Turning a modern working environment into reality – a complex task that requires expertise, experience, time and resources. Companies and IT departments are confronted with significant challenges in this respect: Security risks are on the increase, employees demand improved ease of use, device and technology landscapes are becoming more heterogeneous and the innovation cycles are getting faster.
It is difficult for IT teams to meet all these challenges alongside their other tasks, react proactively and flexibly to changes and grasp the new opportunities.
Robert Hamel is a Solution Architect at EBF, supporting many companies from the word go. In this interview, he explains why we at EBF provide our customers with significant added value. He describes how we help to overcome the challenges to make a modern workplace reality.
Robert, why is familiarity with so many UEM systems an advantage – in our case, this means systems from Microsoft, Ivanti, VMware, Jamf and BlackBerry?
We need a variety of different systems as we naturally have many different customer requirements. It’s a very broad range. Some companies are regulated by legal specifications and rely on on-premise solutions. Other firms may already be following a hybrid cloud approach, or have already moved completely to the cloud. The implementation scenarios can also be very different. For example, logistics companies use rugged devices, while others only manage smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop devices – sometimes not even that.
Each company has its own method for using the UEM system. The larger our portfolio is, the more products we can look at and familiarize ourselves with, the better we can evaluate which product is really the right one for the customer and provide a corresponding recommendation. At the end of the day, this makes our recommendations and advice better and more independent.
A brief digression, as you just mentioned the cloud: What direction is that going in at the moment?
I would venture to say that the cloud is a topic for many customers. If only because there is a degree of cost pressure in the companies and cloud solutions actually are cheaper than on-premise solutions.
In the past, data protection was often an issue in this context, due to the fear that major American companies would grab the data. A lot has changed in this respect. Many cloud providers like Microsoft were searching for solutions here, and they have found them. They have established local server centers with the requisite level of protection and now host data in Germany and Europe. This means that it is possible to guarantee the level of data protection required.
Looking at our customers, I would divide them into three categories. There are companies that are now pursuing a cloud-first strategy: They move as much as they can into the cloud to maximize cost savings and minimize IT effort.
The second group includes companies that prefer hybrid solutions. They examine the options available in the cloud and then take the best of both worlds, connecting these with one another.
And then we have the third group: This features companies that are unable to implement cloud solutions due to legal prerequisites and regulations.
Moving to the cloud is a general trend that also includes UEM systems. The same observations are being made here. It does not necessarily have to mean considering a change of provider. Many companies are thinking about switching to the cloud product from one provider, thereby reducing the burden on their own infrastructure while leaving device management largely unchanged.
At EBF, we are in a position to support a decision like this – on-premise, hybrid or cloud. In addition to the wide range of products, what significant added value can we offer to our customers?
EBF has been involved in the EMM/UEM business for 20 years now. This means that we have acquired very comprehensive know-how and – as we support so many different solutions – we have a broad overview of the options available. This allows us to swiftly provide targeted consulting services and introduce new directions as well.
Customers have to deal with numerous topics and often do not have the time for detailed consideration of new options that are available, or which adjustments are required. It is often the case that a company has taken one step to implement a system and then made no more major changes. That is where we can help. We inform customers about necessary changes and new options, and make recommendations.
That also applies to topics like Single Sign-On, Modern Authentication or Conditional Access, which are currently the subject of much discussion. Many customers are unaware of how to implement something like this. There is a fear that it is very complicated. We can allay those fears for the customer, as we have the relevant experience and can pass on our know-how.
And we also find individual solutions – for example, if the UEM providers do not offer certain functions, our own development department allows us to provide support and implement the requirements.
For all of this, it is crucial that we are certified for all systems. We endeavor to keep our certifications up to date. That is a good foundation, allowing us to offer good advice to our customers.
We have also seen that we can deal well with our projects using our structured process, the 5-phase model. This includes very detailed end-to-end documentation. Should new requirements occur during a project, we can also provide support for these – in a follow-up project if required.
We work very closely with UEM providers in all these contexts – what advantages arise from this?
The close cooperation with UEM providers gives us the opportunity to integrate new functions promptly into the systems. If customers come to us with important requirements, we approach the providers and discuss these ideas with them. It is normally the case that multiple customers share the same requirements, allowing us to use this as a strong argument for their implementation. Of course, that doesn’t happen overnight. But, depending on the requirements, implementation can take place within two releases.
The strong network and the partner relationship generate another benefit: If new developments prompt changes in the environment, we are informed about this in advance by the provider. This means that we sometimes get to see roadmaps that are never made available to customers. We can use this information to prepare our customers for changes, give them advice and make recommendations.
However, our recommendations are not just restricted to customers. Sometimes providers also ask us for an assessment of whether specific things represent the correct approach for us. This shows that providers take us seriously as a company and we have the potential to bring about change.
Robert, thank you so much for the interesting insights!