The remote work explosion shows AI should be for everyone

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Coronavirus has been a wake-up call. It accelerated the uptake of working from home and, however much the government might be encouraging us back to the office, it looks like a corner has been turned. By April this year, social distancing rules meant that 46% of British workers – up from 5% last year – were doing their jobs from home and, as businesses realise staff can be trusted, savings made on city-centre rents and staff themselves can recoup the time once lost to their commute, there’s no reason to anticipate a significant decline.

Microsoft has closed its offices until January, Google won’t bring back its staff until summer 2021 at the earliest, and Shopify has defaulted to working from home indefinitely. One thing these companies have in common is their size and tech underpinnings, and the in-house resources to implement bespoke remote working solutions. The same can’t be said of small businesses, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t enjoy the same benefits.

All-round benefits, automated

AI and automation can help any organisation, regardless of size or the industry in which it operates. We work in an increasingly connected, cloud-oriented world, and there’s no reason why disparate teams shouldn’t be at least as effective as they were when working on site – so long as you give them the tools they need to do their jobs well.

Dell Optimizer, which features on the company’s Latitude and Precision business laptops, and the Optiplex 7080 Micro workstation, brings enterprise benefits to small business users, by leveraging Dell’s decades of experience working with multinationals to optimise its hardware to work in sync with users.

Underpinned by extensive artificial intelligence, Dell Optimizer reduces start times and allows for quicker app switching, helping staff achieve more in less time, while giving dispersed teams the confidence to work in whichever context suits the job at hand. Intelligent battery management maintains sufficient power for a full working day, with recharges scheduled so they don’t interrupt users’ productive flow.

Within the first 14 days of use, Dell Optimizer’s ExpressCharge module profiles a user’s regular working pattern, on the basis of which it anticipates future behaviour to dynamically apply appropriate battery settings and trim screen brightness, CPU performance and Bluetooth. All of this helps to maximise battery performance. And, when a charge is required, it can take the battery to 80% in an hour or, should an off-site meeting be approaching, 35% in just twenty minutes – enough for several hours’ work.

Aside from keeping staff productive, this has fringe economic and ecological benefits. Charging batteries to around 80% extends their working life, as it takes significantly longer to notice any drop in capacity. Battery University calculates that a cell could perform as expected for as many as 1500 charging cycles if charged to 80%, but only between 300 and 500 cycles if regularly taken to maximum capacity.

The longer a laptop and its components keep working, the better – particularly when it’s being used remotely and swapping out is more difficult.

Video conferencing like a professional

In an age where face-to-face communication is increasingly done from a distance, the Intelligent Audio module optimises Windows’ audio settings to reduce frustrating interruptions and drop-outs. Staff will naturally present a more professional image, which in turn reflects well on their employer. With presets for quiet room, noisy office, multiple voices and recording studio, Intelligent Audio allows non-technical staff to focus on what matters – their conversation – while the software makes appropriate adjustments in the background.

Why is this important? Because video conferencing could well be the most important enabler of remote working. Microsoft saw a more than 1000% increase in Teams video calls placed in March 2020, and the market for global video conferencing is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate approaching 10% between now and 2027. Yet home workers largely rely on the increasingly strained domestic broadband network, which can dramatically impact call quality. “Packet losses going over 1% may start to become noticeable by participants, and at 5% audio quality degrades significantly,” notes Poly in a 2019 whitepaper.

Starting with an optimised audio stream, as enabled by Intelligent Audio, gives remote workers the best starting point. Anything less would only make such network degradation more pronounced.

Keeping corporate data secure

“Staff are more likely to have their devices stolen (or lose them) when they are away from the office or home”, warns the National Cyber Security Centre, which advises organisations to “encourage staff to lock their screens if left unattended, especially if there are children or housemates present.” This is pertinent, as off-site working means data can’t help but stray beyond the physical office, and intranet access needs to be extended through the use of a VPN.

But advising and implementing such measures are two very different things. Staff will be tempted to leave an active connection unattended when popping away for just a few seconds, which can easily become a few minutes or more when distraction kicks on.

Dell Optimizer’s ExpressSign-in, available on Latitude 9000 and select 7000 series; Precision mobile workstations 7000 and select 5000 series, detects when authorised users have left the keyboard and automatically locks the laptop, immediately mitigating such risks by keeping children, lodgers and anyone else who might come across it away from corporate assets.

Designed for a new way of working

With Dell Optimizer, organisations can be confident that employees’ needs are being managed at a time when support calls are necessarily difficult to handle and site visits impractical. It helps staff to remain productive and take part in video calls with less frustration, while centralising management and securing both personal and business data.

Non-technical staff can’t be expected to optimise their own work machines, even when cast adrift from the office. By employing Dell Optimizer, they don’t need to – and neither do small businesses need to find the budget to develop their own automation at a time when, in an employees’ market, the best talent may well be unaffordable.

To find out more about Dell Optimizer, watch our short video here.

If you need advice on your tech solutions, Dell Technologies advisors are here to help. Visit dell.co.uk/advisor or call 0800 085 4878.