May 31 2013

What’s the Right Platform for Your End Users?

Diversifying end-user form factors might make a whole lot of sense for your business.

Should your business consider saying goodbye to its desktop computers? Many IT managers and business owners are carefully weighing their options and evaluating whether this move makes sense for their companies.

Here’s the thing: It needn’t be an all-or-nothing proposition. In fact, diversifying end-user form factors might make a whole lot of sense for a small or medium-sized business (or a large one, for that matter).

There’s definitely pressure to expand mobile use in the business environment — driven mainly by the consumerization of this technology sector. Here’s a jarring statistic: The number of mobile connected devices will exceed the world’s population this year. That’s according to a recent Cisco Systems report, “Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012–2017.” Another attention-grabbing projection from that report: By 2017, mobile data traffic worldwide will increase by 1,300 percent.

These statistics would suggest that organi­zations need to be ready to do business within a mobile environment, to serve both their em­ployees and their partners and customers with more agility. For this reason alone, some users within your organization probably need to move off their desktop platforms and to a more mobile-friendly computing environment.

For users in sales or field service or those who interact regularly with customers or colleagues away from their desks, the move to a tablet or other portable device as a main computer has the potential to make them not only more productive but also more capable of tapping into and providing data assets to the organization as a whole.

There’s a lot of potential for collaboration — for immediate access to data by others in the company — when users can, in essence, take their desktops with them wherever they go. Workers in the field, for example, would no longer have to key in information from notes jotted down on paper. There’s also the ability to provide speedy service to the business’s customers.

Despite most people’s best efforts, a lot of valuable information gets consigned to paper, never to inform an organization again. Notebooks, ultrabooks and tablets offer a way to capture that critical knowledge, while also providing users with a full-blown productivity environment.

A move away from desktop systems need not mean an end to standardization and management controls.

[1.3 exabytes]

The amount of mobile traffic that tablets are expected to generate each month by 2017 (compared with global mobile traffic of 885 petabytes per month in 2012)

SOURCE: “Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012–2017” (Cisco Systems, February 2013)

There’s still the ability to set limits — to define the environment and the applications. Users are still employees; no organization should allow itself to become the “Wild West” of computing. Today, data assets are too critical to a business’s bottom line.

Technology to manage and control configuration, policy and security settings for mobile infrastructures is rapidly maturing. Plus, some enterprise tools can now bridge the gap between the mobile device and notebook categories.

Settling on the Right Device Mix

Finally, it’s critical to remember that despite the swing toward mobility, some users still have a need for traditional workstations that rely on desktop servers and monitors.

Do users get tablets because they want them? No. Will these devices help them do their jobs smarter? Then, maybe. Business and IT managers together will need to analyze the work that users perform, where they perform it and how they perform it.

With that information in hand and strategic thinking about the additional ways that workers might bring value to the business by being more mobile, managers can create a computing platform mix that’s optimal for their users and their environment.


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