SURVEY: Tech needs to adapt to support remote working

Matthew McKay, Citrix Sub-Saharan Africa.
Matthew McKay, Citrix Sub-Saharan Africa.

The sudden move to a remote work model put huge pressure on IT to play a vital role in ensuring correct access, security and tools to operate effectively. ITWeb, in partnership with Citrix, asked South African organisations about the challenges they faced with the shift to remote working and how they are adapting in the face of COVID-19.

The online survey examined the current status of South African organisations’ software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) in the context of the digital workspace. It also sought to uncover the top challenges faced by users when connecting to the network, and evaluated the level of user experience when working remotely and in the office.

A total of 255 responses were captured, with 45% of respondents coming from the IT sector, 11% from the financial sector, and the rest from a wide range of other public and private sector organisations operating mostly in South Africa.

Matthew McKay, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa at Citrix, says “The survey provides tangible proof points that South African employees have grasped remote and hybrid work models, connecting from several locations and often from various devices. As critical needs, respondents emphasized access to bandwidth, connectivity, simplicity and reliability of infrastructure. This is reflected in the rapid adoption of SD-WAN and Cloud services.”

The survey provides tangible proof points that South African employees have grasped remote and hybrid work models.

There are plenty of signs within the survey results indicating what the future of work will look like: nearly threequarters (73%) of respondents said their organisation had remote work locations such as branches, field stations, stores or franchises, temporary worksites or service vehicles. Another 84% are accessing corporate applications and data remotely and 92% overall already have a hybrid working environment, with some remote employees and others based on-premise.

Asked to list the infrastructure that their company had in place, 66% of respondents said on-premise, 59% said cloud, 47% said hybrid cloud and 24% said multicloud. They were closely divided over whether they faced issues with network availability while accessing corporate data and applications, with 44% saying they had issues and 52% saying they didn’t experience any issues.

The survey also unearthed what could be improved upon. This can be condensed into three key areas:

Simplicity: a quarter (23%) say their current infrastructure, security and network management is far too complicated.

Connectivity: a third of respondents struggled with VPN capacity or bandwidth limitations and even more (44%) had issues with network availability.

User experience: almost half did not get the same level of user experience when working remotely versus working in the office, which correlates with 50% not currently using a software-defined network (SD-WAN).

McKay says, “It seems that on top of positive noises around the digital workplace, institutions still have a way to go in securing similar levels of experience for all their staff. This suggests that simply having some tools isn’t enough.

Harnessing their full power requires strengthening application delivery and performance with a secure and reliable network over the next year or two. A key takeaway for IT decision makers is that there’s a solid need to simplify operational and experiential complexity, with a focus on providing a secure and productive digital work environment.”

Follow the Key Findings and the Graphs links