For the past several years, infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations have pushed for standardized, locked-down corporate PCs in order to allow as little variation as possible. They want few surprises and even fewer support calls. While this approach might keep IT operations costs lower, it brings an unintended consequence of stagnation from the worker's point of view. Forrester's Q4 2011 Forrsights Workforce Employee Survey showed that workers are dissatisfied. They are spending an average of $1,253 annually of their own money on computers for work purposes, with 43% of workers saying they have used their own personal computer or smartphone to do their job in the past year.
Given the competitive advantages that empowered workers can bring, and the risks associated with underground behaviors, embracing empowered workers and unlocking bring-your-own-computer (BYOC) programs are more important now than ever. That doesn't mean embracing anarchy; rather, changing mindsets, from one of prohibition to one of channeling and enablement, will set you apart from your peers. How should you get started?
Step 1: Learn About The Available Tools
The solution to variation for BYOC programs is a combination of client virtualization; using the correct management tools for the job; education; and matching skills. There are several methods for providing workers with a standardized Windows environment without a corporate PC. The most common methods are hosted virtual desktops (e.g., Citrix XenDesktop, VMware View, and now Microsoft VDI), desktops-as-a-service (e.g., Desktone, tuCloud, and dinCloud), and locally deployed and managed virtual desktops (e.g., MokaFive, Parallels, and VMware Player and Fusion). Each carries its own benefits and drawbacks--learn about them to figure out how they can, or can't, help you.
Step 2: Understand Employee Work Styles
The technology that employees use for their jobs should be a function of their work styles. However, it's true that many I&O professionals have a better understanding of technology and internal processes than they do the nuances of employee work styles and productivity drivers. It will take a concerted effort and a formal initiative to shift this imbalance toward greater work-style knowledge, but it's well worth the time to do so.
I&O pros should be able to answer questions such as: