16 November 2020
The coronavirus epidemic has transformed smart working from an opportunity to a necessity. An increasing number of organizations are advising their employees to work from home. Clients increasingly prefer to buy on line, too.
Nobody knows how long this situation will last, but it is easy to forecast that - even after the emergency will be over - working from home will become a much more frequent routine than it has been so far. We 'Latins' quickly took the opportunity to speak 'anywhere' but we prefer working in our offices.
For many SMEs moving to smart working has been deceptively easy. After all, each employee has a wi-fi or a smartphone and can use his/her laptop to access company data. Bandwidth and amount of data downloaded are not a problem anymore.
I said ‘deceptively’ easy, because without a smart working architecture, working from home entails several risks. If the employee doesn’t use a VPN, his/her communications could be easily intercepted; if the company doesn’t have a firewall, it’s open to illegal accesses. The password strategy (with a SingleSignOn solution for example) and compartmentalized (and registered) accesses should be implemented. Nevertheless, this is not the point.
‘Working at home', is an entirely separate issue than 'working at home as if you were in the office'. To create this sensation, accessing company data is not enough and after all, it is not even required to use a video conferencing system (more often they distract both the participants).
Far more important are platforms that allow 'collaboration', allow to chat with a colleague or a customer ‘singing from the same hymn book’, perhaps being able to intervene both on the same file. This factor qualifies any personal meeting between two colleagues or between a seller and a customer.
Standard architectures based on corporate data centers could ‘somewhat’ support teleworking but cloud architectures are native to smart working. They alone offer the flexibility and security necessary for an era in which smart working is the norm and not the exception.
The current predicament opens some risk scenarios too. We certainly don't want to bring back the anxieties that brought our fathers and grandparents to dig atomic shelters under their houses. It is true, however, that even in Switzerland an epidemic (an occurrence that is difficult to stop at the borders or foresee in its evolution) makes power outages, floods or fires less impossible or more trivial situations in which it is not possible to have in place in the company data center even the minimum resources required for business and IT continuity.
SMEs that insist on maintaining 'their' data center, 'their' routers and servers, non-redundant electrical and data connections are realizing that they have a higher risk profile than those who have entrusted themselves via the Cloud to specialized structures for which security and the continuity of IT equipment is the core business.