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Flexible working: Why it’s all about usage

Managing users' requirements used to be simple. Until recently, (and still now in many organisations), employees had little choice about which devices and applications they used at work. The IT department provided standard PCs or laptops, with standard apps, and people mostly used them on business premises during office hours.

Today, people want access to their work resources anywhere, at any time. On top of this, more and more devices (especially tablets and smartphones) are entering the workplace and they don't all belong to employers. People want to use the same devices at work as they do at home - and they want access to all their work apps regardless of device. Those organisations that say 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) isn't happening and people are happy with what they're given are mistaken.

While it seems many people today are prepared to be flexible about when and how they work (no longer chained to the desk) this in-turn requires more flexibility from the employer (whether they like it or not). Today, over 60 per cent of workers report using a personal device at least once a day in their work and 44 per cent say they use a personal smartphone in their job.

In addition, business leaders are bypassing IT processes (and long lead times) and subscribing to relevant role and business-related cloud-based applications themselves (Shadow IT). IT can no longer assume to be in control of all the devices or applications that are used for work.

So how can IT leaders manage the challenge of keeping end-users happy by enabling them to work in the way they want, where they want, and with the applications and devices they want; while still delivering the required secure and cost effective corporate environment?

Success going forwards will mean a change of mind-set. IT assets, IT inventory, application purchases and usage and organisational content can no longer be entirely centrally managed. IT will have to embrace the new world rather than trying to control or prevent it. This means changing the way that end-user IT is viewed. Instead of focusing on managing the device IT leaders have to think about managing the user, and managing the users' workspaces rather than their desktops.

To do this effectively, you have to answer these five questions:

  • Who is the user?
  • What is the user using?
  • When is the user working?
  • Where is the user working?
  • How is the user working?

Usage analytics is what organisations need to manage this dilemma. It's only by understanding what's being used across the entire end-user estate that IT have a real understanding of what is and isn't being used across every device. This requires gathering usage data for everything end-user related including the:

  • IT asset inventory
  • Users and their usage patterns
  • End-user estate configurationApplication portfolio (locally installed apps, cloud-based apps and virtualised apps)
  • End-user platforms (operating systems, browsers and virtualised environments)
  • User devices

It sounds easy, but if that's the case then why do 74 per cent of enterprises say "knowing what's happening across the IT estate" is one of their biggest challenges? And that their current IT asset management (ITAM) inventory solutions aren't providing the information they need to effectively manage their application portfolios.

The main reason it's so difficult to do this is because the majority of asset and IT inventory systems look at what's been purchased, allocated, installed or last used, rather than what's really being used. Furthermore, they're typically designed to track devices and app packages (rather than app instances). Without full usage intelligence, you can't start moving from an equipment/kit perspective to a flexible, user profile/persona perspective.

So how do you decide which apps and devices each individual user needs to work the way they want?

App instances - which are single occurrences of an app installed on an end-user's device(s) or accessed by an end-user (for example via a SaaS-based service in the cloud or a virtual desktop) - are becoming increasingly important. This is because while an app package (such as Adobe Acrobat) is clearly being used by some individuals within an organisation, there are likely to be many instances that are installed, or accessed by users, that they never or rarely use. This means that organisations are paying thousands, or even millions, for apps and devices that aren't being used.

But the big question for flexible working - whether it's single or multiple device, CYOD, BYOD or via traditional corporate devices - is what do you give the users?

Which devices, which apps and which delivery methods? Surely you don't want (and can't afford) to give them exactly the same services as you do in your costly PC and laptop environment? We know this isn't true and that understanding desktop usage is a fundamental step on the way to delivering the flexibility that people really want, in a secure, managed and completely cost effective way.

The easiest way to find out where you are is to try answering these questions:

  • How many applications and application instances are really being used today?
  • How much are we spending on apps that aren't being used?Which users are using cloud applications?
  • Which users could be moved to the cloud?
  • Which cloud apps are being used outside of IT control?
  • Which users would suits a virtualised desktop environment?Which users are mobile and which are not?
  • Which users would be suited to move to cloud-based office productivity tools (e.g. Microsoft Office 365) and which versions do they need?

This has to be an on-going process to maintain the flexibility that people now want and need. How people work is changing so dramatically and dynamically, over time and the number of available cloud apps is growing exponentially. If you took a snapshot of everyone's ICT needs today, I'll bet you a big sum of money by Christmas at least some of those needs will be radically different.

At IP EXPO Europe, Centrix Software will be on Stand G13, with our team of experts, to discuss workspace management and the changing IT landscape.

On day one, Marina Stedman, Marketing Director at Centrix Software will be presenting on delivering enterprise services and consumerisation through workspace management. On the second day of IP Expo, our Product Marketing Manager, Dan Kirtley will present on why application usage analytics is fundamental to optimising and modernising the way users work.

Centrix Software's WorkSpace iQ provides the usage analytics required to simplify and rationalise an organisation's application portfolio and modernize and innovate their IT infrastructure to match user and business needs.

Our workspace aggregator, WorkSpace Universal, provides the delivery environment needed to support user choice and experience for cloud, physical and virtual applications, on any device while enabling IT to innovate and manage within a secure corporate environment.

Centrix Software also provides a solution for Microsoft Office 365 planning and migration, 365iQ. 365iQ analyses application and content usage across your entire estate.

This provides all of the information you need to significantly accelerate overall time to migrate and get the most out of Office 365 post migration.

We will be running live demos of our products on the stand both days and will be giving away a Bluetooth wireless portable speaker after every demonstration. We'll also have a prize draw running on the stand to win a Kindle Fire HD, where visitors can simply complete a completion card, pick up a Centrix Software goody bag, take a photo and upload it to our Twitter page. The winner will be picked at random from our Twitter page at the end of the event. Register for IP EXPO now!

Marina Stedman is marketing director at Centrix Software