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What Should Your Remote Working IT Team Look Like?

The nature of Twiga Foods and the business that they run has been remote pretty much from the beginning when keeping in mind that they work...

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What Should Your Remote Working IT Team Look Like?

The nature of Twiga Foods and the business that they run has been remote pretty much from the beginning when keeping in mind that they work with farmers and vendors from all across the country. The tools were herefore available pre-COVID-19. One of the things that was clear was the need for a flexible approach – a mobile-first approach where the remote workers needed tools. Thinking around connectivity, especially that are great agriculturally, but do not have a good network in place The past 12 to 18 months have triggered conversations around provisioning access to connectivity.

Caine Wanjau, Group CTO, Twiga Foods says “COVID-19 was a good chance for us to not just rethink our strategies, but to also expand the concepts we had developed and implemented over the past few years to 100 per cent of our staff and not just the frontline users. We wanted to be mobile-first to the extent that was possible from a tooling standpoint to provisioning equipment and services. That also takes into account redundancy measures.”

From a business continuity front, they made the decision to invest in power banks, mobile hotspots and make sure staff were online. But the biggest thing that remote working brings to the fore is security.

What type of device are you using?
With the BYOD movement growing strong, is it a BYOD or a company device? It is almost as easy to log in from either. Some organisations prefer this for cost reasons without having to buy things like hardware. The flip side is, how do you secure company information and the tools and how do you know the equipment in use is the best use case for it? In a BYOD environment, think about things like mobile device management, user privacy, how a company protects and secures its information. It should be secured from the start. Sensitive areas like banking and communications may be hesitant, clearly. But for those who find this approach flexible, they can put in place the right measures to protect information and secure hardware. There is also the question as to how do compensate a BYODer? Is it clear from the outset?

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How specific and clear are your IT policies?
When it comes to BYOD, what is the extent to which your company expects you to do work? “It is very critical to spell out and track what your device will or will not do. I think that for a lot of people this is where the concern usually comes in. Yes, you are asking me to use my personal phone, but what is this going to expose me to in terms of my personal information?”

IT departments face unique challenges and now have to be even more flexible than usual in how decisions and choices are made. They do not get to audit personal devices before they are used and they simply have to contend with user behaviour. “A lot of companies are now hiring and onboarding virtually. If there is a device the IT department has no control over them, how do you monitor them?” This is a paradigm shift. Now we not only don’t work on desktops, we work on laptops that are not owned by the company. Prior to that, organisations would pick what worked best for the business. Many companies are also realising they need to shift to cloud-only solutions.

Beware of shadow IT
“With remote working, everyone will r=try think of a new solution that works for them, go ahead and install it and then use it for company work. All the while the company has no inkling until down the road when they need information, but it is in a tool or system they have never used or authorised before.” Shadow IT is that much harder to vet and there is risk in some of these solutions. It is a case of balancing flexibility and standardisation. How do you find something the company has access to and is secure enough?

Over the next 3 to 5 years, Wanjau concludes, there will be huge shifts in how IT serves the organisation that is not necessarily top-down when it comes to solutions. “Given that we are still in the pandemic, I think towards the end of 2021, we will now get a clearer picture of the future of work. It is best for IT departments to be ready for this transition that is already happening.”

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