No way, José: The automation engineer turned CIO, who never learned to take “no” for an answer
José Schenardie, Co-founder and CIO
June 1, 2021
The best way to save time in business is to automate the hands-on tasks that take hours to complete.
My philosophy is simple: if I must do something more than once, I would rather automate it. To automate, you must first understand how the task works.
At the start of my career, I cut my teeth working in an IT team of three, servicing 400 end users. One day, I found a colleague stamping a mountain of paper. When I pointed out that he could use a watermark on the printer instead of manually stamping each piece of paper, he was so happy he could have kissed me.
Even back then, it was clear that automation is one of the best ways to save a mountain of time. Today, most of my automation work is out of my comfort zone; there is no comfort zone for an engineer at the cutting edge, because you are inventing things no-one has ever done.
While the team at Devicie is busy automating, many organisations and their IT teams continue to do things the way they always have, even with the sudden shift from on-premises to a reliance on the cloud. However, it does not have to be that way, and it is high time to automate the end-user device security and management tasks which take up the most time, freeing those experts from the mundane to focus on other work.
As an automation engineer, I think I am fortunate to see every time-sink problem as a potential solution, even for tasks that most people are conditioned to perform in a time-consuming, manual way.
Before we built Devicie, my co-founders Marty McGregor, Jason Fairburn and I went from customer to customer performing different client configurations with the same repetitive tasks. We would start a project, then we collated the apps, and applied a security policy. Finally, we deployed everything. Afterwards, we moved on to the next customer, with only a few processes we could reuse.
Our best-case scenario was when we would learn a new process or a shortcut that could be leveraged in the next job.
However, time-shaving does not compare to the time savings of automation.
Later, we streamlined a project to be completed in two weeks that a client had been working on for 14 months. The client made their milestone, and it was an early pre-Devicie automation win for us.
The automation goal we kicked then was the seed and a big inspiration for what we are now achieving with Devicie, albeit we are now operating on a much larger scale. We want to make life easy when it comes to auto-configuring and using devices. End users can then focus on what they are paid to do, instead of losing time through onboarding or troubleshooting with IT. Plus the IT team can get on with more interesting, important work.
Automation is not just an optional efficiency; it is a necessity. Automation reduces the likelihood of errors because hands-on and manual tasks inevitably have inconsistent and varying results. If you implement automated processes properly, they will do the same thing, the right way, every time and rule out any human error component.
At Devicie, I am fortunate to work with people at the top of their game, like my cofounders. Jason Fairburn is one of the best technical managers I have ever met; Marty is superb with security; and I excel ‘on the tools’. We share the same values and complement each other. We are already attracting some of the best subject matter experts to help us deliver on our vision to make uncompromising security on end-user devices a seamless and empowering part of the way organisations work.
We are automating the tools underpinning the working lives of people on a large scale. It used to take a long time to deploy a new app, but that is not the case with Devicie. We can take a bespoke app, automate it within Devicie, then share the latest version with all end users, or the group of end users an organisation wants to give access to. This can happen in minutes or hours, instead of days, weeks, and months.
We automate end-user device security in such a way that user productivity is prioritised, but not in a way that compromises security. User experience is paramount, so we test and retest to ensure a consistent experience 100% of the time from the moment an end user inputs their credentials.
An employee should be able to focus on their specialty. They should not have to understand device configuration or troubleshooting. Devicie automates supported devices to streamline an end-user work life.
Initially, a new Devicie client goes through a two-week product validation to ensure they can have the same 100% trust in our automation. After that, everyone in the organisation can be onboarded quickly and painlessly, anywhere in the world. IT teams are liberated from manual configuration and have better control and visibility over the fleet. End users have a great experience. It is a win-win for everyone.
Devicie has enabled us to build a software service where the projects that used to take experts like Marty, Jason and I months to complete, are replaced with a two-week production validation. Then, instead of a point-in-time consulting solution that we used to walk away from, Devicie remains as an ongoing part of the client’s daily IT and security operations – constantly enabling, managing, updating, securing and monitoring the entire device environment.
After onboarding, Devicie’s in-depth dashboard reporting makes it easy to monitor and identify which devices need attention. For example, any that have failed to update, or have security issues. If an end user is having a problem, Devicie lets them reset their own device to a known state quickly, with immediate access to all their apps and backed-up files.
We achieve all of this by working within the Microsoft Intune ecosystem, which we have been using since it first deployed a decade ago. When Microsoft implemented deployment tools into Intune a couple of years ago, the native foundation we needed to realise our idea for Devicie was born. Since then, we have built Devicie, allowing organisations to achieve a new level of automated management and security for their end-user device fleets.