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From catching a train to attending a concert, we’ve come to expect connected services wherever we go. This culture of connectivity has not only had a big impact on our day-to-day lives, but it’s also driving significant changes in how we work.
Today’s employees demand a greater level of mobility and flexibility than the generations before them, and devices such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets make it far easier for them to work whenever and wherever they want.
While this increased flexibility has brought many benefits, the proliferation of consumer devices in the workplace has caused more than a few headaches for IT departments grappling with the need to protect both applications and data, while also embracing increased flexibility and collaboration.
One particular concern is the emergence of shadow IT, which refers to an unmanaged set of applications, access methods, devices and working practices that have evolved through users discovering workarounds for excessively restrictive corporate IT policies.
Securing mobile devices
IT departments in companies that have a highly mobile workforce with a reliance on laptops, smartphones and tablets will need to implement security initiatives that don’t hinder users from accessing data. After all, draconian security systems that lock users out end up being circumvented, so exposing businesses to more risk.
Securing user sessions is the first step, and that can be done by utilising two-factor authentication. One of the more commonplace examples is Windows 10, which comes inbuilt with Microsoft Passport – also known as Windows Hello.
Once IT departments are satisfied that devices are secure, it’s also important to think about what happens to data stored on any devices that go missing. It’s no use having a secure device that an outsider can’t get into if the data is lost when that device is misplaced.
While file servers are great for in-office scenarios, they aren’t an elegant solution for the on-the-move, multi-device workforce of today. This is where cloud-centric technologies come in. Depending on access and control requirements, this might be OneDrive, ShareFile or a number of other technologies.
A new approach to security policy
Traditional security has been highly structured, and log-file based, whereas modern security designs look at trends, baselines and correlations to provide AI machine-learning insights into the security of the estate. It’s impossible for organisations to protect against every eventuality without destroying the productivity of its users. Instead, businesses are looking at how they can limit the attack surface while being able to efficiently discover and remediate problems as they come up.
As well as rethinking security policies, a further impact of the rise of intelligent workspaces is the need to adapt IT strategies to suit. Rather than creating detailed technical strategies spanning three to five years, a more flexible approach is required for this disruptive landscape, allowing companies to constantly evolve and retain the agility needed to take advantage of innovative technologies and trends.
The best IT strategy is one with key long-term strategic goals against which smaller projects are aligned and adapted. Following the implementation of each phased project, an informed review ensures the business benefits were realised. This then provides a platform to look forward to the next phase while considering industry trends and technological advances to provide the most contemporary and cost-effective solution.
Embracing the future
Today’s employees are used to a world where they can connect and share at any time, wherever they are. With the next generation of workers growing up using social media to communicate and organise activities, this demand for flexibility and connectivity can only increase. Businesses that are ready to embrace – and foster – flexible and collaborative workspaces are far more likely to attract and retain talent and are best placed to retain a competitive edge in today’s innovative, fast-paced world.
Adopting new ways of working can prove a daunting task for IT departments, but supporting them in finding the right tools – and formulating the best strategy for their business – will help ensure they’re ready to embrace the workspaces of the future.