Anywhere Operations is a model for organizing an IT organization that provides support for customer service, virtual worker and employee access, employee support and motivation, and product deployment from anywhere with no regard to the physical location of assets or people.
As a result, anywhere operations can provide the fundamentals for enhanced services, such as collaboration and productivity across teams, secure remote access for all, cloud enablement, enhanced automation and autonomy, and other novel features. Anywhere operations is rapidly gaining traction in the marketplace in response to the workforce shift that started as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.
To explain the Anywhere Operations model, here are the key requirements of adoption:
- Secure remote access
Implementation of strict security protocols ensures safer remote access, which can enable support teams to perform troubleshooting from anywhere to anywhere. Technicians who have secure remote access can remotely control a user or client device, which can speed the time to resolution as well as improve the perception of the support organization overall. This can also have a positive impact on the support organization’s service level agreements.
- Seamless customer support
Additionally, secure remote access helps enable better, faster, customer support. Since physical location no longer matters, support organizations can staff facilities in multiple time zones around the globe to help ensure true round-the-clock availability of support technicians and can thus better support a widely dispersed customer base. Again, this can have a strong, positive impact on brand loyalty and drive-up net promoter ratings.
Anywhere operations offers a range of cost-saving measures, including reducing the need for maintaining and upgrading on-premises infrastructure as well as eliminating the need for travel for support purposes. In this manner, both initial and ongoing expenses are lower.
- Employee empowerment
Accelerated by the Covid pandemic, employees increasingly work from home – or Starbucks. Anywhere operations empowers work from anywhere, and the elimination of commutes leads to better time management for employees, ultimately enabling them to focus more on problem-solving that has bottom-line business impact. It also enables employers to utilize a global workforce, since physical location is no longer a determining factor when making employment decisions.
- Improved productivity and collaboration
Empowering employees with remote access provides other benefits as well. Anytime, anywhere access to business computing resources increases collaboration and results in higher team productivity. According to Gallup’s State of the Workplace report, the ideal is 3 to 4 days offsite to increase engagement, collaboration, and productivity.
- Automated deployment
Anywhere operations can also automate and manage the deployment of products and services across the distributed infrastructure. Increased automation translates to lower risk, and rapid iteration of new versions provides for faster feedback by testing and quality teams.
Despite the many benefits of anywhere computing, there are two major hurdles that enterprises must overcome.
First, there is the fear that adopting anywhere operations will be disruptive, will add complexity to the current environment, and that it will incur substantial expenses. There are risks in any major restructuring of business processes and IT procedures, however, these are more than offset by the gains to be realized.
Second, many organizations are still saddled with legacy tools that solve point problems, rather than taking a holistic view of access to systems, networks, and clouds. However, cobbling multiple legacy tools together falls far short of the integration that anywhere operations deliver across the enterprise. Adhering to legacy point-product tools greatly limits the organization’s ability to scale both geographically and to support new constituent users such as partners, customers, or distributors. There is no legacy toolset that can support both employee access and operations delivery efficiently.
Organizations need to look no further than the COVID-19 pandemic to understand how anywhere operations can impact virtually every business. The year 2020 brought major changes in the way business operations function and how their customers interact with them.
Even when the current crisis has passed, employees will continue to seek those organizations that will offer flexibility in their workplace. As businesses re-think the workplace at a macro scale it is clear that a remote workforce will be the new normal from now on.
Additionally, customers who have been demanding a better user experience including a richer digital experience from the companies they deal with will continue to do so. Customers expect to engage in a multi-channel, virtual manner, and to do so anywhere, anytime, from any device. Thus, businesses must provide enhanced digital services, and the underpinnings of anywhere operations will become increasingly important.
Many systems will require modernization or changes. For example, if a customer-facing mobile application is designed to allow self-service checking on order status, the back-end system that handles order processing must be able to communicate with the systems that power the mobile applications, even if they reside in different data centers or clouds. This can be achieved by moving on-premises infrastructure into the cloud or by adopting a microservices, API-based link between the disparate applications to enable seamless communications between them.
Anywhere operations are a superset of remote work, however, the anywhere operations model goes far beyond employees working from home. Some additional benefits of anywhere operations are:
- Going beyond employees to add customers and other constituents in the access model, rather than just supporting employees and contractors
- Provision of secure remote access that enables teams to collaborate and work effectively as if they were on-premises, without opening up users, infrastructure, or networks to cyberthreats
- Inclusion of collaboration tools to enhance the ability to work together regardless of location
- Provision for interactivity and commerce once relegated to in-person transactions, such as buying a new car from a computer or making bank deposits by photographing a check with a smartphone.
Because anywhere operations goes beyond the workforce to embrace customers, there are opportunities to automate a broad range of processes and functions, bringing together information from multiple previously siloed applications to enable self-service for a broad range of customer interactions and transactions.
Anywhere operations encompasses new management solutions that can couple decentralized infrastructure, grating teams that include employees and customers access to information from any location, regardless of where people are accessing that information from. In this manner, anywhere operations enables a more resilient and flexible business, provides more choices for both employers and customers, and takes away geographic boundaries.