Tech means the big return to work won't happen

We've moved to Zoomland and we no longer uniformly need offices.

A relatively small, but none the less important, effect of Covid-19 is its impact on IT and how we all consume technology services and data. Over the course of the pandemic, CIOs have seen their priorities and long-held assumptions come under severe challenges. And now the evidence seems to suggest that any return to work as we knew it will be partial and fragmented. That in turn means IT will need to be more adaptive than ever in order to help staff be productive wherever they are located.

Let's look at the past before examining the present and the future.


Lockdown lowdown

When it became clear that cities, regions and countries were entering a period of lockdown, IT chiefs scrambled to equip staff with the tools to do their jobs from home. Effectively, this meant providing computers, phones and a secure means of accessing services.

And this was easier said than done. The CIO of one large tech vendor said he had been surprised to learn that support staff in India had been using fat PCs that were hard to transfer from offices to homes. An urgent order of laptops was hastily made to plug the gap. Others struggled with ancient software that couldn't easily be accessed remotely or with a deluge of helpdesk calls.

But there were other, less obvious obstacles too. Most of us pay for our own broadband provision and don't have fast connections so negotiations with kids on use of WiFi had to be undertaken or phones became our temporary modems, often running up sizeable bills. Few non-techies bother to ensure their routers are secure and updated and many don't have even basic security defences or the knowledge to install them. They have also been deprived of the opportunity to quarantine and cleanse systems in the way that enterprise device management tools such as MobileIron, VMware, Microsoft SOTI or BlackBerry provide. And if our collaboration and conferencing tools aren't up to snuff, or if we use them carelessly, there enters the risk of voiding data protection rules or losing valuable intellectual property.

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