The Biggest Innovations of 202101/07/2021
At Ultima we recognise that innovation is vital in the workplace which is why we have named July as our Innovation Month for our internal communications and activities. The fact that we must keep up with trends and prepare our companies for constant innovation is nothing new, but the past year has highlighted even more how essential innovation can be for businesses not only to survive, but to thrive even in tricky circumstances. So, after an out of the ordinary year, what can we expect for 2021? In this blog we have spotlighted employees across the company on where they see the trends within the business and what they think will be the next big thing will be.
Geoff Hardwick, Services Director at Ultima
The first area of growth I have seen within the business is around Hybrid Workspace. Due to the changes in working behaviour there has already been a shift to work from home. I fully expect that to be semi-permanent and we will need systems that enable employees to work securely from anywhere. That means true equality between those who are able to be physically in the office and those that collaborate remotely. So, meetings must be easy to join and communicate in no matter where you are and how you want to do it. Access must be straightforward and secure from any device from anywhere.
Secondly, Managed Infrastructure and Applications is set to grow as the hyperscaler platforms evolve at an ever-faster pace- companies will need strong technical partners to ensure they are using the right technology in the most efficient way. This means really understanding the customer’s processes and business to provide relevant strategic advice as well as being able to quickly remediate when things go wrong.
Managed Security has never been more important. The surface attack area is now so wide with the hybrid combination of on-premises, public cloud and SaaS that it’s very difficult for businesses to be able to keep on track of all the security information that needs to be ingested, understood and actioned. It needs well-tuned systems and specialists available around the clock to able to sift through the data, identify real threats, then mitigate and remediate. It needs to be 24/7 and needs to be super quick.
We have seen a huge shift of infrastructure move to the public cloud (mostly Azure and AWS). We expect to see more of this, but it needs detailed planning and a clear framework to ensure the infrastructure remains secure, dynamic and scalable while keeping costs clear and controlled.
Lastly, many organisations are looking at office infrastructure refurbishments. Controversial considering the move to hybrid working but as things have not been touched for 18 months and the workplace will be re-configured, I think this will lead to a refresh in networks, wi-fi and conferencing to ensure everything integrates well with the new collaboration tools that have evolved rapidly over the last 2 years.
Chris Watkins, Head of Security at Ultima
The shift to hybrid working is something we are hearing from all of our customers and the industry. This brings with it a new larger footprint to have to manage and secure.
The use of typically cloud hosted solutions for device level management and security we think will only increase considerably. Securing your device, no matter where it is, or how it’s connected will become just as important as securing your corporate office, but has to be approached in a very different way.
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Mark Elliot, Modern Workspace Practice Lead at Ultima
The necessity of remote working brought on by the global events of 2020/21 have really put a spotlight on Digital Employee Experience (DEX). This is no longer a case of looking at performance metrics of a laptop or network latency to a line-of-business or SaaS application – it’s about providing a holistic approach to the way employees interact with technology and others. As this trend continues to develop further, IT Services and Support providers will start moving from Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to Experience Level Agreements (XLAs) focusing on IT Service outcomes and value rather than on service availability.
The key asset for most organisations is its people so it’s important to understand truly how productive and engaged they are, then work to ensure this remains high through a range of actions such as providing effective collaboration tools, delivering frictionless access to applications and data, as well as focusing on the employee’s wellbeing and work/life balance.
Richard Choi, Modern Datacentre Practice Lead at Ultima
The pandemic has caused quite a few changes for us all personally and in the business; it is obvious that changes such as working from home will be prevalent and will remain the new ‘normal’. As a result, there is strong growth in digital services and e-commerce with consumer behaviour adopting to more ‘subscription based’ services, all of which feature ‘no long-term contracts’. So, a trend I see is that in the future, customer retention will rely solely on customer experience, value, and innovation instead of vendor-lock in and long-term contracts.
As more digital services are being consumed, this will drive many businesses to accelerate their expansion with the use of cloud services and consumers will rely more on secure payment & identity technologies. I also see another trend in this space where criminals will develop even more smarter and innovative ways of attacking organisations, such as by using artificial intelligence to automate cyber-attacks to both infiltrate businesses and end user devices.
Angus Mack, Head of Cloud Services at Ultima
The wider deployment and adoption of ultra-high-speed mobile networks with 5G will empower a new generation of smaller, lower power, and always connected devices. This technology, combined with the increase in use of embedded-SIM (eSIM – a SIM card chip soldered directly to the device), now makes creating and connecting these new devices cost effective.
We have also seen an increase of smart devices in the home, such as Alexa and Google Home. This development in technology will continue to drive a new wave of devices. In the same way that high speed internet and the massive reduction in storage costs enabled the Big Data explosion a few years ago, these new technologies will do the same again, allowing a greater complexity of edge compute to handle video processing, AI & machine learning models like face & scene detection etc. without the need to be tethered to the desktop, laptop or data centre.
Zek Chak, Lead Solutions Architect at Just After Midnight (JAM) Singapore
There are many exciting technologies that promise to shake up the industry, but I think most businesses will be focusing on shoring up their defences against a growing threat landscape. With the recent spate of ransomware attacks on supply chains as well as the increasing sophistication in Business Email Compromise (BEC) hacks, companies and governments are seeing the urgency of improving their security posture. Security knowledge can no longer be siloed in the domain of the security team or the pen-testing team, as breaches often start in the inboxes and phone lines of the non-technical staff. There needs to be a change in organisational culture.
Cybersecurity will be seen as a necessity and not a luxury. As customers become better at sniffing out companies with poor security practices, businesses that fail to meet the basic standards will soon find customers reluctant to share their data and even more resistant to keying in payment details.
We have been receiving an increasing number of requests for security audits here at JAM Singapore. We recommend and support these clients as we know it helps them get a consolidated/ bird’s eye view of where they stand in their cloud security and how they can improve their cloud security posture.
JAM will also benefit from putting resources into R&D in areas/trends such as JAMstack, low or no-code platforms, serverless and containerisation. These technologies are closely related with architecting workloads for security by reducing the surface area that application teams are responsible for. In addition, these trends tend to reduce the TCO (total cost of ownership) compared to more traditional alternatives.
Isabelle Wilde, Customer Success Manager at JAM (Just After Midnight)
Our client base has grown a lot since I started at Just After Midnight, and the applications that we are supporting are becoming more and more complex. Whilst we still support many brochureware websites, mobile applications and SaaS platforms are becoming a major part of our business, as they often require the specialist, round-the-clock support we can provide. The internal structure of the clients we support are also becoming more complex, with more third-party teams to contact during an incident or outage.
As a result of this trend, we’ve developed a tech-enabled support platform called Mission Control which makes the job of supporting complex applications more straightforward. The platform makes it easy to follow the unique set of processes that each client has specified during an incident, because everything we need (client runbooks, contact details, calendar of maintenance events) is all in one place. We can trigger off status notifications to the client, manage the flow of events and wrap everything up with an incident report when the problem is fixed. In the future, we’re exploring the option of giving clients access to their own Mission Control view, so they can see a high-level dashboard with the status of their application, and also access previous monthly reports, incident reports and contact information of the team.
We have also been working with our partners to get their opinions on the biggest innovation of 2021- view our blog here. Keep an eye on our social media channels for more information about the other initiates we have run as part of Ultima’s Innovation Month including the outcome of our very first hackathon. If you have any questions on any of the topics covered, please get in touch.