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The Well-Trod Path From Application Virtualization to People-Centric Digital Workspaces

One of the most fundamental changes occurring with digital systems is the movement from optimizing software, servers, and IT infrastructure to optimizing the efforts of employees and users of key systems. Higher productivity and better results are obtained when employees are engaged and their work experience is maximized. One aspect of IT where this change is critical to success is the digital workspace.

The digital workspace is the latest step on the evolutionary chain that started with application virtualization. Now this evolution is moving beyond leveraging infrastructure. A modern solution makes the user the focal point of the design and deployment. This people-centric approach requires thinking about next-generation digital workspaces differently. It is necessary to think about the employee experience as one of the most important drivers of the digital workspace.

Successful IT organizations must move their focus beyond the IT stuff (security, app management, storage, etc.) to the work processes of the users. That means ensuring that the digital workspace focuses on how users behave and what actions and tasks must be supported, and making sure that the technology enhances daily work process, rather than getting in the way.

A large part of this new trend toward people-centric design involves delivering a digital workspace that enhances collaboration and joint work. Unlike the application virtualization phase, where the focus was on individuals, their applications, or their desktops, the digital workspace must equally focus on the group. This requires much improved data delivery and access functionality designed to empower the whole team, not just individual users. Enabling collaboration with more than just the basics is now the requirement.

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With the new emphasis on collaboration, IT needs to make sure that files, documents, and data are available in all locations, at all times, to all team members—and that requires the most modern technology. With legacy solutions, files might be stored on personal computers, on servers or in the cloud. With more collaboration, that isn’t viable. This is why new “universal search” capability is critically important. Files can be searched across multiple services and content repositories so employees have access to right documents and files at the right time.

A team that is collaborating can’t afford to be stymied because only one person knows where needed files are located. If that person isn’t available, the team will burn up a lot of time searching multiple locations and coming up empty. New systems for the digital workspace have to be smarter and keep information better organized. People-centric digital workspaces will utilize a central repository for key files and information that is uniformly accessible by all team members, and simplifies retrieving information.

The second facet of this evolution is that new systems will ensure that not only is the data available, but the appropriate apps are as well. Apps and data go together like milk and cookies. Unlike early application virtualization solutions that focused on delivering only specific IT-provided applications, the modern digital workspace will have access to a wide range of internal and third-party apps that are easily available.

This series has touched on numerous cost and organizational benefits that result from deploying best-in-class digital workspaces, but there is another positive factor that should be noted: improved employee recruitment and retention. A recent survey from Jive Communications showed that 63% of millennial workers might not be interested in a job that doesn’t allow working remotely. More striking, 20% of the same audience said poor technology would make them quit.1

The evolution from application virtualization to a next-generation digital workspace is occurring quickly. The most important consideration is to ensure that the design is people-centric, supporting the needs of both individuals and collaborative groups. The focus is no longer on leveraging IT infrastructure, but on leveraging the human resources. To do this, information and the corresponding apps must be readily accessible and stored together in order to drive the productivity necessary for a winning digital business.

1New study commissioned by Utah business looks at what millennials really want at work,” Daily Herald, January 2018.

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