The ongoing pandemic has caused organizations to shift to a more flexible and hybrid work environment. The adoption of a hybrid work model creates inevitable challenges for IT departments to manage technology assets.
Historically, under a pre-pandemic lifestyle, legacy assets would have been classified as on-premises data center servers, desktop PCs, network equipment, and other traditional hardware found in an office. As employees work less from the office and more from home and other remote locations, this has placed more reliance on cloud, SaaS, and virtual resources. This means the legacy definition of technology assets needs to evolve and include an entire range of technology not previously thought of from the perspective of IT, such as personal devices used in the enterprise.
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is a set of processes that are used to manage IT assets across the various business lines of an organization. As the concept of technology management broadens, so do the visibility and security issues related to it.
In today’s scenario, organizations’ IT management infrastructure is determined by the tools and processes used to manage the various assets: hardware (ITAM), software (software asset management or SAM), SaaS and cloud (infrastructure and SaaS management tools), mobile devices (mobile device management or MDM), and IoT (Internet of Things).
Traditionally, the enterprise has used a compartmentalized approach to manage these different technology stacks. This often includes using inefficient legacy systems that are highly specialized to individual needs, ultimately making upgrades difficult as new versions become available.
Furthermore, the rapidly expanding range of network-enabled devices in such varied fields as medical, transportation, manufacturing, and education, are all now part of a rapidly evolving and expanding IT infrastructure that must be tracked, managed and secured. IT asset managers have never worked in an environment with this many varieties, speeds, and sizes of assets to manage. And it’s not getting easier.
Along with more technology having to be managed, the increasing adoption of the cloud and SaaS has also accelerated due to more employees not working in traditional office locations. The expectation, however, is that IT departments must still be able to deliver the same level of infrastructure support that was previously provided in an office setting. This inherently makes IT’s job exponentially more difficult, and more importantly, it creates a vast expansion in the potential attack surface.
The risks associated with a hybrid framework are wide, with infrastructure management, security, compliance, and productivity constituting the most significant threats.
As stated earlier, the fundamental definition of IT asset management has changed as more organizations embrace remote work. Before the pandemic caused employees to work from home or other locations, IT was managing on-premise software protected by a secured firewall.
Under these conditions, analyzing the IT infrastructure was considerably more predictable and manageable. In a hybrid environment, the entire paradigm has altered substantially, and there is a movement away from reverting to obsolete and previously established IT structures and operations processes.
Secondly, in the hybrid work approach, security is a huge concern for enterprises. The shift to everyone working from anywhere in the world means the potential attack surface has increased significantly. Furthermore, network access points at home or in a coffee shop are less secure in comparison with office connections protected inside a firewall. Most residential and small business Wi-Fi networks lack enterprise-grade security measures—sometimes no security measures at all—resulting in exposure to potentially dangerous attacks.
Compliance challenges caused by a mixed work style must be evaluated by both organizations and employees. Similar to many aspects of IT technology management, compliance laws are complex, ever-changing, and continually costly.
The majority of compliance concerns are caused by auditors’ analysis and hefty fines. To avoid large fines and to answer necessary questions about technology assets such as who has what, where, and the exact security status of those assets, there must be elements in place to locate this information easily.
For many enterprises deploying existing legacy IT asset management systems, they simply cannot get a holistic view of their entire technology portfolio and be able to comply when employees are working remotely is difficult, sometimes impossible. However, enterprise technology management (ETM) delivers comprehensive visibility, reducing the chances of compliance problems surfacing.
Finally, the fourth danger linked to hybrid work environments is decreased productivity due to the inability to support remote assets or easily get people the tools needed to perform the job. Before the pandemic, cross-functional processes such as onboarding and offboarding employees from a technology standpoint were challenging.
With the current work from home (WFH) model, that challenge has suddenly become much more difficult. A proper technology infrastructure that is supported, managed, and secured is a necessity for employee productivity, but this has become increasingly complicated as everyone, and their assets move about freely. In general, hybrid IT can be a great strategic enabler. It does, however, necessitate a different approach to how technology is managed within a business.
To minimize infrastructure, security, compliance, and productive risks in a remote or hybrid environment, businesses should turn to Enterprise Technology Management or ETM. Despite all the challenges that IT currently faces, the adoption of ETM can eliminate most of the complexity. The ultimate goal of an enterprise IT model is to focus everything on the user and the systems and assets they use.
Organizations, however, have traditionally concentrated their technology management on assets in an office or data center. This method of managing technology is inadequate in an evolving hybrid world and cannot address the security, compliance, and productivity challenges created by the current work dynamic.
ETM offers a single, integrated, and real-time source of truth that provides organizations with ease of integration, breath, and full lifecycle management of all assets, from the desktop to the data center, to the cloud. ETM is technology agnostic, and employing it allows for easy integration with already existing systems, making deployments faster and accelerating time to value.
Additionally, all IT assets are monitored and tracked, essentially strengthening security by illuminating potential security blind spots created by an increased attack surface.
As illustrated throughout, existing technology management systems were developed and designed for a completely different working environment than the one currently leveraged by companies of all sizes. With the adoption of cloud-based systems, which is now steadily growing, the way IT manages all assets will have to start shifting toward modern applications. ETM helps you embrace this new hybrid world.
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