Apr 15 2021

CDW Tech Talk: Meet the Workplace of the Future

Learn how new advances in established technologies can help companies future-proof their IT investments.

With the onset of the pandemic just over a year ago, organizations across nearly every industry were forced to make changes to the way they worked simply to stay in operation. Many organizations were pressured into finding short-term solutions without the luxury of time to consider the long-term consequences.

As the pandemic begins to come under control, things continue to change. But many organizations are finding they now have the breathing room to re-examine the technology investments they’ve made over the past year.

In a recent CDW Tech Talk series session, Mike Rapplean, vice president, central region for CDW, spoke about shifting priorities and the ways technology can assist in addressing the resulting needs.

Rapplean explained that the pandemic has made the health and safety of workers and customers a top priority at CDW.

“It caused us to be a bit more broad in how we think about serving our customers,” he said. “It’s not just about making them more productive. It’s now about making sure that whatever solutions we’re bringing also protect them.”

Rapplean specifically cited the retail industry and concerns faced by companies whose employees normally share handheld devices. “More and more companies are obviously focused on protecting the coworkers,” and with the impact of COVID-19, many businesses have shifted to policies where coworkers no longer share devices.

Health and Safety Are Top Priorities

In the education sector, health and safety have also become top priorities, and technology is offering solutions to some of the challenges educators are facing.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that our education systems have realized, if they didn’t before, that technology is a must-have,” Rapplean said.

“We continue to see education — from K–12 to higher education — think about technology in a very different way. Not just from enabling the students to e-learn from home, but also better leveraging technology for interaction with the teacher when they’ve returned to the classroom.”

Rapplean also acknowledged some of the difficulties faced by education systems in challenging markets where internet connectivity isn’t reliable or schools lack the resources to supply their students with devices. He spoke about advising education systems on how to invest in bandwidth and mentioned CDW partners who were providing devices to their coworkers’ children when schools were unable to do so.

Technology Can Help Organizations Address Social Issues

Technology leaders have the opportunity and resources to make a difference in their communities, according to Rapplean. “I would also reinforce the responsibility we all have,” he said. “It’s about how can we all — as leaders in this industry, leaders at a company level and just being leaders in our communities and in the world — make sure everybody is welcome, make sure everybody’s comfortable.”

“We just believe that the more we can all make an impact and accomplish that, we’re going to be a better community, we’re going to be a better industry and we’re going to be a better world.” 

WATCH THE WEBCAST: Unlock the Insider-exclusive video to learn more about the intersection of technology and social responsibility.

HPE Looks to Automation to Tackle Challenges in the Workplace

Brent Kenney, manager of the North America Compute Options Category for HPE, also joined the talk to discuss how the pandemic has altered office spaces and worker expectations.

“We see a light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic. But there are still going to be some extreme challenges, and who knows what the future holds as it relates to either working in the office, or at home or some type of a mix.” Kenney said. “I truly believe it’s going to be some type of hybrid environment for some time, if not forever.”

He emphasized the need to ask for solutions that will give employees the confidence to return to the office and ensure organizations won’t be vulnerable from a liability standpoint.

He said HPE is working on automated solutions that will help to eliminate or minimize physical contact, including automated fever detection technology that conducts real-time screening of students, faculty, staff and visitors; touchless entry systems; and social distance tracking and tracing tools that use AI to stem the spread of viruses.

The Acceleration of VDIs Has Enabled a Remote Workforce

Kenney noted the increased use of virtual desktop infrastructures for remote work, saying, “The pandemic really accelerated looking at VDI solutions for organizations.”

He said VDIs provide centralized security, additional flexibility for users who need high-performance capabilities and remote solutions for software licensing and troubleshooting.

HPE provides VDI solutions through its HPE GreenLake, which offers cloud services and technology suited to the needs of the specific workload.

Speaking of the promise offered by the service, Kenney said, “As we start to come out of the pandemic, I think we’ve become even better at creating a specific VDI offering that can be optimized in several different ways across several different platforms.”

Follow BizTech’s full coverage of the CDW Tech Talk series here. Insiders can register for the event series here.

Getty Images/ SDI Productions