You’ve completed your migration away from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8 — now what? One thing we know for sure: the industry has evolved and it isn’t reasonable to expect we will stay on this version of the OS for the next ten years. It was a good run. Let’s move on.
You’ll know an IT project is complete when another one is starting
A new model of OS updates calls for regular and consistent updates. No more waiting for service packs. No more waiting for R2. The updates will be regular and rich. We will want them. Our users will demand them. A new system of devices from tablets, to the Microsoft Surface, to our trusty iOS devices to stuff that hasn’t even been thought up yet will capture the imagination of our users and deliver heartburn to the IT manager. Deep breaths. The features available to our new spectrum of devices are changing…frequently…and our users will no longer tolerate a decade of treading water. We need to supply a better desktop experience.
The emergence of the consumerization of IT and BYOD philosophies has led to a proliferation of devices, and these enable capabilities that simply weren’t possible with XP. This means new ideas are required to keep some control and sanity. That is, however, unless you are have been awarded a gigantic budget increase and a ton of extra head count to help you manage the new stuff that is rolling our week after week.
If you have a huge budget increase and a slew of new people to hire in IT to help you, stop reading. Good job. You are in great shape. SneakerNet will serve you, and your ridiculously growing budget will serve you well for the foreseeable future. Nice work. Well played.
For the rest of us, with slashed budgets and shrinking staff counts, let’s see what we can do.
The only way to get your head around the changing dynamic of the IT ecosystem is to come up with a plan. Look ahead. It’s important to have a management plan in place that will allow you to manage whatever device, on whatever OS, that happens to be part of your ecosystem—WITH a shrinking budget and staff.
Consumerization of IT is less about using your tablet at work and more about allowing employees to use whatever tools they need to make them more productive in the office — and you need to be able to support that.
Here are a few nuggets to think about that should round out your perspective on what happens once your migration away from XP is complete.
1. Go forth and Webify. It will be increasingly difficult to predict what device will show up next. As a result, it will be tough to figure out how to install every client that each new type of hardware and OS combination may require. The only solution to this little problem is the web. Not necessarily the World Wide Web (though that is entirely possible), but rather begin to be web-driven. Delivering an app through a browser is exponentially easier than delivering one through a fat, locally installed interface. By disconnecting the OS from the Line of Business app, consumers get what they want and IT gets what they want. The former, a slick experience in a device they love playing with. The latter a predictable experience that requires minimal support. I believe it was Shakespeare who said, “Get thee to a Web-ery!” Well, you get the idea…
2. Leverage the power of SaaS. In the past, a migration was about making a good investment and riding it out for years. But that was before the explosion of Software As A Service (SaaS), virtualization and touch. That was before the exponential bandwidth and processing power we have available today — and who knows what will be available in the future? There is more to worry about. At some point we need to start talking more about information management in addition to device management. When we are asked to support a bunch of new devices we also need to realize that we have people accessing data all over the place as well. How do we control access and how do we control rights to data that lives in the cloud and never starts, nor finishes its life cycle in our environment? Solutions like the Softchoice Cloud allow users to control access to SaaS apps using corporate identity and can shut off that access preventing leakage of corporate data. It is a brave new world out there. A SaaS assessment (Softchoice’s TechCheck) might be the right ticket to evaluate your exposure and begin the process of controlling the situation. Get ready and stay ready.
3. Invest in a platform rather than a point-in-time tool. These tech savy execs will throw every new and trendy device at you they can think of. A platform tool will take on all comers and won’t leave you in a lurch. System Center 2012 for example will give you the ability to manage Apple, Microsoft and Android devices equally without have to invest in another product (much less deploy and learn how to use it!). Tools are great, but you want to be able to centrally manage all of your devices in one shot. Remember that dwindling staff? You can’t afford to learn a new tool for everything that comes your way it doesn’t scale. You won’t scale.
4. Moving forward requires a new way of thinking. Making yourself resilient in the future takes internal planning around what your users need and where they need to go. One of the huge changes is that we are not driving the innovation at the desktop anymore. In the old days, we used to drive innovation to the user community. Not so anymore. Most of our users have cooler, more modern, and interesting technology at home than we provide them at work. They are learning their new mode of productivity away from work. We don’t get to drive it anymore. Our new reality is trying to tap in to it. Go with that momentum, but tap in to it.
As we execute on this transformation we will feel like we are in a new place. The reason for that is…we are. Our users are increasingly hyper-connected. They are learning new ways to be efficient with their time. The ones who aren’t are slowly phasing themselves out of the business. Our mission, in IT, will be to increasingly tap in to and exploit the technical readiness, scratch that, the technical willingness of our user community to be productive in their own defined way. We will get more out of them and they, in turn, will get more out of us. The new desktop ecosystem is an exciting new system of “right-sizing” technology to fit a user’s productivity preferences. Over the next few years, we will increasingly be asked to enable the collective abilities of our workforce rather than alter them. It is a new and interesting time in this business. Hold on to something solid and enjoy the ride. I suggest holding on to a good plan. Now that is solid.