SOTI Report: Half of U.S. Businesses Increase Devices for Distributed Workforce Management

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Distributed Workforce Management

The concept of a distributed workforce has evolved beyond the emergence of hybrid, flexible, or remote working arrangements, and it is fundamentally transforming business operations across diverse industries. A recent international study conducted by SOTI, titled “When Work is Anywhere: Managing Technology’s Role in the Distributed Workforce,” revealed that 48% of U.S. companies have witnessed a surge in the deployment of devices in their operations within the past year. As a result, IT teams are grappling with increased data and operational complexity, necessitating enhanced visibility and secure management of devices throughout the operations.

As the distributed workforce becomes a permanent fixture, the report highlights how organizations in diverse industries are proactively investing in new technology and devices to accommodate the expanding workforce and infrastructure.

Number of Devices in Field Continues to Increase

The Internet of Things (IoT), e-commerce, real-time supply chain visibility, and global communication advancements have spurred a significant transformation towards distributed operations. Consequently, 46% of organizations in the United States have experienced a rise in the variety of device types, such as smartphones, barcode scanners, rugged handsets, and mobile computers, being used across their operations.

Furthermore, the report revealed that U.S. businesses are opting to internally manage the majority of their devices as they embrace and adopt new technologies.

Smartphones 62%
On-prem software 49%
Printers (in-office and warehouse based) 58%
Rugged devices (scanners, readers, etc.) 51%
SaaS apps 44%


“Ensuring increased productivity of a distributed workforce is one part of the equation,” said Shash Anand, SVP of Product Strategy at SOTI. “Today, businesses have access to technology to effectively manage the supply chain and track and control device usage in the field. It is a matter of investing in new ways to oversee and analyze the subsequent growth in technology and data over time.”

As Devices and Data Grow, So Do Security Threats

As organizations increasingly rely on devices for their operations, the volume of data being collected, processed, and stored has grown exponentially. This has led to a growing demand for robust data management security and compliance measures. According to the report, 40% of respondents identified the need for improved access control to safeguard their IT networks, while 34% increased their investment in mobile technology security in the past year.

“With distributed operations there is a higher probability of a more fragmented global tech footprint due to the complex dynamic of devices and data,” adds Anand. “There needs to be seamless visibility and agility to monitor the health and use of these devices, with issues being fixed quickly once they arise. Without it, organizations will simply not yield the productivity and efficiency gains from their investments and leave themselves open to even more risks.”

Outdated Processes Threaten Productivity Gains

The rise of remote work has highlighted the importance of utilizing technology in two key ways. Firstly, by harnessing the capabilities of physical devices to enhance day-to-day productivity. Secondly, by effectively managing all devices in an increasingly dispersed operational environment.

Despite the increasing prevalence of digital workflows, the report revealed that nearly 70% of organizations in the United States still relied on manual processes to manage their workflows. This continued reliance on manual methods indicates that organizations have yet to fully adapt to a new operational infrastructure. In fact, within the past year, almost half of all manual workflows were still carried out on paper (46%) or via email (55%).

Regrettably, the persistent reliance on outdated paper-based processes is cause for concern, as it exposes sensitive data, such as patient and customer payment information, to potential security breaches. This puts personal data at risk of being compromised.

“It’s no secret that organizations have struggled to cope with the speed of change amid accelerated digital transformations. However, businesses must understand that discarding outdated legacy processes and software will ensure that data and devices are monitored, supported and kept secure,” concludes Anand. “By investing in robust management of devices, IT teams can improve operations, prevent attacks, enhance workforce productivity and ensure ongoing business health and success in an increasingly dispersed operational environment.”

SOTI’s report “When Work is Anywhere: Managing Technology’s Role in the Distributed Workforce” can be downloaded here. 

Read Next: Human error is the top security concern for IT leaders – Thales Global Data Threat Report 2023

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