One consequence of remote work is the toll it places on IT support teams, both in terms of the business bottom line and human cost. Research shows  that 14 per cent of IT personnel’s time is spent managing devices. Half of IT professionals believe that they are spending too much time procuring and managing devices, and because of that, 63 per cent believe that the resources that go into device management could be used on other strategic IT priorities instead.
All of this is exasperated when the IT cannot physically interact with the devices, and when remote work introduces further issues around procurement processes.
“While technology has moved ahead in leaps and bounds, many IT managers are still dealing with unclear or ad hoc procurement processes. This makes controlling costs and budgeting for fleets a significant challenge for IT teams. Support is usually dependent on local access to computers and there’s no plan for equipment disposal at end of life,” Paula Fountain, Data#3 National Practice Manager – HP, said.
With people now working from home more, the temptation might be to explore BYOD options, but the burst in interest in BYOD a decade ago has been fading over the past few years, as the management and security of such devices is a challenge to already overworked IT teams. At the same time, traditional provisioning, deployment, and lifecycle management of devices is challenging when managing a decentralised environment in which people are working from home.
Assisting with this challenge has become a key opportunity for channel organisations. Data#3, for example, offers an advanced Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) offering. Data#3’s DaaS utilises a lifecycle approach: from the point of vendor and partner selection through to device selection and procurement, deployment, support (regardless of user and device location), and end of life asset disposal. Through DaaS, Data#3 can provide its customers a true digital procurement process and a Zero Touch Device Deployment model.
That Zero Touch Device Deployment is key in an era of social distancing. Through Data#3, when a device is procured and deployed to a user, Zero Touch Deployment ensures that the user receives a device ready for use, with software installed, configured and ready to work.
“Data#3’s DaaS solution puts a device in the user’s hands quickly, without significant back and forth with the IT team to get the device up to speed. IT teams can easily deploy software remotely with assurance that security is given appropriate attention,” Fountain said.
Adding value to zero touch across the channel
Distributors have their role to play in delivering effective Zero Touch Device Deployment too. As outlined in the Microsoft fast study, Ingram Micro offers a solution – IMDeploy - that allows partners to provision Windows Autopilot services from the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace, and then ship the devices directly to the end users, with the software and user profiles there immediately, the first time the user powers the device on.
“This is a new way of selling and deploying Windows devices,” Robin Yeo, Business Manager at Ingram Micro said. “As well as getting devices in users’ hands in a ready-to-use state, it offers cost certainty which is important during this challenging business period.”
Zero Touch Deployment is not just a solution that can assist organisations with the ongoing need to facilitate remote work for existing employees. There is another benefit to it, in that, by leveraging the reach of partners like Ingram Micro and Data#3, it allows organisations to cast a wider net for talent. One of the arguments against fully remote employees has been the management of IT for employees, ensure that they have the right equipment, and provide timely support. Because this often got placed in the “too difficult” box, many businesses were only able to recruit people from the local area, limiting their access to skills.
Zero Touch Deployment, meanwhile, can become the foundation of a truly remote workforce, without adding to the burden on the IT managers. Once an employee comes on board, the partner can facilitate the devices that they need to work and provide ongoing support as needed. And, as a final benefit, this service model to devices shifts the costs of device management from CapEx to OpEx.
“The total cost of this is bundled into the hardware cost and it is all amortised over a longer period, three years is typical, so businesses pay a monthly fee per-user per-device instead of upfront costs,” Yeo said.
Flexibility is going to be the key theme behind the bulk of IT expenditure going forward. Business leaders want their organisations to be more nimble, more dynamic, and geographically diversified. With Zero Touch Deployment and the assistance of channel services, IT can deliver this flexibility without adding logistical headaches to the device management side of the business.