Is ‘as-a-service’ the solution to hybrid working IT challenges?

Office professional researching whether ‘as-a-service’ is the solution to hybrid working IT challenges

New working patterns = new priorities

How we work is changing, and with it, so is the role of the IT team. Remote and hybrid working are certainly not new concepts, but over the last few years they have dramatically increased. In fact, according to our recent research, 50% of respondents said their organisation is headed towards some kind of hybrid working set-up and just 33% are going to be entirely office-based. In a short space of time, hybrid working policies have shifted from relatively unusual, to the new status quo.

For IT teams, this means a dramatic shift in how they approach technology strategy and investment. Businesses have long been aware of the benefits of shifting their organisation away from traditional on-premises, owned technologies. But having a significant proportion of the workforce offsite, has provided a new appetite for flexible technologies; the pandemic accelerated CIOs’ interest in the cloud.

Gartner also concludes that the demands of supporting a hybrid workforce are driving a huge rise in investment for infrastructure-as-a-service and desktop-as-a-service, which rose 38.5% and 67.7% respectively in 2021. This rapid rise reflects how cloud-based as-a-service models are coming to be viewed as the antidote to ongoing uncertainty and the challenges of remote management for IT teams.

Meeting stakeholder needs

Creating a large-scale remote workforce has meant that organisations have had to adopt new capabilities, fast. From desk stands to collaboration tools, IT teams have had their work cut out to support employees working outside of the office. However, to obtain new capabilities, companies would often be faced with purchasing expensive equipment upfront, which typically also meant a raft of on-premises technologies to manage with it.

Here, as-a-service offers an efficient alternative. With this model, organisations buy access to the capability, without the responsibility for the technology itself. This allows IT teams to deliver a win-win scenario – meeting internal drives for new innovation, while still reducing ties and dependence on an on-premises location.

This helps IT teams meet stakeholder demands for increased flexibility. In theory, if an organisation consumed all their enterprise technology this way, they could become entirely remote, with no need for a permanent location to house centralised IT resources, also enabling employees, including IT, to work from anywhere.

Easier remote management

The as-a-service model also offers the obvious advantage of an easier life for IT teams. Managing on-premises hardware and software is time-consuming at the best times, but it becomes more challenging when employees are based offsite, making it more difficult to remotely maintain technology or fix issues.

With device-as-a-service, the vendor holds responsibility for ensuring device performance, whether that’s having the right amount of toner, or ensuring that security patches are up to date. This not only frees up IT teams from having to do this themselves but ensures a better service for the employee – avoiding downtime and frustrations.

In addition, as the vendor is providing an additional value service, they typically build in attractive options as standard, including smart reporting and resource usage management. This saves IT teams time on measuring and optimising performance themselves, but also gives organisations much greater visibility into how the technology is being used.

Remote worker researching flexible responses to fluctuating needs

Flexible response to fluctuating needs

This visibility is particularly valuable because many organisations consider their hybrid working model to be evolving, and businesses (and their employees) will take time to find the right hybrid working mix that works for them. By having access to regular, or even real-time usage trends, organisations can monitor whether their current service is delivering what they need.

However, getting this insight would still be an issue if it demonstrated the agreed service wasn’t working, but there was no solution. Luckily this is usually not the case: an additional benefit of as-a-service is that organisations can typically choose to tweak and scale the terms of their contract, to meet demand. This allows IT teams to meet the needs of a continuously changing environment, typically without the risk of being tied into a long-term, inflexible contract.

Elevating the role of IT

As-a-service doesn’t just offer IT teams an easier life, it could play a role in elevating their role in the business. In a traditional on-premises model, a huge proportion of IT’s responsibility is everyday maintenance. By handing over the more arduous tasks, such as scheduling software updates, monitoring device use and other such tasks to a vendor, IT teams can focus on the more strategic elements of their role.

In turn, this can support changing perceptions of IT. Traditionally it was often viewed as an isolated support function to the business, however, there is a greater understanding today of the importance of technology in defining and driving wider company strategy. In fact, 85% of CIOs report that their role has become more important to the business. With less time taken up on everyday operations, IT teams are more able to step up to this elevated role.

As-a-service has been revolutionising how companies buy software for a long time. But recent, rapid changes in how we work have driven growth in other as-a-service areas for enterprise IT, including infrastructure and device. With more organisations adopting hybrid working, IT managers are increasingly looking for buying models which offer greater flexibility and reduce dependency on on-premises IT. As-a-service provides these benefits, alongside the opportunity for IT teams to vastly reduce the day-to-day management required for owned IT. In turn, this allows IT leaders to lean into opportunities to play a more strategic leadership role.

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