Enabling recently held five virtual roundtables highlighted by industry thought leaders and panels of IT executives.
Over these past weeks we’ve listened to our clients’ experiences on how they’ve managed this unprecedented pandemic over the past 100 days, what application tools were invaluable for the Work from Home (WFH) transition, and how they are planning for the path forward through the recovery and reimagining phases that are well underway.
We hope sharing some of their lessons learned helps your organization deal with the long recovery from the pandemic.
Predicting Changes in Post-COVID Communications
Our keynote speaker Marty Parker from Unicomm Consulting gave us thought-provoking insights as usual. He began with a quote from Gartner Group which predicts that by 2023, 40% of enterprise telephony purchases will be based on a cloud offer suite – Microsoft Office 365 or Google G-Suite. Here at Enabling, we’re seeing an increase in interest in Microsoft Phone System, allowing workers to get enterprise dial tone from anywhere, with no on-premises hardware or VPNs.
We surveyed our attendees about their predictions, and over half of our attendees expect to be back in the office in the 3rd quarter. Yet 25% of their firms still have no plans to return to the office. This matches data from a larger, more general survey from S&P Global Market Intelligence, and infers that more secure, productive work from home tools are needed now and for the long-term.
Speaking of long-term, 40% predicted that between ¼ to ½ of their workforce would permanently remain at home. This is even higher than the numbers from a Gartner Group survey of CFO's. Similar to that Gartner survey, just under 25% of those we polled expect their entire workforce to return. Our keynoter Marty Parker explained how Unicomm’s usage profile modeling make a good way to decipher which workers have the right roles to stay home, and what tools they need to excel.
Customer Panels Steal the Show
Enabling has been 100% virtual for over four years, so it was interesting to hear firsthand stories of the heroic efforts of our customers as they were forced to transition. Our panels featured 20 IT leaders from different businesses, from restaurants to non-profits, insurance firms to healthcare providers. Their size was diverse too, from 150 users to 30,000 employees.
Enabling’s CIO Advisor, Scott Vickland, praised IT departments for how they flexibly enabled work from home with ad-hoc and uncharted processes. We all are impressed with what our customers accomplished in such a short period of time. Scott advised that a balance has to now be found between productivity and IT controls. Case in point: 30% of those surveyed had users on machines that are not domain-joined (i.e. home/personal computers). Such devices provide leaky entry points into an organization’s data and need to follow a zero-trust model. Speaking of devices, 25% said that managing device updates remotely has been their biggest challenge. Here at Enabling, we’re seeing a spike in customer interest in Intune and SCCM/Cloud Management Gateway to better manage remote PCs. One panelist’s strategy to manage 30,000 endpoints is to assume they’ll never connect to the intranet.
Our customers are doing all this with a tight budget. Nearly 50% received no funds to execute projects that were proposed prior to COVID. It seems to be a case of feast or famine though, as 35% received funding for multiple projects that were unfunded prior to COVID.
But that’s enough of what we think, here are some of the more memorable quotes from our panelists.
IT Leaders’ Comments about Tools:
“Office 365 and Teams were a lifesaver.”
“When some users wanted Zoom right away, my argument was ‘We own Teams. Let’s focus on that.’”
“Microsoft Teams was the biggest enabler for us.”
“We were not comfortable with Zoom’s privacy controls, including being able to record to local PCs.”
“I was a big Google fan. Once staff were working from home and staff could see what they could do with Office 365, the more powerful they became. My faith in Microsoft has been redeemed by Teams.”
“Using Microsoft Stream to record training about how to work from home was a big win.”
IT Leaders’ Quotes about Adoption and Change:
“People learned how quickly they can adopt to change when faced with a crisis.”
“Our Teams adoption was sudden. In the first two weeks we did our first firm wide conference using Live Events. It was such a success that in the next two weeks we had licensed and activated 4,000 people.”
“The C-level used to frown upon work from home but are now looking at it differently.”
“We had been working on Teams migration for four months. When the pandemic hit, adoption went up 800%! Once comfortable with the communication pieces, staff really wanted to know more about the collaboration features.”
IT Leaders’ Advice about Communication:
“The importance of communication when so many are teleworking can't be underestimated. It's important to do simple things like checking in with team members to see how they're doing.”
“The whole company has been working together to make sure there was a company to come back to.”
“The staff will not read all of your emails, so you need to come up with different strategies to disseminate info. If something does not work for them, they will just stop using it – not come to you with a question - so you have to double-check they are satisfied and trained.”
“We are doing another training soon, with a daylong session focused on remote work tools.”
IT Leaders’ Guidance on planning:
“Always make sure you're planning for the what if. Make sure those plans are flexible. Make sure IT is inserted into every business unit. Make sure you know what's important to users and respond quickly.”
“IT built great credibility, where it had none.”
“This work from home would not have been successful without all the tools we put in place with Enabling's help.”
“Thanks to Enabling Technologies for steering as we were navigating through this storm together.”