Richard Fowler, Technical Sales & Account Manager of RA Information systems, UKSPA Partner Member, provides an overview of the main tech areas that have changed and advanced over the last two years and offers some insight in to how sector operators have had to revise their long-term plans and strategies to accommodate new ways of working.
Having worked besides our customers in the life science sector for well over two decades, we have seen technology play a pivotal role in enabling business success and continuity, even more so throughout the pandemic. It has been critical for RA to work closely with all the businesses we support, and to help them adjust to changing demands, especially with the majority of businesses now being wholly reliant on their IT systems. As such, we’ve seen a number of service requirements changing importance from what were previously seen as good-to-have and desired, to must-have and necessary, and these needs will have to develop further in what is now the new post-pandemic world.
The last few years has seen businesses moving more and more operations to cloud based systems, adopting online productivity and collaborative services. The global pandemic only further increased the growing demand for cloud-based communication tools, and we have worked extensively on the expansion of remote collaboration for our clients, implementing improved systems for voice calling, video conferencing and unified communication platforms. Providing easier ways to share documents and access applications from any location has helped to enable a seamless experience for the hybrid-working model, which for some industries has since become the normal way of working.
Faster… but less furious …
Enhancing wireless infrastructure has been an essential improvement for most businesses, ensuring that appropriate bandwidth, speed, coverage, and stability is achieved all in one. We’ve seen a noticeable shift towards software-defined wide area networks, incorporating 4G/5G network speeds as standard, for better and faster connectivity. With more and more companies beginning to return to the office over recent months, the expectation of occupants to be able to work wirelessly, seamlessly and with no limitations has increased significantly, and by deploying the latest available technology with our multi-occupancy operators, we have helped ensure that their customers have the best possible access available.
With a need to mitigate vulnerability to cyberattacks, cybersecurity had already become high priority for organisations over recent years, however, with the increased use of remote working and cloud-based file-sharing systems, it has very much further accelerated that shift and led to many businesses investing more resources into data security throughout all platforms, including raising their regulatory adherence. We found the top most common weak links in business security to be: Improperly secured corporate VPNs and business emails, as well as improperly configured security and access controls to the cloud-based data, and continuously reviewing these factors will be key to ensuring your data and systems remain secure.
Telecoms & VoIP systems
Replacing ageing on-premise phone systems and switching to VoIP systems has been an obvious decision for a lot of businesses. BT are phasing out ISDN and PSTN, with the planned switch off occurring in 2025. With enhanced mobility across locations and devices, business grade functionality and a virtual presence anywhere, VoIP has significantly improved business communication. It’s predicted (Gartner) that by 2023, 40% of all global telephonic purchases will be based on cloud-based unified communications suites (such as Microsoft Teams) and businesses can benefit significantly from improved cost efficiency and scalability by adopting these suites now.
Support from anywhere
Remote IT support systems and the ability to troubleshoot issues through the use of remote access technology has become more of a necessity especially with the recent restrictions experienced in the ability to carry out on-site diagnostics. With screen-sharing tools becoming more widely available through collaboration enhancements, it’s become much easier for employees to receive assistance with hands-on processes and broadened the options available to companies when it comes to their choice of IT support provider.
With an increased preference for contactless operations, driven by requirements for improved safety for both staff and customers, the implementation of systems to allow employees to view availability, schedule and utilise shared spaces has become much more commonplace. Automated entry-ways, complimented by QR code-operated employee and guest check-ins are becoming the standard for assisting with public health in the workplace. Investing in space allocation and scheduling tech allows companies to better adapt their workspaces to their team’s current needs, automates repetitive tasks, ensure compliance, and more. Having implemented our Clarity Visitor system into our clients’ differing sites, including science parks, business centres and innovation centres, the feedback received has been fantastic:
‘’Clarity has provided us with a full compliment of services, enabling us to offer a professional service to our Resident Businesses and Centre visitors alike. Clarity Signs, Visitors and Parcels have been instrumental in advancing our centre in tech, enhancing customer service and standardising procedures. The innovative Clarity solutions go hand in hand with our business strategies and the professionalism we aim for. All delivered by knowledgeable and approachable specialists’’ – Carly Rose, Operations Manager, Harborough Innovation Centre.
Looking ahead to 2022, we see technology adoption following a very similar trend. Science parks will continue to seek out innovative solutions not only for their own benefits, but to provide access to the right technology to customers within their premises. As employees continue to return to work, organisations will be revisiting requirements for access management, seating and room allocation and improving hybrid work arrangements. The ability to pitch effectively and build relationships with potential clients remotely using virtual and digital channels, are going to prove critical for companies to compete effectively in a landscape that has potentially changed for good.