When from one day to the next, hundreds of employees are to be given notebooks so that they can work from anywhere and these notebooks have to be delivered to various offices and private addresses, be ready to go out of the box and fully loaded with exactly the tools and programs each and every employee needs to do their jobs, and everyone has to collaborate online and access data in real time, is it really that simple?
“Yes, it really can be that simple. For the users at least,” laughs Christian Malzacher, Modern Workplace Business Manager at Bechtle. Of course there are many very complex processes going on in the background to ensure that fully equipped workstations can be delivered quickly, according to needs and, if necessary, in large quantities. That is only really possible now that tools and software applications can be used across devices, for example from the cloud or a dedicated data centre. This kind of offer is increasingly in demand as customers are more likely to turn to cloud solutions and are willing or suddenly dependent on them. One thing is certain, a concept that has long been pursued is now a reality even if not every IT provider is in a position to offer consistent implementation.
Dirk Müller-Niessner, Managing Director, Bechtle Hosting & Operations GmbH heads up the Bechtle Service Factory, where he and his team implement the Workplace as a Service concept. “I suppose you could say we are enabling employees to do their jobs by making sure they are equipped in the best possible way for their tasks at hand with role-based digital tools,” explains Dirk Müller-Niessner. To make this possible, a radical rethink was needed, and so these days, it’s not technology that’s the focus, but requirements. Use cases are leveraged to determine the needs of the company or organisation and, for example, the employees working in controlling, sales and marketing. Based on the results and service templates, initial offer models are developed which are then used to create precise service descriptions with the result being workable managed services.
“Unlike in the past, these services are very highly standardised and therefore infinitely scalable. Doing away with special requests hasn’t yet had a negative impact, rather it has made everything much easier because everything is much more stable, updates are installed automatically and if there’s an issue, prompt support is available remotely. Dirk Müller-Niessner also emphasises the enhanced security and the proven standards that are continuously and comprehensively tested and protected, so you can be sure that application and security measures are always up-to-date and you can focus on your work.
Christian Malzacher has noticed that workplace equipment is now the focus of much more attention as a growing number of companies recognise the impact it has on both employee productivity and satisfaction. It can even make a difference when applicants are choosing a job—in both a positive and negative sense—which is why customers turn to Bechtle for comprehensive advice. “We speak with managing directors and CIOs about business processes and workflows so that IT workplaces can be suitably configured. How can documents and data be best shared and kept secure? And more importantly, which tools can be used to collaborate in dynamic teams and at different locations easily and efficiently?” As Christian Malzacher explains, this gave an insight into how complex process and interfaces are, which makes it impossible to cobble together a DIY solution from portals and app stores. Businesses don’t need shadow IT, but rather complete transparency in terms of procurement, process and meaningful services.
This involves embedding workplace concepts in IT strategies and integrating them in, for example, existing cloud solutions or those in development. Even planning office spaces is impacted and Bechtle and its partners are on hand to help, taking into account to what extent employees are on the road or working from home and also, for example, the size and kind of conference rooms required, but this is really only the tip of the iceberg. Just below the surface are hidden the needs, or rather the possibilities, such as the interaction of CAD, PDM and ERP systems, which can be a significant productivity factor and ultimately even mean a company gains a competitive advantage. How end devices are used and with what they are installed is therefore very significant.
This ultimately means that fully configured notebooks, smartphones, tablets and CAD workstations are increasingly in demand. The required quantities of devices have the necessary applications installed and are then delivered to where they are needed. The devices are ready to go out of the box so users can be up and running quickly with direct access to data, documents and contacts they are authorised to use and which are relevant for their work. Bechtle takes on device rollout and offers user support if required meaning that everything is in its place and everyone has the best possible tools for their job.
At nine Digital Workplaces at Bechtle sites in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, visitors can gain an insight into how this kind of working can be realised. The showrooms demonstrate the latest technologies from leading vendors and also present real use cases as live demonstrations. There are also currently some 60 workshops on offer that cover all aspects of the Modern Workplace, covering everything from collaboration solutions, knowledge management and various business applications to procurement processes and change management, as well as architecture and room layout to Bechtle’s financing models. These workshops can be combined to create an individual agenda.
Delivering a Modern Workplace Infrastructure or teaching your employees how to manage the technology and applications cannot be done on a whim. First and foremost, it is the task of managers to enable and explicitly support a suitable working culture and organisation. Mobile, fully-equipped devices only make sense when a location-agnostic style of work is desired, collaboration tools are only beneficial when knowledge is shared and a CRM system only leads to new and loyal customers when data and relationships are maintained. Those employees who can’t get to grips with their devices need training and support especially when it comes to having a positive approach to change and leveraging it for their own benefit.
A particular focus should be on data protection and security especially in the case of the highly decentralised use of mobile workplaces where data, documents, contacts and the individual user’s privacy need to be protected in the best possible manner at all times and this is where consistent security monitoring comes in. However, the job of implementing and maintaining it is one for specialists, of which Bechtle has over 250 in the field of IT security holding more than 300 certifications, who consolidate their knowledge in eight Competence Centres and are on hand to support the IT system houses. Bechtle also benefits from its strong partnerships with its vendor partners as working closely with the world’s leading providers means only the most up-to-date and highest security standards are used.
Bechtle is also linked to various customers who use managed services. In account management, there are contacts on both the operative and strategic levels in order to ensure that defined and new requirements are always fulfilled. At the Logistics hub in Neckarsulm, there are also customer-specific warehouse spaces used to preload and configure end devices. Modern Workplace support then extends to cover the entire lifecycle management.
Those devices which can no longer be used are simply sent back and replaced with new ones so that the employees can carry on with their work uninterrupted. Bechtle also takes care of uninstalling technology which is past its best. All data are deleted in compliance with legal requirements using automated, certified processes and the devices are then either disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner or recycled.
The Modern Workplace’s features and potential applications are ever-growing. Business manager Christian Malzacher lists mixed reality applications using AR/VR technology that are increasingly being used as standard in development, construction, maintenance and other services. “Our customers come to us very often looking for advice on a wide range of new topics and we can give them the confidence they need to approach them correctly,” says Dirk Müller-Niessner. “The highly specific expertise within the very broad spectrum of possibilities and solutions is no longer available to customers in-house, which accounts for the growing number of specialists at the more than 90 Competence Centres and some 100 Bechtle Group companies. Added to this is the networking of applications and process combined with the most suitable cloud sourcing. And let’s not forget the costs, which are highly complex, not least because of licencing management. Everyone quite rightly expects transparency, and that costs are flexible and can be scaled both up and down. After all, you have to be prepared for the unexpected.”
While changes are permanent, there is no reason not to have a plan. On the contrary, if you have a goal and a roadmap, you can always adjust your route and Bechtle can help you—no matter the situation and with IT workplaces that are fit for the future.