Many of our clients have seen the way their staff work change dramatically in recent years. Once, when employees worked away from their desk or office, for example when visiting clients or attending events, they would need to take any files or documents with them in the form of paper copies or hard copies saved to a laptop. Now they can access their organisation’s systems and data in real time through cloud computing and virtual private networks (VPN).
However, there are still some organisations that are struggling to deliver the mobility desired, not least because of concerns about security and compliance. As a result they may decide not to embrace digital transformation or provide employees with remote working solutions. This can have an impact on the organisation’s competitiveness (if they’re competitors are supporting mobility) and it can also create an environment for unsafe practices.
Regardless of company IT security policies, there is an increased risk that employees will bypass these and find shortcuts that allow them to get the mobility they want. This could expose the organisation to security risks as well as a potential knock on the door from the regulator.
I’ve worked with a number of legal firms to help them get the benefits of remote working, for example when solicitors need to attend court or visit clients off site. Here are my recommendations for getting it right.
Understand regulatory requirements
The first step is to have a clear picture on what your organisation’s compliance requirements are. For example, legal firms must keep their IT infrastructure and data in the UK, therefore data centres in other countries are out of the question.
If you’re working with an IT provider to implement digital transformation, use one that has experience in your sector and already has an understanding of the regulations solutions must adhere to.
Assess demand and the business case for mobility
Another important factor is to identify the impact that increased mobility will have on your organisation. Ultimately you need to understand whether you’ll get a return on investment, although quantifying the benefits can be difficult. The most significant benefit to business is likely to be an increase in productivity, because employees can get on with work remotely. However you should also factor in the negative impact of not implementing solutions might have (or is already having). The risks of employees using non-compliant and unsecure methods to work remotely can cost businesses significantly.
By assessing demand you’ll also be able to decide how large the digital transformation project needs to be. If only certain systems and solutions are needed by remote staff, you might consider a hybrid model rather than migrating all IT systems to cloud platforms.
BYOD or company devices?
A key consideration is whether you can support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or if company devices are the only way you can provide employees with the mobility they need. This is a cost vs. security vs. convenience choice: BYOD is more cost effective and often more convenient for employees, however the company will need to manage access to apps and data, and in large firms this can be a significant burden on your IT resource. You’ll also need to consider how to offer IT support for BYODs.
Also factor in technology preference. It's not just a question of whether employees want to use their own device (or a company device they’re familiar with) but also the applications they have access to. Some firms opt to build their own apps, others use web-based apps, others opt for a hybrid solution. But to ensure that employees, and the company, get the benefits of these they need to be happy using them. It’s worth exploring what employees already use and aligning your solution with their technology preferences.
Look to the future
The advantage of most cloud computing solutions is they can flex and scale according to demand and business needs. However, before choosing the cheapest solution for your current requirements consider the future. If 3, 5 or 10 year plans are likely to affect the solutions you implement, think about future proofing them now. Migrating to a new solution just a few years down the line is not something you want to be forced to do.
Instead identify solutions that allow for growth, expansion into new markets, or even for the business to contract. Transforming your company’s IT infrastructure, for example you might want to consider a staged migration where only the systems needed by remote staff are initially moved to the cloud, and full digital transformation is planned for a later date.
For more on cloud migration and increasing mobility in your organisation, download our Enterprise Cloud Strategy guidance here: