Tag Archive | Workplace

Driving Enterprise Mobility

We recently hosted a number of our partners and customers at our “Driving Enterprise Mobility” events in Manchester and London. The feedback and dialogue at these events was excellent as we explored a number of topics and challenges in how to embrace the mobility trend that we hear so much about in the market. This blog summarises the key messages from the events, and we hope it inspires you to attend some of our future events.

As you will be aware, Computacenter has recently changed our strapline from “Services and Solutions” to “Enabling Users”. With that our emphasis on providing the best service and solution to users, and viewing the world through their eyes in everything we do has been reinforced. Our overall strategy is influenced by what is known as the “SMAC stack” – the trends of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud which dominate the IT agenda. Mobile is clearly a central aspect of our strategy and we shared an update on our own internal mobile initiative which has been running since early 2014, and we have called our “Group Mobile Engine”.

Customers face a number of challenges and a raft of competing priorities, perhaps more so than ever with the sheer pace of change in the market and the growing expectations and demands of their user base. We recognise a number of different challenges that organisations face across three main pillars:

  • Market – this addresses the volatility, uncertainty, innovation and change that is occurring in our market place, that we need to understand and plan a response to
  • Operational – the need to “keep the lights on”. Notwithstanding the opportunity that innovation and new technology provides, the need to manage cost, efficiency and improve the delivery of core IT services is the core need
  • Users – Managing and catering to the needs of a more expectant user base, both in terms of Generation Y and Z, but also the more fundamental impacts of consumerisation and a drive towards the latest technology and the simplest user experience.

Much focus around mobility is centred on smartphone and tablet technology, but with a number of our key partners supporting the events we were able to provide a showcase of the latest technology from these manufacturers. From traditional laptops through to ultra-mobile and hybrid devices, the range of End-User hardware technology and innovation, and the opportunities this presents to meet modern work styles is immense.

With that in mind we established our “Right Advice to Right Device” approach of Workstyle analysis, where we seek to understand and analyse the varied user profiles within an organisation and align the appropriate solution to that need. Important to note here is that this is not solely about the device technology, but the ability to support and manage the device in accordance with factors such as data security, as well as the applications and services that the user requires, so that the device compliments and supports the nature of their work.

Recognising the various workstyles that exist in the modern world, the requirement and demands to cater for multiple ownership models such as BYOD or COPE (Corporately Owned Personally Enabled), and the plethora of devices that are available – both in terms of hardware varieties and Operating Systems with the mobile shift in full force presents for a complex model. Our “Contemporary Workplace” approach pictured below demonstrates how we go about helping organisations navigate through this complexity and work towards a future state with the flexibility to accommodate the diversity which is now the key aspect of the modern workplace environment.

CCCW

At the event, we were supported by Citrix and Intel who are key partners. Each explained the effect that mobility is having on their businesses and solutions and how they are addressing these needs through their own offerings and strategy.

The events provided an overview of what we see in the market, and what we are doing through our own mobility project and initiatives. Mobility is clearly a very broad topic which extends from changing the technology in an individual users hand all the way to full Workplace Enablement and Transformation initiatives. The latter seeks to redefine the whole working environment and context to cater for future ways of working – including mobility, flexible working, collaboration and office rationalisation and re-design.

As it stands we are very close to some key milestones relating to our own mobility project which was of great interest to the attendees, many of whom are also seeking to define their own mobile strategy and understand how ‘Going Mobile’ can provide business value, efficiency, better user satisfaction and increased market opportunity in their own markets.

Workplace IT predictions for 2014

computer-shopper-crystal-ball

Well it’s that time of the year and no well-meaning blog would be complete without some predictions for the coming year. I canvassed some of my team for their views so that we can look back next year and see if they have potential parallel careers as fortune tellers!

First up is Paul who thinks we will see lots of continued uncertainty in the Mobile OS market, with a surprising upswing in Windows Phone and fight back by Blackberry to maintain adoption in Enterprise – that won’t be matched in the consumer world.  Somewhat polar to market commentary and headlines – so something to keep an eye on!

Next up is Pete who believes SSD (Solid State Disk) will become standard, across all traditional PC client devices. The cost difference for spindle and solid state has reached such a small difference that the performance benefits and reduced failure rates will outweigh this small price difference. Hmmm, could be good news for Samsung and Kingston!

Pete also thinks we’ll see the death of the docking station (again 🙂 ) – as we move towards more choice and more mobile devices, the desire and ability for a consistent docking experience will be surpassed by wireless peripherals and connected screens.

Next one up from the team is not necessarily good news for the industry and somewhat inevitable in the climate but there is the expectation that at least one major ‘pure play’ reseller (read no services division) will either go under or get swallowed up in 2014.

David in Services also suggests that we might see a short-fall in available UK resources to tackle the backlog of Enterprise Windows XP users that still haven’t migrated – caused by the product formally going ‘end of life’ in April 2014. Not sure if this is a prediction or wishful thinking!!

Finally, we move to Tina and Software. First prediction is that we will see Big Data move into the mainstream as people stop talking about it and start to use information to underpin their business models. Whilst 2014 will also be the year that we see the number of software vendors used within Enterprise estates increase as a result of the users opting for smaller ‘app like’ line-of- business tools and not the over specified and under-utilised tools they have today.

Personally, I think that we will continue to be ‘S.M.A.C.ked’ (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) as a major theme and as the “nexus of forces” continues to empower users through technology and information it will make 2014 disruptive and stimulating for everybody involved in Workplace IT.

So there you have it, down in black and white for judgement next year. I’d be really interested to hear your own predictions for the coming year (related to Workplace IT of course!)?

I hope you have a great Christmas break, and see you all in 2014!

The Future of Work

Defining the Future of Work

The premise of the recent Ovum Future of Work Summit, sponsored by Computacenter and Microsoft, was that the ways in which businesses work today is being fundamentally changed by mobile and social technology.

Over the course of the day presenters from a variety of organisations discussed how technology is redefining roles in organisations and enterprise social networks. If adopted effectively it can enable organisations to be agile, outcome-focused and more efficient, while at the same time increasing employee satisfaction, backed by new opportunities for performance analytics

There were 3 key themes that ran through the discussion topics

  • The Multi-Screen Workplace
  • Mobility
  • Social Enterprise

 The Multi-Screen Workplace

Users are no longer using a single (fixed) device on which they conduct their work, and, in common with a range of other research in the area, people are increasingly time/work-slicing across a range of different device types from laptops, tablets and smartphones and in various locations.  This is a blending of the workstyles with “work-life balance” requiring the provision of the right device for each user scenario.

The proliferation of tablets and other mobile devices are no doubt influencing this trend, as is the consumarisation of IT and the changing expectation of the new workforce entering the market (Gen Y). 

The general sentiment was the rate of change in the market is increasing  and that the consumerisation influence has led to penetration of Microsoft’s traditional enterprise dominance, with Apple and to a lesser extent Android obtaining Enterprise endorsement.

 Mobility

A portion of the event content  focussed on the technical solutions and tools that enable new mobile technologies to enter the enterprise environment, and the needs and solutions for appropriate control of these devices in the enterprise.

Clearly there are a range of form factors available but more importantly are the procurement models (BYoD vs CYoD vs COPE) and Platform types (Android, Apple etc) that are driving the need for a number of solutions. These could include MDM, MAM, MCM, Containerisation and Virtualisation – essentially these solutions can be attributed to the particular ownership model that is in play, or the range of controls that available. 

Beyond the technical controls (toolset) aspect, it was generally noted that there is a market maturity occurring, with organisations having typically deployed a tactical solution to resolve a C-Level BYO problem, but the vendors are quickly evolving up the stack into Application and Content Management solutions.  The major problem highlighted was how to resolve the “Corporate Dropbox” issue and that the successful vendors in this market will be those that view ECM as a central pillar of their strategy moving forwards.

Social Enterprise

There is a consensus that enterprise social/collaboration is a rapidly evolving area, borne out of a significant changing of the relationships between employees and IT departments – again manifested through the consumerisation trend.  There was a sense of the social/collaboration tools providing a real alternative to the email obsession, as well as more “human centred needs” of collaboration.

However, it is recognised that “social” solutions are challenging to implement and get right, for a number of reasons – they can be counter intuitive to some organisation cultures, supporting the views about the necessary sponsorship and focus to get it delivered, but when done and done correctly can deliver significant efficiency, value and engagement back into the business.

In a nutshell

  • Emerging trend of workslicing mean people are using multiple devices to work in new ways and at times that are new to enterprise
  • Drivers for major transition around mobility and introduction of consumer technology are Generation Y employees
  • There is a general sense amongst employees that they are “working with yesterday’s tools”
  • Enterprise IT is “normalising” with new solutions eroding Microsoft’s original dominance
  • 56.8% of FTE’s use their personal device to access corporate data (Ovum BYOD Study 2013)
  • The multiscreen workplace encompasses a range of behaviours/models including BYoD, CYoD, COPE – there yet to be consensus on which option is best/right
  • “Mobile First” is the ethos that companies must live by and adopt moving forwards. 
  • “Mobile First” will have same level of impact in Enterprise as the introduction of the internet
  • Development of a  new genre of collaboration software and tools, but there is a challenge in  recognising value and use cases for social tools in enterprise

 The rate of change in workplace technologies will not abate, with consumerisation and the demands of Gen Y employees entering the workforce, the pressures to evolve will continue. But as organisation and the nature of the work we do evolves the contemporary workplace needs to be on that can support today’s needs, whilst being agile enough to accommodate future strategies, working practices and technologies.

 

 

Enterprise Mobility – Haven’t we always been ‘Mobile’?

Industry surveys, analyst commentary, our client and partner conversations all suggest that “Mobility” is the hottest concept in enterprise IT, possibly surpassing “cloud” which has dominated the IT agenda in recent years.  But haven’t we always been mobile?

We may be in danger of speaking about ‘Mobility’ as if its a new concept even though we’ve had mobile work styles and solutions for at least the past 20 years!  What is changing, and what we need to focus on is how technology, user demands and innovation are driving solutions that in turn drive a whole new value proposition around mobility and its application potential across a much broader area.  In doing so, we need to reset our definition of “Enterprise Mobility”

Our Mobile Journey

A mobile worker was once a “road warrior”, based from the company car, armed with only a work diary they would conduct the majority of their working week away from the office – meeting clients, taking orders and writing up notes that they would then have to process on their return  to the office and “got connected”.  This was how you achieved customer intimacy, but with glaring inefficiencies and challenges that seem so alien to us now.

True, IT mobility started in the laptop era. As hardware became more cost effective businesses could unshackle key users from a fixed office location.  Dial up RAS was the first mobile solution, as long as you were near a telephone line!  It was better, but still not efficient or flexible.  With the emergence of broadband technology and WiFi, mobile working joined the mainstream and with the prevalence of mobile phones users could be connected and contactable.  Suddenly users became mobile, productive and contactable!  The really important people were also given a Blackberry, the epitome of mobility.  

It would be difficult to say that we weren’t mobile, albeit in the early days it could be an inefficient and frustrating experience

Consumerisation: Redefining Mobility

The mobile workforce was contented, technology was enhancing and connectivity was improving as we moved into the 3G area.  Then came an explosion of consumer led technology – devices and cloud services. This moved “mobility” to the next level, and before we knew it, this technology found its way into the corporate world.

Device platforms and form factors changed, but more importantly the technology was  much simpler to operate and fashionable, and with strong connectivity it all started to come together:

We can work anywhere, on any device, and at any time

 The only lingering problem was that this was starting to occur under the radar; users were driving this trend rather than the IT department.  The term “shadow IT” was coined to define the trend, and is now explains the significant challenges facing the IT department.

Challenges and the Future

 The future mobile world is a complex mix of all of the things we’ve discussed – devices, connectivity, services, applications and data.  We want to be able to work from multiple device types, at any time, in any location and for it to be consistent and at/for our convenience.  The nature of work has also changed significantly, competition in the market, globalisation and the demands it places on employees and the strive for home/life balance and key examples where we as users have had to look towards new technology to help us “keep up” and achieve the right balance

 The demands are unprecedented, and require we architect and think about mobility in a whole new way:

  • Abstract the user and their services from the devices that they use
  • To support a much broader range of device platforms and form factors
  • Mobilise applications and data content
  • Govern, manage and secure the services to protect the company
  • Put the user needs and experience at the forefront of the design

 Those are the guiding principles by which we’re developing our Mobility and Workplace services; Mobility isn’t new, but the challenges and opportunities it now offers businesses are bigger than ever before.

No place to hide if you know what to look for

There is nothing like a good story in the IT world to generate a flurry of online chatter. In recent time weeks the “homeworking ban” proposed by a well known technology company has risen to the top of the corporate discussion agenda.

But this blog is not about the ban as such, but new information about additional insight that validated or supported the merit of “withdrawal of work from home privileges”. It is rumoured that information gained from vpn logs (that record remote connections) highlighted a reduced use of the vpn platform, thus indicating little use of remote connectivity to the corporate network.

If we cast our minds back, IT logs were considered by many to deliver more hassle than value. Rarely was anything of use found within, but they still were key elements to be stored securely and reliably, as part of the backup regime. It’s true, database vendors have always utilised logs to good effect to aid with transaction integrity and recovery, but for the rest of the IT community, logs equalled hassle…

But in the case of the use of log data for evidence to support the “homeworking ban” or the forensic use of log information for analysis after a major security breach, and worse still the use of log information unbeknown to us for malicious intent to launch a security attack – these examples indicate there was always “gold in the hills” but few knew where to look.

System logs pretty much exist for all elements within IT systems, software, hardware, process, you name it, everything has one and often many logs that hold a treasure trove of insight for those clear on how to and what to look for. SIEM (security information and event management) platforms, deemed by many as the perfect tool to reactively and proactively interrogate log data and turn it into true business insight, are moving from desirable (unless PCI compliance forces their use) to mandatory corporate information systems. SIEM solutions are ideal for taking often meaningless IT system data and presenting correlated, relevant business insight.

Many of us lack the time to look in system logs, nor understand what to look for (and equally what to do when we find what we are looking for), so the deployment of a market leading SIEM solution will certainly provide all of the gain with none of the pain (the configuration and deployment headaches of old are long gone).

The moral of this blog, don’t presume because you may not know how or where to look, that the information doesn’t exist. You just need to know what you are looking for (and hope someone skilled isn’t looking before you find it).

Until next time.

Colin W

Get modern stay modern

It has been a few weeks since I last posted but with holidays, the odd global sporting event and growing schedule of product releases – it has been anything but dull!

This week, during a meeting with a major global media and broadcasting organisation I was asked the question “what did we mean by the Journey to a Contemporary Workplace?”  To be fair, we have been using the branding and tag line for nearly a year now and it was the first time that I had been posed the question by one of our clients!  My answer went something along the lines of “we know that the Workplace has become a driver for broader infrastructure change and with the perenial organisational challenge of increasing performance and reducing costs – our solutions are targetted at helping you to get modern and stay modern”.  Now whilst this answer didn’t exactly explain what the outcome looked like for this particular client from the outset – but the time we had worked through each of the 5 core elements listed below, we had a much better understading of where they are today and where they needed to get to!

  1. OS & Applications
  2. VDI & Devices
  3. Consumerisation
  4. Mobile & Remote Working
  5. Collaboration

If you’d like a little closer look at the these elements yourself – feel free to click the link to our free online brochure

After reflecting on the meeting druing the journey home, I was struck with just how many new product launches and features were due in the coming weeks alone (some I couldn’t mention due to NDA) and how when repeating this session in just a month’s time there would a whole raft of new or improved options to availble to help with the journey. Starting with the release of the iPhone 5 today (don’t mention the maps!) we have back to back conferences VMWorld and Citrix Synergy  in Barcelona mid October culminating in the release of Microsoft’s Windows 8 official launch at the end of October. The good news is that we have teams of people at Computacenter working with the technologies, attending and presenting at the conferences and building capabilities to help our clients get the best from these investments – so I’ll be sure to blog any intesting updates and viewpoints as the next few weeks progress. In the meantime, if we can help you with your particular journey right now – you can contact us at workplace@computacenter.com

To BYOD or to BYOD – “Thats now the question”

BYOD (Bring your own device) is a business outcome that has taken the enterprise IT world by storm.  The marketeers have neatly positioned the term to collate the myriad of products and services available to allow a “non IT department owned and managed device” to connect to the corporate environment effectively, securely and reliably. For quite a while the BYOD was term was aligned with forward thinking, dynamic organizations keen to attract and retain generation Z employees and accommodate their “non standard” computing needs. Numerous articles and statistics presented quite a disruptive viewpoint that “tomorrow’s generation” would vote with their feet and avoid “old school” organizations with restrictive end user IT devices & policies. But the story has changed quite dramatically in the last twelve months with the need for “flexible end user device” policies now a major topic for most organizations. BYOD does not describe a product or even a solution but the end state desired by either the organization or the end user. With that in mind as we accelerate through the “tablet” era and for some the “post pc era (somewhat premature for me)”, end users are not only demanding the use of an end point device of their choice (or close to it), they are increasingly circumventing often restrictive IT polices to achieve it for themselves. 

A quick scan of the web will highlight many stories chronicled from some of the world’s largest organizations that outline the extraordinarily high number of “stealth” or non company issue Smartphone’s, tablets or laptops found connected within their own environments after a standard audit.  With so many “non company issue” end user devices now fundamental to the professional outcome delivered by company employees or end users, a wholesale shutdown is no longer an option – instead a new way that educates and embraces the end user plus delivers a means that the organization can become “end user centric” from a device perspective whilst still retaining control.  The plethora of solutions marketed to deliver BYOD outcomes help with the challenge but no one “silver bullet” exists to solve the problem. BYOD interfaces many elements of an organization not least the people (attitudes, device choice, etc), the devices themselves, capital expenditure costs, operational support costs, applications and so on.  Seeking a quick fix to resolve BYOD issues is likely to be costly in the long run, so careful planning and leveraging specialist insight will deliver immense value.

As the UK’s leading workplace transformation partner, Computacenter possesses a view second to none of the impact of new IT end point device form factors and operational approaches within the corporate environment.  Connectivity and security underpin BYOD success and the Computacenter services portfolio includes solutions from industry leaders including Good Technology, Mobileiron, McAfee, HP, Symantec, Juniper to name a few. More recently the Computacenter networking and security team achieved the lucrative Cisco ISE ATP accreditation to deliver the highly regarded Cisco context aware, access, accounting, authorization platform within enteprise organisations.

BYOD really can deliver a win win for smart organizations. With solutions such a Cisco ISE and companion products, organizations can successfully enable BYOD from a connectivity perspective whilst regaining visibility and control.  Compare that to a pre BYOD environment where end users may be activity working to circumvent IT policy and control and with it creating an ever greater security risk than the original policy strived to prevent.

Like it or not for many organizations, BYOD isn’t if, or when, it’s now.

Until next time.

Colin W

Twitter: colinwccuk