The Rise of Remote Working and Living: How Solution Providers Are Enabling Mobility
The COVID-19 pandemic compelled entire industries to work remotely and students to study online. Technology became the lifeline that replaced in-person interaction as the main means of communication. MSPs were quick to respond to keep customers, students, and businesses connected and secure. This story was first published in CompTIA World magazine Issue 8. Nearly 1,000 students were without internet access or a tablet to check in with their teachers when Fairbanks schools closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although a local internet provider offered free internet for educational purposes, it was overwhelmed by demand and caused a slowdown in the region. The school’s help desk was overwhelmed with calls from parents asking questions about laptops and sign on protocols. Meanwhile, the small IT staff was able to accommodate connectivity, security, and hardware all at once.
Similar situations were being experienced by thousands of students worldwide, as well as millions more in school districts. Businesses, schools, organizations–everyone–simply weren’t prepared to deal with the massive shift to remote environments due to coronavirus.
Mariah Sexton, a CompTIA-certified IT pro who is also an IT systems support specialist at Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, stated that there is a problem with capacity when a help desk of this size tries to support such a large number of people and their equipment.
This situation brought the global network of technology vendors, distributors and solution providers, as well as managed service providers, and other tech-focused organizations, into the limelight. Fairbanks school district hired a team of technology professionals to assist. Sexton said, “They handed out tablets and laptops and people mapped Wi Fi hotspots so people can sit in their cars and access the internet.” It was a remarkable community effort.
MSPs were everywhere, helping students, businesses, and customers around the globe to stay connected and secure. Michael Goldstein’s team from LAN Infotech in Florida, where they are more used to preparing for hurricanes that global pandemics is, moved its clients to remote offices. They immediately noticed flaws in the system.
Goldstein stated that “usually, we’ll be able to react,”. “Here, it was not possible to react. Some people had limited internet access, while others had poor equipment. We realized what we were up against: Most of our customers weren’t mobile.
Technology to the rescue
When the COVID-19 pandemic compelled entire industries to work from home and students to study online, technology was a super connector that temporarily replaced face-to-face interaction as the primary means of communication.
“It’s going to be 100 people in an office, to 100 people at 100 different locations, and that requires different levels of care and monitoring,” Carolyn April, CompTIA senior director of industry analysis, said.
It is a global problem, but technology innovation and adoption over recent years have provided a foundation on which to build. Seth Robinson, CompTIA’s senior director for technology analysis, stated that “We are definitely in a better place than we were even ten years ago.”
Companies have been going through a long process of digitizing business processes and supporting remote work for years. They had to accelerate their efforts when COVID-19 arrived. Robinson attributes two technology trends to the superfast transition: smartphone penetration and migration into the cloud. People became more comfortable with working outside the office as smartphones increased in penetration.
“In 2010, people were still in the early stages of adoption and likely experimenting, but we didn’t have nearly as many systems in cloud to send someone home. Robinson stated that most of the systems they require are now available via the internet, which I believe is a significant change.
Five years ago, basic packages offered by ISPs were good enough to allow people to work securely and efficiently from home. “That was just at the edge of when things started to change. Robinson stated that it wasn’t about actual bandwidth availability, but rather the number of people who chose to get decent bandwidth. “In 2010, we had smartphones, but the penetration was much lower.”
Jay Tipton, CEO at Technology Specialists in Fort Wayne, Indiana, stated that COVID-19 has helped customers to accelerate some collaboration and networking projects they had been planning for later in the year.
“We have had clients who were adamant about employees not working from home. Tipton stated that half of their workforce now works from home. “We had to set-up remote controls, VPNs, as well as employees so