COVID-19: top three tech tips to navigate remote working
Business Chief takes a look at Nick Offin’s approach to home working from a startup perspective.
With remote working becoming the new norm for companies of all sizes due to the spread of COVID-19 impacting organisations all over the world, Nick Offin, Head of Sales, Marketing and Operations, dynabook Northern Europe has seen a significant rise in remote workers, with many companies having to make transitions in order to support an almost entirely remote workforce.
“For most start-ups remote working isn’t exactly a new concept. The start-up scene is scattered with examples of innovative new start-up organisations encouraging working remotely as they look to find new ways of building a unique company culture, attracting and retaining top talent and achieving unparalleled mobility,” comments Offin.
However, Offin highlights that the rise in remote working doesn’t come without obstacles, particularly for startups with limited budgets and team members.
Choosing the right technology
“Start-ups are leading the way when it comes to mobile and remote working. While large enterprises have long- formed methods of working, and often have legacy processes, start-ups are much more agile, flexible and open to change. For start-ups, remote workers not only lessens the amount of resources spent on securing fixed office space but also boosts employee engagement and productivity,” comments Offin.
In order to maintain high productivity one of the most important requirements is the right technology. In the last month laptop demand has sharply risen in response to the outbreak. “Start-ups need to ensure they are investing in lightweight and portable, yet powerful devices designed to accommodate the remote workforce. Connectivity and performance are critical, so employees can connect with colleagues through web-enabled collaborative tools, preserving collaboration within teams.”
However purchasing and managing new devices can be complex and expensive, Offin explains that there are multiple purchasing options to overcome this challenge. “PC-as-a-Service (PCaaS) refers to an operational expenditure (Opex) subscription-based model that often includes services such as purchasing, configurating, managing, refreshing and retiring devices. This model can help start-ups benefit from new technology, whilst having the ability to scale up and down as needed.”
Utilise new technology
When adding more connected devices and solutions to their networks, businesses are facing the challenge of effective and secure data management, something which Offin states startups are at an advantage compared to larger enterprises, due to being less reliant on legacy infrastructures. However they still need the right technology,
“Completely overhauling networks can be time and resource-intensive, especially for start-ups who have limited budgets. “Ripping and replacing” often isn’t an option so they must find another way of being able to cope with increased network capacity demands,” comments Offin, who believes the answer is Edge computing, which “offers a viable solution and at the same time creates new methods of gathering, analysing and redistributing data and derived intelligence.”
Take security seriously
Possibly the biggest and most important challenge when working remotely is security. “According to Verizon, 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at start-ups but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves. With the average cyberattack costing over £160,000, almost 60% of smaller businesses go out of business within six months of being victimised,” comments Offin.
Remote working creates a unique challenge that startups may not have come across before. As more potentially sensitive corporate data is being accessed away from the office, the threat of cybercriminals increases
“With this in mind, security needs to be a continued concern for start-ups, and needs to be reviewed and updated regularly.Start-ups need to ensure employees are equipped with technology that has robust security features to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks,” adds Offin.
“Devices with facial or fingerprint recognition and hardware-based credential storage capabilities provide a secure first defence against cybercriminals, reducing the risk of unsolicited login. Other defences such as zero client solutions ensure these devices never retain sensitive information. Instead, information is stored on a central, cloud-based system so if a device is lost or stolen, this information remains secure,” he concludes.
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GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”