News and Views

Combining Windows Autopilot and Device-as-a-Service to Deploy Remote Devices

by | 1 Nov, 2023

Setting up and configuring new devices for remote employees is a challenge, but it is a headache that can be resolved by combining two powerful solutions – Windows Autopilot and device-as-a-service.

In fact, by harnessing the potential of Windows Autopilot and device-as-a-service solutions, the ongoing management of remote devices will also become easier, including managing reset, repurpose, and recovery processes.


The Device Provisioning Problem


Setting up a new device often includes the following steps:

  • Purchase the device and have it shipped to a member of your IT team.
  • IT staff then go through the time-consuming, cumbersome, and repetitive process of setting up and configuring the device. More often than not this process involves replacing the pre-installed version of Windows with a custom image.
  • The device then gets sent to the end user.

The above process is cumbersome enough whenever IT staff and end users are in the same location. When you have remote employees, it is even more of a challenge.

Those challenges can then be further amplified by two additional factors:

  • The increased numbers of people working remotely for all or part of the week.
  • Technologies that enable people from different countries or even continents to work on the same team.

The problems are not just about IT department workloads and inefficient processes, either, as the challenges of setting up and configuring new devices can also frustrate remote employees and impact productivity levels.


UK Companies with Staff in Europe


There is then an added complication if you are a company based in the UK with remote staff in the EU, as you may have additional customs duties, VAT, and other costs that apply when deploying new devices. These additional costs are a result of changes brought about by Brexit. They could add as much as €220 to the cost of a €900 laptop. Read our blog to find out more about IT procurement and support for UK companies with EU staff.


The Zero Touch Solution


The solution to the challenges described above is to adopt a zero-touch approach, where your IT team doesn’t physically handle devices purchased for remote employees and teams. With a zero-touch approach, remote users receive their new devices directly from the supplier. All the setup and configuration processes then take place automatically with the remote user (rather than an IT resource) sitting in front of the screen.

And for UK-based companies with remote staff in the EU, a zero-touch approach can mean there are no additional customs or related charges.

You can achieve zero-touch device provisioning for remote employees by using Windows Autopilot and our device-as-a-service solution at Westbourne IT.


What is Windows Autopilot?


Windows Autopilot is a cloud service from Microsoft that is used to deploy, reset, and repurpose devices. We are going to focus on the first of those processes – deployment.

When a new device is purchased for an employee, it is registered with Windows Autopilot. Using a mobile device management platform such as Microsoft Intune, a deployment profile is created or assigned to the device that includes settings, configurations, and policies.

The employee then receives delivery of the device directly and enters their credentials. The automated Autopilot process then gets the device ready to use.


What is Device-as-a-Service?


Device-as-a-service is a Westbourne IT solution that can benefit a range of companies, but it is particularly relevant to UK-based companies with remote staff located in the EU. Rather than procuring devices directly for your EU staff, you contract us to handle procurement and deployment for you.

No customs duties or similar charges apply with this approach as Westbourne IT is based in the EU.


White-Glove Provisioning – Combining Windows Autopilot and Device-as-a-Service


So far in this blog, we have solved two main challenges when deploying new devices to remote employees:

  • Automating the time-consuming, inefficient, and resource-intensive process of setting up and configuring new devices.
  • Reducing the hassle (and costs if you are a UK-based company) of procuring and deploying devices to remote employees.

There is a cherry on top, though, in the form of white-glove provisioning.

Using Windows Autopilot and device-as-a-service means your EU-based employees will receive their new device directly from the supplier without it being touched by your IT team. You’ll save customs and related costs in the process.

However, while the steps to set up and configure the device are automated via Windows Autopilot, they take place in front of the user. The process is straightforward, but it can take time because of a range of factors, including device configuration complexity and internet speed. This is not ideal from a productivity perspective, and it may not be desirable for other reasons, such as when deploying devices to new recruits or senior members of staff.

White-glove provisioning is the solution. With white-glove provisioning (sometimes referred to as pre-provisioning), the device is sent from the EU-based supplier to us at Westbourne IT. Using Autopilot, we then complete (or pre-provision) two of the three steps to get the device up and running – device preparation and device setup. We then send the device to the user who completes the final account setup step, saving time and enhancing the user experience.


The Future of Remote Device Deployment


With the push towards automation and the need to drive efficiency savings across all business processes, it makes sense to reassess how new devices are deployed in your organisation. Windows Autopilot and device-as-a-service are two solutions that are even more powerful when combined together, particularly when you add in white-glove provisioning. To learn more, contact a member of the Westbourne IT team.