Seen not long ago as “nice-to-haves” or “extras,” mobile devices and apps continue to revolutionize the way organizations operate. Workers expect to be able to do their jobs from wherever they happen to be — whether that’s in the office, in the field, at home or in an airplane terminal. Agencies that can’t meet those demands find themselves falling behind when it comes to attracting and empowering top talent. But until now, a full mobile platform wasn’t available.
Enter the digital workspace.
The digital workspace isn’t a technology, but rather a strategy enabled by the careful orchestration of several different technologies, including virtualization, identity and access management, mobile devices, cloud applications and collaboration tools.
A successful digital workspace takes more than investments in technology, however. It also requires that agencies engage in a thoughtful planning process in order to define the outcomes they hope to achieve and then strategize around how to meet these goals.
Agencies are embracing this way of thinking. Under a new Defense Department policy, smartphone users can now ask the official in charge of a secure space for permission to use a mobile device there. The armed forces want to infuse mobile technology into more aspects of their operations. Even the agencies most sensitive to securing classified information, such as the Defense Information Systems Agency, have embraced Wi-Fi and mobile solutions. And numerous agencies, including the State Department, General Services Administration and U.S. Agency for International Development, have encouraged the use of telework tools.
The Key Benefits of the Digital Workspace
When done well, the digital workspace represents the opposite of technology for technology’s sake. Because the strategy emphasizes the end-user experience, digital workspace tools can immediately begin to transform the ways users do their jobs — and the ways that agencies carry out their missions.
The tangible benefits of a digital workspace strategy include:
Speed to market: A digital workspace strategy enables enterprises to quickly and confidently respond to escalating customer demands. When changing market conditions force an agency to reorganize lines of business and shuffle its workforce, the ability to immediately modify users’ digital workspaces to respond to these changes is crucial.
Greater productivity: The productivity benefits of enterprise mobile apps are, by now, no secret. About 39 percent of organizations cite improved efficiency as the single greatest benefit of mobile technologies, according to Fliplet, followed by 21 percent that cite business process improvement. Another 21 percent mention a reduction in paperwork. Mobile apps have been shown to increase productivity by as much as 40 percent — the statistical equivalent of adding two days to the work week.
The digital workspace amplifies those productivity benefits by ensuring that users have instant access to the apps they need, when they need them. Single sign-on capacity is central to this seamless productivity, as it eliminates the need for knowledge workers to remember multiple passwords and engage in cumbersome login processes each time they want to complete a task.
Better customer service: The digital workspace can improve customer experiences in numerous ways. All customers benefit when employees are more productive and flexible, but the greatest impact is often seen when users directly engage with digital workspace solutions during their interactions.
Employee satisfaction: Fewer than one-third of employees are engaged at work, meaning that they have a passion for their jobs and feel a profound connection to their organizations, according to Gallup. Slightly more than 50 percent said they are “not engaged” or “checked out.” Most alarming, 17.2 percent of employees report they are “actively disengaged” — a level of dissatisfaction characterized by negatively acting out and undermining what their colleagues accomplish.
Effective IT tools are essential to keeping workers engaged, especially millennials, who are now the largest cohort in the workforce. Millennials are more likely than their older colleagues to get frustrated when they have to waste time on tasks such as searching for documents or finding contact details for coworkers. They are also more likely to use consumer productivity apps when they’re not satisfied with the technology tools at work.
Security: Managers at many agencies have long been aware of the benefits of robust mobility deployments but have opted against them anyway. The reason? Security concerns. Time and again, the fear of data loss tops the list of obstacles standing in the way of greater mobility. This is a reasonable worry, especially for agencies that handle highly sensitive data.
The Ponemon Institute estimates the average total consolidated cost of a data breach at $4 million. A well-designed digital workspace strategy takes into account an agency’s security needs. Often, digital workspaces are designed so that, even when users are accessing data from the field using tablets and smartphones, that data never actually resides on the mobile devices themselves.