It’s true that the pandemic changed much of the way we live and work. Companies had to quickly implement crises mitigation plans on a global scale. Agility was key as they adapted to having their workforce and customers interact in a contactless way.
Gartner refers to this as anywhere operations - an IT operating model "designed to support customers everywhere, enable employees everywhere and manage the deployment of business services across distributed infrastructures." By the end of 2023, Gartner expects that 40% of organizations will have applied anywhere operations to deliver optimized and blended virtual and physical customer and employee experiences.
The focus needs to be on enhancing the digital experience, assuming that customers and employees could be accessing information from anywhere. To do this, IT managers need to support distributed operations using cloud capabilities to serve remote workers and customers and enhance physical workspaces digitally. By removing geographical and technology barriers, employees will be able to collaborate more easily, making teams and individuals more productive. Companies will also be able to respond more quickly to customers’ changing needs, to create new competitive advantages that allow them to attract and retain more business. To achieve anywhere operations and realize these new capabilities and advantages, companies must intelligently leverage existing technologies and adapt legacy processes to change the way that services are delivered.
For IT infrastructure and operations managers, anywhere operations adds another layer of complexity to their role. As companies amalgamate physical locations and adapt to new ways of working, they must deliver services to more remote workers while enhancing services for in-office employees and customers. For example, companies are:
To enable this, IT infrastructure managers must be able to address the changing needs of teams and customers in a more agile way. They need to closely manage all aspects of the IT environment, making sure their infrastructure tools aren’t a barrier to customer and employee operations. That could mean monitoring asset usage across the lifecycle, making sure physical spaces and technology are still relevant and fulfilling the requirements of end users – allowing them to interact and be productive wherever they are.
So how are you going to do this successfully for your enterprise end users? First you need a clear view of your IT environment, but within an ever-changing and complex landscape this is no mean feat, particularly given the disparate set of tools you use to manage that environment. To maintain anywhere operations, teams will have to interact with those myriad tools to understand the physical and virtual assets being used, who is using them, where they are being used, and all the interdependencies. As the IT environment becomes more complex, the number of tools they interact with is also increasing.
To create a more agile, digital-first operating model IT leaders are turning to an emerging technology that Gartner refers to as a ‘digital platform conductor’ (DPC) tool, which allows organizations to strategically manage across their infrastructure.
A DPC conducts data, systems and people to cut through IT complexity and enable more efficient and agile operations. It connects to all the other systems to integrate and normalize data, analyze risk, automate and orchestrate workflows, and provide real-time program status. Using a digital platform conductor you benefit from a holistic view of your entire IT landscape allowing you to make more informed decisions on what is required to enhance any environment to achieve anywhere operations.
Endpoint teams are tasked with supporting an ever-growing mix of devices including company and employee-owned laptops, desktops and mobile devices. They must know where all these assets reside and ensure they’re running the latest software versions to keep company data secure. Accordingly, they need to decide how and when to deliver IT programs such as hardware replacement as well as OS upgrades to all these devices without disrupting the business or end users.
If you are tackling endpoint operations manually it’s going to be a huge investment in resources that will be difficult to sustain year in and year out. Using a DPC you can leverage the changing data on your IT environment to make intelligent decisions about what needs to happen – whether that is identifying equipment that is nearing end of life to kick start an asset refresh program or identifying readiness to begin rolling out system updates - and orchestrate your tools to automate these programs.
Using a digital platform conductor, you can:
A digital platform conductor sets the guidelines for what needs to be done to achieve your IT program goals and instructs your tools to do the work. This means automating user, team, and system workflows such as communications, scheduling, populating, and deploying rollout waves and reporting activities. Leveraging these new capabilities, you will be able to see how future changes will affect your existing IT environment as well as how, when and in what order they should be introduced.
For many companies, their ability to innovate is impeded by their legacy technologies and outdated processes that were originally implemented to enable business growth, but now only serve to create siloes or impede innovation. The growing number of disparate point solutions make it more difficult to effectively manage IT infrastructure.
By implementing a DPC you can bridge gaps and break down the siloes created by legacy technologies and processes, connecting to disparate tools, and conducting them to:
Many enterprise end users want IT to deliver the tools that allow them to be more productive but also want to be included in the decision making and deployment process. By implementing a DPC, you can quickly and more easily implement changes that will enhance the way end users collaborate as well as the way they experience IT:
Allow end users to self-schedule services, such as OS updates and hardware delivery dates. This puts them in greater control and drastically cuts the time required by IT and end users to coordinate availability and confirm necessary details essential to service delivery success.
Leverage automated communications to instruct and educate end users on the reasons for rolling out a program, how it will help, and what is required of them to avoid any business interruption and ensure a smooth rollout.
Adapt an agile approach to equip physical workspaces on demand for workplace hoteling and better team collaboration.
Better understand the impact across your IT environment of introducing new collaboration tools such as Windows Virtual Desktop and O365 to enable smoother, faster, more efficient rollouts with no business disruption.
Equip service teams with all the information they need to resolve user issues more speedily for a better end user experience.
Enterprise data center moves, and cloud migration may offer you cost savings, greater flexibility, and higher performance but they require careful planning. There are many moving parts, with a dispersed infrastructure and many dependencies. The network edge is also becoming more complex as more and more connected devices and sensors are supported.
How, for example, can you make the right decision about which workloads should be placed in the cloud if you don’t understand your current estate and all the dependencies within it? And how, once your estate is spread across physical and virtual assets, can you ensure compliance, security and high performance for all end users and customers? Any changes can have a ripple effect and cause huge disruption to a business if not mapped correctly.
Again a DPC tool will give you an accurate, real-time view across your entire estate – including your cloud and edge infrastructure – allowing you to understand all your moving parts and to make more informed decisions that will mitigate the risk of business disruption during these type of migration projects.
As you continue to implement programs that allow employees to collaborate better, to support users wherever they are and to simplify and enhance the customer experience, you continue to add complexity in the IT environment. You can’t just deploy a solution and leave it out there, you have to maintain everything. That means running updates that ensure you keep data secure and systems performing at the best they can, while understanding when assets need to be replaced. You also can’t just deploy new programs until you know how they will work with your existing estate and that they won’t break anything.
It’s not going to get any easier – more and more digital transformation projects are heading your way. You need to understand how to best analyze your environment and deploy them – with a focus on anywhere operations - without getting in the way of the business and customers. Your ongoing programs - hardware refresh, Windows servicing, and everything else – aren’t going away.
If you are finding that existing IT tools, technologies and processes are becoming barriers to innovation and the delivery of anywhere operations, you can break down those barriers using a digital platform conductor tool. You can de-risk your programs, orchestrating and automating your existing tools to drive agility into your IT programs and take on more to meet the needs of your business. By implementing a DPC tool you can ensure that all your IT transformation programs enhance the end user and customer experience, wherever they are, rather than impede it.
Find out how ReadyWorks – a digital platform conductor - will allow you to reduce the complexity and optimize anywhere operations.
Anywhere operations of course, supports the ability to enable remote working, but it’s more than that. The model expands on the remote working experience to:
The biggest challenges IT infrastructure managers will face when implementing anywhere operations will be:
The COVID pandemic saw companies scramble to support social distancing regulations – those already focused on a digital first experience for customers and employees had the advantage. By adopting anywhere operations, enterprises will become more agile, allowing them to react much more quickly to changing customer demands and market requirements.