The digital workplace is increasingly at the epicenter of business, providing flexible, innovative, more consumer like, user-centric working. Enterprises are designing infrastructures that provide central, secure access to applications, services and resources anytime, anywhere from desktop, notebook or smartphone – bring your own device (BYOD) or corporate owned. At the same time, the entire IT department is benefiting from ease of management, flexible security and a direct route to the cloud.
Gartner describes the digital workplace as “a business strategy for promoting employee effectiveness and engagement through a more consumer-like computing environment.” Not every enterprise has the ability to make this happen quickly, but those that haven’t started will be way behind the curve.
This year IDC forecasts that 65 percent of large enterprises will have committed to becoming information-based companies, moving the organizational focus to relationships, people and intangible capital. At the same time, the level of connectivity related to products, assets and processes will increase 50 percent for all industry value chains. The digital workspace is evolving fast and brings many benefits for IT departments - if they stay ahead of the curve.
IT department must be an enabler
The IT department has a key role to play in the digital workspace, and it is imperative it is seen as an enabler, rather than lining up hurdles for employees across the enterprise. This involves seeing beyond simply the technology and taking a user-centric snapshot to grow performance levels. CIOs may find this challenging as it is not a view they are accustomed to taking, but they need to be adaptable to make the concept work.
“All too often, conversation about collaboration, intranets and the broader digital workplace can focus on technology and the fractured digital landscape. But what really matters to employees is what they experience moment to moment as they try to do their jobs productively, efficiently and enjoyably,” explained Paul Miller, CEO and founder of the CEO and Founder of the Digital Workplace Group (DWG).
A robust digital workspace strategy allows IT to become part of C-suite discussions beyond solutions, involving workspace culture and design and business performance, for example. Valuable feedback from both IT departments and employees across the board working together is vital to making the digital workspace a success and taking it to the next level.
Here are six benefits to IT department staff in introducing a digital workspace:
1) Automated management frees up the IT department
Digital workspaces lend themselves to automated management. Tasks such as application distribution can be automated, providing better security and compliance. An automated approach enables an IT department to adapt quickly to changing business needs, and workflows can be adjusted quickly, when managers feel this is necessary. New technologies can be easily and seamlessly integrated into processes without disrupting anyone’s work, regardless of which department they are in.
2) Virtualized desktops speed provisioning of new arrivals
Desktop virtualization is the driving force of the digital workspace. It provides enterprises with a cost-effective and secure way for workers to access applications and resources wherever they are, from whatever device. Virtual desktops help reduce the time it takes for IT departments to set up new desktops and cuts down on desktop management and support costs for new hirings. As everything is centrally managed, stored and secured, the management of software assets can be streamlined and IT doesn’t need to back up files or scan viruses, for example, on individual devices. At the same time, security is enhanced as the administration is centralized. Access to certain applications can be restricted and usage tracked.
3) Single app store controls app proliferation
The appeal of a digital workspace is that we can access our work desktop where and when we want, personalized with our own apps and data. Access to apps can be provided by a single app store which cuts down on both administration and seemingly endless queries. Having one central hub fixes the problem of multiple log-ins and getting locked out.
4) Single sign-in means better passwords
People and passwords are not a good mix, and we are all guilty of forgetting them. Single sign-in makes it much easier to manage accounts. Amazon Web Services, for example, offers single sign-on capabilities between Amazon WorkDocs and Amazon WorkSpace. It also offers auto session resume for the latter. This feature resumes a worker’s previous work as soon as it detects an interruption in the session.
5) Security big picture
The digital workspace provides IT with a panoramic view of its technology vista. IT departments are looking beyond securing devices to look at context-aware strategies, using situational information, such as location, time together with IP, IT Stack, URL etc to make a decision on security risks. With automation, IT departments can have a much wider view of process and workflows to monitor any abnormal behavior happening on the network when it comes to the way your people work.
6) Better communication with C-Suite
Moving to the digital workspace opens up better dialogue between the C-Suite and IT heads relating to such areas as performance, workforce effectiveness and company culture. This is key in establishing IT as an enabler amongst employees, rather than a problem solver and barrier to innovation. This equates to your people being more motivated and inspired.
“Companies in every industry are facing real challenges in oﬀering employees the best of the new technologies they need. But those that can see the strategic value of the working environment, and can get in front of the movement to the truly digital workplace, will have a clear advantage in productivity, innovation, and collaboration,” argues PwC's Strategy&. Implementing a digital workspace strategy isn’t the end of the game. IT departments who continually re-evaluate and upgrade their digital workspaces will reap the rewards.
Orange offers customized, unified and coherent workspace solutions that can be implemented across all of your locations and adapted to your requirements and practices even as your business evolves. Go here to find out more.
Jan has been writing about technology for over 22 years for magazines and web sites including ComputerActive, IQ magazine and Signum. She has been a business correspondent on ComputerWorld in Sydney and covered the channel for Ziff-Davis in New York.