It is often a challenge for business people to keep up with the relentless pace of change in workplace technology.
Having come to terms with the internet, social media and a multiplicity of IT devices, they are now faced with advances in cloud computing, `the internet of things’ and the growing importance of the virtual desktop, which will mean a reduced physical presence of technology in the workplace.
The workplace no longer needs to be exclusively one physical location. There are increased opportunities for homeworking and mobile working, which gives a business a much wider talent pool for recruitment. From our experience, it has enabled our clients to attract talented people, such as working parents, who had previously been restrained by the inflexibility of nine-to-five, office-based working.
Just working from home can bring a one day per week gain in productivity. According to Microsoft, people who use desktop solutions are seeing a 40% increase in productivity and certainly our clients are seeing 20% as a minimum.
Businesses that are up to speed are putting their servers, infrastructure and applications into data centres, so their work environments are changing with less wiring, an absence of PCs, no server cabinets and less need for air conditioning. In turn, this creates more opportunities to use office space for people rather than machines, allowing hot-desking anywhere.
Cloud-based hosted-desktop solutions also create the opportunity for employees to work on any end-user device. The `internet of things’ will bring another revolution in connectivity allowing devices which have hitherto been outside the IT realm to communicate with each other. In domestic terms you will be able to control household appliances from a mobile phone, but the implications for business are limitless.
Utilising a secure hosted-desktop solution, employers can allow their staff to work with their own devices, of which the average user now has four or five, combining smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs. I believe we are going to start seeing a consolidation, not necessarily into a single device, but certainly fewer which will be able to do everything currently done by several.
Of course, accessing information and applications remotely on multiple devices raises the issues of data security. Ensuring hosted desktop systems are robust and locked down with data secured in the cloud is one of the main priorities for business owners as they evolve their business operations to incorporate cloud-based IT infrastructure.
Not so long ago, data was sent and received from a PC via a phone line, now it’s delivered by broadband and mobile signals to laptops, smartphones, tablets and very soon watches. Again, this presents businesses with an opportunity, but also a risk. If someone can get information from an organisation in this multiplicity of ways, with so many devices connecting to the workplace, how can we protect data?
We take this issue incredibly seriously and deliver banking-transaction level security, which is validated by Atlas Cloud achieving ISO: 27001: 2013, which is a new international standard for information management and is the highest possible security accreditation. This accreditation encompasses our data centres, which also play a role in reducing clients’ disaster recovery liabilities with their data and applications stored remotely and securely.
So yes, technology is changing with increasing speed and in the face of that it’s understandable if business people throw up their hands and decline to make the move towards the cloud, but rather continue to invest in office-based IT infrastructure. However, they have to ask themselves the question, why spend heavily on technology that will be obsolescent in little over a year?
With a hosted desktop and the cloud, specialists can manage that complexity for the client and provide an evergreen platform that is always upgraded and secure as technology develops.
This is the future of workplace technology and, from our Leeds office, we have been encouraged by the readiness with which Yorkshire businesses have embraced it and that has given us a solid base for winning business across the UK.
The region enjoys high connectivity being ideally placed for the North’s other great cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle. The government’s Northern Power House initiative with improved transport links and proposals to invest £11m in technology hubs in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, can only enhance that. Already, Leeds is a financial centre with high security requirements, which keep us at the cutting edge of developments.
Also, around Leeds there are good quality data centres and a talented enthusiastic workforce is available. Working out of Yorkshire means that our costs are so much lower than those of London and South East-based IT specialists and that makes us so much more competitive.
Hosted desktop solutions and the cloud are revolutionising the way companies do business and run their operations. By embracing their potential, Yorkshire businesses can be at the forefront of the evolution of the UK economy.