The Covid-19 pandemic challenged many businesses to quickly adapt to different technologies and ways of working, pivoting to work-from-home models almost overnight. These pressures paved the way for three trends that continue to impact the business landscape in 2021.
1. Rapid Digital Transformation
During the pandemic, digital business transformations that would have otherwise taken years were expedited over several months. A McKinsey survey shows the rate of digital adoption in 2020 accelerated by almost seven years globally, and almost ten years in emerging economies like Asia-Pacific. Offline retail stores shifting to ecommerce models, paper currency to contact-free credit transactions; employment in many front-line positions contracting while thousands of back-office employees began working from home; government agencies transforming brick-and-mortar services to consumers availing these services virtually: The examples of digital transformation sparked by the pandemic seem endless.
2. Evolution of the workplace
Rather than fulfilling job roles, people are now performing tasks. In this new age of working, many individuals have more control over their work schedules. They can decided when and where to work. When the pandemic hit, the need for business continuity pushed businesses to adopt more remote-friendly business practices and technologies — from assigning laptops and shifting desktops to home, to using virtual private networks (VPNs). Remote connectivity and communication increased across industries and is having a big impact on the traditional job market. Businesses are considering more flexible working models (contract, freelance, crowdsourcing) to match their flexible operations. Many executives expect to increase their reliance on freelance workers in the coming years. Likewise, employees are feeling less tied to work and are opting for greater flexibility themselves. They are opting for positions at companies with greater work-life balance, that allow them to work remotely from more affordable or desirable locations, or that will provide them the growth opportunities.
3. Anywhere Operations
Companies now see remote work as a permanent, long-term strategy. In a post-Covid world, Gartner predicts that almost half of the workforce will continue to work from home.
Work is no longer a place to commute to, but a job that can be done almost anywhere. Identified as one of Gartner’s top strategic technology trends for 2021, so-called anywhere operations go beyond working from home and can be defined as an operating model that supports customers everywhere, enables employees anywhere, and manages the deployment of business services across distributed infrastructures. Gartner (News - Alert) estimates that “by the end of 2023, 40% of organizations will have applied anywhere operations to deliver optimized and blended virtual and physical customer and employee experiences.”
Top 3 challenges
Technology is the backbone of an always-on, anywhere-operations business model. However, IT teams must overcome these top three challenges to support future businesses.
- Security of enterprise data: Unsecured Wi-Fi, data breaches, devices outside the corporate network and distracted workers, are a few of the many reasons why security is paramount. Remote workers often lack adequate bandwidth. This can delay downloading of critical patches to software and applications, exposing security loopholes for cybercriminals to exploit. Cybercriminals know remote workers are vulnerable. That’s why cybercrime has increased since the pandemic hit. Phishing attempts, ransomware attacks, and other forms of cybercrime continue to break new records.
- Remote access: When hundreds of thousands of remote workers suddenly access infrastructure that is built only for a small number of remote workers, technology can struggle to handle the extra load. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to access resources that help you do your job effectively. Not only are popular legacy tools like VPNs not suitable for large remote teams, they also are a popular vector for cyberattacks. Solutions like DirectAccess have also been considered viable options, however, they too are plagued with scalability and security issues.
- Supportability of devices: Most employees lack a sophisticated work environment when they are working remotely. This can result in machines breaking down, devices failing, and increased calls to the help desk. Employees may be kept waiting until a backup device or replacement is ordered. In case of troubleshooting, it’s logistically and financially difficult to send a support person to every employee’s home.
How virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can help
With technologies like cloud-based VDI quickly becoming a top choice for IT leaders, adoption of cloud-based VDI is likely to increase significantly beyond the pandemic. Recent estimates suggest the VDI market is set to grow to a staggering $30 billion by 2026.
DaaS technologies like cloud-based VDI from Citrix and Microsoft, for example, are ideal for IT leaders looking for a future-ready solution that can also secure competitive advantage for their businesses. With VDI, employees access a virtual PC that is hosted in the organization's central infrastructure (on the cloud). This approach has several benefits:
- VDI desktops run in the cloud and in data centers so security updates can be done at a moment’s notice.
- The approach is secure by design, so users can use any device to access corporate data and resources.
- In case of damage or breakage, devices can be replaced instantly; any spare tablet, smartphone, etc. can be used as a back-up device.
- All troubleshooting can be handled remotely, so employees no longer need to rush to the help desk for help with unknown hardware or software issues.
- Less IT friction means a happier workforce which translates to improved productivity.
The IT department was once considered a negative cost center. Now, IT departments have become positive change agents that can give the business an edge. Smart DaaS technologies like cloud-based VDI serve as catalysts for transformation, helping to catapult traditional businesses to a truly evolved, transformed, resilient digital business.
About the Author
Seshu Venkata is General Manager of cloud and infrastructure services at Wipro Limited, and Global Head for Wipro’s Virtuadesk™. He has over 20 years of professional experience in the IT Industry and has represented Wipro (News - Alert) in leading industry conferences and events across multiple domains. Recipient of the prestigious Wipro CEO Award for best intellectual property (IP) development, Best Digital Transformation Solution Awards from Citrix (News - Alert), Nutanix, Business Week, Seshu leads the Virtuadesk practice where he is responsible for overseeing product development, enterprise application development, infrastructure management. He has played a key role in developing next-generation transformative VDI offerings across global geographies.