Let’s talk about…Windows 10

It feels like Windows 8 was only just released yesterday but it is nearly time for a new operating system to hit our devices – Windows 10. But, why jump from 8 to 10? Microsoft stated the newest version is so significant that it warrants a ‘10’, differentiating it to mark a ‘new chapter in the history of Windows’. However according to other sources, Microsoft decided to skip Windows 9 because of legacy code from third-party applications –

windows 10Cranbourne said that “early testing revealed just how many third party products had code in the form of Windows 9”, referring to benchmark operating systems Windows 95 and Windows 98. He said: “This was the pragmatic solution to avoid that.”

There was also rumours late 2014 that upgrades for Windows 7 and 8 users will be free. Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Operating Systems confirmed at an event in January that for the first year after the launch, customers with devices running on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1 will be able to upgrade to the latest version of the operating system – for free. However, those on ‘Enterprise’ versions will not be included in this offer.

Details of how this would work has not been released but, it seems that Microsoft has learnt from the previous release of Window 8 – it is not always the case of if we build it, customers will come! By providing incentives for Windows 10 uptake will help Microsoft create demand for suitable applications for the new OS.

Remote Working… The Trend of Mobility in the Workplace

Forrester Research suggests 95% of workers are using at least one-self purchased device for work, which can help explain the blurring between work and play, and the growing adoption of BYOD within businesses.

But, when it comes to Workforce Mobility, BYOD is only a part of it, as TechTarget and Computer Weekly IT priorities survey, found 67% of enterprise plan to issue employees with mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones in 2014 – suggesting that employers are also starting to see the benefits of remote working, by empowering employees with the ability to choose where they work.

Remote Working

Working anywhere, anytime…

By offering remote working or telecommuting it can remove recruitment geographic limits, employers can employ the very best and employees can work for who they want without worrying about the location of the offices – the ability to be able to work anywhere and workplace flexibility can help to attract and retain staff. With the amount of communication tools available cross-boarders conference calls can all be cost-effective.

Researchers at Stanford University found that remote workers are 13% more productive and have less sick days. The increase in productivity could be because it provides employees with the freedom of working from a personalised space, a space that can support individual workflow and processes, no compulsory commute (which can sometimes be stressful!!), a space that has no interruptions from colleagues which in turn can increase job satisfaction.

By offering employees the option for flexible working it displays trust (although there will be times where this is abused). Employees would appreciate the flexibility of tailoring their work-life balance = they would be as focused and productive. In theory. But, when working from home there may be distractions due to domestic circumstances which could have opposite effect so, its not something that is suitable for everyone.

Not everyone sees workplace mobility in a positive light – In 2013 Yahoo ended its remote working program and BestBuy quickly followed suit. Both argued employees working together within one building will promote interaction, creativity and the sharing of information – which is a valid point. This idea is supported by Google where Patrick Pichette CFO commented “The surprising question we get is: ‘How many people telecommute at Google?’ And our answer is: ‘As few as possible’”.

The lack of uptake of remote working could be that many organizations lack trust with their employees, they have an innate belief that performance and productivity can be measured within office buildings, as Managers can see physical presence – the question is, just because someone is sitting there, does it really mean they are being productive? The answer can be debatable.

Even though there is a low uptake in remote working currently, as technology and user habits change, ‘Work Mobility’ and ‘Flexible Working’ is predicted to grow. Leading to a popular view that work is something not confined to a particular building, it is an activity that can be conducted anytime, anywhere.

Of course certain jobs are not suited to remote working like manning a production line and there are a number of disadvantages. In short mobility in the workplace can be beneficial

Secure Remote Working Netshield

Working remotely? Make sure its done securely.

for businesses and individuals but, before the decision is made an assessment of suitability is required. If workplace mobility is something that is suited to different roles and organisational culture then, it must be planned, deployed and managed securely.

Corporate BYOD: The Benefits and Risks

One in four devices used for work are now either smartphones or tablets, and on average, an individual carries or has access to at least three devices. It is not surprising that the ability to work anywhere and anytime has led to the growth of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) – part of the broader consumerization of IT trend – where employees are using personally-owned devices for business purposes.

IT security - Netshield

‘1 in 4 devices used for work are now mobile devices’

BYOD can provide a number of benefits to organizations of any size: enabling a mobile workforce, improving productivity, reducing costs, etc. It offers employees flexibility, providing them the ability to have a work-life balance that is personalized. Although the BYOD trend brings benefits, it also has corporate security implications.

IT departments often perceive personal devices as a corporate risk, because it is a foreign object to the IT infrastructure, with an unknown history, unknown level of security measures and no control over the level of access.

Corporations can take the stance of prohibiting personal devices, but it would not solve the issue, as employees are often undeterred by security policies and access corporate data anyway, which means it will be unmonitored and even more of a security threat to the IT network.

It has been predicted that by 2018, 70% of professionals will conduct their work on personal devices. Companies need to embrace the trend by taking a structured approach to BYOD with detailed policies in place. A non-structured approach can potentially weaken a company’s data security barrier, cause compliance issues and increase vulnerability to cyber crimes.

Corporations also need to assess the benefits and tailor the policies to the company culture and regulatory requirements. For example, IBM adopted a BYOD policy, but they banned the use of Dropbox, a cloud storage provider, and Siri, Apple’s personal assistant service, due to security concerns.

BYOD policies need to be carefully considered and implemented. Employees must be educated about the importance of data security and incident reporting; procedures must be in place if a device containing business data is lost or stolen, as it can have huge data security implications. Data security needs to be built into the corporate culture.

Protection from data breaches need to be considered when implementing BYOD, like having a mobile management system in place that would allow an IT administrator to carry out tasks such as enforcing corporate security policies or wiping the device if it was lost or stolen. Ensuring devices have authentication processes and encryption is also advisable.

BYOD and the mobile workforce trends are set to grow, despite the security concerns. If BYOD deployment is executed with a structured approach, with sufficient policies and security measures in place and employees are educated on the importance of data security, corporations will benefit from BYOD in the long term.

If you require more information on BYOD implementation and security please contact us. This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of AmCham Connect.