Is the Future of White-Collared Workforce only Digital?

Hariharan Madhavan

COVID-19 taught all white-collared workers and their employers one thing for sure – “It is possible to work from home”. With the current advancements in technology – using a mobile app-based contact center solutions, using collaboration platforms to edit content together, hosting tech troubleshooting bridges where multiple engineers solve an issue, video conferencing meetings allowing people to see each other, from where work is delivered does not matter anymore.

Rpa in Infrastructure Management

Wearing what feels comfortable, sitting comfortably, eating homemade food, personalizing your room, life was never better balanced between work and personal life better than now. With nobody to micromanage, the only way to measure a worker is through outcomes. Attendance swipes are a thing of the past. People managers who have no idea of the work done by their team members will become redundant starting2020.
New digital companies will take over like a storm to embrace this opportunity, just like AGILE took over like a religion to manage software development projects.

Existing digital workforce companies are already providing opportunities for companies to hire talent who can work remotely on a need basis from around the world and save potential hiring costs and free from commitments. Just like Uber and Lyft transformed the taxi business, we could see a wave of disruption transforming and killing the traditional brick and mortar IT behemoths to more agile and digital workforce capabilities hiring top talent on the click of a mobile app, and being able to get talent requirements fulfilled in minutes instead of having to wait for weeks or months to get somebody to join. This will be like the DevOps of Hiring for managers who have new projects and budgets looking for people to get things done.

Every other aspect of the business has changed, reducing time to market, and hiring talent is the only area still very traditional and inefficient. It’s not too late for somebody to realize and use this uncertain economic environment as a cradle of opportunity to offer enterprises as a solution.

The next question that comes up is if the borders are removed, how do you secure and still be compliant with your compliance norms. This is completely dependent on the level of sensitivity of data to which an employee/contractor has access. From using privacy screens in the laptops to using technology like VDI, SaaS-based EDR, NGAV, unified agents, CASB’s, you have literally every control that you can think of on-premise that you can enforce in a laptop used by an employee.

When companies hire you in the future, they will ship you an asset to your home location and expect you to use that asset for work. When you have moved out, you will be sent return shipping on which you can put the asset and send it back.

Another main setback that prevented a revolution is that IT companies had to pay for bench talent to provide for the demand. This will also be disrupted by new entrants. New disruptors will be willing to share up to 70% of the revenue earned by somebody back to them, but if there is a loss of billable revenue, the same will be immediately passed on to the concerned employee. These measures will weed out people who are just not meant for the IT workforce that demands constant skill up-gradation, essentially leaving IT to only the high potential workers who are dynamic.

About the Author –

Hariharan is the global head of Cybersecurity at GAVS. He is responsible for strategic and tactical leadership around emerging technologies such as cloud transformation, cloud-native microservices development, software-defined networking, cloud security, DevOps Security, Security and Automation, Security & AI.

Combating a health crisis with digital health technologies

Bindu Vijayan

The current pandemic has exposed yawning gaps in the systems of the best of developed countries to be able to respond to virulent pathogens.  The world has seen SARS and Ebola in fairly recent times, and with the COVID 19 pandemic, it is becoming clear that technology can help combat and overcome future epidemics if we plan and strategize with these technologies.  They bring efficiency to our response times, and we are currently learning the importance of using these technologies for prevention as well.  A small example – Canadian AI health monitoring platform BlueDot’s outbreak risk software is said to have predicted the outbreak of the pandemic a whole week before America (who announced on Jan 8), and the WHO (on Jan 9) did. BlueDot predicted the spread of COVID 19 from Wuhan to other countries like Bangkok and Seoul by parsing through huge volumes of international news (in local languages).  It further was able to predict where the infection would spread by accessing global airline data to trace and track where the infected people were headed.

Contrary to earlier times, today it only takes a few hours to sequence a virus, thanks of course, to technology.  The scientists don’t have to cultivate a sufficient batch of viruses any longer in order to examine them, today, its DNA can be got from an infected person’s blood sample or saliva.  India’s National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB), Hyderabad, has developed a biosensor that can detect the novel coronavirus in saliva samples. The new portable device called ‘eCovSens’, can detect coronavirus antigens in human saliva within 30 seconds using just 20 microlitres of sample.  Startups like Canadian GenMarkDx, US-based Aperiomics & XCR Diagnostics, Singapore based MiRXES, and Polish company’s SensDx have introduced top notch diagnostic solutions.  Identifying infected people to provide strict medical care will be made a lot faster with these diagnostic kits. 

Genome sequencing is also vital to fight the pandemic.  The genome of this virus was completely sequenced by the Chinese scientists in under a month from detection of the first case, and then on the biotech companies created synthetic copies of the virus for research.  Today creating a synthetic copy of a single nucleotide costs under 10 cents (in comparison to the earlier $ 10), so these days it is far quicker and cheaper, which means the chances of finding appropriate / adequate medication are much faster which will help save more lives.

Healthcare workers are having to pay a huge price, they run the risk of getting infected, there is often paucity of PPE, and in some countries, they even have to face assault from crowds that are angry and confused at the situation.  Medical workers are targetted by mobs, there are instances where communities don’t allow them to come back to their homes after duty, shops don’t sell them necessities, etc.  Medical robots can be the real game-changers in such situations.  Deploying robots in such scenarios to do the rescue is becoming a much sought after option, wherever possible.   Robots become the answer to such difficult situations as they are impervious to infections.  They allow physicians to treat/communicate through a screen. The patient’s vitals are also recorded by the robot.  Patients can be very efficiently monitored this way.

Drones for deliveries, especially medical deliveries can also be used to reach isolation zones or quarantined zones.  Italy made a big success out of this. Italy’s coronavirus epicenter, Bergamo, in Lombardy region, had to resort to people’s temperature being read by drones.  ‘The Star’ reported that “once a person’s temperature is read by the drone, you must still stop that person and measure their temperature with a normal thermometer,” said Matteo Copia, a police commander in Treviolo, near Bergamo. Drones are being used for surveillance – In areas where people were not complying with social distancing and lockdown restrictions, authorities are using drones to monitor people’s movement and break up social gatherings that could be a potential risk to the society. Drones are also being used for Disinfectant spraying, broadcasting messages, medicine and grocery deliveries and so on.

Interactive maps give us the data on the pandemic on real time, and monitoring a pandemic this wide and dangerous is very crucial to stopping/controlling its spread. These maps are made available to everybody, and the truth and transparency in the situation of such epic proportion is necessary in order to avoid panic within communities.  We now have apps for tracking the virus spread, fatalities and recovery rates, and apps would be developed for the future that will warn us about impending outbreaks, the geographies and flight routes that we must avoid

Implementing these technologies will enable us to manage and conquer situations like the current pandemic we are going through. As Bernardo Mariano Junior, Director of WHO’s Department of Digital Health and Innovation, rightly said “The world needs to be well prepared and united in the spirit of shared responsibility, to digitally detect, protect, respond, and prepare the recovery for COVID 19. No single entity or single country initiative will be sufficient. We need everyone.”

References:

VDI for Remote Working

aiops platform monitoring tools

Padmapriya Sridhar

The modern workforce is constantly evolving. Flexible work hours, remote working, anytime, anywhere access to corporate data, applications & resources from any device, are fast becoming baseline employee expectations. Organizations are also adapting and exploring better ways to work and collaborate, to boost employee productivity. While providing secure employee mobility is one goal, ensuring 24*7 support for always-on businesses, business continuity with minimal disruption in the event of natural calamities, or pandemics like Covid-19, are other drivers that are escalating the need for secure remote access for employees. 

While providing employees with laptops or mobile devices is one option to enable remote working, it can incur heavy capital expenditure and more importantly, it can quickly spiral into a management and security nightmare for the IT team. With thousands of endpoint devices, disparate applications and data, and sophistication of cyber attacks, supporting secure and compliant workplace mobility can become overwhelming, if even effectively doable. With this said, let’s look at Desktop Virtualization as a viable alternative.

Desktop Virtualization

Desktop Virtualization is a technology that completely untethers a physical device from the desktop environment. Desktop components such as the hardware, operating system, applications, data, and user persona are moved into the data center, where they are centrally managed as individual components. When a user accesses his desktop from a remote device through the network, a dynamically assembled set of these components is presented to the user as a personalized view of his desktop, called a virtual desktop. The decoupling of the user’s device from his desktop environment enables desktop access from any of his computing devices.  

Benefits of Desktop Virtualization

Simplified IT Management: Centrally located & managed computing and data environment simplifies IT management, and enables tighter control over endpoint devices, easier enforcement of security and regulatory compliance, and hence a lesser number of IT incidents. This process efficiency reduces operational overheads and drastically reduces costs.

Cost-Effective: Desktop Virtualization shifts organizational expenditure from CapEx to OpEx. When virtual desktops are hosted in the cloud as in Desktop as a Service (DaaS), costs are based on usage, making it very cost-effective.

Enhanced Employee Productivity: Employee mobility through secure access to the desktop, applications, and other corporate resources anytime & anywhere, fuels productivity.

Faster Disaster Recovery: This is achievable with minimal downtime since recovery does not involve rebuilding the physical infrastructure environment.

Rapidly Deployable and Highly Scalable: Virtual Desktops are provisioned based on role-specific preconfigured templates, and so can be spun up quickly depending on the demand curve. They can also be destroyed just as fast when not required, saving a lot of time, effort, and costs in anticipatory provisioning. Similarly, applications can also be quickly served, since they are centrally installed and controlled, lending agility to IT operations.

The abstraction and isolation of the desktop computing layers open new possibilities of workspace delivery. Different desktop virtualization technologies address different layers of the computing environment. Some of them over the years have been:

Application Virtualization, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Service-Based Computing (SBC), Client-Hosted Virtual Desktops (CHVDs), User Personalization Management (UPM), Workspace Aggregators, Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and many more. Desktop as a Service (DaaS) is a cloud-based service offering powered by one or more of these technologies.

VDI & DaaS have had the most innovation in recent times. VDI is a preferred choice since it remotely delivers the image of the desktop environment that users are comfortable with. VDI provides the highest levels of abstraction & security, among the technologies. In VDI, each user gets a dedicated thick client user environment run as a virtual machine (VM), and hosted on a server in the data center. The user works on the desktop image that is sent over the network and can then interact with the files, applications, and the OS, as he would in a physical desktop. The flip side to VDI is that the implementation and management need specialized technical expertise, so it would help to use a VDI vendor who offers end-to-end service as well.

In DaaS, the virtual machines are hosted on the cloud, and so it automatically comes with all the cloud computing benefits like flexibility, faster deployment, scalability, and affordable cost structure due to usage-based pricing, & the shift towards operating expenses.   

GAVS’ VDI Solution

zDesk, is our end-to-end integrated solution for a fully functional VDI. zDesk combines the benefits of VDI and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) and can be hosted either on-premise or on the cloud. The simplicity of the single-vendor solution enabled by hyper-converged and software-defined infrastructure technologies defies the rapid deployability, scalability and robust security of the virtual desktops. For more information on our VDI solution, please reach out to us at inquiry@gavstech.com.

An unprecedented crisis and its unprecedented opportunities

Machine learning service provider

Bindu Vijayan

We will never forget these times, most of us, the regular, morning-news addicts, switch on our TVs, hoping to see declining numbers in the coronavirus infected list.  Country to country, we go feverishly through the good news that we are finally seeing, with the curve flattening. There is a lot of fear and trepidation as to how we will pick up and reintroduce our ways of living and working. Even as we are experiencing just how effective it is to be working from home, it is but natural that companies will resume regular ways of working – back to the office (do we really need to continue paying the real-estate gods as much?), resume travel (do we need to, when virtual meetings were working so perfect?) as soon as the travel embargoes are lifted, it would soon be back to business, all of us more determined than ever, the whole world is raring to go.

Clear communication, as often as it takes, would be the backbone of the new disruptive work practices as these practices will leave employees with some degree of confusion/unrest, particularly in the threat of the current recession. Our lives have been disrupted in every way under the COVID 19 threat, and it is very important that employee morale is high.  It is important for Managers to address employee concerns with sensitivity, everyone is going to have questions on the future of the company, the business, and if their roles are going to be seeing changes. Employees must be told about the changes that are going to be affected, the precautions that are being taken, and also taught/ guided how to function best under these circumstances. If someone has recovered from COVID 19, support him/her without stigma and discrimination. Maintaining employee morale through various activities during these times will bring the much-required boost – plan on virtual awards and recognitions, do as much online as possibly can. And let the communication and interaction be two way – find out the office sentiment, how employees are feeling and make adjustments and improvements accordingly, and communicate constantly.

Going back to our offices after this crisis requires renewed vigilance, given the nature of the coronavirus. Resuming work at the office premises would mean having the whole bunch of employees back, which in itself is a very tricky situation – from social distancing back to human density – it is very important that workplaces are maintained in high levels of hygiene. COVID 19 established the fact that there is definite risk in crowds, and for companies to plan to have employees back at their premises imply a deeper than ever responsibility to workplace hygiene and health. Managing the numbers at our workplace is going to be critical if we are to keep safe from the threat of another attack by COVID 19. Hygiene and cleaning processes need to be increased to its maximum capacity across the workplaces and common areas. Surfaces (e.g. desks and tables) and objects need to be wiped with disinfectant regularly. Alcohol based hand rub dispensers should be maintained at prominent places across the facility. Keep promoting hand-washing through posters and monitors across the facility so that it is a constant reminder for employees to take precautions.

Having to be careful with numbers would require companies to redesign workplaces to have employees coming back. Even though it might not be entirely viable, it can be a mix of having employees continue work from home in rotation, perhaps every week, or whatever works best for the functions, while others work out of the office in redesigned (read larger, increased physical distances) workspaces.  Allocating more space to employees can be achieved only through rotation shifts in order to support social distancing for the rest of the required period as per WHO / local health authority guidelines.  Plan work schedule charts for the various functions to work out of their offices, and maintaining strict schedules will not only decrease the risk of infection but also help employees to plan better, as well as ease anxieties and confusion.

To make the best out of the situation, let’s take the opportunity to accept this as a huge learning time – rethink on travel, travel only if it is really necessary and save money, it can be diverted into more important areas. Promote collaboration across geos, virtual meetings have been a big success during this time, and lets continue to collaborate not just for work and meetings but also to have online employee events across geos. If anything, using more online meetings due to the situation has only brought about an increased sense of camaraderie.  We have seen our colleagues in New York city working at the BronxCare, helping patients in ICU, working alongside the medical staff, and it has been a proud moment for every GAVSian across the world to celebrate them, GAVS’ heroes.

And lastly, as we leave this traumatic time behind us, let’s be careful to ensure that we don’t have to go through the situation again.  Follow WHO guidelines to take control measures that focus on prevention and on active surveillance for early detection and treatment.  The opportunities that this pandemic has shown us are multitude – Newspapers report “our planet is detoxing as humans stay lockdown” – Lower carbon emissions are reported.  Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Standford University says that carbon output could fall by more than 5% this year, the first dip since a 1.4% reduction after the 2008 financial crisis. The air is cleaner and it is quieter too. Decibel readings at a busy intersection in India were 90 pre-pandemic but it recently measured at just 68, reports Boston University. Water quality is reported to have improved across the globe – from Venice, famous for its canals, its waterways are benefiting from the lack of usual boat traffic brought on by thousands of visitors. The wildlife that usually shies away from humans is seen in abundance, be it the Ridley turtles in the beaches of Orissa, India, to the otters in Singapore, to the whales and deer in Japan, to the orcas in North America.  There is so much of the natural world that is suddenly thriving when we gave it a little space….

This has been a time of unprecedented learning opportunities even as our lives got turned upside down. But true as human spirits go, here is something remarkable I read on Linkedin; it reflects hope, positivity, and genuine empathy – here is an excerpt from a post by Dr. Joerg Storm “Next year, I don’t want to hear about the Oscars, Grammys, Tonys or Golden Globes….. I want to see nurses, doctors, ambulance crews, firefighters, healthcare support workers, delivery guys, shop workers, truck drivers, grocery store workers, and all other essential workers get free red carpet parties with awards and expensive goodie bags. “

Creating Purposeful Corporations, In pursuit of Conscious Capitalism

Gavs technologies ceo

Sumit Ganguli

More than 8 million metric tons of plastic leak into the ocean every year, so building infrastructure that stops plastic before it gets into the ocean is key to solving this issue,” said H. Fisk Johnson, Chairman, and CEO of SC Johnson. SC Johnson, an industry-leading manufacturer of household consumer brands, has launched a global partnership to stop plastic waste from entering the ocean and fight poverty.

In August 2019, after 42 years of its inception, Business Roundtable,  that has periodically issued Principles of Corporate Governance, with emphasis on serving shareholders, has released a new statement of Purpose of a Corporation. This new statement was signed by 181 CEOs who have committed to lead their companies to benefit all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.  Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., is the Chairman of Business Roundtable. He went on to say, “The American dream is alive, but fraying,” “Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.

Today the definition of corporate purpose seems to be changing. Companies are now focused on the environment and all the stakeholders.  There is a growing ambivalence about Capitalism that only promoted the pursuit of wealth, according to a Harvard Business School survey.

But this is a far cry from when we were growing up in India as youths, in the 1980s. Our definition of personal success was to expeditiously acquire wealth. Most of us who were studying Engineering, Medicine or pursuing other professional degrees, were all looking for a job that would sustain us and support our immediate family. The other option was to emigrate to America or other developed countries, for further studies and make a life here – to celebrate Capitalism in all its glory. 

In India, we were quite steeped in religious festivals and rituals. We attended Baal Mandir and had moral science in school, but the concept of Service, Altruism,  Seva, Sharing were largely platitudes and they were not a part of our daily lives.  There was an inbuilt cynicism about charity and we never felt that when we grow up, we need to think about the greater good of the society. 

And that is where Conscious Capitalism comes in. Instead of espousing Ayn Rand’s version of scorched earth capitalism, “ Selfishness is a Virtue”, or blindly following  Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is good”,  the media, parents, teachers, influence makers could promote and ingrain in all of the youth, students and people at large that there is merit in wealth creation, but it could be infused with altruism. We could celebrate the successful who also share. This could dispel the notion that charity and sharing of wealth is only for the rich and the famous.  

ai automation in cloud computing

America gets criticized for many things around the world, but often the world overlooks that the largest amount of charity and donations have been from the USA.  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Warren Buffet, Larry Elison of Oracle who has pledged a significant portion of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and many others have absolutely embraced the concept of Conscious Capitalism for their corporations. But what would really broaden the pyramid, would be when early entrepreneurs and upcoming executives are also engaged in sharing and giving, and not wait till they reach the pinnacle of success. We cannot expect only governmental initiatives to support the underprivileged. We need to celebrate Conscious Capitalism and entrepreneurs and business leaders who are pursuing their dreams and are also sharing some portion of their wealth with the society.

At GAVS and through the Private Equity firm Basil Partners we are privileged to have been involved in an initiative to nurture and support a small isolated village named Ramanwadi in Maharashtra, through a project named Venu Madhuri (www.venumadhuri.org).  The volunteers involved in supporting this small village have brought success in several areas of rural development and the small hamlet is inching towards self-sufficiency.

Basil Partners along with Apar Industries seed-funded the Midday meal program, (www.annamrita.org)  that feeds almost 1.26 Million school students per day in Mumbai; and have promoted the Bhakti Vedanta Hospital in Mumbai.

These are all very humble efforts compared to some of the massive projects undertaken by the largest of groups and individuals. However, they all make a difference. I truly believe that we need to internalize some of the credo and values that have been espoused by H Fisk Johnson & the work companies like SC Johnson is doing, emulate Azim Premji, Satya Nadella and many others. They are the true ambassadors of Conscious Capitalism and are creating purposeful corporations. 

Keep Calm and Be a Great Leader in a Time of Pandemic

Katy Sherman

We live in scary times. While governments call for social distancing, it becomes more important than ever to stay connected as a community. For many of us the measures around COVID-19 mean we work from home and manage remote teams. While virtual teams are not unusual, today’s situation brings its own challenges. Today it is not only about being remote, it’s about facing fears. We fear for our jobs, our health, our families and friends.

How do we help each other stay productive and connected while we are worried and isolated?

This is what every leader should do to support their teams and help them get through the difficult times:

1) Make sure everybody has what they need to work remotely. Technology goes a long way in creating inclusive collaborative environment. Ask frequently, be prepared to act to resolve issues. Know how to navigate the company to obtain resources through management, HR, and Helpdesk.

2) Mentor team members on time management, especially people who are not used to work from home. Share expectations and establish norms of how to be available throughout the day, and when to go offline. While some people struggle with home environment being too distracting, others find it difficult to disengage at the end of the day and would stay at their desks until late. Give guidance based on the unique needs of each individual.

3) Get into a habit of checking in on people without agenda – have a coffee break together, chat about things not related to work, allow to unwind. Keep your finger on the pulse! Your team members can experience anxiety, be dealing with personal issues or worried about their communities. Some will need time off, or more flexibility than usual to provide child care, buy groceries during sporadic shortages, or take care of family members.

4) Simulate reality through video chats. Being on camera helps us stay focused, engaged in the conversation, as well as look and feel professionally. It also allows to read the non-verbals and better understand the vibe of the conversation. Turn your video on every time you’re in a meeting, this will encourage others to do the same.

5) Take care about yourself! Wash hands, sleep, exercise, go for a walk, drink water. Keep calm. Don’t spread frustration and panic. Remember, people are looking up to you, so lead by example.

I am sure we will get through this as a community. Lead the way and help others!

Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider

About the Author:

Katy is passionate about:

•Leadership and vision • Innovation, technical excellence and highest quality standards • Agility achieved through teamwork, Agile, Scrum, Kanban, TDD, CI/CD, DevOps and automation • Breaking silos and promoting collaboration of Development, Testing and Operations under cross-functional umbrella of Software Engineering • Diversity of personalities, experiences and opinions.

Things Katy does to spread the word:

•Speak at Technology conferences (including as an invited and key-note speaker) • Blog and participate in group discussions

•Collaborate with schools, universities and clubs • Empower girls and women, help them learn about Technology and become engineers