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New Workspaces for New Worlds of Collaboration

- November 6, 2012 - 4 Comments

I recently wrote about “Collaborating with the New Generation” after being enlightened by a panel discussion with a group of Millennials. In the theme of looking forward and new generations, Forrester Consulting completed an in-depth online survey about the next-generation workspace with 325 senior-level IT decision makers in the United States, Europe, and China.

Not surprisingly, the workspace is evolving in much the same ways employee habits are. As employees look for more flexibility in devices and where they work, enterprises are implementing mobility, collaboration, virtualization, and security solutions that align to these needs. What does it mean to you?

Answering the Question, Why Mobility? As technology and business have come together in networked business models, the world has become increasingly smaller with the ever-diminishing relevance of distance. Customers can be anywhere and employees can be anywhere. And they don’t tend to sit still very well. The single desktop brick and monitor in the office has been supplanted by a multiple device mix of laptops, smartphones, and tablets that require accessibility and security outside the four walls of an office building.

Addressing Mobility If your employees are mobile and your customers are mobile and everyone has a different device –- or several of them –- your systems need new flexibility to accommodate the information and security needs of those people and their devices. The ideas of the consumer world have landed in the workplace –- choice of devices, easy to use applications, interaction between devices.

IT no longer has control over what devices people use within an organization, let alone partners, customers, and suppliers out there in the real world: 47% of respondents identify “increased device and compliance risk” as driving their workplace strategies.

Bringing in Desktop Virtualization To keep up employee productivity as mobility and choice carve a larger part into the workplace, organizations have to maintain costs while delivering all the information and services these people need. This means prioritizing in mobility, collaboration, and virtualization technologies based on three predictions for the near future:

  • Multiple device strategies will dominate.
  • Desktop virtualization will address complexities of BYOD
  • Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SAAS) solutions will address complexities of BYOD.

Organizations are planning according to these predictions: 77% of firms surveyed have prioritized desktop virtualization as a key priority, 58% cite BYOD as a driving force of their virtualization projects, and 58% plan to adopt or expand their use of cloud-based telecom and mobile services.

Structuring for Mobility Addressing these challenges at an operational strategy level requires input from different groups within and external to an organization. While 63% of organizations in the survey point to IT as having accountability for BYOD policies, while less technical and business roles contribute to setting BYOD policy, including sales and marketing. Fully 80% of surveyed companies require employees to sign an agreement to abide by the company’s documented BYOD policy.

Securing the Mobile Workforce Whether the device is company-owned or employee-owned, device and application security are of paramount concern and the biggest challenges in supporting BYOD. In the survey, 68% of respondents said they use the virtual workspace to ensure the security of data and intellectual property.

Redefining Workspaces Strategies that depend upon workspace virtualization look to data centers to securely house data and applications. But the benefits are not just in support of mobility, they also provide benefits including reduced management overhead, seamless roaming, consistent application access from any device, and data protection. When it comes down to numbers 51% of those surveyed reported lowering IT costs, 44% increased worker productivity, and 40% claimed improved collaboration and agility.

All of these elements bring us to the question of “what do we do?” If everything is changing so quickly, how do we keep up? The report provides some solid recommendations, but the common thread is this: Don’t wait. Anticipate, prepare, and start now (if you haven’t yet).



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  1. Hi Kim, Great post on the next-gen workspace ? Whats your take on consumption of the applications and follow-me data in the context of the workspace ? Regds Vinay

    • Vinay ~ Thanks for the feedback. As the consumer world view of having the information you want on the device you want it -- wherever you happen to be -- continues to grow, I think the workplace is well on its way in that direction. Today it's mostly e-mail and calendars, but I think that's just the appetizer plate. Whether data and applications live in public or private clouds, virtual desktops, or elsewhere, people will want and expect access to all the same tools and functionality they have "at their desks" wherever, on whatever, and whenever. And if that means I'm more able to access the information I need to solve a customer problem quickly or weigh in on a business decision, all the better. ~Kim

  2. Does this prove the point that the world is flat, after all? I think that many are still having a hard time transitioning to the BYOD culture, because of security concerns and the likes. Are we seeing the evolution of a new workplace soon to unfold in HD? It's already happening in a global scale and work is no longer defined by your office address; rather, it's where you choose to work.

  3. Am an E-Commerce student of the university of Ghana and this topic is of great interest to me. E commerce is beginning to gain grounds in sub- saharan Africa and will be keen on how this developments will roll out, particularly what their impact will be on businesses run in Africa.