Organisations around the world are now relying on digital tools to help them deliver positive experiences for both their employees and end users, particularly given the shift to remote working brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, Oliver Bendig, CEO, Matrix42, talks us through the challenges and pain points for customers, as well as how Matrix42 is enabling smart and secure digital workspaces.
Can you introduce us to Matrix42 and your value proposition?
Matrix42 is focused on management and security for digital workspaces – something which is very important for customers right now. The importance has accelerated due to the impact of COVID-19 because people want to work from anywhere, at any time and from any device.
We live in a world of complexity and customers are looking for the ‘easy button’. More complexity can’t be addressed with just more manpower, you need automation and we are masters in the automation of deployment of applications, processes, management and security.
We also create value by enabling ‘happy users’. When employees are happy and have everything they need to get work done, at the time they want and on the device they need, they are happier. And happier users create happier customers.
Last, but certainly not least, the big benefit and value of our solutions is in the area of compliance. We help customers to optimise security so that people can securely work anywhere, with any device in the world, but also ensure compliance in terms of costs. For instance, we help customers to save significantly on infrastructure and licence costs and this is a big value proposition of our platform.
How have customer demands changed over the last year and how have you responded?
The impact of COVID-19 has been challenging for every organisation in the world and if you look at the last 12 to 18 months, we are in a phase that I call the ‘now normal’, because we’ll never go back to how things were but where we are currently also probably won’t also last forever.
Customers have had to send people to remote locations, or to a home office.
Their pain points have been around managing support processes and securing employees because there are more attack surfaces.
I think the immediate response from customers was they needed help to deploy mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, PCs, laptops, etc quite quickly and customers have done that with our solution while improving their security posture.
What are some of the key challenges your customers are grappling with right now?
This next normal phase has a different flavour because we all know this remote and flexible working with a 360-degree workspace won’t disappear. At Matrix42 we have been preaching for many years that work is not a place anymore, it’s a thing you do.
Right now, the conversations I’m having with CIOs and CISOs are much more about the long-term strategy for their digital workspace. Digital Transformation is the biggest opportunity of our generation and every business is now a digital business.
And where do you perceive Digital Transformation the most? At the endpoint. That is a crucial service right now for clients that need management and security.
One key challenge for customers is cloud transformation and the first thing that you need to do is to create visibility of your infrastructure.
Secondly, organisations are challenged with innovation, which needs investment, while balancing the need to reduce costs. We help with cost optimisation, in terms of process automation, licence management optimisation, licence spending optimisation and cloud expense management.
Finally, many customers will continue to focus on security because this flexible workstyle won’t disappear and IT needs to adapt and provide management and security for that.
Tell us about the technology tools that modern organisations need to navigate in the new normal?
Management and automation of devices and applications are crucial. This, combined with security, is what we call secure unified endpoint management.
The second thing is related to process optimisation and enterprise service management – it’s a lot about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning so that the system becomes smarter and learns with data to provide a better support process.
For example, if something goes wrong on a device and an employee needs to open a ticket, wouldn’t it be great if the system had already fixed it before the employee even recognised the issue? That is exactly the kind of technology we provide in our smart platform, and why we execute against the vision that we call ‘simplify and secure digital work’.
Could you highlight more examples of use cases for your technology?
One use case we see frequently is around workflow for a new employee. This was also important during COVID, especially for the companies that had to increase capacity, and for people in logistics and healthcare, etc.
With our solutions a manager could go into an app, use a chat bot or open a web portal to request a workspace for the new employee. It’s then automatically provisioned and automatically secured, and you can even get it retired. If the employee leaves or the device gets replaced, this fully automated process is without interaction with IT. This is what customers like very much because it helps to address this next level of complexity that we see.
Another example is around hyper automation and self-service so if there’s a problem the employee has the technology to get it fixed. And only in the very last phase, when the system cannot solve it, should a human being be involved. In a nutshell, I would say it’s about cleverness and smartness, automation, transparency and security.
Tell us how important automation will be for organisations for enabling secure digitalisation?
We see next level of complexity at the moment, particularly due to COVID. And we address that with automation in all areas. Gartner calls this AI ops (Artificial Intelligence operations) and I think that term describes it very well.
This is where we provide value because if something is happening in the infrastructure related to the workspace you need to have a very smart and fully automated solution that helps you to provision services to users, to increase security and address cyberattacks and to also help you in a support process.
How can security teams balance protecting their organisations while not impacting productivity?
If you look at some of the data points from Forrester and Gartner from last year, pre-COVID, 89% of employees in a survey with more than 5,000 companies and thousands of end users said that security made their job more difficult.
Our approach to this is that security must be built in. From an end user perspective, it should not be felt but it should support them. With a car, for example, it has a simple security system like a brake which is integral.
But modern cars also have modern security systems that help their owners to drive better and to stay in lane, so it gives a better driving experience.
This is exactly how we look at it from a workspace perspective. Security should be built in and give a better driving experience and a better digital employee experience.
This translates as on the fly encryption, multi-factor authentication, automatic patch management, hyper-automated cyber-response attacks, endpoint detection and response.
So, the idea is that management and security need to play together and be integrated so that the user does not even feel the security is there – they’re just protected.
What are the key benefits of a platform approach to security and service processes?
There are both technical and organisational benefits. On the technical side, for example, if I work from home on multiple devices and caught a very modern virus using a zero-day exploit, I might not recognise if the virus in the background steals some data from me and places it somewhere on the Internet.
With an automated management security process, you can analyse the anomaly in user behaviour analytics, recognising suspicious behaviour. And then our platform recognises and reacts to that through automation.
Through automation, it’s possible to restrict the account access to critical services or even put the device into a quarantined network so a further review can be done, until it’s clear whether it’s a security attack that can be fixed or not.
It can then reinstall the device automatically, give the employee a notification that they need a longer lunch break and then when they return, they’ll be fully productive again.
This is the power of bringing security and management together, and this is exactly what Matrix42 is all about.
How should CIOs be preparing their long-term strategies based on emerging trends and user demands?
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a big trend towards taking a more agile approach to IT. We no longer see silos where different people work on security, device management, service management, infrastructure and licence management.
From an organisational perspective, this agile approach helps adapt to change much faster.
Organisations need a cross-functional solution that’s not structured in silos and is actually fully integrated. And this is exactly what we provide.