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Remote access, big impact

The way we work is changing, driven by the Internet of Things, 24/7 business culture, collaboration, resource sharing and other trends. To be effective many of these practices rely on real-time remote access to technology. Here, RealVNC outlines five ways in which remote access tools are transforming business operations.

Our working lives are changing
Our working lives are changing

Remote access will accelerate the breaking down of business silos

Businesses across a wide range of sectors are recognising the competitive advantages of information and resource sharing, and we are seeing more collaborative business environments emerge as a result. Together with other technologies, real-time screen-sharing technology is transforming office activities that are often inefficient, such as training and remote working. Staff are becoming empowered to access resources and talent from the whole business, regardless of location.

For example, construction firms such as Arup are using remote-access technology to facilitate a resource sharing and staff training revolution. Engineers and other experts are able to ‘remote into’ systems, apps and devices from anywhere, to share resources and help and train colleagues in distant offices.

Screen-sharing technology allows employees to benefit from secure, real-time remote support or training from department experts in any location, and enables staff to ‘remote in’ to office PCs or servers from laptops, tablets and even mobile phones. With traditional business silos breaking down, companies are able to maximise their capital investment and reduce ROI, while removing traditional corporate barriers that hamper business efficiency.

Companies will increasingly solve problems and innovate by crowd-sourcing the best information and skills from across their organisation. Using remote access to facilitate collaboration across an entire organisation is helping to change the perception of remote access technology as ‘just an IT support tool’.

Businesses will demand tools to operate responsibly in an inter-connected economy

The inter-connectivity of different businesses within a larger ecosystem is developing real momentum. It is quite normal for businesses to share office space or use shared storage space with cloud computing. Within an increasingly competitive and shared ecosystem, companies can no longer operate in isolation or they risk being left behind. As the need to connect business processes to partners, suppliers and customers grows, tools like remote access will be called upon to deliver secure connectivity between businesses and directly with customers.

A business could use remote access to allow service providers or vendors to access their systems in a controlled and secure fashion to ensure they are tuned, updated and resistant to downtime risks. Or it could grant customers remote access to resources, such as training and test environments. In the healthcare sector, a trainee doctor could remotely access an MRI screen, while a consultant talks them through it. Scientists from different teams and partner businesses could remotely monitor experiments and critical systems from anywhere in the world.

Managed Service Providers could use remote connectivity to securely access their customers’ IT resources to provide proactive and rapid support. Data centre software company iQuate, for example, is using remote access technology to enable customers to access their training servers remotely and securely through encrypted connections.

At RealVNC, we have seen strong adoption of remote access as a tool to support collaboration between organisations in technology and engineering companies with high value propositions and mission- critical software infrastructure. It is also true in highly competitive retail applications where increasing consumer loyalty and engagement is a business priority.

Businesses will need to adapt to an increasingly on-demand, real-time world

In both our business and private lives, we have a growing expectation for on-demand access to information and resources. It is no longer acceptable for the content we receive to be delivered in anything other than real-time. This expectation is driven by advancements in database and software applications, and the availability of super-fast networks including 4G and, soon, 5G. The ‘On-Demand Economy’ is growing; consumers today want their needs to be met instantly and expect businesses to be ‘always on’. The expectation will only increase with emerging Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Machine Learning technologies.

In the next 12 months, remote access will have a vital role to play in supporting our real-time world. By its very nature, remote access enables business to see and control geographically distributed devices in real-time. Employees and IT staff are increasingly using remote access to maintain and service their critical IT estates, even on devices that do not have the software pre-installed.

As organisations feel more pressure to meet the expectations of a real-time economy, having a reliable way to deliver real-time support and management across an ever-growing range of devices and applications will be key to the survival of many.

There will be a growing emphasis on active management of security and compliance

Security is a major concern for all businesses. Recent large-scale hostile attacks on corporate assets illustrate just how exposed some businesses are, and with the explosion of new devices and users, the security risk multiplies. Securely managing rapidly growing numbers of increasingly complex devices and controlling the people that can access them is now critical to a larger security strategy.

A secure remote access platform plays a big part in mitigating the risk that comes with distributed devices, and in the next 12 months there will be more demand for end-to-end encryption and multifactor authentication from businesses demanding a safely managed device estate.

With the proliferation of privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and industry-specific compliance requirements, such as PCI DSS and HIPAA, controlling access to data and resources is becoming increasingly important. A secure remote access strategy can help ensure only authorised individuals have access to restricted information. Seeking out tools with robust security standards that specifically address the compliance requirements of your industry should be a priority.

Remote access will increasingly be used for central management of a distributed estate of diverse devices, reducing the number of people involved in the device maintenance and management process and limiting the need for onsite support. An audited central management strategy mitigates the security risks inherent with large support teams, while lowering maintenance costs, improving uptime and enhancing estate efficiency.

More businesses will integrate remote access capabilities ‘under the hood’

Just as the adoption of remote access is increasing within and between companies, we are seeing a significant rise in the integration of remote access software directly into products. This OEM integration model is part of the growing IoT phenomenon, providing high value products with real-time connectivity to reduce the cost of maintenance, improve support efficiency and enhance customer service.

A good example are aging ATMs that have been in operation for many years and for which support has ceased. Microsoft discontinued support of Windows XP in April 2014, yet many ATMs are still running this old OS without the benefit of the latest security patches. This is expensive and opens them up to a range of vulnerabilities.

To address the situation, the banking sector is starting to put remote access capabilities directly into ATMs for remote diagnostics, management and central OS upgrades. As well as helping financial institutions to reduce the cost of operating their ATM estates through more efficient central management and fewer onsite service calls, remote access has enabled them to improve the customer experience by providing on-screen communications and advice.

The integration of real-time remote access into ‘smart’ devices extends well beyond the banking sector, and as businesses seek to cut the cost of management and support, we are seeing it in industries as diverse as retail, fleet management, manufacturing, consumer electronics and healthcare. Wherever there are valuable devices that demand high uptime and reliable operation there is a case for real-rime remote access.

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