We’re already pretty much through January and with the volume of activity in the first month alone, we can be in no doubt that 2018 is going to be a pivotal year for the Digital Workplace.
There are a number of themes and considerations that I’m expecting to be highly prevalent this year, so I wanted to share my thoughts on them with you.
The Digital Workplace is a lot more than just Windows 10, and the client environment clearly has other key platforms. However Windows 10 IS the most topical subject in the End User market today. From the conversations I’ve had throughout the past 12 months with customers and partners, it is clear that “the market” is not where it needs to be from a deployment and adoption perspective.
I hope you won’t need reminding that there are less than 24 months before Windows 7 goes out of support by Microsoft and all enterprises need to have moved into Windows 10 (or alternate platform) to avoid security and compliance issues. Also key to consider that from a User Experience perspective the vast majority of enterprise users are using an Operating System released in 2009 (Windows 7). The world has changed dramatically since then, as too has the IT landscape, user demands and security landscape!
Key to a Digital Workplace is a modern platform that is engaging to users, secure, performant and reliable. For very large organisations, the time to act is now. You may not realise but if you’re not already well progressed in your Windows 10 programme, you’re on the critical path towards January 2020 and a potentially significant issue. Not least you are compromising your wider Digital Workplace ambitions. We can help and are helping many organisations with this today!
The next area that needs attention is the “User Experience” being offered to users. Whilst quite nebulous, User Experience transcends everything from the devices and technologies to the ‘workspace’ environments (i.e. physical environments) and the engagement and business processes that users need to follow. We represent all of these aspects and the importance of a positive user experience throughout them through our unique Digital Workplace Vision.
We have been observing for several years a degree of “user fatigue” within the workplace. Whether it’s failing to report troublesome issues with their IT equipment, to not exploiting technical capabilities that are being provided such as mobile devices or collaboration tools, the user experience of Enterprise IT is definitely something that needs to be addressed and enhanced.
We still talk of a “Consumer like experience” for the Digital Workplace, yet our consumer (Home) experiences continue to run ahead of the enterprise solutions. Whether it’s in the identification and selection of appropriate solutions, or ensuring the adoption of transformational technologies in 2018 we need to ensure we are driving the benefits of these investments to enhance the effectiveness and engagement of our users.
Embracing Diversity and Choice
The fundamental challenge of building a Digital Workplace, that is the diversity and choices that are available to you. Indeed, often the Digital Workplace lacks a specific definition. I met two customers this week, both of whom had wildly different definitions of what a Digital Workplace meant to them. Neither was wrong, as it was their needs they were expressing.
One of the key areas we’ve helped our customers with is in setting a defined vision for the Digital Workplace that encompasses everything we see as relevant to its scope, from ‘Workspaces’ through to Technology and Supporting Services. With our established blueprints and solutions we’ve been able to guide our customers into focusing on key areas, understanding maturity and dependencies and building relevant programmes for change.
With the rate of change in this market place, the proliferation of tools from established and new vendors, establishing a vision and a path for delivering your Digital Workplace should be a key priority for early 2018 if you do not already have it. We’re helping lots of customers do this and can help you too
Hopefully this helps give you some ideas as to what to focus on in 2018. Knowingly or not, most organisations are moving towards a Digital Workplace, but there are a number of significant events and some key topics to cover as part of that, and so 2018 is a key year to ensure you’ve establishing a core ‘fabric’ that will underpin its success.
I remember clearly the day it seemed that VMworld ‘jumped the shark‘ (follow the link if you’re too young to get the reference). It was 2014 and Pat Gelsinger (VMware CEO) was giving his keynote speech. Behind him the enormous screens were repeatedly displaying the words ‘Brave’ and ‘Fluid’. Where was the technology? Where was the cool stuff? Thinking back though, maybe I was wrong to be so scathing.
It’s certainly true, that the pace at which technology is developing means it is no longer an obstacle to addressing most business problems. The challenge now, is how we position it, how we apply it, how we explain its value to people and how we help them get the most out of it. Maybe there was something in it after all. I was right about Evo:Rail though, Pat.
As my colleague, Paul Bray wrote in ‘The Shifting Role of IT in the Digital Workplace’, the IT department is contending with the move from an environment designed for stability to one designed for agility (or, in other words, fluidity). This is as much a cultural change for the people who have spent their careers focused on managing the pace of change and being risk adverse, as it is for the users having to adopt it. It is fair to say though, that not all users or businesses are that demanding of technology. It’s in these situations that IT staff need to perform a role that they are often not confident in doing or able to do effectively. They need to engage with the business (gasp!) They need to be able to translate business requirements into technology solutions and they need to communicate how those solutions can be measured against business metrics to show their value. IT can then have an input into the business case, without owning it.
Here’s an example – Business A has identified that it takes 60 days for sales staff to be ready for their first customer engagement and feels this is losing them the competitive edge. IT identifies that new starters have to be trained on 12 different systems. Booking and completing these courses takes valuable time and effort. In consolidating those 12 systems the business can provide a better user experience, reduce support costs and enable new sales staff to be productive much more quickly. The costs of the software that will do this can then be directly related to the increased speed at which new starters are out selling and being productive, and so the business case is created. In this way IT proves its value to the business and fights off the competition that often comes from disgruntled employees with a credit card.
Here’s another example that’s close to my heart. It’s time to roll out Windows 10. There’s no point burying your head in the sand, you’ve got till 14 January 2020 to get off Windows 7 (like you didn’t know). On its own it’s hard to push the benefits – better security, device support, blah, blah, blah… Windows 10 is just a platform for you to build your Digital Transformation on. Talk to the business, talk to the users. How would they like to work? How is the IT they currently use preventing them from doing that? What is the business plan for the next five years? How can the solutions you want to deploy support that? Or at the very least not be a hindrance to it. Then when you’ve introduced those solutions you will need to constantly innovate and measure their uptake as well as understanding what’s worked well and what hasn’t. In this way the ‘Evergreen’ nature of Windows 10 does help. The new normal is going to be constant change.
So yes, IT, you have to be ‘brave’ and you have to be ‘fluid’. You have to accept that the world is changing fast and there are new skills that have to be learnt in order to survive. The pace of that change brings with it a fluidity that needs to be managed and its benefits explained. What’s the alternative? As we see the continuing drive from vendors to consume everything as a service, IT is under real pressure to show its value, to be defined not as cost centre but as an innovator and enabler in the Digital World. That starts with being able to identify business needs and then recommend solutions for them. Telling the CxO that you’d like to roll out a new product so that users can search for things more easily is not explaining its value. IT needs to understand the language of business, support the organisation’s aspirations and provide metrics to show success.
The future of internal IT is becoming less and less technical as a result of this. Those that don’t embrace this and fail to see the importance of the ‘productisation’ of IT risk becoming irrelevant to the very businesses they support.
I’m Isobel or Issie for short, and I would like to welcome you to the Christmas edition of the Projects Practice Graduate blog. Thank you to Tom for running through the many things we have learned over the past month and for thanking everyone that has hosted us. In this edition I will take you through some of our most recent tours, rotations and Christmas parties.
Before I get into what we have been up to these past weeks, here is a little bit about me; I am originally from the Isle of Man but have now moved to the big vibrant city of London. Which as you can imagine was a bit of a culture shock, causing me and the Sat Nav to become joined at the hip. I graduated this year with a 1st class honours in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University and jumped straight into the graduate scheme here at Computacenter.
Whilst our time here at Computacenter has been short, I think all the Grads would agree that we have learnt an exceptional amount, not only about projects but about the Computacenter values and the many different teams involved in delivering a great service for our customers. I would like to thank all the teams we have met for taking the time to speak to us and for all the help and support that has been offered along the way. In particular I would like to give a little shout out to our buddies from all of the Grads, for really going the extra mile to make us feel welcome and preparing us for starting on an account in February. Thanks Ben Rodney!
Over the past couple of weeks we have been very busy, starting off with the RDC tour; where we learnt about the different services RDC can provide us and our customers and saw in action the capabilities of the giant shredder prepared to securely destroy data and devices. A big thank you to Jodie for hosting us. In this same week, we also had the opportunity to tour the London datacentre where we learned the extreme examples of good and bad cabling. Along with getting an insight into what our datacentres can provide our customers in terms of security and maintenance. If you get the chance I would strongly recommend visiting, thank you Chris for showing us round.
A major highlight for all the Grads was the Computacenter Christmas party at Willows Farm, it was bigger and better than any of us could have imagined and it was a lot of fun catching up with some of the people we met whilst on our rotations! For those of you that couldn’t make it, the night was filled with giant dancing skeletons, dancers, cocktails and casinos. To the 2016 Grads, James and I won on the bumper cars!
The final rotation of 2017, a personal favourite of mine, was the opportunity for us to fly out to Barcelona to meet the International team. It was a brilliant insight into the international capability that Computacenter has and the vital role international plays in its growth. It was a great experience meeting some of our Barcelona colleagues and seeing how our values align so well across the wider organization. It also gave Alex and I, a chance to practice the Spanish we had been learning in preparation for the trip. Gracias Mark Peter, Ben Lawton y Computacenter Barcelona, fue excelente! (Thank you Mark Peter, Ben Lawton and Computacenter Barcelona, it was excellent!)
So as we prepare for the challenges of the New Year and reflect over the lessons and experiences of 2017, we can look to how we can improve in the future. For me the way I start off is by thinking about my new year’s resolutions and particularly since starting at Computacenter, how I can improve on our values, not only in working life but also in my personal. Although I will be working on all of them, in particular I will be focusing on ‘Inspiring Success’ within Computacenter and recruitment …… What will you choose?
Thank you very much for reading my first blog post, I hope you enjoyed it. The next update will be brought to you by Tom Darwin.
Happy Holidays everyone and a Happy New Year!