We learned a lot in 2020, but one of the most pointed lessons we’ve come away with is the understanding that, without flexibility and agility, modern companies will struggle to survive.
In today’s business environment, it’s no secret that technology is a key component for that flexibility and agility, which is why anywhere operations—a nimble technology strategy used by companies—is growing in prevalence.
Yet, many companies are still at a loss to understand the strategy’s various aspects and how they can implement them for their business’s advantage.
Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions about anywhere operations, and how it might apply to your business.
What does anywhere operations mean?
Anywhere operations is about productive business operations that can be managed and completed from nearly anywhere—hence its name.
While anywhere operations can include remote work, which was widely adopted as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns, it encompasses far more than simply working from home. It also includes value-added experiences for teams and customers.
If I’m not using anywhere operations now, why would I change?
The perfect storm of environmental and societal factors that occurred in 2020 made evident the need for flexibility in two key areas:
- how businesses execute their operations; and
- how customers interact with companies.
From an internal perspective, remaining an employer of choice will likely require the ability to offer flexible work since analysts anticipate that remote work is largely here to stay.
From an external perspective, many customers who were already demanding expanded digital experiences pre-pandemic, even in industrial verticals, now expect businesses to provide them with access and care from nearly anywhere—and to do so seamlessly.
Retaining customers will mean offering the kinds of digital services that users expect and competitors are providing. And streamlined business operations will be easier with better data and without restrictions on when and where the work is done.
My team is able to work remotely. Is that the same as anywhere operations?
It means providing secure remote access so that teams can operate as if they were in the office without exposing the business to threats, and it includes collaborative tools to make it simple for teams to work side-by-side, even in different locations.While remote work is part of anywhere operations, this strategic model encompasses much more than allowing teams to work from home.
One of the biggest differences between an anywhere operations model and remote work is the inclusion of customers into the mix.
Whereas remote work is only focused on your workforce, with anywhere operations, customers can also interact with your organization and meet their goals from anywhere at almost any time—from purchasing a car to returning a shirt to opening a bank account to designing new manufacturing materials.
My team isn’t able to work remotely. Can I still apply the anywhere operations model?
Absolutely. Because anywhere operations isn’t just about remote work and includes offering a comprehensive and productive experience for customers, you may be able to apply the model even if your employees don’t work remotely through process automation and cloud and edge infrastructure.
As many companies found during 2020, some of the tasks that were being performed manually within a business were processes that were ripe for automation. Integrations create opportunities to cross internal silos, even on business systems separated by distance and time zones.
Edge computing, another component of anywhere operations, provides for the collection and processing of vast amounts of data from multiple locations, with pertinent information used to create efficiencies and lower operating costs.
These elements are just the tip of the iceberg for anywhere operations, and just a few of the reasons why the model is important to organizations, whether or not their teams work remotely.
Do anywhere operations open my company up to cyber-attacks?
Cybersecurity should be top of mind for every business today. Regardless of operating model, businesses are subject to a variety of threats—even those using air-gapped machines (computers not connected to a network).
As such, it’s normal to be concerned about the increased risk potential of anywhere operations.
Adopting the anywhere operations model will extend an organization’s threat surface, and they will need to take into account remote users and functions.
However, many businesses have already increased their threat surface by implementing remote work without setting standards for home network access, providing VPNs and so forth.
As a holistic approach, the anywhere operations model would encompass secure remote access and cybersecurity best practices as part of planning and adoption, thereby lowering risk by acknowledging and addressing it as part of the overall strategy.
What would adopting anywhere operations mean for my IT systems?
That, of course, depends on your current infrastructure and systems.
Not every system needs to be accessible to everyone all of the time. However, companies may need to re-think the availability, governance and accessibility of key business systems for continuity with remote workers or customer experience functionality.
For instance, if moving to anywhere operations for your business includes allowing customers to verify and use rewards point balances from anywhere on their mobile devices, but the systems which house that data are inaccessible to the servers that provide that data to your mobile app, a change will be required.
In the world of connected experiences and anywhere operations, though, businesses have choices on how to make those changes.
Shifting infrastructure to the cloud for greater accessibility is only one option for this example. Another might be an automated microservice that securely updates outside systems.
Ultimately, the decision on how to address anywhere operations with your IT systems should include your business goals and drivers, not be separate from them.
How can I learn more and get started with anywhere operations?
Anywhere operations requires expertise across a broad swath of IT, but, in return, it provides organizations with the flexibility needed to maintain operations during uncertain times and pivot quickly when any business factor changes.
On the other hand, companies without the internal resources to effectively adopt anywhere operations can still take advantage of it with the right partner.