Modern Offices! Where did the furniture go?

|October 9, 2015 0
Today’s workplaces are being cemented with an unusual, weird, new, abstract material. Got it, but is the software-defined workplace dystopian or utopian?

Pratima H

MUMBAI, INDIA: Just when the sand settled after BYOD storms, the world seems to be moving to a new hurricane, some new technology imperialism (or democracy, shall we say). Software, applications, Cloud – you name the wind and you will nod fiercely along recalling how much these forces have shaken yesteryear’s offices and the 20th century idea of work.

It’s not hard to believe some predictions then; in fact some of them are already digging their heels around our workplaces. It’s not tough to picture that 70 per cent of mobile professionals would be tapping personal smart devices for work by 2018. As per some earlier Gartner estimates, 50 per cent of companies could need staff to use their own devices for work purposes in 2017.



US, is a good microcosm to get a grip on these shifts. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 39 per cent of American adults now use only mobile phones, while a mere seven per cent use only landline phones, it raises interesting questions with what Gallup research noted in 2014 –less than 31.5 per cent of U.S. workers report to be engaged in their jobs when 51 per cent turned out to be “not engaged” and 17.5 per cent as “actively disengaged” in 2014.

Now picture this, in terms of generations, traditionalists at a range of 42.2 per cent appear as the most engaged group, but Millennials at 28.9 per cent were the least engaged group.

What’s happening? Has today’s workforce already turned the new flavors of technology into a hygiene factor? And if employers really give that tight bear hug to disruptive notions of workplaces, what happens to the sub-text within – you know, unwieldy personal cloud sprawl, hardware diversity, controls, IoT and the works?

Here, if we pause at the definition of Software Defined Workplace, as Citrix’s Mark Templeton puts it, it reads something like this: “A people-centered contextual experience where digitized tools, secure information and efficient processes are delivered as a device-independent service creating mobility-transformed business.”

Hmm, people-centered, secure, contextual, device-independent and efficient? We expand these words into the very questions we had in mind and let Girish Gupta, Director- Technical Services, India subcontinent, Citrix walk us through the many corridors and windows of the software-defined workplace.

We have seen ‘software’ prefixing networking, storage, data centre but what’s this ‘workplace’ concept all about?

It is simply about freedom for the user and expanding flexibility of how and where s/he works. Primarily, software-defined realm was about data centres and big technology and little about human outcomes. Here, we are now focusing on end-user and real business outcomes, trying to give the user the delight of working from anywhere. Everything is digital today and the modern worker has to be infinitely mobile, and that means that if s/he wants to start, continue or wrap work at breakfast, at a coffee café, on a beach or at office desk, the ‘where’ should be inconsequential. The workflow should be seamless and the data part borderless.

Many users are already doing that with personal cloud options. But those options have a ‘land and expand’ agenda which can bamboozle a CIO’s control panel. How does that fall in place?

Consumerisation cannot be ignored and I am all for it. Yet, security and flexibility stay important. Now the classic personal cloud options may give flexibility but we are trying to balance it with security and a seamless experience. The enterprise’s point of view is also relevant.

What happens to the ‘hardware’ part? For example- issues with closed ecosystems like that of Apple or not-so-enterprise ready yet very- popular consumer devices?

We give that strength to enterprises to deliver on a diverse set of devices and apps – Apple, Linux, Android etc. You simply can’t dictate the new generation how to work, you have to create the right environment that is conducive to their ways.

Girish GuptaGirish Gupta, Citrix

So one can deal with complexity, shadow IT sprawls and still be friendly?

That’s a challenge but something that is exactly what we try to provide with our offering here. We create a secure environment and a container around apps but with all requisite checks and balances in place. The user flexibility is not sidelined but the ‘how’ is controlled by the enterprise.

Would the new flavor of competition be a difficult scenario then? Like Amazon’s play into VDI or VMware’s into SDDC space?

Our focus is all about the end user. VMware is competing with the likes of Amazon, Microsoft etc. When customers move their apps, network is still a concern. The distance to the app matters, specially inside a cloud and that’s where some recent products are good news. We complement our friends with what they are doing. In the last decade, we have worked very hard on various dimensions like networking, latency etc.

How soon we might see Internet of Things (IoT) as part of this consumerised workplace?

We are watching and doing what is necessary to be ready. For instance, Citrix acquired Octoblu, originally called Skynet, a system for drones to talk to each other in December 2014. (Skynet was named after the self-aware artificial intelligence system in the Terminator movie series). We entered the IoT market with Project Octoblu, which is a combination of cloud-hosted software and hardware as part of a partnership with Amazon. Our leaders want to now use the Octoblu platform in the form of the IOE–Integration of Everything, and to actually allow it to be a platform for our partners to generate additional value-add when it comes to creating a smarter workplace.

Why should a CEO bother for this ‘software-y’ workplace?

Old school folks believed that work happens only in the office. Look how so many companies now are becoming BYOD-friendly. They are launching new programs and attracting new talent. Apple and Android have shown how things can change quickly. If employees can cut commute and have flexibility, which is something the new generation naturally expects too – then that can and should be doable. Specially as it results into productivity. People perform better when there is work-life balance so for a CEO allowing employees that freedom will and is showing results.

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