Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the IT requirements in many companies, organizations and governments have fundamentally changed as has the awareness for IT. For many organizations, it saw the widespread adoption of remote working policies. Often, these changes were required to be implemented overnight, when government- issued stay-at-home-orders created a new reality. Here is the take from our partners and customers on how efficiency gains, system integration and task delegation have changed their IT environment.
Before Covid-19: How IT used to be
It used to be that IT was reasonably easy to manage. Most people were working at the office, and you could quickly reach your colleagues by just stepping into the next room or maybe walking up (or down) the stairs. Everyone used the same IT-Department managed network, and users exchanged files efficiently using traditional file servers. Intranet sites were on the intranet with a professional firewall filtering out any unwanted intrusion from the outside. The whole network was an easily contained system.
If people worked from outside the network, IT would provide them with an individual solution. The number of home office workers in organizations with less than 500 employees or local governments was often negligible.
Then came Covid-19, bringing along the current global health crisis that has effected nearly everyone’s lives in multiple ways. Suddenly almost everybody was working from home – either as a free choice or due to being given direct orders to do so. Often within a day, IT had to enable every office worker to work from home.
Working with Covid-19: Changes for IT services
Now, as Corona crisis passed its half year mark, the work environment for knowledge workers who primarily work with the computer has changed completely. Everyone is at home or wherever they can find a safe space, typing away at their laptops. Some companies had to introduce new VPN solutions to allow everyone to work from home.
A secure connection to existing IT services has become the backbone of many organizations, and work from home is likely to remain an option for many workers who primarily use computers and phones also in the future. This change is not only happening for highly paid workers but also for employees doing less specialized work. For example, call centers have been quick to adopt a work from a home model previously not imaginable for this huge group of employees.
These changes had a profound impact on the time that administrators and users spend on handling IT. Organizations are now required to look at the administrators’ time, how systems interact, and also at who is responsible for specific tasks within the IT.
Time as commodity and how you can safe it
With the sudden need for new technologies that the corona crises brought along, time, especially the time of IT admins, became a valuable commodity. We all know that IT projects tend to drag on, and the total cost of implementation often does not include the administrator spending time setting up a new system. With the urgency and suddenness of the crisis, it became evident that the time spent by IT-Administrators on the different tasks is too often undervalued. Especially in situations where the requirements for reliability and support manifold overnight, the importance of finishing projects became crucial to many organizations’ survival. While it is unlikely that organizations will conduct many future IT projects in this kind of pressure cooker, the awareness of the costs of time will remain.
While many of our customers already use Univention App Center to roll out new applications easily, we expect it to be an even more essential building block for IT in the future when more new applications are needed than ever before. However, both admins and IT staff should be aware that those applications need not just to be rolled out, but also require life circle management. If this can be accomplished with only one click it means that whole IT projects go from days to mere minutes. A huge win in this day and age. It’s a good thing that UCS brings also a solution for this.
Efficient Management with centralized and automated services
With the majority of employees working from home and the IT department introducing new technologies, efficiency becomes an important issue. There is simply not enough time to install VPN clients, configure file shares, and create dozens of users one by one. Consequently, administrators need to reduce the work to configure and provision an application. Using UCS as a centralized management platform helped our US customers to increase their IT administration efficiency on average by 21%.
However, efficient management does not only imply easy administration. It also reduces the work for the users. Akaid Diaz from Failproof Technology says:
“The biggest hurdle our customers face in work from home environment is users forgetting their passwords. In the past, you walked over to the help desk and got them to reset your password. Now, there is much more of a hurdle when doing it remotely. Same User Same Password or better single sign-on means that admins have to deal with these questions much less frequently and better ensure password compliance.”
Thus, centralized user management tools, like those that UCS has to offer, are becoming more and more the rule within any organization. Likewise, more and more solutions are being attached to centralized management, multiplying the gain for the IT-Department. They are also likely to stay once the crisis is over.
Can someone else do it? Simple processes enables delegation
With everyone away from the office, the distance between IT and the end-user has increased exponentially. Most organizations do not have a dedicated helpdesk, so administrators do these simple tasks at the cost of uninterrupted project work. However, most organizations do have team assistants. They often have fewer meetings and are much better organized to tackle the group’s varying requirements as a whole. Thus, they are in the perfect position to handle the menial task of changing a password However, they are often not IT specialists. With UCS, changing a password is a task that anyone who knows how to navigate a website can carry out without any difficulties.
The delegation of standard tasks to employees specialized in team engagements again reduces the loss of productivity users and administrators experience for routine interactions.
Moving Forward – A New Normal
It’s possible that increase in complexity is only temporary; as we all get used to the new situation, old practices might become acceptable once more. However, with administrators’ time remaining at a cost premium, efficiency gains, integration of tasks and delegation are sure to stay. Make sure your IT department is ahead of the curve and try UCS now.
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Kevin Dominik Korte studied computer sciences at the Jacobs University in Bremen. He graduated as a Master of Science in 2011. Afterwards, he worked in the Professional Services Team at Univention for two years. Since 2013 he is President of Univention North America Inc. and responsible for the business development in the USA.