98 Percent of IT Leaders Still Face Remote Work Challenges

BrandPost By Tanium
Aug 17, 2020
Technology Industry

The rapid shift to distributed operations has upended traditional approaches to IT operations, risk, and security. Learn why moving intelligence to the edge is required in the remote work era.

98 percent of it leaders
Credit: Tanium

Over the past two decades, the acceleration of technology innovation has changed the way we live and work in profound and sometimes radical ways. Smartphones, virtual assistants, social media, machine learning, and the exponential increases in connection speeds that support all of it have altered how we relate to people, access information, and operate in the world.

But human behavior also affects technology. Procurement, deployment, security, and management of technology all depend on who needs it, from where they are accessing it, and how they are using it. Never has this been more clear than when COVID-19 forced the world to stay home.

Gradually, then Suddenly

According to a report from FlexJobs and Global Workforce Analytics that analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data, between 2007 and 2017 the number of people working remotely increased 91 percent. In 2017, approximately 3.4 percent of the United States workforce worked remotely at least 50 percent of the time. But since March, that number has increased by orders of magnitude. According to survey research from Gallup conducted in early April, 62 percent of employed U.S. workers said they were working remotely.

For millions of workers, the ability to perform their essential job functions, from emails to meetings, suddenly came down to their ability to access and use an endpoint. For their employers, this meant supporting millions of endpoints connecting via millions of networks and needing to access often sensitive company resources and data. Overnight, “the edge” transformed from a way to distribute compute resources and data storage to the center of operational gravity. When the world stayed home, it quickly became clear that technology had to adapt.

Sudden Change Exposes Gaps

According to a Tanium survey of 1,000 global IT leaders, the challenges of adapting were greater than anticipated. While 85 percent said that they felt ready to shift to a fully remote workforce, almost all––98 percent––said they were caught off guard by the security challenges they faced within the first two months. The influx of personal computing devices trying to access company resources; a surge in capacity demands due to VPN requirements; and the increased security risk from an explosion in the use of video conferencing all taxed IT resources and challenged existing policies and procedures. 

At the same time, cyber attackers sought to take advantage of the disruption and resource constraints. Ninety percent of IT leaders surveyed said they saw an uptick in attacks involving data exposure (38 percent), business email or transaction fraud (37 percent), and phishing (35 percent) due to the pandemic.

Adapting to a Distributed Edge

While the shift to remote work happened––by necessity––over a matter of days, sustaining that transformation for the long-haul will require a shift in approach and mindset. Already, IT leaders are looking for new solutions that enable them to address major concerns that come with a distributed workforce, including compliance regulations, cybersecurity risks, and employee privacy. But long term, embracing distributed operations will also require a new approach to addressing all of these concerns, and that approach starts at the end. In the distributed future, it won’t just be compute resources and data storage that live at the edge, it will be intelligence, including empowering devices connecting from anywhere to manage, patch, and secure themselves in order to protect the business and ensure continuity and compliance.

Tanium Brings Intelligence to the Edge

Over a year ago, Tanium started developing Tanium as a Service, a fully-hosted, zero-infrastructure solution designed to bring intelligence to the endpoint. While the shift to remote work was still happening gradually, we knew that more and more of our customers relied on remote employees distributed across geographies and connecting via home networks. In fact, so did we. By the end of 2019, 57 percent of our workforce was remote.

With Tanium as a Service, we were building endpoint intelligence for the future, not realizing how soon or how rapidly that future would arrive. With the unplanned arrival of COVID-19, we’ve helped hundreds of the world’s most demanding organizations transition to an overnight distributed workforce in the first two months of the pandemic.

Endpoint intelligence delivered by Tanium as a Service teaches devices to provide information or ask for updates only when a management issue or security incident arises. This approach increases speed and efficiency, reducing bandwidth bottlenecks, delays, and infrastructure overhead associated with unnecessary data movement.

For operations and risk teams, this intelligence allows them to quickly identify unpatched desktops, laptops, and servers on both modern and legacy operating systems and provides remediation for vulnerabilities without overburdening networks or relying on expensive infrastructure. For security teams, the same approach provides real-time visibility into and detection of compromise and post-compromise activity at the endpoint. 

The Future is Now

Over the past 20 years, digital transformation has indelibly changed the landscape of business. Companies have risen and fallen on their ability to adapt to the era of the internet. When the world stayed home, it changed the way the world works, ushering in the next era of digital adaptation. The ability to centralize intelligence and activity at the endpoint edge will be critical to organizations’ success in the months and years to come.  

To dive deeper into others’ perspectives, and to learn more about what happened when the world stayed home, visit world-at-home.tanium.com.