The evolution of End-User-Computing – Survival of the fittest

In the last 10 years I have worked in the End-User computing space in different Product Management leadership roles. I have the privilege to talk almost daily with customers about their End-User computing strategies and consult them with my oppinion where End-User Computing is going. I get always the question about my blog where they can get updates about my thoughts. So here it is… ūüôā

In this first blog I would like to start with a high level view on end-user computing and the evolution. We will drill down into specifics and more technical stuff in later blogs.


To predict the future it is necessary to look back, analyze the data and to understand the past. In Big Data this is currently called Predictive Analysis and the concept of Predictive Analysis fits pretty good for what I want to do here.

When we started crawling – Looking back

When I started my career as a Systemadministrator in the 90’s it was all about managing the box/ device. There was this simple 1:1 relationship between user and device and the application landscape was a clear defined set. From an IT Administration perspective provisioning of the Desktop to users was pretty easy after you have invested in automation tools like SMS, Altiris, LanDesk, Matrix42 or Enteo. We have all standardized the hardware and software configuration based on user roles as much as possible to ease the pain in case of a support call. IT pretty much dictated which applications and devices the user received. Yes, there were sometimes complains from users about their workplace and applications that are missing and that it takes too long from request of a new application until provisioning. Hey, but we were the IT folks. WE ruled the Desktop. Not the End-User did. End User productivity was not the biggest pain back then. I remember my fromer manager saying. “These guys get what we define. A marketing configuration is a marketing configuration. No exception. Period!” The response from IT to the End-User who wanted to evolve and improve their workenvironment was a lot of times “No!”. IT had a lot of reasons for it. Security, Mangability, Costs, etc.

When we started walking РToday 

15 years later the situation is completely different. Employees use mostly more than one device and work is for a lot of employees not a place anymore. It is much more a state that I choose to switch on or off. Citrix CEO Mark Templeton called this phenomenon a few years ago “work slicing”, which I think is a very good description of todays work style. Users switch between personal use and corporate use of thechnology on demand and several times per day. We all know this as Consumerization of IT or Bring-Your-Own-Device – if we just talk about the end user computing device. Its clear that the way users work has changed. Todays workstyle is mobile, much more personalized and the workspace is spread across multiple devices. While this created more flexibility and a much better work experience for users it created a new level of complexity for us IT folks. Suddenly, IT does not rule the workspace anymore. The User does! Todays users are used to AppStores and Self-Service concepts from their personal life, but when they come to work it still feels difficult and clumsy¬†to get what¬†they¬†need, when they need it. Its not about the device anymore. It is about the users¬†entire workspace which is device independent and includes different types of Apps. Data, Identities, Services, Costs, but also Devices. IT tries to solve these new challanges with technologies like Enterprise Mobility (MDM, MAM, MIM) aka “it can only be the¬†beginning”¬†, Desktop Virtualization aka “the bridging technology” or Enterprise AppStores “aka “are we there yet?”.¬†Each of the¬†technologies and what I mean with my comments next to it, will be covered in separate blog posts. So let’s skip the details about it for now…

When we will start running РTomorrow 

The questions is were is End User Computing going? As usual it is like looking into an crystal ball, but there are a few things that I guess we can expect.

1. PC+ Era instead of Post-Pc Era

People that have seen me presenting at industry events or follow me on Twitter, know that I don’t like the term PostPC era, because I think most people interpret the wrong thing with it. Yes, It is obvious that the importance of the PC declines and Tablet sales increase, but I don’t see the PC or Laptop exiting the scene any time soon. There are still a lot of use cases from task workers and even knowledge workers were the usage of the PC makes things much faster. Think about manufacturing control, CAD workstations or even the creation of comprehensive documents and presentations. This is and will be still faster and easier on a full blown PC with a keyboard.¬†I believe that we are in the middle of the PC+ Era, where Tablets and Smartphones are complementary to the PC and Laptop, but not truly PC replacements. This creates new complexity for IT and CIO’s, because Apps, Data and IT Services need to be provisioned across multiple devices.

2. Workspace aggregation

The management paradigm from the early days, with standardized devices, apps and data does not work anymore. The End-User-Computing world is colorful and full of options. Todays users want choice by design and they want to use it. Regardless what IT says.¬†The world is very heterogenous out there and the workspace of today and the future¬†consists¬†of a lot of different components and¬†flavors. A marketing guy is not like another marketing guy. Their workspaces differ from each other based on their preference for technology.¬†IT has no other option than to implement solutions that enable “choice by design” and can manage heterogenous workspaces, if we don’t want the¬†users to go around IT.

  • Many Application types (SaaS Apps, Mobile Apps, Virtual Apps, Physical Apps),
  • Many¬†Data containers (Box, Dropbox, Local Storage, etc.),
  • Many Identities (AD account, Google Account, Twitter Account, Live ID, Skype Account, etc.)
  • Many Devices (Tablet, Smartphone, PC, Mac, Virtual Desktop, etc.)
  • Many, Many Many…

What’s missing and what we will see in organizations, is a unified view and access to the users workspace for both, the user and the IT department. An App-, Data and Device unification portal that enables users to access their workspace independent of the device and independent of the delivery method of the app or service.The solution needs to be smart enough that it finds the right delivery method of an app for me on the device that I’m currently using. E.g. native App on my iPad, SaaS App on my home office PC, Virtualized App on my Laptop. Gartner started to call this Workspace Aggregation, which I believe is a pretty good term to explain the workspace of the future. Aggregation of any workspace related technology. Any app, any service, any data, any identity on any device‚Ķ¬†From an end user perspective all apps, devices and data should be available in a single pane of glass, because the user does not care wether an application is provisioned natively or virtualized or mobile. It should just work in the best way for the currently used form factor.

3. Internet of things/ machine to machine communication

If I think about the Workspace of the future, then I see a lot of additional technology that enters the workspace. Think about simple things like social elements that can help me to identify the best applications for my workspace, because my colleagues recommended them. Or the social service desk where employees help each other with challenges when they use their personal device for work. Collaboration and Social will become a more important role in the users workspace.

But a game changer will be a smart machine to machine communication that simplifies my work.¬†E.g. I spend several hours per week in the car. And guess what, I use the time¬†in the¬†car to work. So my car could be seen as an extension to my workspace. Currently the workspace in my car is is mainly¬†voice¬†communication, which I believe will change in the future.¬†Think about a use case where my mobile device can talk via NFC with my car and automatically puts the¬†address¬†for my next customer appointment into the GPS. It can help me to do my E-Mails in the morning before I am in he office. It can warn me directly that there is traffic on the road and send a message to the customer that I will be a few¬†minutes¬†late.¬†So my point is, that “machine to¬†machine¬†communication” and the “internet of things” will become important in the future for workspace management. It will¬†have huge potential and impact on the way we consume technology an how we will work. My car, my TV, my fridge. Everything can be seen as a mobile device that can extend my personalized workspace.¬†Think about the potential of context based additions to those things. Location, time, connectivity etc.

There are several vendors out there that have the potential to provide the workspace of the future, that includes automation, business processes and Self-Service. The Virtualization giants Citrix and VMWare have the potential to address the problem right. Some of the EMM vendors like Airwatch, MobileIron, Fiberlink etc. are in a good position, too. Some of the Client- and Service Management vendors have the potential to make a big difference, too (I do not mention names, because I’m biased – I work for a Client-/ Service-Management vendor). I have also seen some very promising Start-Ups that work on a unified management of the future workspace. A very exciting market and time for End-User Computing.

But I see this as in Darwins theory.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

Who do you think will be the fittest in the space in a few years? Let me know your thoughts.

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1 Response to The evolution of End-User-Computing – Survival of the fittest

  1. Pingback: BYOD = Bring-Your-Own-Device or Bring-Your-Own-Disaster? Part1 | Workspace Aggregator

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