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Remote working challenges over the last 12 months?
The hardware platform in 2021
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When the pandemic hit, nearly every organisation had to pivot to some degree, but some were much better prepared for doing so than others – notably those with a culture of remote, flexible working already embedded in the workforce.
This kept many businesses running, while other more traditional organisations had to learn how to navigate the new world almost overnight.
Mobile hardware, such as laptops and tablets
of organisations see a significant need to upgrade their hardware
The hardware element
Neither agree nor disagree
Introduction | Key findings | About the report | IT leaders speak | The hardware element | Devices | What IT leaders think | Sponsor info
How the enterprise endpoint needs of IT leaders are changing
For all IT teams, the crisis has certainly seen an acceleration of existing technology trends – greater reliance on the cloud and remote working, for example, which has been one of the main directions of travel this century. Computing research in this area has unanimously shown that high levels of remote working are here to stay after the pandemic is behind us.
About this report
So, what have IT leaders learnt about their organisations today?
Scored from 1 (not at all) to 10 (greatly)
Asked which of the following aspects of remote working have been particular challenges since the crisis began, some strong themes emerged alongside the familiar topic of enabling collaboration online.
These can all be seen as essentially hardware-centric issues, especially in an environment where some staff may be using their own devices, making device management and security much harder in many cases.
On a scale of 1 to 10, ‘1’ being ‘not at all’ and ‘10’ being ‘a great extent’
Only 10% didn't.......
Nearly 60 percent of IT leaders either agreed or strongly agreed that they would have done
So how do IT leaders believe their hardware has been performing so far in the crisis? For example, is it offering the flexibility that the workforce has needed in a difficult year of working from home?
The Covid-19 crisis has seen most organisations prioritise home working, of course, and in many cases this has forced IT teams to equip remote workers with the right hardware to do their jobs away from the office – particularly if there has been no culture of employees using their own devices.
But this has created its own challenges, namely enabling remote management and improving cybersecurity to counter the new types of threat that have emerged during the pandemic. These include a rise in phishing, fraud, and social engineering attacks that prey on workers’ fears.
Security side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
Neither agree or disagree
Extent to which the past 12 months has caused organisations to plan to upgrade their endpoint hardware platforms over the next 3 years
Widening the perimeter of the organisation to include home offices and family Wi-Fi routers has also raised the security threat. As have other concerns for home workers: some may be living in insecure rented accommodation, for example, and yet working with sensitive data or communications.
More robust device security must underpin the post-perimeter Zero Trust strategies that are essential in this new world. It can’t be left to chance and/or employees’ common sense.
As shown in the chart below, these security side effects have forced organisations to pivot and reprioritise their digital initiatives to support and protect remote workers.
Extent to which organisations prioritised programmes focused on remote working concerns over the last 12 months and expectations for the next three years
Device manageability and security
So what are the key hardware manageability and security must-haves?
The hardware platform of 2021 must, above all, be flexible: independent of geography, OS, and network. In other words, it must reflect the modern workforce that it equips and enables. And it should be standards-based and built for a future that is fast emerging.
In other words…
Summarising what IT leaders think
Office and productivity applications
Cyber security attacks that play on the fears/uncertainty around COVID-19
Increased security risk due to difficulty maintaining remote endpoints
Overworked cyber security personnel
Endpoint performance, reliability, and security are key challenges in that decision
flexibility + security
Enabling remote working
Equipping remote workers with PCs/laptops
Improving cyber security of remote workers
Enabling remote management of devices
Boosting employee productivity
Past 12 months (average score)
Next three years (average score)
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Find out how the Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform can support your modern workforce with its comprehensive security features, leading modern manageability and first-rate responsiveness. The Intel Evo vPro platform is built for what IT needs and what users want.
The pandemic is not just a software challenge for IT leaders
This digital content experience, containing bespoke Computing research, takes stock of organisations’ hardware estates, and the priorities that lie ahead after a year of tumultuous change.
It reveals what IT teams look for in a hardware platform today, how this is evolving over time, and what this will mean for their plans in the future – covering ease of management, performance, security, and more.
Performance has always been key, of course; it has long been one of the core reasons to upgrade computer hardware, such as laptops, tablets, and desktop machines. But that emphasis is evolving to include manageability, as the hard-pressed IT team contemplates what the future looks like.
In many cases those teams have been supporting the workforce in ways they have never done before – and certainly at a much bigger scale.
They require hardware that can continue to support their needs, and the organisation’s needs, in the years ahead. The ‘great reset’ has already happened. The task now is to make the right decisions for the future, which demands solutions that can scale and adapt.
At the heart of the technology demands imposed by a distributed workforce is the organisation’s choice of hardware platform, which is arguably the real bedrock of employee productivity. After all, it’s what enables secure, reliable access to cloud and hybrid estates, and all of the collaboration applications we’ve put at the centre of our lives.
Indeed, with so many unsanctioned cloud programs keeping some organisations glued together and functioning, the right choice of hardware will ensure that proper security and authentication remain – both now and in the future.
Computing carried out a survey of 150 senior IT professionals representing most key sectors of the economy, including education, the public sector, financial services, manufacturing, retail, charities, and media – markets that demand trustworthy systems. Three-quarters of those surveyed were from organisations in the UK, while the remainder were largely from other European nations.
Respondents are all involved in procuring IT hardware and management products within their organisations.
IT leaders speak
So, to what extent would more capable endpoint hardware platforms and/or remote management functions have reduced the impact of these problems?
N.B. Data for those who selected ‘no change’ not shown in order to highlight change
Effect of the last 12 months on organisations’ prioritisation of the following technologies
We found that while cloud platforms, collaboration tools, video conferencing, and process automation have all been prioritised over the past 12 months – as you would expect – other issues have been critically important too.
This suggests the right choice of hardware platform is at least as important as the right cloud suite or conferencing app – and should underpin and enhance these other areas as a matter of course.
For team leaders and the workforce, hardware manageability equals power and flexibility. It also provides the ability to ensure that applications and employees can keep operating uninterrupted.
“These challenges would have been lessened by more capable endpoint hardware platforms/remote management?”
Multi-factor authentication 68%
Cloud-based administration 55%
End-to-end encryption 52%
Advanced access control 46%
Off-domain device management capabilities 33%
Zero Trust security methods 33%
Cyber Security below the OS 24%
Cloud-based AI intelligence 23%
Out-of-band (OS independent) device management capabilities 19%
Finger print (biometrics - face)
Keyhole - access privileges
Cloud based AI
Laptop OS symbols
The good news is that more than half of respondents (54 percent) found their hardware either somewhat or much more flexible than they had previously thought.
Effect of the shift to greater remote working on perception of endpoint estate flexibility
But at the other end of the scale, 16 percent admitted that their platforms were less flexible and adaptable than they had previously believed.
Of course, while many found their hardware more flexible than expected, that’s not to say it met all their needs and they wouldn’t benefit from improvement. As we saw in the previous chart, most respondents maintain that more capable hardware platforms would have lessened remote working challenges over the past 12 months.
The context is interesting, however, and reveals that this is a fast-changing environment, not a static one. Most of the organisations surveyed have been forced into planning to upgrade at least some of their hardware over the next three years – with many already having done so.
The graphic below shows that some 80 percent of organisations answered between 5 and 10 when asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, how significantly they have been obliged to look at upgrading worker’s hardware.
An increase in the sophistication of cyber security attacks
An increase in the frequency of cyber security attacks
Greater susceptibility to malware due to increased remote working
So, it is clear that productivity, improving security, and focusing on remote manageability will be increasingly important over the next three years. But at the same time, many organisations will still need to upgrade hardware and/or supply more of the workforce with new devices.
The conclusion is inescapable: IT leaders recognise that the crisis has created a significant hardware challenge for their organisations. They need to address this in the medium term, as both a strategic and an operational aim.
Extent to which the following device management or security features are believed to be key for the next three years
The digital immaturity of our organisation has been thrown into sharp relief as we have scrambled to adapt to new ways of working
Pivoting at a moment’s notice? That’s the world we all now live in.
Make sure you have the solution to match.
Mobile devices (laptops)
Data analytics/Big Data
Internet of things
Average score = 6.1
Far less flexible
Somewhat less flexible
(Compared to previously thought)
Neither less nor more flexible
Somewhat more flexible
Far more flexible
Not at all
1 / 6
The past 12 months has seen accelerated digital transformation at our organisation to enable the changing nature of work
2 / 6
Endpoints in 2021 needs to be flexible - independent of geography, OS, and network
3 / 6
Widespread remote working makes it difficult to manage and protect our endpoint estate
4 / 6
Endpoint hardware has a key role to play in post-perimeter Zero Trust cyber security strategies
5 / 6
The past 12 months has seen large-scale changes to our IT client estate priorities
6 / 6
The past 12 months has accelerated digital transformation
Hardware endpoints need to be flexible, independent of geography, OS, and network
Remote working has made remote management and security more difficult
The past year has forced major changes on organisations
In all of this, greater hardware manageability, security, performance, and stability all have critical roles to play in IT leader strategies over the next year
Advanced access control
Off-domain device management capabilities
Zero Trust security methods
Cyber Security below the OS
Cloud-based AI intelligence
Out-of-band (OS independent) device management capabilities
If 2020 taught IT leaders anything, it was that an organisation's IT estate can dictate its ability to pivot at a moment's notice – in response to both market conditions and the needs of the workforce.
About the report
IT leaders speak
The hardware element
What IT leaders think