The must-have technology and tools for your hybrid employees

Presented by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

It’s no longer “should we go to a hybrid work environment?” but “how do we make a hybrid environment work?” Now in the midst of The Great Resignation, a blend of remote and in-person work could be the key to survival, with a recent study from Harvard Business finding that over 80% of professionals prefer a hybrid work environment. At the core of this is a company’s ability to adapt digitally: 71% of businesses identified digitization as the secret to surviving the pandemic, according to Salesforce’s annual SMB report.

Now, IT teams have taken the wheel in the quest to create a truly digital organization that allows employees to work from everywhere, moving in-person collaboration and meetings to online work in the cloud. The other key question: How do you make that work effective and meaningful from a business perspective? Forrester’s 2022 Predictions with the Future of Work claims that one third of companies will fail at “anywhere work” because they’ll design the employee experience to favor in-office employees and productivity, instead of shifting to the tools that empower productivity from anywhere.

“One of the key questions that a lot of IT decision makers are asking about hybrid work is how do you enable everything?” says Miguel Nunes, Vice President of Product Management at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Connectivity has become essential to this hybrid world that we’re accelerating into, and next-gen laptops that maintain enterprise security and manageability standards from home (or work from anywhere) are the most important investment IT administrators can make right now.”

That’s because getting work done has three essentials: First, security for devices whether at home or on the go; secondly, connectivity and battery life for real-time, longer productivity experiences; and finally, on-device AI-accelerated videoconferencing and echo/noise cancellation technology. IT decision makers (ITDMs) shouldn’t have to compromise security for productivity, or vice versa, in bringing mobility back to the laptops workers use out in the world.

“Your tools are essential. Connectivity, powerful performance, thin devices, multiple days of battery life, all of those things are now very important,” Nunes says. “And a truly mobile, secure solution, working within the cloud, is essential for everybody now, not just large enterprises.”

Here’s a look at some of the major challenges that ITDMs are facing as they embrace the benefits of a distributed workforce, and how the right technology is making all the difference.

Securing the hybrid workforce

According to the 2021 Verizon Mobile Security Index, 78% of companies expect remote working to continue even when COVID-19 is no longer an issue. So how do you give them the same security experience that physically located devices provide?

“You don’t have to compromise — if you have the right platform and the right solutions, you can enable all the security experiences and mechanisms that you had before, and in some cases, even better than what you had on-premises,” Nunes says. “One of the things that we’ve spent a lot of time developing within our portfolio of platforms is end-to-end security, whether through the benefits of built-in 5G and LTE cellular connectivity, or through optimizations to the hardware and software.”

He’s referring to Always On, Always Connected laptops powered by Snapdragon® compute platforms, where security is built-in to enable PCs — such as through a verified boot process at startup to detect if malicious changes are present. Miguel’s team also works closely with independent software vendors (ISVs) and IT leaders to ensure preferred IT solutions are optimized for the platform’s architecture, to better protect users’ privacy, and safeguard company assets. In addition to full Windows support, and zero trust sensors for biometric and GPS management, there is platform-level support for Windows Hypervisor and Secured-core PC — all standard. Their new platform, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 compute platform, also boasts a dedicated secure processing unit with the Microsoft Pluton solution to bring advanced security features to Windows PCs in a protected execution environment.

With cellular connectivity, users don’t need to rely on inherently unsafe public Wi-Fi networks when they’re on-the go or traveling. And because they’re always connected, IT admins can regularly manage and push out policy updates to devices in real-time while built-in GPS and geotracking keep tabs on the laptop wherever it travels.

Enabling reliable connectivity

Going digital means moving to the cloud, which requires employees to have a fast, reliable, and always-on connection — while maintaining long battery life. However, more than one in four employees lack reliable Wi-Fi. To be truly mobile, your employees’ PCs should just work, whether they’re at the airport gate or in the back of a taxi making a customer visit, or at a Starbucks. Smartphones are always on and always connected — instantly awake with a touch and loading notifications while idle without draining battery — and your employee’s laptops can benefit from the same use cases. Unsurprisingly, Strategy Analytics says global shipments of connected 4G/5G computing devices grew 70% in 2020.

“Bringing 5G, 4G LTE, and leading Wi-Fi technology to PCs means you don’t have to choose how you’re connecting,” Nunes points out. “Your laptop just connects — just like your phone — and gives you the best experience possible, seamlessly switching between trusted Wi-Fi and cellular networks depending on the location.”

Plus, bringing in 5G and LTE cellular connections makes devices inherently more secure, especially when employees head out to coffee shops to shake off some of that isolation, and when they’re on the road.

You’ll never be able to replicate the in-person collaboration experience 100%, but good-quality cameras, clear audio, and reliable connections can ensure that the nuances of in-person interactions are not lost when collaborating remotely. Employees’ PCs need to keep up with the dramatically increased number of video meetings.

The premium 8cx Gen 3 platform was optimized for these kinds of digital experiences, designed with a key question in mind: What does it mean to be truly mobile? Your laptop’s webcam should offer 4K HDR clarity, AI-powered capabilities for background blur and image replacement in the background, and your laptop’s audio should offer noise cancellation to reduce background sounds such as a dog barking or neighbor mowing the lawn.

“Just a few years back, the cameras and sound quality on a PC were not usually the most important features,” Nunes points out. “Fast forward to today, where they are essential. People want and need a high-quality camera, clearer sound, and noise cancelling features on a daily basis, for the more personal connection with someone on the other side. We believe in these points so strongly that we built these features into the latest platforms up and down our portfolio, because quality communication is essential to businesses and consumers.”

Creating best-in-class experiences

Qualcomm Technologies (incidentally named for the Company’s emphasis on quality communications) has been working to optimize user and ITDM experiences across the Windows and Chromebook ecosystems, as the importance of employee mobility has accelerated. They’re especially excited about the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 5G compute platform.

“With the 8cx Gen 3 platform, we’ve focused on bringing best-in-class experiences,” Nunes says. “We focused on performance and power efficiency, enabling our OEM customers to build the thinnest and lightest platforms without compromising performance or battery life.”

Battery life that can last for multiple days, which is up to two times as long as a traditional laptop, is made possible by the configuration of the platform. The 5m Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 combines four high-performance (or Prime) cores and four efficiency cores. Plus, the Qualcomm® AI Engine can offload AI from the CPU and GPU, leaving those resources for other tasks, to enable experiences otherwise not possible on traditional CPU/GPU alone.

The Qualcomm® Adreno™ GPU is engineered to deliver up to 50% greater total system performance than the competition. It also offers multi-gigabit connectivity speeds with the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF system, supporting 5G (sub-6 GHz and mmWave), 4G LTE, and Wi-Fi 6.

Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 supports up to 4K HDR, and with up to four cameras and 24 megapixels, enables innovative new experiences. This includes using the front- and back-facing cameras to share, present, and create more immersive hybrid environments, along with the integrated Qualcomm Aqstic™ echo cancellation and noise suppression (ECNS) Audio technology for high-fidelity sound.

The dedicated Qualcomm AI Engine takes advantage of the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3’s architecture to deliver next-gen capabilities for intelligent camera, voice UI, security, and more.

“Hybrid work is the future — and ITDMs want to feel like technology investments are built for that reality,” Nunes says. “You have to digitize. You have to move into the cloud.  With that, we believe you have to change your equipment. PCs must now be equipped to be mobile, to be secure, to untether employees from their outlets and unsecure Wi-Fi — in other words, PCs that people can use to work and collaborate from anywhere.”

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