COVID-19 has brought many changes with it – including the fast tracking of digital transformation for many businesses and organisations.
It’s hard to look for positives in the pandemic, when so many people have been so affected by it. However, it has served to reveal to us the ingenuity and dedication of so many people in our response to it.
In many ways, IT leaders have been some of the unsung heroes of lockdown. Through their efforts, they have kept untold numbers of businesses functioning.
There was a herculean effort in March and April of this year, when organisations, local government, healthcare providers and businesses had to find a way to continue service delivery while keeping their workforces safe.
For many organisations, this meant allowing those staff who could, to work from home. And for IT departments: the hard work of enabling them to do so.
It’s been a mixed picture. For those organisations which had already started down a route of digital transformation, the transition was easier.
Microsoft 365, for example, provides a platform for remote working, enabling the secure use of key office and productivity apps from any location. The Microsoft Teams element has been particularly powerful throughout lockdown: enabling meetings to take place virtually, facilitating human connections when meeting in person was impossible and even streamlining collaboration in new and improved ways.
Many IT leaders admit to being pleasantly surprised by how well these solutions have performed(1) – and how easily they have been accepted or even welcomed by the business.
Then there’s those businesses which had already embraced cloud technologies. Combining Microsoft 365 with the Azure platform for solutions such as the Active Directory single sign on(2) has helped organisations to maintain a strong security posture while staff are working from home. Tools such as Microsoft Intune and Windows Autopilot(3) have streamlined the rollout of new devices that needed to be provided to enable people to work from home.
These tools simplify the work of IT administrators by enabling the pre-provisioning of Windows 10 PCs and devices so that they are fully configured and business-ready. Autopilot for existing devices enables you to easily deploy the latest version of Windows 10 to your existing devices. And when you use Intune to manage Autopilot devices, you can manage policies, profiles, apps, after they're enrolled.
These cloud-based tools have helped forward-thinking companies to weather the storm and support their workers to quickly make the transition to home working without compromising security. Now, these businesses are thinking: what next? How do we make our business continuity plans stronger still? How do we use this momentum to further drive the digital transformation our organisations need?
As well as driving forward new productivity tools that give their organisations greater agility and their workforces greater mobility, there is another benefit of this fast-track digitalisation. New cloud-based solutions offer new capabilities for data capture, reporting and deep analytical solutions.
Here, Microsoft Power BI can help organisations to develop dashboards(4) that display key information. This is the “art of the possible”. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to work in new ways and not only has this has helped to open minds about what is possible, it has also given forward-thinking IT departments an opportunity to demonstrate what is possible.
What’s more it’s given them the opportunity to demonstrate how quickly it can be achieved.
While some organisations thrived through the pandemic, that hasn’t been true for all businesses.
Those that were further behind on their digital transformation haven’t found it so easy to ensure everyone can work from home. And, importantly, to ensure that they are working from home securely.
Many commentators have talked about how lockdown forced a fundamental rethink on cybersecurity: with thousands of new endpoints (possibly using unsecured networks) suddenly requiring policies and tools that just weren’t in place or hadn’t been thought about previously.
While the business imperative was to keep trading, cyber security considerations took a back seat in some organisations and it is these companies which are playing catch up now.
The need to revisit their security posture is urgent. First, by auditing what has been used to keep operations running. Then, by identifying where the risk factors are. And, third, by searching for solutions that can plug any gaps fast.
If you have outsourced your IT to a reputable IT partner, we would hope that they have prevented the most risky WFH quick fixes. They will have found ways to shore up your security posture without slowing down the transition too quickly.
However, if you have made the rapid transition to working from home without the support of an IT partner or the necessary knowledge and skills in house, it is now time to take another look at the implications of the transition.
With so many people continuing to work from home where they can, we strongly recommend that you speak to one of our team today to assess how your security posture has been affected by the transition to working from home.
As always, our team is on hand to find solutions that work for your business, helping you to protect your data and your operations. Of course, we’re also on hand to talk about future digital transformation. What would you like to achieve? Tell us how we can support you take your next step.