Hybrid cloud: The next step in liberating the workforce

The modern workforce is no longer a fixed and easily defined entity. The workforce of today can be virtual, located in all places, online at all times, and working across a variety of devices and platforms, add to that the workforce is a dynamic pool of employees with full-time, part-time and contract staff but also now covers the extended eco-system of partners, customers and crowd-sourced support.

The expectations around modern working arrangements, both from employers and employees, has presented many challenges and opportunities for businesses. Enterprises must reconsider how they manage and support such a dynamic workforce and completely reconfigure their ways of working. For businesses to be most effective, their workforces must no longer be shackled by the old ways of working, they must be liberated to work as and when and how they want.

According to Telstra’s latest Disruption, Digital Transformation and Effective Technology Strategy report, the majority of Hong Kong respondents say they could be more dynamic if their technology platform was more flexible and agile (74%). More than half of those surveyed believe their ability to collaborate and work more effectively as an integrated team is hindered by rigid technology platforms (64%).

Unified Communications (UC) has played a key role in increasing agility, lowering business costs, and offering a unified user experience for staff without geographical limitations. But UC is nothing new, and it’s the advent of cloud that has recently changed the shape of a truly connected and liberated workforce.

With the current climate of technological disruption showing no sign of slowing down, businesses need to find smarter ways to adapt to changes and keep their workforce liberated and connected.

Cloud, the great enabler

Over the last few years forward thinking businesses have been turning to the cloud to stay ahead of the game as environments turn increasingly competitive. Many of these businesses are embracing the cloud in order to support increased demand for UC, by streamlining ridged work practices and improving employee collaboration and workforce mobility. It has also acted as an enabler of diversity and inclusion by creating opportunities to work remotely and flexibly, and stay connected.  

Cloud-based solutions offer the ability to adopt new technology in areas such as voice and videoconferencing without the hefty upfront capital expenditure of an on-premise solution. When a new technology becomes available, users do not have to wait for the end of the existing product lifecycle before switching, and IT Managers no longer need to lock themselves into expensive maintenance contracts for on-premise solutions.

The convenience of being able to access an application from any internet enabled device/browser is another major advantage that organisations value in cloud-based UC solutions, with almost one-quarter of organisations surveyed by IDC considering this to be the main advantage of using cloud-based applications.

But as we see a proliferation of media-rich applications and more devices connecting to networks than ever before, businesses are facing significant pressure to be able to adapt quickly enough to weather such disruption.

Destination hybrid

Hybrid cloud models effectively offer increased flexibility, scalability and lower operational costs. Telstra’s Digital Disruption report revealed almost half (48%) of the Hong Kong respondents see hybrid cloud as their priority area for investment over the next 12 months.

This is because hybrid cloud solutions can provide the required agility and flexibility to support the numerous user profiles that make up the new modern and virtual workforce.

A hybrid model allows for variable bandwidth to cope with upsurges in demand when there are sudden peaks in demand such as additional retail staff during holidays. Hybrid cloud infrastructure and services also help rapidly deliver all the necessary applications and data to workers of all types and in all scenarios and locations.

Staff such as airline crew could be served via the cloud when away from the main company site but still retain full capabilities to collaborate and interact with colleagues. Flexible workers and remote workers can be served by hybrid services that allow for the full-suite corporate network experience but also a cloud-based experience when in a remote location or in a scenario where there is limited connectivity or the requirement is for a short period only.

The hybrid cloud enables your business to reap the benefit of complete flexibility, greater levels of employee collaboration and the ability to support all the different needs of a fully dynamic workforce.

Once this operating model is established with the necessary technology platforms and working processes, enterprises will attract the most dynamic and globalized employees from around the world, while injecting new talent into your workforce. This ability to adapt to a truly worldwide workforce lets you successfully engage in any market, and is the ultimate success of enabling a liberated workforce.

A diverse and inclusive workforce is key building a global culture and mindset, and for a company to be truly able to cater to an international customer base.

Navigating through the complexity

Despite all the opportunities and related benefits provided by hybrid cloud solutions, there is a key challenge that businesses must overcome. And that’s having oversight and control of all the moving parts of the often quite complex hybrid cloud system through an end-to-end management tool.

A business may, for example, have a combination of private and public clouds. Having a simplified and clear overview of all cloud resources being utilised means businesses can monitor applications and then automate how workloads respond and scale in line with business demand, realise benefits in security and compliance, ensure budgets and policies are maintained, and also use analytics to identify efficiencies.   

Looking ahead, as technology continues to advance and break down geographical boundaries, businesses need to re-evaluate their ways of connecting their employees. Hybrid cloud solutions are truly set to propel UC forward and ensure businesses can continue to keep their workforces liberated from the physical office space, yet connected across borders. In order to achieve this successfully though, it’s imperative businesses have the tools in place, or enlist the expertise they need, to navigate the complexities, maintain oversight of systems and data, and retain full ownership of choices and decisions made within the cloud network.