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Helping businesses balance the demands of hybrid

Mike Mulholland, Head of Services and Solutions at Brother UK, argues that resellers have an important role to play in helping their customers balance their ambitions for decentralising with their longstanding IT goals 

While people are returning to offices, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever return to how we worked before. In our latest research of 500 IT decision-makers, we found that just 13 per cent expect all the people that work in their businesses to be in the office on a full-time basis in two years’ time. 

This is understandably impacting how IT professionals are planning for the long- term. And one element that’s changing is giving employees more responsibility for acquiring their own kit for work. 

Just five per cent of those we surveyed said that employees are currently responsible for buying all of their tech for work. But this figure is set to rise to 11 per cent over the next two years as they adapt their procurement models. And almost half (47 per cent) say they are handing staff more responsibility as part of the move to hybrid. 

The concern is that this shift will clash with longstanding goals. Our research found that boosting productivity, creating cost efficiency and enhancing security are the top priorities for IT decision- makers over the next two years, which are threatened somewhat by having less control over procurement and the explosion in working locations. 

The opportunity for resellers is providing the consultancy to deliver hybrid working effectively and to avoid taking backward steps in achieving their IT goals. 

Safe and sound 

Shoring up security will be crucial to permanently establishing a successful decentralised IT infrastructure. In the same research, more than a third (34 per cent) of respondents said that the data vulnerabilities created by workers operating remotely was their top concern. 

IT teams face the potential that workers won’t install or update the firmware for the devices that they procure. Once introduced to the network, they open up an exponential number of vulnerabilities. Employees that are procuring their own tech do save IT leads time, but if the devices go offline, it’s tougher to fix, as IT leads aren’t there to diagnose and resolve issues. Downtime is one of the biggest threats to productivity, so businesses can seldom afford their tech to be offline or short of supplies like paper and ink. 

This also goes hand-in-hand with generating greater cost-efficiency. Employees left to procure their own tech are unlikely to purchase all of the same compatible solutions and rarely at the same price. Workers are time-pressed and so may not dedicate the same amount of time to searching for the most suitable and cost-effective option as IT leads. 

Tackling the challenges 

A needs-based assessment will be valuable for stretched IT teams who will need to identify how they can deliver hybrid working effectively, ensuring the network is secure, finding cost efficiencies and boosting productivity. The fresh perspective partners can offer on their current IT set-up can deliver meaningful value to customers, as well as kindle opportunities for partners to supply new solutions, like workflow and document management solutions. 

From a print perspective, we’re seeing a significant number of businesses shift to a managed print services solution because of the security, productivity and cost-efficiency benefits that MPS provides. 

MPS packages can come equipped with a cloud-based monitoring system, which will be invaluable to IT managers unable to manually access workers’ devices. They can keep an eye on any potential security threats, as well as track the health of devices so that they know when maintenance might be required. 

Being one step ahead here means that they can be prepared to manage all incidents or problems maintaining the availability of printer functions for all remote hybrid workers, ensuring that printing is always available to users. The same also goes for supplies replenishment, with the system able to automatically track ink and toner levels and replenish supplies before they run out. This saves both workers and IT managers the hassle of having to check and reorder supplies. 

And by monitoring machines closely, firms are able make use of just-in-time delivery, only ordering supplies at the time when they’re needed, which reduces the cost associated with stockpiling unused inventory. This also adds to the cost efficiency gains that the monthly subscription-style payment plans MPS offers. Shifting from CapEx to OpEx makes for a more predictable and even cash flow, which will be helpful to businesses managing constricted finances after a challenging 20 months. 

Benefits like these mean that the long-term shift to hybrid working will be the catalyst that sees MPS reach its potential – and opens a door of opportunity for resellers to expand their revenue streams. 

Businesses have a firm handle on how to manage a decentralised workforce. But translating those longstanding IT goals over to their new hybrid working tech requirements is an area where the channel can add real value, particularly where employees are procuring the technology themselves.