Enabling remote work: how IT can plan for 2021 and beyond
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced a mass uptake in remote working, and it has fallen upon the shoulders of IT professionals to ensure that transition occurs smoothly.
“The initial response to COVID was: ‘we're going to move everything temporarily to the cloud and we're going to get through this, and then we're just going to revert back to how things normally were,’” says Kevin Magee, Chief Security and Compliance Officer at Microsoft Canada. “And this crisis has really made businesses come to the realisation that they have to change what they're doing if they're going to secure their organisations for the future.”
While traditional conceptions of hard perimeter firewalls have their place, an evolution is now required in the new world of work. “If you were starting from scratch today, there's no way that you would do a hard perimeter like that because cloud and mobility have made that hard perimeter, no longer sufficiently agile or sufficiently scalable,” says Lisa Lorenzin, Director, Transformation Strategy at Zscaler. However, Lorenzin explains that you’re not starting from scratch in most cases, so having collaborative partners like Microsoft and Zscaler working together can add value to a company. “Helping organisations transition through a transformation journey is where the guidance of Microsoft and Zscaler working together with a strong connectivity partner like Bell Canada can really make a difference,” adds Lorenzin.
A zero trust approach sidesteps many of the challenges now being presented, as Lorenzin explains. “It's about having a world of context-based trust where the user may be on-premise or-off premise. The application may be in the data center or in the cloud, but the principle of zero trust still applies, which is: I don't implicitly trust anyone to do anything.“
“Zscaler can offer network access that still provides the visibility and security that IT and Security needs to run and secure the business, but vastly increases the user experience. Employees that are happy to use applications are better able to serve their customers,” says Magee. With such a transition taking place, Magee sees benefits across the IT professional landscape. “There's been a positive shift in morale because we are finally delivering on the promise of zero trust, conditional access and a safe user experience that does not compromise security.”
CGI: Driving local solutions with global expertise
Embrace digital transformation and infuse it with a spirit of agility, is the message to the public sector from Aleta Jeffress, CGI Senior Vice President Consulting Services.
“We partner with clients to drive value and innovation,” said Jeffress who has been working with the US City of Mesa, AZ on their digital journey for their local citizens.
Founded in 1976, CGI is one of the largest IT and business consulting services firms in the world. It is insights-driven and outcomes-based to help accelerate return on investments. CGI operates across 21 industries in 400 locations and provides scalable and sustainable services that are informed globally and delivered locally.
“We have expertise in developing and executing strategies to help companies transform their IT to align with the business through cloud strategies, application rationalization, modernization and outsourcing,” said Jeffress speaking from the Denver CGI offices.
“Digital change can be exhausting, but take the opportunity to embrace it and look for new opportunities,” said Jeffress who pointed out projects should have a sense of agility and specific focus on the end-user.
“This can be a big culture change for some clients but by making sure your implementations are not a big bang theory but you can take smaller chunks which you’re able to do over and over again as it's just going to continue to evolve,” she said.
Informed globally and delivered locally
Commenting on CGI’s partnership with the City of Mesa, Jeffress said: “We are providing a solution that has a lower cost of ownership and helps them streamline business processes and helps increase efficiency.
“The City sought a single source of truth for their ERP business processes. With CGI Advantage, they found a partner in their digital transformation journey with a configurable, unified solution that supports their HR, financial management, and performance budgeting business processes.
“With CGI Advantage, the City is working with a single source of truth that lowers total cost of ownership, streamlines business processes, and increases efficiency - additional benefits include:
• A decrease in customizations and staffing requirements resulting in faster upgrade cycles.
• Empowering HR resources to focus on strategic efforts by removing the need for manual and duplicate data entry.
• Increased accuracy with reporting.
• Process improvements shifting from customized or paper-based processes to automated processes.
• Increased pay transparency and accuracy by leveraging process improvements and configurable support
A trusted partner
“CGI is a company that focuses very intently and very intentionally on delivery - that is something that really sets us apart,” said Jeffress.
“We have an internal process where we meet with clients twice a year to ask a specific set of questions. How our clients answer those questions allows us to be sure we are aligned and can be a trusted partner with all of our clients.”
“As an international company, we can provide key resources when our clients need it in a very timely manner,” she said.
Reflecting on the challenges posed by COVID-19 Jeffress said there had been a true evolution in technology services.