How RMM Solutions Can Prepare Enterprise Teleworkers For COVID-19

How RMM Solutions Can Prepare Enterprise Teleworkers For COVID-19

COVID-19 has caused a wide range of employers to reassess their workplace arrangements. More workers than ever before are being asked to ‘telework’ but many don’t have experience in this kind of work or don’t really understand what it means. Basically, teleworking doesn’t just relate to using the telephone. It is a remote style of work from home that utilises automation solutions, internet, telephone, and email resources. Now, most workplaces are trying to quickly adapt to teleworking arrangements, and there are many RMM solutions that can prepare enterprise teleworkers for the realities of COVID-19.

 

If we cast our minds back, in 2018, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 24 per cent of USA employees did some or all of their work from home. This figure was slightly higher in Australia, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting around 30% of Australians telecommuting for at least part of their working week. In light of the global pandemic, now almost all workers who are still able to work are being asked to work from home.

 

Harvard epidemiologist William Hanage recently said that “everyone who can work from home should work from home”, and workplaces are undertaking rapid workforce planning to make this happen. Scalability and flexibility are key during these uncertain times, as no one is certain how long these measures are likely to last, and whether businesses might be expected to take their entire operations online for extended periods.

 

That’s where RMM solutions come in. RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) software is a kind of software that has been designed to assist in managing IT services remotely. Basically, this means a computer or network can be managed from a remote location by installing software and monitoring or managing activities over a secure network. As COVID-19 continues to place strain and insecurity on global markets, it is important to understand how RMM can prepare employers for what is ahead.

 

Scalability and Control

An SaaS-based RMM system will give scalability and control as organisations’ working conditions change under COVID-19. Under this kind of system, management configuration can be adjusted as the size of the network increases. That means if the number of remote workers increases, the network will able to cope and teleworkers won’t be subject to unnecessary interruptions. Software like Opmantek is deployed either from the cloud or on-premises, but ownership of the database and control over its architecture remains with the client. So even if the situation worsens and network strain increases, adjustments can be made and the quality will remain stable.

 

Flexibility of Integration

Right now, few of us know what will be happening tomorrow, let alone in the coming months. RMM software gives flexibility in integration so that not everything within the network environment needs to be replaced at once. Network environmental diversity is possible and allows for a gradual rollout of teleworking within an organisation with a range of integration options and support.

 

Unlimited Scalability

Switching to an RMM system will mean that teleworkers will not only be prepared for COVID-19, but for the inevitable digitally connected future ahead. Many organisations will likely find teleworking to be favourable to their business once implemented, and an added bonus of software for MSPs (managed service providers) securing unlimited scalability. The number of connected devices is undoubtedly going to increase in the near future for most businesses, so the ability to grow and scale to meet operational needs is imperative.

 

It’s clear RMM has unlimited potential for assisting teleworkers to adapt their working habits and should be part of any remote workforce strategy. To better secure the success and increase the readiness of your business’s operations during these unprecedented times try Opmantek’s RMM solutions.

COVID-19 Effects On Businesses: Your Business Is Not Dead, But Your Market Probably Is

COVID-19 Effects On Businesses: Your Business Is Not Dead, But Your Market Probably Is

Over this past week I’ve received a number of calls from CEO’s and founders seeking advice on how to navigate through the economic downturn that we are faced with. All businesses will need to change – some more than others – some will be significantly boosted by this period while others will be significantly harmed. In Australia, we haven’t had a recession since 1990/91, so if we do enter recession, the majority of people in the workforce will have never experienced one – I am 50 years old and was at University when Australia had its last recession. For those of us operating in the tech industry, we have experienced several significant economic events – especially the .com crash of 2000 and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. We know what happens during economic slowdown while there are some unique factors at play in relation to COVID-19 also.

 

I’m going to focus my comments towards entrepreneurs and high growth companies (particularly tech companies), but there will be some relevance to all businesses.

Fundamentally what we have with the COVID-19 coronavirus, is a change in the marketplace and without doubt, economic slowdown. There are some unique factors relating to the virus pandemic, but there are also common forces at play that relate simply to an economic slowdown. Some businesses will naturally flourish, for example, if you’re producing products which help people work from home, you’re probably excited at the opportunity, if you’re in a business which requires mass gatherings, e.g. an events business, you might be wondering how you’re going to get through this. Every business has ways they can optimise the outcome for themselves. For some it’s about minimising losses for others it’s about maximising gains. Let’s look at fundamentally how this works.

 

I’m not going to cover off the simple things which we should already know or have read about, but I will talk about some fundamentals I don’t see being written about.

There are two fundamental parts to a business, not to oversimplify it, but a business has operational costs and incomes (which are typically sales).

Let’s start with the two combined together:

 

Cash Burn and OPEX

Quite simply as we all know the difference between the cash in and cash out is your burn rate. If you need to reduce your cash burn, then do it fast. We will all be implementing travel bans etc so those cost reductions will happen naturally. If people are working from home, try and sort something out with your rent to have it reduced or stopped. If you need to cut staff, then try and do it all at once – you don’t want people coming in each day worried, those that are left need to feel safe and positive – they will not feel that if a coworker is getting retrenched every second week (or day). You need to structure your business for the new reality, do not hang on to the past – it’s not your fault and you haven’t failed anyone. Alternatives to cutting staff include reducing all staff salaries, cutting incentive payments (especially for executives – show some good leadership and cut your own and other executive salary and incentives harder than the rest of the staff, it is common to cut exec incentives in full and salaries by as much as 30-40%), don’t forget that an employee’s leave will be paid out if you retrench them so also look at enforced leave (especially leave without pay) or reduced hours for staff in order to keep the team together. Also, remember that you’re going to get some good government assistance too, so factor that in.

 

Cash Incomes and Sales/Marketing 

During an economic slowdown, for most businesses, it is harder to raise capital and it’s also harder to generate sales, however some businesses will flourish in hard economic times.

In summary – your market no matter which side of it you are on has changed so your business needs to change with it.

 

The key on the revenue side (when you have economic slowdown or any other event which produces significant changes to the market) is that it becomes necessary to realign how you are selling your products and potentially which market segments you are selling them to. In the situation that we are in at the moment with COVID-19, we know there are a lot of home workers, pressure on the healthcare system, certain government departments are going to spend lots more and there will be boosts to many online businesses etc.

 

Step 1. Look at who is going to be busier or benefit from this new market – if they are potential clients for you, then target them.

You should also look at how buying processes and decisions change – again this is predictable. There will be less face to face meetings and more virtual. Adapt to online and virtual sales. For many smaller/high growth businesses this is fantastic as you won’t have to compete face to face on sales for the time being.  One clever tactic is to organise a “virtual tour” for one of your rarer people– believe me it works, for example, “our CEO will be conducting Zoom meetings with clients in San Francisco this week, so I’m reaching out to see if I can schedule some time before he moves on to London next week”.

 

As the remote workforce is on the rise it is crucial to stay connected to your business community to enable your growth. Business incubators such as the Gold Coast Innovation Hub are now offering virtual membership options; facilitating continued connections, collaborations, grow, investment opportunities and expansion into global markets.

 

Step 2. Adapt your sales strategies to the new manner in which your potential clients are working.

The other part of the buying process which always changes during an economic slowdown is that more businesses buy things that reduce their costs and less businesses buy things that increase their productivity – look at your potential clients, if they are a net beneficiary in the new market they will likely keep investing in growth – most will be losers (that’s what the slowdown is – net losers) so most of them will be looking to reduce costs. The “losers” don’t actually stop spending, they are happy to spend on products which help streamline their costs and assist in managing their pain.  A lot of products have multiple benefits (I’m sure yours do) and you can reproductise and remarket your products so that they realign with new decision making – especially cost-cutting decisions which are widespread during a significant economic slowdown. In the case of this particular slowdown, there are obvious changes – nobody is travelling, more people are working from home, businesses cutting costs so it’s about realigning and pivoting your marketing and productisation messages, and potentially making some tweaks to your products, but remember, we will get out of the economic slowdown so you are likely to want to focus on your marketing and sales to align with the shift in the buyer’s mindset than completely changing your products.

 

Step 3. Adapt your productisation and your sales and marketing messages to align with the new market.

Channels to market change with new markets also. Look at your resellers or channels to market, in this new market if they rely on face to face sales or mass gatherings at events, then likely they are no longer good channels – if they work mostly in sectors that are being ravaged (e.g. travel) then they may no longer be a good channel – move your sales to channels that make sense to the new market.

 

Step 4. Secure your current sales channels/sales partners if necessary or move your sales channels and partners to those that align with the new market.

 Let’s look at a simple example that everyone can relate to (and specifically steer around a tech business) – a bicycle (and please excuse lots of assumptions below – you should do market testing when repositioning anything).  You’re selling bikes and you’re selling them mostly through your shop and bike clubs. You’re selling awesome bikes, which are light in weight, strong and fast and that’s your main pitch. Your whole market just changed. Bike club memberships are going to drop, as will activity at the clubs – they aren’t the right channel anymore. There is also going to be less foot traffic in the store so you may need to close that or maybe it can survive or shrink – watch and act fast if you need to. You will likely want to be pushing more of your sales through online, social media and referrals. Bike ownership is probably not going to tank – in fact, it is quite possible it will rise as more people work from home and want to take a break and get out on a bike, and as more people look for socially isolated exercise rather than gyms. The benefits of the bike may well now also be that you can use your bike and stay off public transport in order to avoid the virus. Your whole pitch changes. Looking at your product set within your bike range – if you’re selling on socially isolated exercise and avoidance of public transport, it may well be that there is not enough extra benefit of a high-end bike over a low-end bike. The benefits of high-end bikes may now become secondary marketing items (they don’t go away; they just get pushed back). Sales of products like rollers (which allow you to ride your bike indoor at home for exercise rather than go to the gym) may increase and perhaps could be packaged with a bike in a new productisation effort if you expect to see an increase in purchases of home gym equipment including exercise bikes.

 

 

I’m sure you get the idea – your market is probably dead, but you are not – you are simply in a new market.  

 

These are unprecedented times with COVID-19, we know there are a lot of teleworkers, pressure on the healthcare system, certain government departments are going to be under pressure to boosts online businesses and they will need our expertise to do this.

Every business will need to change, Opmantek want to help our community to optimise their outcomes; this is where access to network management support is critical so that Australians can stay better connected.

As a final note – financially at this time – re-do your forecast, especially your cash flow forecast. The economy recovers slower than the virus – look at 12 months to start with.  You need to step back just like you would if you were starting a new company or a new division launching into a new market, look at how the market is reacting and adapt fast. Those that are familiar with agile project management within the software development world – use similar methods in your financials too –be very conscious that your ability to plan twelve months is now a lot lower than it used to be and you need to undertake agile planning and forecasting.

This will be a time of continual change however we do know that these things will be a constant.

 

opConfig v3.1.1 New Release

opConfig v3.1.1 New Release

A new version of opConfig has just been released and included are some extremely powerful and exciting features.

The major feature that has been introduced is the ability to write custom plugins for postprocessing of data.

There is a lot of potential with what you can do with this feature and we are excited to see what is now possible.

Further, there have been some additions to the functionality within the GUI which will help users streamline their day, see image below;

opConfig Run Command - 700
Of course, I am sure you noticed the Raw Text button, that can convert the output to the raw text for you;
Cisco Raw Output - 700
To find out the full release notes, head over to our community wiki – here!

To find out more about the new plugins feature, we have a full article on the wiki – here!

 

However, if there is too much talk and not enough action, download the latest version of opConfig – Here!!!!

Please note that the licensing system has been updated, and any licenses issued before Sept 2017 will not work for opConfig 3.1.1: You will have to obtain an updated license for this version of opConfig. You can check your licenses by visiting the My Licenses page; If unsure about your options, please email contact@opmantek.com.

The importance of network visibility in response to the Internet of Things

The importance of network visibility in response to the Internet of Things

NMIS Dash FULL - 700

The Internet of Things (IoT) has led to many businesses capitalising on the computational potential and the increase in data available in everyday objects. The breadth of devices with internet connectivity has been increasing exponentially, CEB (CEBglobal – IoT Security Primer) suggests that the number of connections will grow from 6 million in 2015 to 27 billion by 2025. This increase has led to many new products and many new vendors operating in a market that can be vulnerable to catastrophic attacks. They continue by saying almost 40% of businesses believe that Poor Visibility and Understanding is their leading risk management challenge.

The underlying problem with a network that is considered to have poor visibility is the limited ability to discover everything that is connected to it. NMIS can manage any device that has an IP address, so if it is connected to your network, directly or indirectly, NMIS will know.

With the evolution of devices, there should be equal to greater sophistication in the understanding practices that are used to monitor devices. NMIS collects information from any device on your network and by using the ‘sysObjectId’ variable, it can attribute a vendor to the device from the Enterprise list. The list of vendors is continually expanding, you can peruse the most common list here. However, the true functionality of NMIS is the ability to control new vendors. This process is better explained – Here!

The increased visibility combined with custom thresholding using NMIS, there will be greater control over your network. Users of NMIS will be familiar with SNMP and device modelling, but there are more custom controls that are available. Watch Keith Sinclair (Opmantek CTO) present a webinar that walkthroughs the use of MIBs for custom function, device modelling and custom thresholding. This webinar is located – Here!

 

Here at Opmantek, we are constantly looking for new ways to help your workday. If you have any feature requests, webinar topics or ideas you would like to see get developed, don’t hesitate to reach out.

 

Configuration and Compliance Automation

Configuration and Compliance Automation

Gartner have just released their 2017 Market Guide for Network Automation with Opmantek featured for the second year in a row.

The annual market review assesses sentiment and trends as well as key developments in the platforms and tools that automate the maintenance of virtual and physical network device configurations, providing an opportunity to lower costs, reduce human error and improve compliance with configuration policies.

opConfig and Open-AudIT have long been regarded as some of the most powerful, easy to use products on the market.  Check out the video below on automated configuration comparisons to see one of the many ways that you can use opConfig to reduce manual network tasks