Graham Prentice, General Manager, New Zealand Government Sector at Cyclone Computer Company, looks at how mobility and new practices like MDM help a business become resilient – and grow.
Every business leader wants to create a sustainable, resilient organisation. Technology is critical to enabling teams to maintain business as usual and collaborate with each other and customers during times of disruption. Covid-19 is just the most recent example.
After the Christchurch earthquakes, local businesses and public sector organisations learned the value of having mobile devices like laptops and cloud platforms people could access from anywhere, with 54 per cent adopting new technologies to boost their resilience.
Flexible working is also increasingly expected by workers. The organisations who can enable people to work where and when they choose will retain people for longer, also saving recruitment and retraining costs.
On the other hand, selecting, programming and distributing laptops usually takes time and a great deal of internal resource – up to 45 minutes per device, repeated every time someone moves on from the organisation. Owning the device is also a capital expense for the business, meaning there's less to go around for other infrastructure.
Free-range teams and freed-up resources
That's why Mobile Device Management (MDM) should perhaps be renamed Modern Device Management. Large organisations are increasingly realising how much becoming a modern workplace relies on providing greater mobility to their teams, and how approaching device management as a service can free up IT resources for work that adds more value.
With MDM, organisations employ a specialist business like Cyclone Computers to deliver laptops and other devices to employees, or anyone else who needs remote access to their platforms.
Using Microsoft Endpoint Manager software, which is available to Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users, it's easy for administrators to deploy devices remotely, calibrate them to specific user requirements and roll out updates from the cloud.
Because it's all done centrally, it takes just four minutes to set up a new device instead of 45. Parlay that across 300 computers, for example, and that's 25 days ICT teams can save for more critical tasks.
It also rapidly speeds up the deployment of devices when they're urgently needed. During the April 2020 lockdown, Cyclone's deployment partners Ingram Micro were processing thousands of devices each week.
The MDM model can also be tailored to organisations' needs, depending on how much ICT resource they have available. With Device-as-a-Service (DaaS), businesses can lease devices from a specialist company that manages updates on their behalf via MDM.
HP New Zealand currently manages DaaS services for organisations as small as 12 people or up to 10,000. According to Commercial Channel Sales Manager Antony Watts, these organisations realise an average 22 per cent reduction in the total cost of ownership, with a significantly better end user experience. That's why New Zealand is ahead of most other APAC countries in DaaS adoption.
"Businesses wanting to free up capital for other investments can benefit from a Device-as-a-Service model, receiving devices under an operating lease so they don't have depreciating assets on their balance sheet, their devices are regularly updated and they have certainty of outgoings every month," he says.
"Many people make the mistake of purchasing the most powerful device available, thinking that will prepare them better for the future – but they overspend because many workloads these days are in the cloud. DaaS means you get the device you need now, and using it alongside MDM is a quick way to transfer devices across your business, at a cost structure that fits your needs."
Businesses can also outsource the set-up and deployment of their devices, taking advantage of the faster turnaround and minimal upfront involvement of MDM, then manage them in-house.
Lessons from the education sector
According to Sam McNeill, Education Solution Specialist at Microsoft New Zealand, the education sector is leading the way in MDM adoption:
"Education institutions have been very quick to embrace Mobile Device Management. The benefit of this over the old device management models is that students and staff no longer have to be on campus or in an office to enrol in the system and log in for the first time. As long as they have an internet connection, there's no need to travel to the campus."
When Covid-19 shut down offices, schools and campuses around the country, the benefits of MDM quickly became clear. Cyclone recently worked with the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) to distribute devices to students around New Zealand so they could continue their studies remotely.
With SIT's ICT teams dealing with massively increased demand for helpdesk services during lockdown, they didn't have the resources to obtain, deploy and calibrate all the computers required.
Instead, Cyclone partnered with HP to identify and source appropriate laptops and software for each student – in this case, the HP EliteBook 850, which had the dedicated graphics card necessary to meet the demands of SIT's multimedia courses. Within two weeks, Cyclone and Ingram Micro set them up with the latest Windows 10 Pro and Office 365 software and enrolled them into a single device management system, then shipped them to students' homes without SIT needing to see or touch a single device.
The institute is now looking to loan laptops out through its libraries, meaning students have the flexibility to spend time away from campus for work, travel or family reasons.
Accelerating tech transformation
The applications of MDM for businesses and public sector employers are obvious, providing the mobility employees are looking for while also boosting resilience and productivity. The government's Strategy for a Digital Public Service aims to accelerate its transformation into a modern, digitised public sector to deliver better outcomes for New Zealanders. Shifting to an MDM model would be a good start.
Security has traditionally been a prime reason for not providing employees with mobile devices. As McNeill says: "It used to be that if someone left their laptop on the train, that data was lost and vulnerable to being accessed by whoever found it.
"With an MDM like Intune, you don't have to worry about that. You can simply wipe all information on the device remotely, and modern platforms like Microsoft365 mean all the data is already securely backed up to the cloud, ensuring security compliance is maintained whether you're working in the office or remotely from home."
In fact, security is actually easier to maintain on managed devices, as employees accessing their work platforms via VPNs from home may be using personal computers with outdated anti-virus software. When a new employee starts, an existing device can also be quickly and easily wiped, reset and a login issued without waiting for a member of the ICT department to schedule a visit.
With resources frequently stretched across New Zealand organisations, Mobile Device Management is likely to become the model of choice for both public and private sector leaders looking to optimise their spending and increase resilience.
Especially in the post-Covid era, it's essential to spend more time innovating rather than mundane admin tasks. Fortunately, there is a better way.
To find out more about Mobile Device Management, visit cyclone.co.nz/device-management-solutions/