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Using time to the best possible effect has always been a key trait of successful organisations. Those that consistently reviewed their practices and sought out more efficient and productive means of operating have always enjoyed considerable advantages over their competitors. This has been true throughout history but the effect has, as a result of technological advancements, been particularly pronounced over the past few decades. Today and in the months that ensue, the importance of efficiency is certain to be more explicit than ever before.
As I’ve alluded to previously, tech has profoundly influenced the development of more efficient operations. The production line, the typewriter and the telephone are all prominent examples. The tech that yields efficiency in the modern era, though, is more likely to be virtual than physical. Whilst recent events have served as a prominent reminder of this, it has been the case since businesses began harnessing the offerings of data centres.
As undeniably inconvenient as recent events have been for organisations – and, of course, individuals – developments that preceded them have provided organisations with the tools they need to remain both organised and dynamic. Here are a few of the tools ROCK are using to maintain productivity during this testing time.
Communication is, and always has been, one of the cornerstones of productivity. A 2012 study conducted by Salesforce revealed that, of 1,400 executives polled, 97% believed that the poor configuration of employee panels had negatively impacted projects. Further, 86% cited poor communication as the source of significant organisational deficiencies.1 Maintaining effective lines when stakeholders are spread across various locations is, however, no mean feat. Thanks to our increasingly globalised economy, solutions to this problem have already been developed. Microsoft Teams is such a tool – and one that we’ve found to be highly effective.
Microsoft Teams includes all of the features you would expect of a collaboration tool: video and audio conference calling, messaging facilities, the ability to create internal teams and share boards, etc., but it also boasts numerous other useful features. Teams can also integrate with outlook calendars and automatically move schedules to the new platform. It is also compatible with various other Microsoft applications and can be further customised via the Team Developer Platform and open APIs.
As well as offering a number of powerful features, Microsoft Teams is also included with Microsoft 365 subscriptions meaning that many organisations will be able to use it without further outlay.
In order to maintain efficient practices whilst working from home, people will need access to many of the tools and files they are able to whilst at work. In order to do so, however, information will need to be shared over a server generating a potentially exploitable gap in an organisation’s cyber security.
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) enables various devices to connect with one another via a virtual server, encrypting all data that is transmitted between them prior to transit. Whilst similar to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in this sense, RDP also allows users direct access to another device, such as their office computer. In turn, users afforded access can run network licensed software remotely.
It should be noted that RDPs must be correctly configured lest they can be insecure. It is advisable that an RDP only be set up by a qualified expert as a result. Remember that, whilst employees now may be working remotely, organisations are still responsible for maintaining the security of their data and that considerable fines are still a distinct possibility for organisations that flout their responsibilities irrespective of how many employees are working from home or the reasons why.
Software installed on on-site machines is no longer the norm. Instead, organisations are more likely to use cloud infrastructure. It is estimated that more than 70% of organisations will be accessing the majority of their software online by the end of this year.2
Whilst the Cloud provides us with the infrastructure needed to work remotely and effectively, its widespread use can also prove detrimental to backup and recovery strategies. When employees are creating and accessing various digital resources from several locations, this problem is exacerbated.
Take Office 365, for example. Data will be stored in Microsoft’s servers, but they are in no way responsible for its preservation. The same is true of other SaaS providers. Datto SaaS offer enhanced, aligned and automated backup services across various cloud applications. Backups are undertaken three times a day (though can also be undertaken on-demand) and stored within Datto’s private cloud. This service also offers unlimited storage, granular recovery options and the option to retain backups indefinitely if required.
As well as complicating backup and recovery protocols, the use of cloud technology can also bring about gaps in cyber security measures. To address this, ROCK use SonicWall Cloud App Security (CAS).
Ensuring that consistent practices are observed throughout the entirety of SaaS portfolios, CAS protects against cyber attacks looking to exploit flaws in individual provider’s setups. It is also customisable and can be tailored to specific organisation’s needs via APIs in order to, for example, monitor traffic between users and the cloud, interactions between various virtual platforms and record details information about all events that take place within your SaaS environments.
Individuals working from home are more likely to use their personal devices to access their employers’ digital resources. With it having been discovered that employee devices have been behind breaches in half of all organisations that have allowed employees to use their phones, laptops, etc. for work purposes3, facilities that enable the remote management of these devices is essential.
IBM’s mobile device management tool MaaS 360 is our preferred means of securing remote, personal devices. New machines can be rapidly added to central management consoles through which security deficiencies can be rapidly identified and proactively addressed. It also has several further uses including usage monitoring and the ability to push app updates. It is also compatible with all major operating systems including both iOS and Android.
Like all high-performance teams, we rely on collaboration. Just as great players don’t win trophies by themselves, transformational ideas and practices are never produced in vacuums; they are communally refined and honed. Video conferencing and comms tech can be hugely beneficial in this regard, but when it is necessary to collaborate on a truly substantial text, a more specific tool is needed.
OneNote provides teams with the ability to not just share their ideas, but to edit materials in real time. It is compatible with multiple forms of media and can be installed across all major device types to allow effective remote collaboration. When installed to a mobile device, OneNote also provides an effective means of recording ad-lib thoughts and immediately sharing them with colleagues.
Keeping the actions of individual team members aligned with project goals is important, with 46% of employees reporting that they regularly leave meetings unaware of what is required of them4.
Trello provides an effective means of assigning tasks to the individual members of a team as well as allowing their colleagues to keep track of one another’s progress. This results in more informed teams that are more able to anticipate future undertakings and even obstructions and plan accordingly.
A simple, but highly advantageous tool, DocuSign’s Esignature software allows users to sign various documents electronically. Something certain to prove useful when working remotely.
If you would like to find out more about any of the software above, get in touch with technology and software specialist consultants ROCK today.