The digital workplace: is having the tools enough?
Lockdowns are ending. Borders are opening. And the global economy is slowly getting back in gear. But that doesn’t mean everything’s going to be the same as before.
In fact—now people have developed new digital skills, new ways of working together—it’s likely remote and home working will be even more common. Which is a plus for many. Parents and carers can multitask easier; those with long commutes can be more productive; companies get a broader talent pool and access to distant markets. But disparate and distributed have a risky flipside: separate and disconnected.
How can your company stay a recognizable unit—one organization, one team, one brand—when the people in it are in different places, cities, even countries?
Expereo’s Sander Barens has some ideas—because as Chief Commercial Officer, he’s been seeing these challenges play out for a decade-plus. This isn’t a upheaval; it’s an opportunity for an improved experience … for everyone. Here’s Expereo’s take on the digital workplace.
People + tools = culture
First things first: it’s about more than technology. The digital workplace isn’t a “place”. It’s in the connections between places: shared understanding, online collaboration, cloud applications. People and tools brought together in the right way, creating culture.
The people, you’ve got. The tools need some very specific qualities as to what they do and how they work together. There are three factors: the edge, the connection, and the cloud.
Living on the edge: starting with S
The edge is where the action is: the products and services that directly touch your people at their desktops, laptops, and phones. For some reason, a lot of them start with S: Smart Edge, SD-WAN, and SASE.
For many, the core is SD-WAN: a virtual private network for your business, running on encrypted connections over the public Internet. Properly maintained, such “private over public” networks can be as fast and reliable as any big-ticket MPLS solution—and far more flexible. Your people shouldn’t have to worry about connecting to each other.
Security, of course, makes that connectivity effective. That’s the reason for SASE, or Secured Access Service Edge. It’s a Gartner coinage to describe the way security—from user identification to logins to permissions—is increasingly handled at the edge, rather than in the datacenter. Removing penetration risks at every step of the connection between people.
While related to these, the Smart Edge’s purpose is simple: to make sure those devices work and interoperate smoothly, so your users don’t have to waste time grappling with technology. It’s not a product per se, but a catch-all term for the Managed Services you get from an MSP (like Expereo) making products from different hardware and software sources work together. (Ideally, your users don’t even realize it’s there.)
That’s the edge: true end-to-end privacy and security for enterprise data, without any roadblocks in between. Now on to the second pillar of the digital workplace: the connection itself.
Connecting the people: keeping it effortless
Again, what works best—creating a positive culture where people feel part of their teams, however far apart their desks—is a connection that’s always-on, always-up, and never needs attention from the end user. That means working with whatever device they prefer: their office laptop, mobile phone, even their own home entertainment center.
(Technology should adapt to your users. Not your users to the tech.)
It can be answered by another three areas of expertise: fixed internet, mobile internet, and BYOA, or Bring Your Own Access. Distributed sites may have broadband connections from an ISP or leased lines from a telco—but your digital nomads need equally reliable mobile connections on the road. While work-from-homers may use their own broadband connection. Only when they can freely use all options will people genuinely feel connected to each other.
That’s why Expereo works with all three. Combined with edge services, it means security and connectivity work in harmony—for the benefit of all users.
Going to the cloud: access to applications
Third, cloud services are where the application action is. Networking experts Cisco claim 75% of SaaS workloads will be in the cloud by the end of 2021, attracting over $330bn in IT spending. If you’re not in the cloud, it’s time to consider moving.
That’s why Cloud Acceleration, Cloud Connect, and tailor-made Cloud Solutions form our third trio. Not just providing access to resources in the cloud—but keeping them running smoothly, with high bandwidth and 24/7 availability. Cloud services are about much more than an application and a connection: compute loads and data bandwidth need constant monitoring, balancing, capacity management. And your users shouldn’t ever see what goes on beneath the surface.
And that’s Expereo’s view of what a digital workplace should be. Because it’s only when people feel truly connected, wherever they are and whatever equipment they’re on, that they truly feel part of the same team. Being on a home connection shouldn’t make anyone feel disadvantaged. Being on a mobile device shouldn’t make anyone feel less secure. And nobody should ever have to work hard just to make things work.
Smart hands and global reach
Three neat sets: edge services, connect services, and cloud services. Each with three components. All delivered by a team of local experts with global reach, combining the best of ISP value with MSP expertise to make your business infrastructure seamless and your people happy and productive.
It’s not hard to imagine. But it’s a lot harder to achieve. If that seamless digital workplace appeals to you, why not talk to Expereo today?