The digital workspace is not a new concept, every company is going through the digital transformation journey in some form or capacity as the modern workplace and employee expectations continue to evolve. A digital workspace platform embraces modern management and gives IT visibility across employee’s applications and devices. In 2019, the concept of a workplace perimeter is quickly fading, as employees continue to demand more flexibility. It is no longer an option, but a necessity to empower employees to work from anywhere, anytime. You are required not only to deliver employees a seamless user-experience throughout their workday but to also keep employee retention rates high – both of which have a direct impact on the business’ bottom line. A Forbes study found when companies provide employees anytime, anywhere access to necessary applications, employees reported a 17% savings in time, ultimately freeing employees to focus on more important tasks, improving personal productivity and thus making their firm a more desirable place to work in the eyes of employees (Forbes – Impact of Digital Workforce.)
Although we know that the digital workspace is the future of work and companies commited to making apps available and accessible significantly outform those who don’t, the majority of organizations aren’t there yet. In the same study, there was a strong discrepancy between CIOs and end-users on a range of issues, including availability of apps employees need to do their job (47% of CIOs agreed vs. 24% of end-users.) Clearly, as the data indicates, there is a significant disconnect between CIOs and end-users on application availability and accessibility in the digital workspaces provided.
The benefits of moving to a digital workspace are well documented. Studies confirm a significant ROI while providing substantial time and cost savings, improving productivity, business benefits, and drastically benefiting IT teams. The data supports these claims, there is no arguing that (See this Forrester TEI Study for benefits). The key question is, how do you deliver the best possible digital workspace to your employees without compromising security – the nirvana of the digital workspace? How do you provide the perfect balance of seamless productivity while mitigating pain points and security-risk?
There are 5 major requirements to get to the nirvana of delivering a digital workspace.
5 Requirements for Achieving the Nirvana of Delivering a Digital Workspace
1. Putting Employee Experience First: Employee experience is the heart of the digital workspace. IT focus must be on empowering employees and providing support as best as possible across any device. There is no way around it, if the user experience isn’t the best possible, productivity will decline.
The most important step in beginning your digital workspace journey is putting your employees first and taking a design thinking approach to IT. To do this, instead of aggregating your employees into one unit, select one group with similar work styles and application use and think about their experience throughout the entire day. In addition, think about their journey from day one onboarding until the day they leave your company. With this information, think about how you can impact their experience and start to build an experience roadmap. Once you have replicated this process for other employee groups, you will have a better understanding of what exactly your employees need and want. This information will allow you to provide the ultimate employee experience, from a better, more consistent onboarding experience, easier to use productivity applications, to single sign-on access.
2. Delivery of Applications – Anytime, Anywhere: “Any app, anytime, anywhere,” is your new mantra! Supporting ALL apps – mobile, cloud-based, web-based, tasked-based, Windows legacy, etc. – is a must. Not only is it necessary to support all apps, but they also need to be supported from any device, anywhere your employees are located. Let’s cut straight to it – you can’t deliver an employee experience if you aren’t able to deliver the applications they need. Making applications highly accessible is crucial in boosting employee performance and productivity, two extremely important factors that determine business success and profitability. In a Forbes studyof 2,000 executives and frontline employees worldwide, the executive CIOs who have already made applications readily accessible to employees estimated an 18% increase in revenue due to these applications.
By definition, a digital workspace that doesn’t include ALL of the applications an employee needs to do their job when and wherever they need them, is NOT a digital workspace. The platform must be equipped to deal with the hundreds of Windows applications you may already have with the new and existing web, SaaS, and native mobile applications. The last thing you want is employees going back to fending for themselves and avoiding IT!
3. Modern Device Management: Out with the old, in with the new! PC Lifecycle Management is now the way of the past. Modern management allows IT to manage with a cloud-based approach across all devices to deliver drastic time and cost savings to your organization. Not only does this provide organizations scalability, but IT can also manage all devices with zero touch provisioning, software distribution, and security. The power of modern management is remarkable and a stark difference from the traditional experience employees are used to (Here’s a first hand account of a new employee onboarding with IT using a modern management approach.)
4. Manage Experience and Security: You don’t just want to collect data, you need to be able to gain insights and make decisions from each data point. It’s no longer an added benefit, it needs to be a built requirement to have complete visibility into your digital workspace in order to gain deep insights that enable data-driven decisions across your entire environment. With the digital workspace, IT is in the ideal position to proactively drive successful experiences through measuring and tracking adoption and usage of applications across devices. Instead of reacting to historical data, IT has the ability to access true insights from data which provide the ability to spot trends, identify gaps in experience and security, and make recommendations for change.
5. Automate to Succeed at Any Scale: Once you have visibility into when and how your users are working you can automate policies to increase security, improve user experience, and optimize resources. To handle the massive scale and complexity of a digital workspace, automation is critical for onboarding, deploying apps, serving up patches and updates, as well as automating remediation steps for policy compliance based on intelligence. You need be proactive in your security instead of reacting to malicious threats after the fact. A proactive approach helps to eliminate the need for users to generate tickets requiring IT administrators to take manual action – music to IT admin’s ears! Automation keeps operational costs low and removes inconsistencies across devices.
Do not be mistaken, while the answer for how to get to the nirvana of delivering a digital workspace is simple in theory, achieving each requirement is not! The ultimate goal is to enable the most productivity with the least amount of risk for employees. The secret is to focus on your most important asset, the employee, keeping them at the center and striving towards each of these five critical requirements.
Many thanks to my colleague Sachin Sharma for for publishing the original article here.