to see reviews or for facial recognition to be implemented for security or contactless payments.
However companies decide to implement anywhere operations, it needs to be done in a way that ensures employees can be productive and that customer activities aren’t impeded. IT agility is key and it’s clear that that can’t happen when relying on manual processes.
Adapting Infrastructure to New Ways of Working
So how will IT teams move away from these ingrained and outdated processes to deliver anywhere operations in an effective way? One approach is to leverage the orchestration and automation capabilities of a Digital Platform Conductor (DPC).
A DPC reduces the complexity, cost and risk of anywhere operations using AI and machine learning to integrate and normalize data from all IT and business systems, analyze risk, automate and orchestrate workflows, and report on program status. By leveraging a DPC tool, IT teams will be afforded the visibility and agility they need to deliver on the promise of anywhere operations, enabling businesses to react more quickly to internal and external influences.
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