SOTI takes deep dive into world of distributed workforces

A research study released Tuesday by SOTI reveals that organizations in healthcare, transportation and logistics (T&L), warehousing, and retail are increasing their investment in new technology and devices, much of it due to the rise of the so-called distributed workforce.

The report, entitled When Work Is Anywhere, from the Mississauga-headquartered provider of mobile and IoT management offerings, indicates that this new form of working exists far beyond remote working environments and is having a significant impact on business operations in an assortment of industry sectors.

Describing it as a “seismic shift,” the move, authors of the report note, is a result of advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT), e-commerce, real-time supply chain visibility, and communications.

Findings revealed that upwards of 50 per cent of Canadian respondents reported an increase in their IT budgets in the last year, and 33 per cent confirmed “substantial growth” in the number of devices being deployed across their organizations. In addition, 44 per cent reported an increase in IT staff.

The findings also revealed that 29 per cent of respondents from across multiple industries reported the mix of devices, such as smartphones, scanners and rugged devices, also increasing within their organization over the last 12 months.

Shash Anand, senior vice president of product strategy at SOTI, said, “Over the past year, 52 per cent of Canadian companies have invested in technology they have not managed before, including new groups of devices, software and applications.

“This represents a significant shift in how businesses are now running as they move to a more distributed workforce and take advantage of developments in IoT and supply chain visibility to remain competitive.”

The downside to all of this activity, the report notes, is that as the number of devices and data volumes grow, so too do threats to security.

The report found that over the last year, 37 per cent of respondents cited the need for better access control to protect their IT networks, while 33 per cent increased their spend on mobile technology security.

“As operations become more diverse and remote, an increasingly complex interplay of devices and data emerge, which must be managed and secured effectively,” added Anand. “Industries such as healthcare, retail and T&L may diverge on the specific needs of the mobile devices and locations of their teams.

“It is important to have seamless visibility and access to health analytics of devices, be able to quickly fix issues and ensure devices are secure. This will be critical to mitigate risks to the business.”

The arrival of the distributed workforce, according to a release issued by SOTI, has spurred the need for technology to be adopted on two fronts – one in the form of the physical device itself, and the other in the effective management of all devices in an increasingly dispersed environment.

Unfortunately, the firm said, “many organizations across various industries and regions continue to use outdated, paper-based processes, suggesting that organizations still have a way to go to truly manage a new operational infrastructure. This is concerning as sensitive data such as patient and customer information is unsecured, leaving personal data in the wrong hands.”

Despite the rise in automated processes, findings revealed that globally, 61 per cent of healthcare organizations are still managing their workflows manually, and the figure rises to 69 per cent in the legal sector.

This unstructured method, the company said, is “especially concerning in the healthcare sector where the manual information and data is likely to be patient related and therefore unsecured.”

Meanwhile, Anand said, “Whether it is preventing malware attacks or breaches, addressing employee retention, enhancing workforce productivity or more, discarding outdated legacy processes and software and moving towards the better management of devices and data will be key to ensure ongoing business health and success.”

Authors of the report state, “IT managers and their organizations need to prioritize ensuring dispersed networks are monitored, secured, compliant, collaborative, and supported. The benefits extend far beyond progress in digital transformation.

“These include employee attraction, retention and onboarding, efficient office and facilities management, more sustainable and low emission operations due to remote troubleshooting capabilities, a productive workforce and a better proposition to customers as a result of all the above.”

Survey findings are based on interviews conducted in February with 2,500 IT professionals based in Canada, U.S., Mexico, U.K., Germany, France, Sweden, and Australia.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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