Offering device choice is a step in the right direction, but it’s only half the battle

remote working
(Image credit: Shutterstock / GaudiLab)

This year is set to be the beginning of a new evolution in working history as droves of employees settle permanently into working from home (WFH), or working from anywhere (WFA). Thousands of businesses have realized the benefits of working remotely and have begun to equip their employees with the right technology to do so. Unsurprisingly, employees want a say in the technology and tools they use in their new work environment so they can deliver their best.

According to PWC, 78% of millennials believe having access to the technology they like at work makes them more effective. The good news is that businesses are realizing the benefits that technology can bring beyond the realms of business operations. In a report by Randstad Sourceright, 92%  of C-suite and HR leaders believe technology enhances the attraction, engagement, and retention of employees – this is up 13% in comparison to 2016’s results (79%).

Businesses have begun to offer employees a choice in hardware, commonly referred to as an employee-choice program, as a way to meet their needs. In doing so, companies have taken the first step towards creating a better experience, helping employees to be more productive and boosting recruitment and retention efforts.

About the author

Michel van der Berg is VP and GM EMEIA at Jamf

But businesses are only halfway to success. They must now select a technology management strategy that preserves the native device experience employees crave, while fulfilling enterprise requirements with access, security and management in a world where many employees are working from home.

In addition, businesses need the ability to deploy, manage and secure the employees’ preferred hardware in a manner that preserves the user experience and meets their expectations just as they had anticipated.

The new working world requires new management

Ecosystem management provides a solution to the employee experience and IT efficiency conundrum. By focusing on the benefits of each ecosystem, whether that’s Apple, Microsoft or Google, businesses can give employees the intended native experience they expect, while empowering them to be their most productive.

The use of technology in the workplace should always be to improve employee productivity and this is where more commonly used unified endpoint management (UEM) solutions falls down. UEM is designed to deliver IT efficiency and control by consolidating the management of all devices in a single tool, but it doesn’t keep the employee front of mind. In fact, it dampens the user experience because it doesn’t leverage the unique native workflows and experiences created by Apple, Microsoft and Google to provision, deploy, secure, update and support devices.

This is where researching and selecting a knowledgeable partner pays off. For example, an Apple Enterprise Management platform will equip IT with the necessary tools to manage Apple devices efficiently while satisfying users’ demand for the experiences they want from their chosen device.

Deliver the native experience

By selecting a partner that integrates seamlessly with an ecosystem's native deployment program, IT teams can find more efficient ways to deploy and provision their fleet of devices. They can maintain that coveted unboxing experience and delivering apps and tools without ever having to touch the device. For example, when focusing on a singular ecosystem, IT can integrate with deployment programs, like Apple Business Manager, to automate enrolment and configuration, over-the-air, and avoid opening the box before the employee. Employees can receive their device, preinstalled with all the apps and tools they need to be productive, for a personalised experience from day one.

Many UEM tools often replace built-in native software tools like Apple’s Messages or Windows’ OneDrive with their own proprietary applications and this can further impact experience. Instead, businesses can work with partners who use native frameworks to configure built-in applications. This way, IT teams utilize the tools they are familiar with to avoid wasting time and energy learning a new UEM tool.

Stay up-to-date and secure

Cybercriminals continue to gain access to valuable and confidential data through outdated and unprotected software. According to a ServiceNow survey, 57% of respondents who faced a security breach, said the attacks were due to vulnerabilities in unpatched software. Businesses must seek partners that can empower them to deploy new software, patch updates and the latest operating systems as soon as it’s released.

Through the enterprise management platform, organizations can focus on one ecosystem at a time to utilize native built-in apps to detect specific threats, prevent known malware, speed up incident response times and actively monitor for compliance.

Often, each technology system will have its own management framework to provision hardware, enforce security settings, license and distribute software, as well as conduct ongoing device management. While advantageous to the business, this can be a nightmare for IT who may be handling a variety of systems and need to concentrate their efforts on more strategic objectives. Businesses should select an enterprise management partner who is built on native ecosystem technology and has experience in integrating differing systems, to increase the likelihood of same-day updates while remaining secure.

A premium experience for all

As businesses look to create personalized environments in which employees can flourish, they need to ensure employee experience remains part of the equation. A blanket approach, like UEM, treats all devices the same and defeats the purpose of an employee choice program. By selecting a partner that provides a holistic view and expertise in ecosystem management, businesses can take advantage of individual technology systems to optimize IT capabilities, ensure systems stay up-to-date and secure, and deliver a premium experience for employees.

Michel van der Berg is Vice President & General Manager EMEIA at Jamf