Flexible working is not a new thing. Granted, we’ve seen a massive uptake in work from anywhere attitudes in the wake of the pandemic, but some of us have been “working from home” for more than a decade.
Agility is a word that seems to be thrown around with casual abandon of late. It’s easy to conflate the concept of working from home with agility, but they’re not the same thing. Working from home is more about availability than it is agility. You still have access to the same business-critical data and applications, on the same devices, that you used to. Only now you can use your work-issued laptop in your converted spare bedroom, or from your kitchen island.
Organisations across the globe have taken huge steps to enable remote working. Delivering communication and collaboration solutions across public networks has undeniably made many businesses more resilient. However, this is just one step on the path to true agility.
The life/work balance plays a significant role in attracting and retaining talent. Working from home is the bare minimum you would expect. But what happens if you need to work from somewhere, anyway, else? Are you guaranteed the same level of availability and security if you need access from the coffee shop close to where you drop your daughter off for her mixed martial arts classes? What about access from your mobile device whilst in the supermarket carpark? Or sitting in McDonalds (other burger restaurants are available) because there’s been a power cut at home?
A truly agile communications infrastructure enables users to pivot seamlessly from laptop to mobile, from Teams to SIP Clients, from speaker to headset. It also provides secure, ubiquitous access to emails, files and collaboration platforms on any device. Of course, we’re still really talking about availability here, albeit on a greater level than before.
This level of availability is not without its challenges. What happens if a user introduces a new device into the mix? How do we make sure they still have secure access to their documents immediately? What if they want to access from a new location? How do we make sure access to critical systems is authenticated appropriately? What if a user is working unusual hours? How do we understand what “normal” behaviour looks like now? How do we identify behaviour that represents a risk to the business and its data sovereignty?
Agile by design
With a greater proportion of users working remotely, many businesses have begun to consolidate office space or to move from high-density occupation to more flexible working spaces defined by agile teams and multiple collaboration spaces. More data, applications, and workflows are being moved to the cloud, enabling greater flexibility of services and instant scalability.
Organisational agility is concerned with a business's ability to respond rapidly to changing conditions – both internally and externally. This could mean rapidly provisioning services to temporary locations, effortlessly scaling up and down to meet seasonal demand for services or deploying new cloud-native solutions to take advantage of short-term revenue-making opportunities. The benefits of agility are many and varied.
By choosing to deploy services in the cloud, even large enterprises can improve their responsiveness to change. Embedding agility as a foundation of your IT and communications infrastructure massively improves your business continuity stance and insulates the organisation from some of the worst impacts of macro-economic change.
Digital Transformation has become the watchword for many businesses in the 21st century. The agenda has accelerated beyond most people’s expectations over the past two years, and it is now time for IT security and policymaking to catch up with service availability. Digital transformation shouldn’t be seen as a project, so much as a process. With an agile infrastructure in place, organisations are able to make a series of smaller, smarter changes that help deliver a program of continuous innovation.
The ability to respond quickly to short-term opportunities and derive a competitive advantage, or to react rapidly to the need to reduce costs to mitigate against volatile markets, will be what differentiates businesses in the future. Agile infrastructure has to be at the heart of that – driving the change and delivering the availability, scalability, and security that all businesses are reliant upon.