Insights from Inspire

Cloud, security, and productivity through employee enablement

Following a recent trip to the US to attend the Microsoft Inspire conference, I was prompted to reflect on some key themes that emerged and examine; how we are putting these into practice across organisations in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), and what the most pressing actions organisations should be taking.

The first theme was the importance of properly enabling employees to drive productivity.

Traditional email has become less relevant to organisations that are embracing new and emerging tools to facilitate collaboration. Providing a well governed suite of collaboration tools allows to people work in teams and groups, which is crucial to help organisations improve employee productivity.

Furthermore, people increasingly expect the tools they use at work to mirror the tools they use in their personal lives. Organisations that use outdated toolsets will struggle to attract and retain talented staff members. When people can’t do their jobs in ways that make them feel comfortable and empowered, they tend to vote with their feet, moving to organisations that do provide modern collaboration toolsets they want to use.

The second theme was the use of cloud to become more agile and lower costs.

An important lesson from the past few years is that a simple lift-and-shift approach doesn’t yield significant cost savings and can, in fact, be more expensive than running traditional on-premise. Re-architecting and optimising an application workload is the key to achieving cost savings and efficiency improvements.

An assessment is always required to ensure that the workload can be re-architected correctly for cloud and will achieve the organisations requirements.

The third theme focused on the importance of protecting all platforms with a security layer.

The move to cloud has reinforced the need for this, and security is the biggest growth area across cloud. Organisations are starting to understand that security must be first and foremost when moving to cloud services.

This becomes especially true as organisations continue their migration to cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) creating a heavily distributed environment. Without clear boundaries, it’s hard to see how to effectively manage and maintain network security. While cloud is seeing a ramp up in customers moving their production environments across, security remains absolutely essential.

Part of the security question is trust. For example, many vendors track usage so that they can effectively market their offerings towards existing and potential customers. Microsoft has stated that its role as a trusted provider is to improve its platform. As a single vendor providing such a wide variety of tools, Microsoft is in the unique position of having a comprehensive view into customers’ issues and opportunities. In the security sphere, it amortises the security information of customers to build a threat intelligence picture that it can then use to better protect customers.

All three themes reflect what ANZ companies are already focusing on for the most part. For example, most businesses are investing in modernising the workplace because they understand the critical role this plays in staff retention and productivity. Businesses not already on this journey will find it difficult to compete, since most ANZ organisations are already well on the path towards becoming more agile through smart digital tools and strategies.  

Damian Zammit is general manager – transformation services at Thomas Duryea Logicalis and an executive council member of CompTIA.  

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