Securing and Improving User Experience for the Future of Hybrid Work

Digital transformation initiatives are challenging because IT still has to make sure performance doesn't suffer by making applications available from anywhere.

Rohit Goyal, director of product marketing, Zscaler

December 28, 2022

5 Min Read
Predicting the probability of a goal with AISource: DataRobot via YouTube

Over the past two years, many businesses have adopted hybrid work environments and begun migrating mission-critical applications to the cloud to allow their hybrid workforce to work from anywhere. However, combining working from anywhere with migrating applications such as Salesforce, SAP, Microsoft 365, and ServiceNow was an IT challenge because the networks needed to be improved.

The challenge was to reduce downtime and increase end user productivity. Even minor outages can impact operations, productivity, and profits, with Gartner suggesting that unplanned downtime costs $5,600 per minute. To reduce such costs, businesses must quickly identify the root cause of outages and turn to intelligent digital experience monitoring solutions.

Businesses spent time rethinking the digital transformation journey to ensure they were delivering excellent performance while still securing users, workloads, and device communications over any network. As businesses look forward to 2023, three top digital experience monitoring trends emerge.

Increase Hybrid Workforce Productivity

Many businesses have accelerated digital business initiatives over the past couple of years to retain talent and optimize productivity. Companies like Zoom, Facebook, Google, and Apple adjusted their work-from-home policies to allow 100% remote and hybrid formats. Even healthcare businesses have enabled staff to work remotely, offering more telemedicine options and limiting in-person appointments.

Remote work is here to stay for the foreseeable future, as employees have proven that this hybrid model is possible. However, IT teams need to focus on keeping the business operational while ensuring excellent end-user productivity. Supporting hybrid workers means having fast and reliable insights as issues arise from various devices, applications, and networks being used. For example, help desk and network operations teams need to know whether the user is having an issue with the local Wi-Fi connection or if there are problems with any of the network hops between the user's machine and where the application is hosted.

As hybrid workers become more adept at working from home, they learn basic connectivity troubleshooting steps, such as rebooting their home Wi-Fi router. In 2023, businesses need to be able to quickly recommend ways to solve end-user problems without requiring users to open support tickets. IT teams need a global view of their environment to pinpoint areas of focus, and then to actively look at specific users to understand their challenges. This will reduce IT troubleshooting time while increasing end-user productivity.

Faster Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) With Smart Technologies

Service desk and network operations teams must look past traditional castle-and-moat architecture, change their work-from-home policies, and provide users with fast and reliable access from anywhere. To increase productivity, IT teams must diagnose an end user's situation quickly and confidently. They must analyze each device, dedicated network path, and application response times. That's the only way to grasp the end user's dilemma fully. To effectively analyze data from these segments and provide a meaningful response, IT teams will benefit from the help of AI and machine learning (ML).

In 2023, we’ll see continued growth in AI/ML-based technologies as they ingest more data and learn to apply insights across the board. The key will be the amount of data being ingested and analyzed. The intelligence will come from solutions that combine multiple facets of end-user experience. For example, providing secure, fast, and reliable connections with the ability to triage issues based on collected data will separate solutions that offer combined capabilities from ordinary point products.

The FIFA World Cup used AI to produce some compelling projections. Imagine if the players knew exactly where to position the ball for a goal — it would be game changing! If service desk and network operations teams could similarly leverage AI, they would be able to quickly triage end user issues. In 2023, let's spend less time with traditional operations troubleshooting guides and more with AI-based solutions.

As IT teams look to better understand their environments, they'll need intelligent systems to provide trends and patterns holistically. In 2023, AI-based solutions should evolve to find trends and systematic issues. For example, imagine a view into your network that classified which ISPs were the most troublesome globally. You could create a plan to move off those ISPs or position them as backups, for instance. You could also use this knowledge to negotiate better terms with the ISP. Armed with AI-based insights, IT teams would have opportunities to optimize their environments and reduce potential outage scenarios.

Reduce IT Costs With Monitoring Plus Security Solutions

Macroeconomics will focus on reducing overall costs and increasing flexibility (consolidation). In 2023, businesses will not only look to remove siloed monitoring solutions around devices, networks, and applications, they will also look for solutions that combine monitoring and security. These two services fit together nicely.

With security issues on the rise, IT teams will continue to face pressure from executives on what happened, end-user impact, and prevention techniques. The challenge will be trying to reduce costs while gaining this intelligence. Cloud-based solutions make it easier for IT teams to get started small, get comfortable with the solution, and then scale.

For example, when the economy shifts, more businesses look to consolidate through mergers and acquisitions. However, these business initiatives aren’t always predictable, and IT must ensure solutions are in place that can easily handle these shifts. With secure cloud-based solutions, IT teams can quickly focus on security and monitoring, and then scale while controlling costs.

One more way to reduce costs in 2023 will be to focus on using existing IT service management tools. For example, many businesses use ServiceNow — wouldn't it be great if digital experience monitoring could easily integrate into these solutions? IT teams could more easily adopt new digital experience monitoring solutions without changing their entire workflow. Continuing to reduce costs is all about intelligently gaining insights with smarter integrations.

Read more Partner Perspectives from Zscaler.

About the Author(s)

Rohit Goyal

director of product marketing, Zscaler

Rohit has worked with hardware and software companies in the technology industry for over 20 years, helping organizations move past traditional IT barriers. He has experience ranging from AWS, Nutanix, Fidelity Investments, Goodwin Procter, Dell EMC to two start-up acquisitions and an IPO. He is extending those experiences to Zscaler customers and partners with an emphasis on security and digital experience monitoring.

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