The role of the CIO is evolving and will continue to do so over the course of 2012. Currently this evolution involves a major shift to orchestrate technologists and creators working together to provide the type of technology experiencesusers and customers expect.

According to Gartner, there are a number of forces that will transform the IT landscape in 2012. These include cloud computing, social media and social networking, mobility and information management.

Asthese forces gain popularity in the enterprise, remote IT support is emerging as an increasingly vital tool to empower CIOs to embrace these trends whilestill ensuring security. Following are 5 reasons why remote support should be on every CIO’s radar in 2012:

  1.  Flexibility is king

There is a real clash today between the need for flexibility and the importance of maintaining good governance within anorganisation. We’re increasingly finding the CIO stuck somewhere between the two. Flexibility means people want to work wherever they are, access applications from anywhere, receive high-availability for all applications and use their own devices.

However, this needs to be married as closely as possible to the CIO’s requirements that all enterprise applications are running efficiently, as well as their need to manage the contingencies for each and every situation. Traditionally these two factors have been at odds, and we would typically see flexible systems that were not all that resistant to disaster alongside rigid systems that would keep running for years, with little or no maintenance. Today’s CIO needs to pair these two in a way that provides not just a balance, but also some form of virtuous merger of these trends.

  1.  Mobile device take-over

We’re seeing a fairly major shift from the laptop and desktop era to post-PC devices, with the number of mobile devices already out-stripping the number of desktops and laptops. However, the support load is still predominantly on the more traditional side, primarily because the work habits of users have not yet shifted. For example, employees may access corporate email via their smartphone of preference but are much more likely to do the heavy lifting in front of a desktop or laptop.

The expectation over the course of the next six to 12 months is that this will begin to shift, but it will probably take the next three to five years for widespread adoption of mobile for more complex functions. As users get more comfortable using mobile devices, as devices become more capable and as applications grow more advanced, knowledge workers will increasingly gravitate toward the mobile platform and the support requirements will shift accordingly.

Mobile is also impacting the remote support landscape in that the platform enables workers to be much more flexible. As a result, we are finding it increasingly rare to not have at least a few employees working from remote locations. This is engineering a change in the working habits of employees and customers—for example, many are more apt to work non-traditional hours from the mobile platform of their choosing.

The remote workforce is also bringing with it a change in the types of devices that need to be supported. As a whole, the existing landscape of support products is not adequately equipped to support mobile devices and remote workers. This means that we are likely to see a significant increase in demand for remote support tools in 2012.

  1.  Remote support is more than just back up

In most sectors, organisations are using remote support effectively across industries. However, some companies are still stuck in the old paradigm where remote support is used as a back-up measure if all other measures fail. As a default, IT reps will attempt to troubleshoot an issue over the phone and, if this does not work, then look to bring in a remote support product and try to connect to the system.

This can introduce costly over-heads into the business in terms of time and resources. Were remote support used as a first response to a customer issue, however, these over-heads could easily be avoided. As IT budgets continue to be scrutinized in 2012, we can expect to see more organisations embracing remote support at the outset of issue resolution.

  1.  Security brings peace of mind and continuity to the business

Security concerns are another reason CIOs will be examining their organisation’s remote support needs and solutions in 2012. Many reports show that unsecure remote access has consistently been one of the leading attack pathways for data breaches. As such, we expect to see a purging effect on many older products as IT executives grow more familiar with the risks associated withunsecure remote access tools.

It’s important to understand that although remote support is not a security product in itself, we do see a number of organisations realising that there is a security or compliance issue with their older remote support products, and thus begin to search for a more secure solution.

  1.  Cloud considerations

Cloud computing has provided a number of useful efficiencies for organisations in recent years. The difference between remote support and other applications that could be moved to the cloud is that remote support is an access channel into other types of data and systems. All CIOs know that, at some point, their organisation’s remote access tool will be used to get into all systems within the infrastructure. Therefore, putting remote support or remote access in the cloud is categorically different than using the cloud model for any other enterprise application.

With other applications, organisations can establish discreet data sets and determine, based upon their individual business requirements, what they put in the cloud and what is retained behind their own firewall. With remote access there is the potential that all enterprise data, including sensitive financial or customer information, could be passed through the cloud – and that’s usually a decision where the security officer becomes hesitant. Based on the current security requirements, moving remote access or support to the cloud is not advised by Bomgar.

There are numerous other factors in addition to the trends I’ve outlined above that I believe will compel CIOs to examine the remote support landscape in 2012 and beyond. The technology needs of today’s organisation are incredibly complex and we can only imagine they will grow more so as new platforms and ways of working are introduced into the enterprise.