The New Normal - IT Asset Management with staff working remotely
Part 1 - Introduction
No one should be surprised at the rapid adoption of work-from-home (WFH) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic was the impetus, but the groundwork for effective and widespread WFH was laid years ago.
It started with the advent of Software-as-a Service (SaaS). The objective of SaaS was to enable end users to access their software and files from anywhere that provided internet access. Salesforce.com was the pioneer in SaaS, and its products were designed to help sales staff (who really shouldn't be in the office) to manage their clients and prospects remotely. It did take a while to catch-on, with Salesforce having the market all to itself for some time.
The attraction of the SaaS model for IT asset managers was the lack of individually licensed copies of the software. They could purchase a fixed number of users and would be forced to buy more or redistribute access when that threshold was reached. Furthermore, the software could not be replicated, preventing pirated copies. Managing SaaS was infinitely easier than managing standard end user license agreements (EULA) since non-compliance was impossible.
SaaS morphed into cloud computing, where companies could operate the entire data center remotely. Cloud applications and services expanded rapidly, relieving firms of the need to maintain very large data centers. With applications and data available in the cloud, employees could access the corporate IT system from almost anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud computing did expand the role of the IT asset manager, as now cloud licenses, capacity, and applications needed to be tracked and managed.
The move to the cloud may have been a major factor in stimulating the bring-your-own device (BYOD) movement, which was the third major driver in the evolution to the "new normal." The proliferation of smart phones and tablets, combined with web-based access to files and information, spurred end users to replace their laptop computers with mobile devices. Naturally, they wanted to use the device with which they were most comfortable at work.
BYOD presented challenges for IT asset managers, as employee devices had to run approved apps, have adequate security, and meet minimum configuration specifications. To handle the widespread use of personal devices, mobile device management (MDM) solutions were developed. End user's mobile devices quickly became an extension of their office.
The development of video-conferencing software was the final piece needed for WFH to become a reality. WebEx, GoToMeeting and Zoom were in use long before WFH became widespread. They were originally intended to enable face-to-face meetings among employees who were not in the same building. These products quickly became critical sales tools and widely used meeting platforms.
When, in March of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, most states issued stay-at-home orders and closed non-essential businesses. Companies looked for ways to continue operations while their physical offices were closed. The combination of cloud-based applications accessible via a mobile device or home computer, coupled with the firms video-conferencing software of choice, enabled many employees to continue working. Their commute was transformed from miles to steps, and their office was moved to whatever room in the house they chose.
Firms quickly realized that they could maintain many operations while potentially shedding overhead costs associated with physical offices. Employees realized they could keep their jobs but shed the stress and unproductive time spent commuting. Some companies quickly made WFH a permanent option for their employees. (Go to https://cnet.co/2B3mzAe for an example).
However, WFH complicates the role of the IT asset manager. Issues such as security, network access, device configurations, cloud software licenses and providing help-desk support for WFH employees need to be addressed in the short-term.
Up Next: Why Discovery and Inventory of Remote Devices Is Important
For almost two decades, xAssets has served our clients with scalable, secure, browser-based asset management software. From full lifecycle IT asset management to agentless network discovery and custom solutions, xAssets works with companies and agencies of all sizes, in industry and government. If you are facing new challenges with IT asset management - or want to avoid them - contact us at 800 691 9120 or visit our website at https://www.xassets.com