Date: 28/11/2012

Mobilising the desktop – the ultimate in mobile working

By Guido Marchetti, Office 365 Specialist for O2 Telefonica, MJ Flood Technology

It could be just another one of those buzzwords, regularly trotted out by the technology industry as the next big thing. So what do we mean when we say mobilising the desktop?

It’s all about giving employees the tools to stay as productive on the move as in the office. It could be the ultimate in mobile working. But it’s not as simple as giving them a smart phone or tablet and sending them on their way with a pat on the back.

We all know that smart phones are great for managing email while on the move. But then limitations kick in – not just because of lack of access to applications, but because of the physical size of the device. So some people like me have an iPad, which allows us to extend our mobile working capability with a larger screen. Now I can use web-based applications like SharePoint to access and share documents and even edit documents on the iPad. Finally, I’m beginning to get some real productivity from a device that gives me greater functionality and flexibility.

Applications enable mobility and are the cornerstone of working on the move. But they’re also about ease of access, security, reliability flexibility and the ability to be productive while out of the office. According to Gartner, there are approx. 40 separate factors to consider when mobilising the desktop. Having access to everything you need without compromise is the long-term objective.

So what do we do with applications to make them accessible? Do we web enable them all? It’s probably too costly. Do we custom-develop apps (smartphone and device apps)? Do we centralise the desktop or publish one or do we enable the desktop/laptop to move with the end user?

The answer is, there is no answer and it will come down to the unique requirements of each individual business. These are all viable solutions; it depends on the end user and that person’s role within the organisation; the tasks they must fulfill and applications they need at their fingertips to execute those tasks; the productivity and results you as an employer require them to deliver. We will ultimately end up managing a multitude of devices, and in order to decide which model best suits, we need to look at core issues and then address the other challenges that arise from that.

Looking at infrastructure is a good starting point and examining the ease of access to the applications required by mobile end users. Identify users who do not need these services and rule them out of the process. For example, some users may always need to be office based. When the applications are identified, look at the medium in which they are consumed and choose a best practice and cost-effective model to mobilise the application.

The medium of consumption then leads us to the type of device we equip the employee with or which they use in a BYOD environment. We also need to assess issues such as process, security, management, BYOD support, management, simplicity of deployment, deployment method and supplier as well as training, to name but a few.

Companies must engage with partners, who can help them understand the challenge around mobilising the desktop, understand the complexities of mobilising applications and securely managing the evolving IT real estate from desktops all the way to smart devices. It seems like a daunting challenge but it’s no different than planning any IT project rollout: assess, identify, deploy and support.


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