Within many IT organizations, system admins and managers have always focused fairly low in the software stack, dealing with the minutiae of delivering individual services or apps to each user. This low-level focus has been driven by the design of many legacy software products, which prioritize creating individual implementations of complex software over leveraging standardization and automation. In digital workspaces, however, the huge number of unique devices and employees makes working at low levels of the stack especially resource-intensive. Delivering high-value services or game-breaking and transformational apps becomes quite difficult, as IT resources are being overloaded with the details.
If IT teams instead focused on the top of the stack, they could be more engaged with projects that deliver real value to end users. Moving the emphasis and resources to the top of the stack allows IT to become a partner with users and to more clearly understand the services and apps that will make a difference and support digital transformation. Adopting modern digital workspace solutions will enable moving the focus to the top of the stack.
To make this transition, IT teams must deploy best-in-class digital workspace solutions designed to incorporate and enable much higher levels of automation and standardization. Transformational digital workspace solutions utilize high levels of automation, highly integrated designs, policy-driven activities, and substantial AI and machine learning to eliminate many of the admin tasks IT was required to perform in the past. This is a substantial move beyond pure endpoint management. The new design point is to provide a highly automated platform that provides fully integrated functionality across all applications. Simply put, IT needs a platform that makes it easy to deliver secure access to any app on any device.
This modern digital workspace platform must deliver management tools and functionality that allow IT teams to move away from treating users, devices, networks, applications, and security as disparate, unconnected elements. The platform must not only up-level the management of these functions, but also provide an integrated approach to deploying, managing, and updating them. From a design perspective, the one thing IT professionals must demand from a next-generation digital workspace solution is that it deliver secure, integrated functionality driven by policy and automation. Only when IT teams are supported by technology built with this level of automation and platform breadth is change possible. Such functionality eliminates the need to focus on the very low levels of the stack, allowing IT organizations to deliver empowering solutions that make them champions of the business.
Specifically, there are certain activities that must be automated, because they tend to be the ones that suck up the most IT resources. Security is a prime example of a resource-intensive IT task. A platform that can apply consistent security policies automatically for each user and all of their devices is the first step toward freeing up resources. Automating patching and updating processes is also a huge time-saver. Automation must also extend to user management, allowing users and their permissions/rights to be consistently used across all apps and services.
A next-generation digital workspace must also be a comprehensive platform that supports all types of applications and services. Treating web apps differently from cloud services and in isolation from legacy apps creates chaos. At a minimum, it is critical that the platform integrate SaaS applications and services, web applications, content collaboration and legacy apps. Further, all of these apps and services must be delivered within a common unified endpoint management tool. Without this level of integration, IT teams may move beyond managing individual endpoints but still face the complexity of trying to holistically manage a diverse set of applications―essentially trading one problem for another.
Once an effective digital workspace platform has been deployed, IT’s interaction with the user community can be enhanced. Users can now propose new apps or services for inclusion in the workspace with a much higher expectation that the new capabilities will be quickly delivered. With the ability to securely integrate apps in the digital workspace from virtually anywhere, IT no longer has to go through a lengthy process for supporting the apps. Instead, once an app is verified, it can become part of a single consistent user interface.
Another benefit and means of empowering users is to support application choice. With this new technology, IT no longer needs to choose between multiple versions of similar apps. For example, there are many different collaboration apps that appeal to different job categories. Marketing folks might like Slack, for instance, while developers prefer HipChat. With legacy approaches, IT is forced to limit options or choose just one because each app creates its own tasks and management demands. That is no longer a problem. Users get more choice, and IT becomes an enabler, not an arbitrator.
Removing the need to micromanage application delivery provides huge benefits to everyone in the organization. IT eliminates low-value, resource-intensive tasks, and new ideas from employees can be easily implemented. This enhances the ability of the organization to transform itself by empowering its users. When the digital workspace becomes an enabler of new ideas, IT and everybody else wins.