IT in a remote landscape

Change. It’s something we’ve all grown accustomed to in recent decades, but it doesn’t exist in isolation, and it doesn’t always travel in a straight line.

As the pace of technological advancement accelerates year-on-year, and a growing number of industries increasingly rely on digital solutions to solve their problems, change has become the norm.

With the fourth industrial revolution well underway, we’ve already seen a massive expansion in the use of robotics, machine learning and automated decision making; a ‘digital by default’ approach to many areas within customer service; and communication via a virtual medium becoming the preferred method of contact. We are now more than ever spending less time ‘face-to-face’. It’s not surprising then, that even before the pandemic, remote working was becoming more and more popular. And, according to the Office for National Statistics, almost half of all employees were working from home immediately following the pandemic.

If the pandemic has accelerated the pace at which we find ourselves making use of virtual meetings; collaborating in real time from afar; and working on an ever more remote and flexible basis, then effectively capturing how such changes have, and will continue to, impact individual ways of working, operations, logistics and resourcing, will likely to be one of the key areas of focus for a significant number of sectors. This is true of both those adapting to change and those seeking opportunity from it.

To that end, an example of adaption we’ve seen, in relation to remote working specifically, centres around a question that some of us may have forgotten to ask (caught up in the novelty of being sent home for an indefinite period) … what happens if my laptop breaks? This challenge, which had before existed only by exception, has been met with innovative technical and logistical support from service providers, despite the inherent difficulties posed by remote working. Solutions include a mobile workforce of engineers, and a replacement service for stock managed by the third party. For those in the industry, risk has therefore been turned into opportunity, with take-up increasing significantly since the start of the pandemic.

Similarly, we’ve also seen an increase in the number of virtual meeting providers, remote software support services, and even tighter deadlines than before, particularly with regards to replacing faulty hardware. Even healthcare providers have taken the opportunity to provide video consultation, app-based patient solutions and digital scheduling.

But whilst new and emerging solutions are developed to help navigate such changes, none of us can be certain for how long the trend of remote working en masse will continue and, if it does, to what extent. Administering these new kinds of services, whilst ensuring they’re efficient, agile and cost effective, will require continuous planning and maximum receptiveness to any alteration in the status quo. With the ‘new normal’ looking different for so many of us, and with no certainty as to how the next several years will play out, anticipating future demand and adapting accordingly will be a significant determining factor for success.