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I’d like to introduce a guest blog post by Zeus Kerravala, founder and Principal Analyst with ZK Research. Zeus has shared his thoughts with us on our recent announcements around Connected Experiences.  


For most organizations, remote working has been the exception and not the norm.  It was typical to expect anywhere from 10% to 25% of the user population to work from a non-business location on a regular basis.  But then the world changed in 2020 and forced companies to shift most users into working remotely for an indefinite period of time. As a result of this transition, businesses have been challenged to adopt a myriad of technology to help workers be as productive as they were when in the office.

The shift to work from home is likely to remain in place for quite some time. I recently ran a work from home study that showed how big the increase will be. Before 2020, about 22% of employees worked remotely. That figure jumped to 53% earlier this year and it currently sits at 46%. Our study shows that about 42% of office workers will continue to work remotely even after they are invited to return to the workplace, and 40% of office workers will maintain their working from home capabilities into the future.

Professional road warriors and technology savvy workers may think working from home is “easy peasy” — and it is for them as they do it all the time.  However, many workers have never worked remotely, and the process can be intimidating and extremely onerous.  Software needs to be downloaded and settings have to be configured and that’s before any kind of troubleshooting begins. This puts an extremely high burden on the IT departments to help the worker remotely.  One CIO I spoke to told me that it took about 30 minutes of IT time per worker to ensure everything was configured properly.  Extrapolate that across even 1000 workers and that’s 30,000 minutes of IT time, which is unrealistic to do in any kind of compressed time period.

Also, the technology required to enable a user to work from home falls into multiple IT domains.  This includes security capabilities, collaboration tools and network services.  Even when workers are in the office, assembling all the cross-domain components can be a challenge. Historically, businesses have put the work of “integrating” the tools on the user and I use the term integrating loosely as it really means doing everything manually.  From my days in IT I can definitively say that workers do not like things that get in the way of their ability to be proactive and this usually means taking the path of least resistance.  This ultimately leads to workers turning off security features or not using many of the capabilities within products as the effort to access them is high.

Clearly, a better approach is needed.  Cisco recently introduced the concept of “Connected Experiences,” which is designed to simplify the deployment and management of cross domain solutions.  It’s first Connected Experience is Secure Remote Working, which brings together all the tools and technologies a user needs to work from anywhere without the added complexity.  This includes network services for connectivity, security to protect the employee and the company and collaboration tools to enable workers to stay connected when social distancing has become the norm.

Connected Experience for Secure Remote Working takes a highly disjointed and fragmented process and makes it turnkey in nature. Instead of having to purchase Webex for collaboration, Duo for multi-factor authentication, AMP for endpoint security, AnyConnect for VPN and other products, Cisco has streamlined the purchasing process and automates all of the repetitive tasks needed to deploy all of these products at scale.

Cisco Connected Experience for Secure Remote Working is aligned well with current industry trends as it greatly simplifies the IT process. The 2020 ZK Research Network Purchase Intention Study found that 74% of an organization’s IT budget is dedicated to maintaining the status quo leaving only 26% for innovation.  The simplification of Secure Remote Working enables companies to shift more budget to driving innovation and digital transformation.

Also, because the automation capabilities ensure that all the components work together, this removes the weeks or sometimes months of tweaking and tuning required to get services to work optimally.  This can have a big impact on user experience and remove the frustration workers often have when problems arise.

Secure Remote Working is an absolute must today as work from home will transition to “work from anywhere”.  Cisco’s approach enables companies to quickly roll out the necessary technology without the risks associated with deploying cross domain technologies.  It’s imperative to move with speed today but we can’t forget about security and Cisco is making that happen for one of the most difficult initiatives for companies today.

I encourage you to catch the replay of Connected Experiences at Cisco Live 2020.

For further information, please read my latest white paper on Connected Experiences.