At this year’s Modern Workplace Summit business leaders discussed real-life scenarios where their organizations are achieving their overall business strategy and positively impacting their ability to achieve business goals when innovation and timing were crucial. Red Level invited three Michigan-based national and multi-national corporations to share their digital transformation experiences during the opening panel.
Our morning panelists discussed Digital Transformation, how the pandemic changed everything from IT roadmaps to getting into the cloud as quickly as possible, and tech solutions that worked for three very different companies with unique IT challenges.
Real-World Case Studies of Modern Workplace Evolution: Keynote Panel Discussion
During the panel discussion, several elements of Digital Transformation recurred throughout the morning: being proactive and nimble, understanding that your technologies may not mirror your customers’, security, making do with reduced IT staff, and getting internal buy-in.
With Moderator David King, CEO of Red Level, the panelists dove headfirst into several topics.
- Daniel Melton, Associate Vice-President, Technology with Village Green — one of the nation’s largest, privately-held apartment management companies. With over 13 years of experience as a Leasing Agent, Daniel oversees all three technology departments at Village Green: IT, Business Analytics, and Digital Strategy.
- Ken Chaisson, Managing Director, Digital Technology with the Trustees of Reservations. As a steward of distinctive and dynamic places of historical and cultural value, The Trustees is the nation’s first and Massachusetts largest preservation and conservation nonprofit. Its landscapes and landmarks continue to inspire discussion, innovation, and action today as they did in the past. The Trustees’ more than 100 reservations are destinations for residents, members, and visitors alike. Ken has an impressive IT background, leading teams at Reebok, Staples, and Dunkin Brands through innovative solutions that enhance and improve the guest experience.
- Jim Winchell, Information Systems Team Leader, Raker-Roberta’s Young Plants in Litchfield, Michigan — the leading provider of custom grown plugs and liners in North America. Through both seed and vegetative propagation, Raker-Roberta’s supplies over 3,000 plant varieties to greenhouses and nurseries around the planet. With degrees in Electronics Engineering and Computer Science, Jim has over 29 years of experience in various technology fields.
The conversation covered a variety of challenges faced during the 2020 pandemic, from staffing shortages to how to become better equipped to serve customers and measure outcomes. It was clear that every company had to be nimble and adapt on the fly. The move to cloud-based environments proved invaluable and became a “Why didn’t we do this sooner” moment.
There was an emphasis on increased digital security and, when discussing the increase in cyber-attacks, David King noted, “It’s not a matter of if, — it’s when.”
The morning conversation concluded with the panelists discussing which tools they implemented, what they have planned, and the internal challenges they still need to overcome.
App and Security Solutions for Businesses Featured in Afternoon Sessions
Three-afternoon speakers deep-dived into specific challenges: virtual desktop realities, ‘Zero Trust’ security architecture, and how collaboration can strengthen your digital transformation strategy.
Reality of a Virtual Desktop
Dean Bostedor, Red Level Senior Engineer, Cloud and Data Center, began with an in-depth history of virtual desktops, going back to 1969! With that background and foundation, Dean moved on to how companies can take advantage of the power of Azure Virtual Desktops (AVD) by providing remote workers with the same functionality they would have in the office. Dean explained how companies are eschewing traditional application installs in favor of PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS models.
Using Mans Lumber as his first case study, Dean explained how outdated hardware and software. Red Level came to their aid, moving them to Azure, providing training, and giving the employees a full Windows 10 experience.
Dean covered People 2.0 and how their need for increased scalability and governance. Dean then moved from case studies to a discussion on the remote workforce, virtualization, and the realities and challenges faced by organizations today.
He concluded his talk with a comparison of Windows 365 for Business versus Windows 365 Enterprise and which options to note when choosing.
Zero Trust Security Architecture is Essential
Our second-afternoon speaker took a serious note with a heavy subject that too many companies ignore: security.
Jesse Silver, Practice Director for Security and Compliance at Red Level, jumped right into defining what Zero Trust Security means and why the only option for companies. “It’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ you get hacked, it’s a matter of when and how bad.”
Jesse then talked about the pillars of Zero Trust Security along with Visibility Automation Orchestration (VAO) which he says will naturally occur as companies mature in their implementation of each Zero Trust pillars.
He discussed Least-Privilege Access (LPA) and how we, as companies, employees, and coworkers, can become lazy, giving out admin access to people because we “don’t want to get too granular in the access.” But as Jesse pointed out, we need to. LPA is key to modern security, and there are now plenty of tools that address these needs.
He then moved on to topics such as Assume Breach, which cannot be overstated or overlooked. He said that in this world, we cannot go about thinking that security is enough. We will be attacked or infiltrated to some degree. It’s a given, but we can utilize Defense in Depth to combat it.
Jesse gave three case studies, the beginning of the first one (Too little, too late), the middle of the second one (Breach Prevention), and the end of the third one (Defense in Depth). All three were attacked via advanced social engineering, and all three had different outcomes. He will dive further into these during the Cyber Security sessions throughout Cyber Security month.
He concluded with the benefits of security measures: lower rates, cheaper insurance, etc. Benefits with tangible real-world benefits beyond simply peace of mind.
Collaboration and App Development Strengthens Your Digital Transformation Strategy
Karina Myers, Director of App Development and Collaboration, went right into case studies, beginning with the Area Agency on Aging. The client had decided to move to the cloud but wanted to maximize their investments. They also had an internal issue with Shadow IT as some employees were using Box.com to get around internal storage requirements.
She explained how AAA’s goals were employee engagement, increased productivity, and increased profitability while detailing the multiple solutions Red Level recommended and implemented.
Karina’s second case study was the Trustees of Reservations need for advanced integration with their ACME ticketing system. Other issues facing The Trustees – users couldn’t cancel after registration, the default calendar was confusing, and it was hard for users to determine the status of an event availability. They needed a solution that had optimal response time and the scalability to handle high volumes of ticket sales. Red Level met these challenges with process automation, better reporting, an optimized membership page, and enhanced navigation and calendar experiences.
Her final case study involved Village Green. They owned hundreds of WordPress sites for their clients, but their main site was in Drupal, which made management difficult. Red Level was able to migrate the main site to WordPress without losing content, branding, and the custom features they had developed.
Karina concluded with a short video that must be seen. Red Level developed a gesture-controlled interface for the Detroit Institute of Arts called Motia. This software allows museum visitors to have a more immersive experience with the museum attractions and showcases how workplaces are being transformed in other ways as well.
Karina dropped some statistics about the modern workplace. She discussed the need for flexibility to work anywhere and that by next year (2022), over 42% of the global workforce will be mobile.
She explained that the modern workplace still relies on three classic pillars: People, Processes, and Technology. Technology is always advancing and ever-changing, but people and processes are still relevant and the core of everyone’s businesses.