By Olivia Cahoon
Today’s digital workforce is evolving to meet the needs for on-demand access to data and services at any time or location. To grant employees more control in the resolution process for technical issues and keep up with new technologies, businesses invest in managed workplace services (MWS). MWS allows users to resolve basic technical issues and access broader knowledge rather than engaging IT departments.
The Role of MWS
As today’s workforce evolves with the emergence of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and bring your own device (BYOD), traditional work methods can no longer provide the flexibility to accommodate a workforce and generation that demands more.
MWS helps manage the evolving workplace at the proper pace for the business. “IT has moved out of the back office and is enabling firms to rapidly bring new products and services to market, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. As a consequence, organizations are faced with the challenge of introducing a growing range of external software, applications (apps), and devices into the work environment,” says Vince Wiseman, head of digital workplace services, Fujitsu Canada, Inc.
The digital workforce is now at a point where it is no longer enough for the CIO to enforce IT policies on end users. As a solution, MWS places technology in the hands of users when and how they need it. “This evolution of IT creates a modern digital workplace, which helps businesses accelerate growth by improving employee experience and productivity,” says Carol Zichi, global strategy and portfolio, management, workplace modernization services, IBM.
The digital workforce advances when workers take advantage of emerging technologies including social, mobile, analytics, and the cloud. Businesses thrive when digital workers use these tools to open new channels for revenue and productivity, says Brian Daly, director, media relations, Unisys Corp. One such tool is BYOD which allows users to access critical business information and productivity tools via tablets, hybrids, and smart phones.
According to Zichi, it’s estimated there will be 46 billion connected devices by 2021. As mobile and connected devices become globally known, the demand for MWS increases. End users are now accustomed to on-demand access to data and services—anytime, anywhere, and on any device—which is essentially dissolving the four walls of the enterprise. “Those end users now also demand anytime access to the data and capabilities they need to do their jobs, so it’s up to the enterprise to meet those demands,” she explains.
The rise of big data also increases demands for MWS as virtual digital assistants are more comm. In fact, Zichi says by 2021, 843 million people are predicted to be actively using virtual digital assistant in enterprise settings. When properly applied, she believes analytics and automation can help support users, better understand customer needs, and effectively respond to those needs.
As a result of the evolving digital workforce, Daly says the one-size-fits-all-model of a desktop running a standard productivity suite, supported by a traditional service desk agent over the phone, is no longer effective. “To empower users, increase productivity, and better retain highly skilled knowledge workers, the enterprise must transform the traditional, monolithic workplace into a flexible digital workplace that unleashes the full potential of digital workers.”
As consumer habits, technology, and the workplace converge, IT is called upon to adopt consumer-like approaches for everything from deployment to provisioning, support, and ongoing management, says Brian Gatke, director, practice, Connected Workforce division, Insight. At its highest level, he believes MWS creates a technology environment where the end user is at its center and IT resources are free to focus on driving the business forward.
MWS is essentially designed to grant employees more control in the resolution process for technical issues. For example, by using self-service portals, end users can resolve basic issues around password resets, request hardware and software, and access broader knowledge bases rather than engaging IT, says Gatke. “Additionally, automatic, proactive, and predictive analytics and self-healing is leveraged to prevent issues from occurring in the first place.” These improvements help create better experiences, cost savings, and productivity.
Mobility and on-demand access to data and services are transforming the modern workforce. According to Richard Esposito, GM, digital workplace services, IBM, it is only when CIOs move beyond the role of enforcers to enablers that the digital workplace can truly flourish. To reach this state, he believes four capabilities must be present; working agile, social collaboration, business apps, and innovation.
Working agile involves empowering the organization to keep up with rapid changes by adopting technology that equips employees with connected devices. Once completed, a CIO with social collaboration supports the company’s ability to bring together global teams. “Social collaboration tools allow people to contribute across the world through solutions such as file sharing, team rooms, chat, and video,” shares Esposito.
Additionally, innovation equips the organization to move quickly and maintain trends. Esposito believes CIOs that are innovative equip themselves to not only keep up with evolving solutions but to use technology in new ways, create an engaging work experience for employees, and use analytics to foster a better understanding of customers and markets.
MWS provides organizations with reduced costs because they no longer require the same level of human support, reducing employee down-time. The new support model enables employees to get back to work faster and results in nine to 21 hours of increased productivity per year, shares Gatke.
“MWS can create tremendous efficiency within the organization and result in 15 to 25 percent reduction in support labor,” he explains. For example, traditional support models require users to contact a help desk 100 percent of the time, but now users can self-serve or enter the support model exactly where they know they need assistance.
With MWS, organizations manage standard desktops with the same model as cloud or virtual desktops, says Wiseman. “The modern version of the managed desktop service combines on premise tools to manage devices with cloud-based services.” It provides up-to-date IT that users can rely on and includes full configuration, change, lifecycle, security, and vulnerability management services.
According to Wiseman, Microsoft Windows Image Lifecycle Management is also part of select MWS solutions. It can be customized to suite each environment, regardless of Windows version, and each update is tested before its deployed to minimize risk. He offers, “by testing all changes before deploying them, risks are managed, helping to prevent costly incidents, achieving high levels of service and availability, and ensuring IT stays evergreen,” he offers.
Across sectors, organizations embrace emergent and disruptive technologies to transform business and drive competitive advantage including retail, financial services, transportation, and manufacturing, says Wiseman.
While MWS is vertical-agnostic, Gatke believes industries that are knowledge-based/corporate entities, with a more mobile workforce, and those with large sales teams could see huge benefits from MWS. He shares, “zero touch provisioning versus imaging, out of the box functionality, and apps that facilitate collaboration and improve the experience for remote employees are all reasons why MWS can transform an organization.” IT departments and organizations benefit from reduced support costs and increased IT ROI, a more stable and mature IT environment, eliminated shadow IT, and achieving program governance.
According to Daly, enterprises and large government agencies with more than 1,000 employees typically benefit most from MWS because large agencies are generally best able to make the required investments in infrastructure and ongoing management, and to realize ROI and productivity gains from those investments.
Creating and supporting the digital workplace is a challenge but also an opportunity to leverage technology to enhance the employee experience, facilitate connections, and foster data-driven decision making throughout the organization, says Zichi. She categorizes the challenges in three areas; moving from on premise computer model to an integrated platform; integration of organizational data with external data to provide action insights and automation; and compassable workspace focused on the end user experience.
“With security top of mind for organizations, this runs end-to-end in the enterprise, and needs to have multiple business units involved in policies and procedures for the organization,” says Zichi. Traditional IT management can limit movement to the new culture. For example, offering a choice program this may result in multiple infrastructure components to manage devices.
“Previously, we managed devices as they contained all the apps and data. Now that devices are cross-platform and data is in the cloud, a device is simply a means to access the user’s resources,” she explains. Today, we manage a user’s workspace, but several organizations still have on-premise environments for virtualization which isn’t scalable or accessible for the new environments.
Daly adds that the interrelationships among technologies and services can be complex, and the sheer pace of change is overwhelming. “Existing IT organizations are often not qualified to lead this transformation because they are overwhelmed managing the business-as-usual environment. In the meantime, current IT environments have grown into a mix of disparate apps and systems, addressed with a patchwork of processes and services,” he explains. These issues can prevent timely and cost-effective implementation of projects, undermining the support for strategic business objectives.
Trends within MWS
For the first time in history there are five generations in the workplace, which presents a variety of challenges for IT staff. Newer generations expect a more consumer-like technology and support experience that allows them to use the same device that they use in their personal life, says Esposito.
User expectations around technology drive the need for robust BYOD programs within the enterprise. As the walls of the enterprise dissolve with more employees working remotely, Esposito believes it’s more critical now than ever to provide social collaboration apps to increase productivity and support environments with robust mobile management capabilities. “By 2022, it’s expected that 70 percent of organizations that leverage collaborative work management systems will outperform those that do not,” he reveals.
A more expansive support model is also necessary to meet the needs of various generations of workers that range from traditional help desk models to self-service and walk-up kiosks. “This next generation service desk will increasingly leverage AI and automation to deliver an efficient and personalized experience to end users,” says Esposito. “Gartner predicts that by 2020, the use of intelligent automation will reduce the number of service desk calls solved by a live person to less than 30 percent.”
According to Gatke, Insight’s recent survey, the 2018 Intelligent Technology Pulse, found that 77 percent of CIO/CTO and 57 percent of procurement decision makers agree that adapting to a more connected workforce is a pin point. “Challenges in workforce demographics, new technologies, and shifting social norms are having a profound influence on how people work, which in turn is creating a need for organizations and their IT departments to take a new approach to technology and operations.”
A variety of MWS options are available. Here, we highlight a few.
Cognizant’s Digital Workplace Services help users build a connected enterprise with better user experience, empowerment, and opportunity. It offers endpoint management and engineering services, enterprise mobility management, managed workplace, unified experience desk services, and workplace-as-a-service.
CompuCom’s MWS solution includes a desktop and app management, digital lockers and vending, managed print services, on-site services, service desk, and a Walk-up Solution Café. Its desktop management delivery models are designed to fit businesses’ budgets and fluctuating support needs with level three support as well as patch management. Solution Cafés provides employees with walk-in technical assistant for their company-owned and personal devices, in a retail-like environment.
DXC Technology offers a range of services for converged mobility and workplace management that includes mobile enterprise services, virtual desktop and app services, and workplace device services. Its mobile enterprise services manage the mobile environment as a service with solutions for procurement, provisioning, refresh, proactive enterprise mobility management, hardware and software support, security, and business usage analytics.
Fujitsu Digital Workplace Services is targeted to organizations with over 500 seats. It offers a complete portfolio of end user services including desktop, mobile, and virtual solutions that are device, carrier, and data-source agnostic to work in any IT environment. According to Wiseman, the solution is security proven with clients that include military, security, central government, and major financial services organizations. Fujitsu has local service desks in more than 30 countries and global delivery centers across the globe. Pricing starts at $10 per user per month.
IBM Digital Workplace Services is a platform-based service with Watson including analytic, automation, and cognitive features. “Analytic provides insights into how your users and organization function, cognitive solutions take that analytics data and transform that into action insights into how to improve, and finally automation can execute on those actions insights,” says Esposito. IBM IT systems support 400,000 full time employees and 130,000 contractors—40 percent of which are remote, spread out over 170 countries. IBM Digital Workplace Services is available as an elastic model based on device or user.
Insight is positioned to help organizations build a connected workforce and transform to a MWS IT infrastructure that empowers employees to work smarter. Its self-service and outsourced models support the complex technology needs of each client including advanced replacement and depot services, asset disposal, redeployment and remarketing, 24/7 service desk support and self-service, enterprise mobility management, dedicated onsite and dispatched technicians, and governance. “From traditional end user productivity to mobility and unified communications, our end user experiences mirror the ways employees live to match their expectation of how technology should be used,” says Gatke.
NTT Data Services’ digital workplace practice offers customizable, end-to-end transformation services for seven million end users in North America. It offers context-aware analytics across devices to enable predictive management for businesses. It’s Services Automation and Governance Ecosystem architecture strives to understand customer environments and assesses how to automate to reduce costs and enhance user experience.
Pomeroy’s Workplace Services offers a holistic view of the digital workplace that helps businesses align the IT infrastructure with the changing needs of end users and businesses. Technologies include predictive, automated, agent-assisted, and self-help support for end users, devices, apps, and operating systems. It delivers an optimized IT environment, scalable resources, greater collaboration, and integrated industry-leading processes.
Released in 2017, Unisys Digital Workplace Services enables clients to transform their end user collaboration platforms, services, and productivity solutions into a modern, cloud-based, mobility-enabled digital workplace that fosters worker innovation and productivity. It’s intended for enterprises with over 1,000 employees and standardized solutions can be tailored to each client’s needs. “Unisys has experience in delivering secure, mission critical solutions, including Unisys Stealth micro segmentation-based security software for secure endpoint management,” says Daly. Target industries include financial services, commercial, and public sectors. Pricing varies with size of engagement.
Wipro’s LiVE Workspace allows users to access their business apps and data, anywhere, at any time, and through a device of their choice. It is a standardized and integrated solution that consists of pre-defined tools, technologies, processes, and self-service options. The analytical engine identifies and self-heals app and infrastructure problems before end users experience issues enabling proactive and next-generation support through its service desk.
Zensar’s Digital Workplace Services provides 360-degree visibility into businesses and its end users. The 3Ps Model combined with global solution centers offers end-to-end digital workplace management from Smart Desk to Intelligence PC lifecycle management. According to the Zensar website, Zensar’s outside-in solution model transforms a reactive support model into a preventive, proactive, and predictive model by eliminating issues up to 45 percent.
In terms of engaging with tech and support, workers now demand the same experience in their professional lives as they’re accustomed to in their personal experience. This includes the use of BYOD, cloud-based services, and on-demand access. With the use of MWS, businesses are more integrated, collaborative, and digitally nimble.
Jun2018, Software Magazine