We consider the key trends that will define 2018’s key business challenges… Plagued by cyber-attacks and skills shortages...
UK workers, by and large, are an honest and hardworking bunch. They want to be productive, work efficiently and belong to something successful they helped create. While today’s employees may work longer hours than ever before it comes at a price. As consumer technology becomes more sophisticated employees demand this same level of service from their employer – and quickly become frustrated if it is not delivered. With flexible working arrangements increasingly regarded as a right, not privilege – today’s businesses are starting to rethink the way they provision their computing environment in the interests of agility.
Turning to virtual technologies, including Desktop-as-a-Service and other cloud-based solutions, could be the answer. If the workforce can access business critical information from any device or location this would reduce the need for many employees to waste hours during peak commuting hours and could support hot-desking and other space saving working models. It also cuts down the risk of disruption should the office be left inaccessible due to transport strikes (as we’ve seen recently), extreme weather or other issues.
Employees normally tied to the office with a desktop PC are symptomatic of an old-fashioned and outdated approach to handling sensitive information and increasing productivity. Virtualising the desktop and applications is arguably the best way to secure your data and provide work location flexibility since the data and processing takes place in a datacentre not the end user device. Face to face meetings are still a vital part of business communications, but having the option to work from different locations could prove valuable in enhancing both staff efficiency and employee happiness.
The adoption of cloud computing has been a critical turning point in unlocking employee productivity regardless of time or place. IT has never been more accessible, much to the concern of the IT department thanks to a rise in so-called Shadow IT (IT purchases without the CIO’s knowledge through other departmental budgets). Laudable though it is for staff to take advantage of cloud services to boost personal and departmental productivity they stand to achieve something of an own goal if circumventing the CIO means introducing risks to data security and availability planning.
Unsurprising then that some end up with Cloud Hangovers. Our research found that each UK organisation pays an average of £200k per year to ensure cloud services run effectively AND an additional £270k over the last five years on unforeseen costs, including spending on managing deployment and systems integration.
Hangover or not, UK businesses simply can’t escape cloud’s clear potential – our respondents saw increased agility (77%), improved availability (67%) and competitive advantage (43%) as a result of their cloud development. Businesses need to think strategically about the IT used in their organisations – with the CIO and ALL board members maintaining regular contact with employees at the coalface, understanding their needs, challenges and investing in technologies to address those concerns.
Ultimately, an employee’s business contribution is not measured by their office presence, but in the results and value they supply – does the location from where these are achieved really matter?
 Interviews were carried out in February 2015 by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Sungard Availability Services. 400 interviews were conducted across the UK, France, Sweden and Ireland. The research spoke to IT decision makers in businesses of over 500 employees in the UK, France and Sweden and 250 in Ireland across a variety of sectors.
This article first appeared in City AM, July 29 2015.