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There’s nothing like a pandemic to put your business continuity plans to the test. In 2020, work-from-home models were adopted – and remote workforces enabled – overnight. Companies that successfully made this leap achieved technological and logistical feats that would not have been possible even 10 years ago. We saved lives. We saved jobs. We saved our sanity. OK, for some parents trying to juggle school from home and work from home (WFH), maybe not sanity so much. Still, we did a lot of good.  

Now, as we inch out from under the long shadow of COVID-19, we’re pushing those hyper-evolved models even further. For some, this means blended models that mesh in-office work with remote work. For others, it means expanding work from home to work from anywhere (WFA).

 

As we collectively turn toward these new models and review our infrastructures, many companies are finding that we still have important work to do if we’re going to make their business’s work from anywhere under any circumstances.

 

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The Elephant in the (Anywhere) Room 
 

During our mad scramble to get our people home safely, connected and working, many companies were so focused on making sure they could leverage remote connections to keep business running, period, that securing those connections became secondary. It was both understandable and predictable. And given that predictability, so too were the efforts of bad actors to exploit the cracks that emerged in our makeshift models built on makeshift networks. Long story short ... cybercrime is skyrocketing.  elephant-in-the-room

 

From increased endpoint weaknesses to expanded phishing opportunities, COVID-19 has been a windfall for cybercrooks. The net result? A rapid-onset reality check for companies of all sizes, but especially for small and medium businesses (SMBs). Even though experts have long warned about SMBs’ vulnerability to cyberthreats, statistics like the $5,600 per minute average cost of downtime are unrelatable to executives whose companies don’t operate at that kind of scale. With the proliferation of attacks impacting companies of all sizes, cybersecurity needs have become acute across the board.  

 

If we’re to move forward with confidence, one of the greatest priorities in our new, flexible models and networks will be securing them. And while no solution is bulletproof against determined hackers (just ask the Department of Defense), for most companies, the adage that you don’t have to run faster than the bear, just your friend, applies. You need to be more secure than most companies. Managed security services – specifically managed firewalls with unified threat management (UTM) – can help you keep the bad guys at bay.

 

redundant-redundancyRedundant Redundancy 

 

Over the past five years, before the pandemic changed everything, another force was driving fast network evolution—SD-WAN adoption. There was good reason for this uptake. SD-WAN delivers enhanced security, redundancy and QoS benefits while lowering your costs. It’s literally a more-for-less equation.

 

SD-WAN is so powerful that many firms lamented its loss (or diminished impact) when they enabled WFH for their employees. We have some of the best engineers in the world here at NetFortris (it’s not just us saying that— they win awards), so we put them to work on an SD-WAN solution that can meet the challenge presented by residential networks.

 

They created our enterprise-grade At-Home SD-WAN solution, which integrates with cutting-edge communications and collaboration tools to deliver the seamless experience companies are looking for in this brave new world. They can be configured with backup connections for always-on service delivery (making sure your new, redundant model has its own redundancy). Plus, At-Home SD-WAN edge devices deliver security, too.

 
Collaboration in Function, Not Just Name  

 

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Just about everything in business enablement is passed off as a collaboration tool these days. This isn’t technically wrong – give two neighbor kids some string and a couple of tin cans and they can collaborate, more or less – but the bar for business should be a little higher than the products many companies are peddling as “collaboration solutions.” For true business continuity, tools used for WFH and WFA should empower workers to be just as effective as they would be in a centralized office.

 

This means the full suite of tools like voice, video, messaging, collaboration, conferencing, meetings and call center in a single platform. But it also means the ability to do it all from any device, anywhere, even when your team is on the go. Moving forward, true remote collaboration capability is essential to maintaining competitiveness in sales, operations, customer experience, and talent recruitment and retention. And, as we’ve all learned in the past year, it’s vital to keep your business up and running come what may.

 

5G is Still a Thing

 

5gThere’s no doubt that we’ve come a long way over the past year. In that process, we set ourselves up to leverage technology and networks in the truly distributed methods long envisioned in sci-fi works and futurist manifestos. One critical development that will help push us along this journey is the proliferation of 5G connectivity. So far real-world 5G speeds have not blown 4G LTE speeds out of the water as advertised. That’s due to spotty deployments and network upgrades that boosted 4G LTE speeds in anticipation of 5G deployments. We may not have woken up to a world saturated with augmented reality, but speed and capacity improvements are underway, all around us, every day.

 

Does this mean more redundancy possibilities for companies with remote workforces? Absolutely. But it also means more pressure for security, efficiency and workforce-enabling toolsets as well. Certainly, the next wave of business continuity tools will enable you to deploy and adapt your company’s model as needed -- without worrying about whether or not the technology required to make it happen is up to the task. Sourcing solutions from an innovative, next-generation provider with a proven track record for staying ahead of the curve is your best bet for staying nimble now and in the future.