Opinion by David Johnson

How IT can better help enterprises get work done

Digital workspace delivery technologies can give users more individualized tools that will make them more efficient in their particular tasks

IT departments often provision all users identically, across many different roles. That consistency makes things so much easier -- for IT. For the users themselves, not so much. It's no wonder, then, that users who want to be efficient and do their jobs well often find ways to supplement the tools IT gives them with apps and devices of their own choosing.

It makes sense. Consider a different kind of workplace. A mechanic who regularly works on Fords will have some tools in common with one who works primarily on Mercedes, but much of what is in their toolboxes will be different. Each make of car requires special tools, and without them, a mechanic will either not be able to complete the work properly or will have to waste hours improvising with a workaround. Repair shops invest in specialized tools because they know that time is money in their business and that shoddy work leads to unhappy customers.

And yet enterprises still hand every employee a corporate PC, or a thin client with a server-hosted virtual desktop (also commonly known as VDI), with the same set of tools for everyone. It's not surprising then that only 15% of employees say that they are completely satisfied with their technology management department's understanding of what they need to be successful. For the remaining 85%, there is a gap -- a big one that they will increasingly close with their own devices and apps.

Forrester's research into workforce computing trends shows that the one-size-fits-all approach is getting harder to maintain. The corporate personal computing environment is now a mix of legacy Windows, client/server, cloud-hosted and native apps, with a wide array of devices and operating systems, some of which are not well suited to an evolving, mobile workforce.

I'm not saying that this is news to technology management professionals. Many of them recognize all of this and feel that they need help with pragmatic solutions. They want others in the company to understand the challenges they're facing and give them the trust, elbow room and budgets to address them. So we rolled up our sleeves on brand-new research with dozens of companies across all verticals to find out who has the good ideas and is finding success.

A regional bank we spoke with replaced laptop PCs with iPads for their sales force and implemented server-hosted virtual desktops as a secondary environment for the few times a week each sales rep needs to use a Windows-based application. The sales reps are happier because the iPads are faster and easier to use on the fly. And because they only use Windows apps occasionally, the VDI is acceptable for their needs.

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