The disruptions of 2020 forced businesses to adapt to a new way of working. Entire workforces became remote overnight, with organizations adopting new tools and solutions to empower employees to remain productive. Now that it appears that remote work will endure, in at least some capacity, businesses need to make sure that their long-term infrastructure is powerful and easy to manage and secure. Stephanie Hallford, vice president and general manager for business client platforms at Intel, spoke with BizTech about why having a single platform, such as Intel’s vPro, can be ideal for organizations who need to support a distributed workforce.
BIZTECH: What have you seen from customers during remote work?
Hallford: We’ve seen this incredible acceleration of companies getting forced into transformation. That process had already started, but the speed at which they've been forced to change is unprecedented.
As always, you have a constrained budget. The complexity, particularly around security, has been incredible. It's already a constant game to stay ahead of cybersecurity issues, and now there’s the move to mobility and wireless environments that were already highly challenging prior to the current pandemic. Now, mobility has gone through the roof, and it's probably here to stay. More and more companies are going mobile because it's easier in this current environment.
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The management of all these new wireless networks, at-home environments and collaboration requirements, and doing all of this securely — I think it's really been a challenge for IT.
BIZTECH: How have businesses' needs changed during this time?
Hallford: The actual needs have not necessarily changed. The basics of needing a secure PC environment, having that network and being able to manage it and its endpoints easily, and having a stable environment that you're not constantly updating or changing — those are still there. They need the stability of one platform.
All of the new tools that are coming in are putting a drain on performance. It's insatiable because of the sheer demands that are being put on networks and systems now, with more and more security. You need the performance to be able to manage all of those tools all at once.
Those four things — the security, manageability, stability and performance — those needs have been there all along. What has changed is the speed and complexity in those four areas, particularly security and manageability.
BIZTECH: Employees have needed a lot of support during remote work. How are businesses providing that support?
Hallford: We’ve seen a renewed interest in user experience. In addition to remote work needs, a lot of millennials and different workforces are coming in expecting a much different and much better digital experience than perhaps some of the previous generations did.
We at Intel have such a strong ecosystem of partners, from regional service providers to some of the largest global Fortune 500 supporters. As they build their solutions with us and improve things like security and manageability, and have the performance to support the increasing load, then IT managers can focus elsewhere. They can focus on actually giving their employees a decent experience. They can focus on which video collaboration tool is best for their company.
There is a lot that we can take off their plates to allow the IT managers to focus on some of the other areas that are becoming increasingly important.
BIZTECH: How does Intel’s vPro platform help teams navigate these challenges?
Hallford: The ability for an IT provider to be able to reach systems and patch them remotely is incredibly important. It’s crucial to be able to patch and keep performance high and address any potential issues. We have found that vPro really got it right. The four pillars that we've always been building upon — security, manageability, stability and performance — I think are even more important now than they ever were.
Right out of the box, we enabled Intel’s Active Management Technology, which is essentially the capability to manage your systems and endpoints not only onsite or in-network, but also remotely. For our larger customers, such as a big mining company in Australia, they have to reach their operations in Argentina and China, and even remote areas within Australia. This ability to reach endpoints worldwide is crucial.
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