Blog post by Andy Long
The Modern Workplace is a term that is frequently used to encompass a wide range of technologies and working practices, typically built on top of Cloud technologies. But what does it actually mean? To understand the Modern Workplace, you first need to take a step back and look at the traditional methods and systems that businesses have deployed and trusted for the last couple of decades.
Fire up the DeLorean….
In the bad old days of business IT systems, staff would be expected to travel to a place of work for a set number of hours a day. They would be stationed at their desk adorned by pictures of the kids, and set to work on the corporate supplied desktop PC. The IT department love this model because they are in total control of the hardware, the software that is installed on the PCs, and they can sleep at night as all devices and users sit inside of their perimeter firewall. Data resides solely on a file server or SQL database within the IT departments secret bunker in the basement and only the most privileged user would be allowed to access this remotely via a clunky VPN. Everyone else would need to be in the office, on a corporate device, plugged into their allocated network port in order to work.
But then something started to change. A new, younger generation of workers started entering the workforce. These were people that have only ever known an internet connected world. If they need to do something, they expect to be able to browse an app store and install an app to achieve a goal. They expect to be able to interact and collaborate with people anywhere in the world instantly, from any location and any device, be it Windows, Apple or Android. Traditional concepts such as corporate email are alien to them as they are used to instant messaging platforms and social media. And how did the IT department counter these young upstarts? Well, at first, they went on the defensive. More restrictions were put in place, tighter policies of control and less flexibility. The result of this approach? A disgruntled workforce that would in turn take a few courses of action. Many would simply look for employment elsewhere at a more progressive and flexible organisation. Others would try and create their own flexibility by making use of the new Software as a Service cloud based applications without the IT department knowing. Dropbox, Slack, Trello, Skype…all great applications, but once outside of the control of the business, could instantly pose a major risk as data is moved away from corporate control and out into the wider connected world. This is known as Shadow IT and is now a huge concern that can be easily addressed by offering your staff the tools they need to work flexibly and collaboratively, from the device they want to use, but with a wrap of security and control.
Back to the Future….
So, lets fast forward to today and the Modern Workplace. What does a modern progressive business look like moving into 2020? Well lets start with some trends. Like the dinosaurs and the dodo, three well established areas of traditional business are likely to become extinct (and for many businesses already have) in the very near future:-
- Email as the primary communication tool
- The traditional office space
- Working 9 to 5 (what a way to make a living)
The rise and dominance of Cloud computing allows every business from a one person start-up to the largest global enterprise adopt the same powerful tools and systems to boost productivity, flexibility and collaboration whilst creating a platform that has security and control built in from the ground up. The computing power of the cloud, coupled with the real-time data being generated by billions of endpoint devices, results in an interconnected world where systems use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to predict and protect the end user.
There’s an App for That….Microsoft 365
The pace of change may sound dizzying. How as a business owner do you move with the times and modernise your systems and processes and eliminate the risk of employee dissatisfaction and the creeping threat of Shadow IT? Well, there is an app for that. In fact, there are dozens of apps all wrapped up in a simple, low monthly fee – Microsoft 365. You are probably familiar with Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud suite of productivity applications, but Microsoft 365 takes things to the next level. By taking the core components of Office 365 and adding in powerful, Cloud powered security and management, Microsoft have created a single one-stop-shop for the majority of business needs.
Need to store your files, but make them accessible from any device anywhere? SharePoint and OneDrive provide this. Need to collaborate with internal and external co-workers, host face to face video conferences and real time chat and telephony? Teams is the answer. How do you manage the distributed users identities and ensure the correct people are accessing the right information and applications? Azure Active Directory has got you covered. What about those devices? How do you ensure only secure devices with the right level of security have access to your data? Microsoft InTune and Endpoint Manager. Concerned data may leak out of your business into the wrong hands? Azure Information Protection will prevent this. The list is endless. Where in the past, an organisation would have to source, deploy, train staff and manage many different applications from multiple vendors, Microsoft has made it simpler by making the move to Microsoft 365 simple and compelling.
Step Into my Office…
At NCS IT, we are passionate about digitally transforming your business. I am personally evangelical about the exciting prospect and opportunity that the Microsoft 365 cloud platform can offer any business. We can set you on the journey that will free your workforce from the shackles of a desk and rigid working practices by utilising the power of Microsoft 365. Switching off on-premise file servers and moving to the cloud creates a more flexible, productive and ultimately happy workforce, whilst greatly increasing security and business continuity. You will gain that agility and edge that may put you ahead of the competition and your workforce will love you for it.