BrandPost: Faced With a Distributed Workforce, IT Needs Help With Device Management

When the global pandemic drove employees out of office buildings and into their homes, it also put pressure on IT to support this now distributed, decentralized workforce. Before long, IT was reaching out to service providers for help.

The onset of the distributed workforce wasn’t entirely new with COVID-19. For years, we’ve been seeing a trend toward greater mobility, and IT has been at work supporting road warriors and employees who occasionally work from home.

However, these employees had one thing in common: They were in the office at least occasionally, if not a fair amount of the time. That meant if they needed new IT devices, they could get them the next time they were in the office. There was no need for IT to take steps to deliver a device to a remote location.

When the pandemic hit in full force, that dynamic went out the window. On top of that, suddenly massive numbers of employees, students, and teachers needed devices they may not have needed when working in the office or at school, such as laptops or Chromebooks.

Meeting stringent user device demands

Pre-COVID, when IT set up a new device for a user, it meant installing the appropriate operating system image, with all the applications required for that individual user, along with proper settings, policies, and drivers. When new devices occasionally were required, such as for new employees or to replace an old device, it was a time-consuming but manageable process.

However, having to ship large numbers of new devices to users’ homes created a troublesome new wrinkle, says Maurice Petty, Director, HP Lifecycle Services Product Management.

On top of that, IT has to meet stringent demands users today have around ease of use, a direct result of how easy it is now to get a new smartphone up and running.

“When users receive a new device, the experience at home has to be as simple as plugging it into the network and they’re ready to go,” Petty says. “Users are not IT people. They don’t want to have to image a device or download a bunch of applications. That would be inefficient, non-productive, and frustrating.”

To meet the need, Hewlett-Packard has seen increased demand for its configuration and deployment services, he says.

With HP Configuration Services, HP works with IT groups to understand their device requirements, then takes care of all the work required to configure new devices to companies’ specifications.

“Regardless of whether it’s legacy IT requirements, a standard Windows image, or modern tools like Windows Autopilot, we can get the device imaged, even to a specific person, so when they receive it, it’s ready to go,” Petty says.

Imaging, of course, is only part of the battle; there still is the matter of getting the device into the user’s hands. Enter HP Deployment Services, whereby HP takes care of delivering devices to any location, including users’ homes, and even help users migrate data from their old devices.

IT also has an option to get help returning those old devices. With HP Recover and Renew, HP securely erases data from old devices and takes care of recycling them. Again, IT doesn’t have to lift a finger.

Most IT groups simply were not set up to deal with a workforce that is not in the office. Partnering with a company such as HP to deal with device management issues is a move that will free up IT teams for more strategic endeavors. To learn more, visit the HP Lifecycle Services page.