The tech sector is always dynamic, always changing. But now it’s transforming faster and more unpredictably than ever. Given a whole range of PESTLE factors, IT decision makers (ITDMs) from small businesses to enterprises with managed IT environments are under increasing pressure to make smarter investments with their budgets. This includes everything from productivity and cybersecurity to superior computing experiences for employees, who are increasingly collaborating remotely, multitasking, and placing strain on applications competing for computing resources.
Prioritising security, performance, and reliability through trusted partners is key to keeping up with the ever-changing, turbulent times, as is having an eye on technical debt, which I’ll discuss later, and effective planning. In this blog, I’m going to be discussing all these things, as well as weaving in real customer stories from Intel to show you how you can masterfully manage technological change in turbulent times while simultaneously future proofing some of your business’ IT operations.
I’ve partnered with Intel again because I believe in their brand, and because they’ve recently introduced the latest generation of their Intel vPro platform powered by the new 13th Gen Intel® Core™ processors. Built for business, Intel vPro addresses an ITDM’s ever-changing needs by delivering the most comprehensive security, modern manageability for companies in need of a PC refresh and business-class performance for all employees. This integrated platform has the latest PC technologies designed into one validated solution built to provide what ITDMs need, and employees want.
Some of my favourite features include Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) to help IT teams remotely patch, update and manage employee’s desktops and laptops when they’re working from anywhere and without the need for a VPN; advanced threat detection technology (Intel® TDT), which integrates with endpoint and detection platform, Crowdstrike, and uses AI-based heuristics and algorithms to detect and prevent malware, ransomware, crypto-mining and supply chain attacks in real-time; and IT-enabled encryption which provides an extra layer of security to systems and virtual machines.
A Perfect Storm is Building
A perfect storm is building for ITDMs, as they face a range of complex challenges that require strategic planning and careful management. With a blend of remote and on-site employees, the current global tech slump has created uncertainty in the markets, making forecasting in new technologies and hires difficult. At the same time, poor economic growth, influenced by climate change, global warming, and the energy crisis has put pressure on budgets, making it challenging to prioritise technology investments.
The ongoing war in Ukraine and other geopolitical events have also created significant concerns such as cyberattacks, and rapidly changing compliance demands have far-reaching consequences for businesses operating globally and across industries. Then there’s AI, including Generative AI and AI-powered tools which have leapt forward in recent months, presenting further opportunities and risks. While AI has the potential to improve business efficiency, productivity and safety by assisting with decision-making, providing real-time data insights, automating repetitive tasks, optimising workflows, reducing workloads, thereby positively impacting burnout, absenteeism, staff turnover and cybersecurity vulnerabilities, it requires careful execution to ensure its correctly integrated and its use aligns with organisational values and goals.
As businesses consider these challenges and continue to rely more heavily on technology to solve them and get ahead, technical debt – a term used to describe the costs associated with using outdated or inadequate technology that can negatively impact a company’s ability to innovate and compete – has become a pervasive issue that cannot be ignored.
So, let’s consider how technical debt impacts the demands of the modern workforce, ITDMs and their teams by examining three important aspects – employee experience (EX), lifecycle management, and cybersecurity and how customers have addressed them with vPro.
#1. Employee Experience (EX)
With advancements in technology and changes in workplace culture, employees now expect more flexibility, autonomy, meaningful work, opportunities to progress, and EX. I wrote about this recently in regard to getting smarter with cybersecurity and sustainability. With the rising trend of remote collaboration and multitasking, employees require technology that can support their needs in their role. If it fails to meet their expectations, employees could become frustrated, disengaged, and produce lower quality work. Innovation could stall, too, productivity could fall, and employee presenteeism, absenteeism and churn rates could rise, all which would negatively impact profits.
Looking at PCs, which are the foundations of today’s workforce, they enable employees to work efficiently, complete tasks faster, achieve better results, and be more secure. But employees lose approximately one workday each year waiting for their three-plus-year-old computer to boot up, and productivity is affected by up to 125%, costing a significant amount – potentially USD 7,794 per year, per user.
In short, legacy systems and outdated technology, hold companies back, making it difficult to innovate, fulfil employees in their roles, and adapt to changing market conditions. That’s why ITDMs must weigh up EX against cost efficiencies as often the cheapest solutions turn out to be the costliest.
Real Story: St Anne’s Institute
St Anne’s Institute (SAI) illustrates this well. Being asmall non-profit organisation, serving more than 800 children and families annually from 40 counties throughout the state of New York, their staff is comprised of social workers, therapists, counsellors, healthcare professionals, administrators, and teachers. With staff working from desktops, laptops, and tablets, onsite at SAI’s five locations as well as in the field, visiting clients in their homes and schools, and performing outreach to street youth, their mobile devices must be able to withstand rugged conditions, as some get dropped, or left in cars, with temperatures ranging from -50°F in the winter to more than 100°F in the summer. Having a dispersed workforce not only requires SAI’s IT team to manage their employee’s devices remotely but the transition of client electronic health records (EHRs) to the cloud while still storing sensitive client information locally. For SAI, this complex web of regulations means being compliant with not one but five compliance standards – HIPAA, SOX, FERPA, HITECH, PCI, and New York SHIELD.
Without a workforce requirement for heavy-duty apps and therefore powerful processing speeds, the IT team at SAI didn’t initially search for devices enabled with the business performance capability of Intel vPro. However, they soon discovered the benefits when they happened to get Intel vPro devices. For example, with Intel’s Endpoint Management Assistant’s (Intel®EMA) cloud-based functionality, they were able to remotely power up, access devices on Intel vPro and then diagnose, repair, patch, and update devices without any employee disruption or a requirement for them to return to the office. This capability was not only helpful considering SAI’s employees tend to work with clients in their homes or classrooms, but critical due to maintaining their employee’s device performance and security.
#2. Lifecycle Management
Lifecycle management is a critical aspect of IT operations that involves managing the entire lifecycle of technology assets, from procurement to disposal. As technology ages, it becomes more expensive to maintain, leading to higher costs, security risks, and reduced efficiency. This can erode profitability and hinder growth, putting a business at a disadvantage in the marketplace. Therefore, ITDMs must balance the immediate need for cost-effective solutions against the long-term risks and costs associated with technical debt.
This involves regularly assessing the organisation’s technology infrastructure, identifying areas that require immediate updates or upgrades, creating a comprehensive technology roadmap that prioritises innovation and investing in technologies like the Intel vPro which can reduce technical debt over time and aid with sustainability. For example, a single use of Intel AMT used to support a PC remotely, instead of dispatching a technician via truck, saves carbon emissions equal to 2 years of use of that PC.
Real Story: Graham’s The Family Dairy
Graham’s The Family Dairy is a prime example of this technical debt challenge. They are Scotland’s largest independent dairy farm but have an IT department of only two people to support the technology infrastructure of 200 employees, over 85 partner farms, and a global distribution network extending as far as Hong Kong and Singapore.
As an interconnected business, managing the supply chain, food safety, and delivery requires real-time coordination of complex factors. To manage milk flow, shipping labels, and data sent to delivery personnel’s handheld devices, Graham’s The Family Dairy relies on a connected PC infrastructure. However, with only two IT personnel, providing technical support to employees who were spread out over the country was becoming time consuming and unsustainable, especially since all troubleshooting efforts had to be conducted manually, which could take a whole day if a site visit is required.
To address this challenge, Graham’s The Family Dairy standardised its workforce on PCs powered by the Intel vPro platform. By utilising Intel AMT) and EMA, their IT team was able to remotely manage and maintain its devices, reduce downtime, and enhance security.
Technical debt and cybersecurity risks go hand in hand. Outdated technology can be vulnerable to cyberattacks and other security threats, which can put sensitive information at risk. Take PCs. They are still a crucial aspect of cybersecurity since 50% of critical corporate data is stored on unprotected desktops and laptops. Security threats can enter any computer and rapidly spread, causing workforce downtime, lost productivity, costly data breaches, regulatory fines, and reputational damage, all of which can have a significant impact on a company’s long-term success. So, how can an ITDM best manage this?
Real Story: University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW)
University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (UHBW) has the answer. They are a leading healthcare provider in the Southwest of England. With several sites offering medical care, their IT infrastructure plays a critical role in managing patient records, coordinating care, and ensuring compliance with various regulations.
However, UHBW faced several challenges with their previous IT solutions, including outdated hardware, a lack of remote management tools, and security concerns. They needed a solution that would allow them to manage their IT infrastructure efficiently, securely, and remotely.
That’s where Intel came in. Working with Intel, UHBW was provided with devices powered by the Intel vPro platform. With the Intel vPro platform, security decisions start at the PC level. The platform provides innovative hardware-based security features, including Intel Hardware Shield, which offers enhanced protections against attacks below the operating system and advanced threat detection capabilities. Hardware Shield reduces the attack surface and protects against damaging firmware-level attacks while offloading routine security functions for minimal user impact, allowing for continuous productivity.
Additionally, the platform’s remote management capabilities allowed UHBW’s IT staff to monitor, diagnose, and resolve issues from a central location, reducing downtime and minimising the impact on patient care.
Thanks to Intel vPro, UHBW was able to streamline its IT operations, providing better patient care, and enhancing overall efficiency. With the improved remote management capabilities, UHBW’s IT team could respond to issues promptly, often before they became critical. As a result, there were fewer disruptions to patient care and staff were able to access patient records more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, the enhanced security features offered by Intel vPro helped UHBW comply with various regulatory requirements, ensuring that patient data was kept safe.
Technical debt is a growing concern for ITDMs in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. To stay competitive and avoid costly consequences, it’s critical for ITDMs to consider numerous aspects, including EX, lifecycle management and cybersecurity. By addressing technical debt proactively, investing in new technologies such as the Intel vPro platform and creating comprehensive technology roadmaps that prioritise innovation and agility, ITDMs can future-proof their business operations and thrive in an increasingly digital world.
Now I want to hear from you
- Tell me about your tips for future proofing your tech investments in turbulent times.
- How are you dealing with technical debt?
Then head over to Intel to learn more about the Intel vPro platform powered by the new 13th Gen Intel® Core™ processors and how you can better manage your technical debt and improve your workplace’s EX, lifecycle, and cybersecurity. New features offer a hybrid architecture with new performance-cores, more efficient-cores (on select offerings), smarter task classification, better energy efficiency, and security, the latter of which promises to reduce an attack surface by 70% compared to 4-year-old Intel-based PCs.
Finally, in the spirit of full disclosure, please be aware that I’ve received compensation for promoting this #ad for Intel. Because your success is important to me, I only align myself with brands I believe in, and Intel is one of them.