Inflation, rising interest rates, and lay-offs are enough to make business leaders uneasy. Add in a burgeoning energy crisis and diplomatic sabre-rattling and it’s easy to see why IT spending is under scrutiny. With cybercriminals making Australia a favourite target, now is not the time to pause digital transformation efforts. So what can business do to stay on track?

More organisations are delaying IT projects due to budget pressure than we’ve seen in a long time. For those that are committing to investment, many have unrealistic expectations for 12-month ROI. IT budgets are under pressure in ways we haven’t seen since before the pandemic.

But here’s the problem – we now operate in a world of hybrid work environments and that’s not going to change. The end-user experience has increased in importance as employees work remotely, with their own devices, whenever and wherever they like.

To stay competitive, business has to offer workers choice. The PwC Australia 2023 Future of Work Outlook showed only four per cent of employees want to work five days a week in a traditional office. Nearly 70 per cent (69%) want to split across multiple places and spaces. It doesn’t end there. Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) predicts by 2030, 30 per cent of all employees will use a co-working or flexible space even if they have access to a home office or traditional office.

We’ll never see a tech environment completely controlled by IT and protected by site infrastructure again. Instead, we operate in a fluid environment, relying on cloud to make it possible for business to run remotely. It’s essential to have the right skills and experience in your team to navigate your unique implementation of hybrid working and all the devices your employees bring to work with them.

The diversity and volume of endpoints in modern work settings are staggering. It’s normal for SMEs to use multiple operating systems, cloud, on-premises, mobile, desktop, and virtualised endpoints. With BYOD (bring your own device) becoming the norm, endpoint management demands have increased just as security risks are ramping up to unimaginable levels.

The challenge we see most businesses face is threefold – improving the end-user experience, becoming more proficient and efficient at endpoint management, and keeping the entire infrastructure secure. It’s a tall order.

We have the technology to automate simple, repetitive tasks like installing software patches, detecting cyberthreats, and monitoring security breaches. These advances, while welcome, will not move your business forward or help you recover from a cyberattack. So what will?

First, you can conserve budget by consolidating vendors.  Fewer vendors mean reduced time spent in vendor management and, often, operational management.

Evaluate each of your vendors to see who is providing the most value and where they can provide more. Renegotiating contracts when increasing your investment with a vendor puts you in a good position to ask for more favourable pricing, terms, and conditions.

Any reputable vendor should welcome the opportunity to review how their products,  solutions, and managed services are contributing to your business goals. The best ones will help you determine how to increase the overall effectiveness of your modern work environment.

Second, get the basics right. Economies can often be discovered by examining daily tasks and probing for better results. Downtime can be minimised by moving to the cloud wherever possible. It also makes onboarding employees and contractors easier and faster. Having access to the latest versions of software – anywhere at any time – benefits the entire organisation.

Third, a stronger focus on endpoint management is essential to higher employee satisfaction in a tight job market. The user experience is improved by having strong support for BYOD with all the necessary security protections from external threats to your network. This is another application where the cloud plays a vital role in keeping each device compliant.

Fourth, a good way to improve endpoint management and reduce costs is to outsource. Outsourcing also helps reduce risks. For example, the burden to keep current on cybercrime is immense. You can outsource security monitoring and detection to take the onus off your staff. Instead, your internal IT staff can work on internal projects related to your core business that help make you successful.

It’s not the first time IT budgets have been under pressure, but it might be the most precarious. To keep on the path of digital transformation, consolidate the work you outsource to fewer vendors. Ask how you can improve your end-user experience while reducing the burden of endpoint management. Insulate your business from cyberthreats and let your IT staff keep focused on strategic projects. Outsourcing to experts in modern work lets you reap the benefits of cloud, infrastructure and security expertise.