We chatted with Andrew Sellers, Managing Director of Foundation IT, to chat about Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), why IT should be a primary source of investment and innovation, and what the future of work will look like.
At CEO.digital, we whole-heartedly believe that we’re living in a digital era. It’s no secret, but it’s great to hear our enthusiasm reciprocated by industry leaders – and that’s exactly what happened when we interviewed Andrew Sellers, Foundation IT’s Managing Director a few weeks ago. As he rightly pointed out, businesses have had to adapt in the past year, with digital now playing a critical role in many industries.
The technologies powering the remote working revolution we’ve seen in the past year are, of course, nothing new. But the pandemic has forced businesses to adopt these digital technologies en masse. Some would argue that the technologies’ time has come.
During our conversation with Andrew, we addressed a range of issues, including how modern technologies have transformed the workplace and the critical need for businesses to find seamless ways of bridging the home/workplace divide.
We also discussed the role of a resilient IT function and why companies should see this function as an innovation hub. Finally, we covered cultural attitudes to User Experience (UX) and employee wellbeing that have far-reaching implications for what will define market leading organisations in the future.
Meet Andrew Sellers
Managing Director at Foundation IT
Andrew is an experienced Managing Director working in the information technology and services industry. He has a strong focus on people, coaching, and pace of change towards cloud. In his illustrious career so far, Andrew has worked with global brands to bring their IT systems into the 21st Century. As MD of Foundation IT, he plays a leading role in delivering a service that gives clients the freedom to make change happen without the hassle of managing their IT infrastructure.
Bridging the Gap Between Remote & Office with VDI
Desktop virtualisation was certainly a hot topic before the pandemic, but it has stepped into its own now. According to MarketsandMarkets, analysts expect the desktop virtualisation market to grow to $13.45 billion by 2022, enjoying a growth rate of 11.4% since 2017. Others suggest the growth rate to be even higher, with the global VDI market expected to reach $25.49 billion by 2025.
For Andrew, this is no surprise. In the past ten years, Foundation IT have seen a steady rise in the amount of teams turning to a VDI solution as more and more people began to work remotely. But the skyrocketing levels of remote working that followed national lockdowns has increased this uptake even further.
In a way, what we’ve seen is an acceleration of the technology adoption life cycle, with resistance sidestepped in many of the more successful businesses. Nevertheless, from some corners there is still a hesitancy towards new technology. Andrew argues that digital leaders must take on those hesitant attitudes. “We’ve got to help people adjust the curve and speed up technology adoption so they don’t get left behind,” says Andrew.
The split is “very broadly between analogue or digital thinking. We’re clearly in the digital era. Not everybody necessarily believes that, but I think it’s our job to convince those people to see work in a digital way. Digital leadership is the key to this. We need to ask what people want, what they deserve, and then deliver that.”
VDI itself offers a way out. Andrew shared experiences working with St John’s Ambulance and various educational institutions, where VDI had enabled the volunteers and teachers to gain seamless access to their data – and work from anywhere.
What Is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
If you weren’t aware already, here’s what Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is: a software technology that splits the physical client device from the desktop environment and the apps it uses. VDI plays a key role in building a desktop environment management system, where a central IT administrator can monitor, manage, update and secure the workforce’s desktops simply and on a flexible basis. It also helps with disaster recovery, as everything on the hardware is virtualised.
Right Technology + Right Methodology = Employee Wellbeing
Our conversation with Andrew continuously came back around to the idea that to enable people to do their best work – and, more importantly, to maintain their employees’ wellbeing – IT leaders must find the right technology to make that happen. They have to do the hard work of understanding the needs of the business and then balancing tech with method to ensure everyone is healthy, happy and able to create new value for the company.
Sometimes, it’s not finding the technology that’s the hard part – it’s the methodology. For instance, Microsoft clearly creates great, broad software that has deep market penetration. It has appeal for everyone and the many facets of Office 365 can support almost every conceivable business function. However, Microsoft as a company focuses on creating the software, not on deploying it.
As Andrew pointed out, SharePoint is an excellent tool for enterprises, and Microsoft did a great job of selling it initially, but it has been poorly deployed by organisations since. What this suggests is that business leaders tend to fall short when it comes to methodology and implementation of new software, causing more stress for employees and holding back new value generation.
Companies instead need the expertise to deploy software correctly, or to bring in people who have it. Agnostic working principles go a long way here, and it’s something Andrew praised about Foundation IT’s own work ethic.
I think the reality is that we’re all behind where we want to be. We should be in super-catch-up mode, and a kind of boutique approach to IT will be vital here.
Andrew Sellers Managing Director, Foundation IT
Later in our conversation, we also addressed the importance of user experience in IT. While nothing new, it appears that it’s still all too easy for transformation leaders to fall into the trap of deploying new solutions without considering the impact they’ll have on users.
Andrew suggested the prevalence of UX adoption in organisations could be down to cultural attitudes within the company. At Foundation IT, employee wellbeing is front of mind, committing to frequent activities such as yoga sessions and virtual watercooler moments to support it. Andrew said that where a business has made a commitment to these kind of cultural aspects, you can see that they are more open to addressing UX.
But if a company does value its employees, the potential for delivering a digital workplace solution that performs is high. You know and understand if your end users are capable of using a solution.
Innovation as Means of Business Recovery
If there was one thing to take away from our interview with Andrew, it would be this: Big companies should be innovating. Especially now, given the disruptive year the world has faced following the global pandemic.
Andrew highlighted that, in some circles, there’s still this attitude of IT being a cost, something to keep the lights on only. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. If business leaders treat the IT function as simply an operational necessity, innovation and new value generation is relegated to other areas of the business – and away from the digital-centric world we now live in.
Every business is a people business, so you’ve got to invest in them. That’s where our User Experience team comes in. We want the user’s voice to be heard and to make sure they can do the work they want to do.
Andrew Sellers Managing Director, Foundation IT
Instead, business leaders should be investing in their IT infrastructure, encouraging their teams to find new methods of value generation by innovating within the digital sphere. However, it shouldn’t be a choice between either innovation or daily operational maintenance, either. They must do both. If that means outsourcing daily operational functions, so be it. Organisations cannot afford to either put critical business needs like patching on the back burner while they innovate. They must do both, simultaneously, in order to survive. Foundation IT’s patching-as-a-service offering helps free up IT teams in this regard. For heavily regulated industries, it helps them remain compliant, while freeing up the internal IT team to innovate – which Foundation IT can also support.
Learn More About Foundation IT
It’s clear that the IT function has more of a role to play in the future of the enterprise. But if business leaders see IT as more an operational aspect of the business, instead of a value-generating innovation arm, they’ll fail to unlock their business’s full potential. It was great to hear from Andrew about this and to see that there’s another way forward.
If you’d like to learn more about Foundation IT and its services, you can connect with Andrew on LinkedIn now.