“Obviously, the impact of COVID-19 on the IT industry has been significant,” says Chris Kozup, Chief Marketing Officer, Aruba Networks, speaking at CDW’s BTEX 2020 virtual event. “Aruba has been spending a lot of time with our customers to help them navigate this new normal, and to chart the course for the next decade of networking.”
Back in April, Aruba surveyed 2,400 IT decision-makers globally to understand IT’s perception of the pandemic. “One thing is clear,” says Kozup, “some countries are experiencing significant employee-based impacts; widespread furloughs or widespread layoffs.” In fact, 74 percent of organizations globally have seen an moderate or significant impact to their employee base.
“This is going to have significant implications to how we think about the hybrid workplace,” says Kozup. “How are we responding as IT professionals to the changing dynamic that our employees are experiencing?”
3 phases of the hybrid workplace
Kozup outlined the following three phases of workplace transition in his presentation:
Phase 1 – January-March 2020: Transition to working from home, with a focus on connectivity and security.
Phase 2 – Fall 2020-early 2021: Enabling a safer return to the office with an emphasis on contact tracing.
Phase 3 – 2021 and beyond: Reimagining the hybrid workplace and adapting to a “new normal.”
If and when we return to the office, things are definitely going to look different. But what does this “new normal” mean for IT?
3 challenges for IT teams in the “new normal”
- A widespread impact on employees and IT projects due to budgetary constraints, forcing IT teams to use technology in a more efficient way
- IT requirements are less predictable, increasingly fluid and require agility and flexibility
- Implementing a more automated approach that leverages AI and machine learning
According to Aruba’s survey across 20 countries, IT leaders intend to increase spending on cloud networking by 38 percent and spending on AI by 35 percent.
IT subscription services on the rise
“There are opportunities with new emerging technologies like cloud and AI,” says Kozup, “but equally, opportunities related to flexibility and how you think about the consumption of technology.”
Kozup revealed that the average portion of IT services consumed via subscription will increase from 34 percent today to 46 percent by 2022. Furthermore, the number of companies that consume at least half of their IT services via subscription will increase by 72 percent.
4 key questions for building a hybrid workplace
“We have to think about these more organizational and operational aspects as we build this hybrid workplace,” says Kozup. Here are some key questions that every organization should address:
- What kind of workplace best suits your organization?
- Which roles and personalities thrive in a remote work environment, and which find it more challenging? Employees early in their careers may require more structure, for example, while teams that are used to more collaboration may struggle in a purely remote environment.
- How can you maintain company culture with an increasingly distributed workforce? This might be on the backburner for a quarter or two, but over time, you’ll have to think about how to maintain your organization’s culture.
- How can technology make the workplace more flexible, healthy and productive?
What is hybrid about the hybrid workplace?
According to Kozup, a hybrid workplace includes the following elements from a technology standpoint. “We need to make sure we deliver on three things: the user experience, deployment and provisioning and the operations of the network.”
- Employees need to be as productive and efficient as they would be in the office. IT should look to bring the “in-office” experience to users in a way that looks and feels like they’re still at corporate HQ. This means providing the same SSID, same application performance, same security policies – everything is the same. How do we reserve enough bandwidth so that an application is performing the way it needs to be?
- Simple, cloud-based deployment, provisioning and management. When you send an access point to an employee’s home, they simply plug it in and the cloud does the rest.
- IT requires full visibility and access for monitoring and troubleshooting, all the way down to client devices and applications those clients are running.
Aruba’s 3 recommendations for IT professionals
“We have to think about work as an activity that you do, not a place you go,” says Kozup. This is going to define the technology requirements in building a hybrid workspace. Keep these three suggestions in mind when it comes to building your hybrid workspace solutions:
- Create location-independent, productive work environments
- Leverage the power of AI and the cloud to automate and simplify manual tasks
- Use network intelligence to operationalize preventative and reactive health and safety measures