Guest Column | October 29, 2013

Mobile Technology Is Changing The Workplace Desktop

By Mike Holstein, Vice President, Business Development and Emerging Technologies, ViewSonic

Consumerization Of IT Drives Adoption Of Virtualization

Advances in consumer mobile technology have made it easier than ever for users to access enterprise IT resources from personal devices — both at work and elsewhere. This trend towards mobility is eroding the line between business and personal computing, sparking a dramatic shift in the way users think about on-the-job technology. Today’s mobile workforce expects to use personal devices to access business data and applications, and they expect the same on-demand, anytime, anywhere experience that they get every day from their favorite websites, apps, and services. Industry analysts have named this “the consumerization of IT,” recognizing that employees want to utilize enterprise IT resources in a manner consistent with their experience of consumer electronics.

In response, organizations of all sizes have begun to sanction the use of employee-owned laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices in the workplace. This phenomenon, known as “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD, is one of the fastest growing IT trends in business and beyond. Nonprofit groups, educational institutions, and other organizations are all implementing BYOD policies in response to employee demand to use personal devices at work.

Meanwhile, software development within organizations is evolving to meet the needs of a mobile-centric business environment. Cloud-based applications and web apps and services are replacing traditional client-server architectures as the preferred computing model of the future. Consumers are readily adopting and adapting to the convenience of new mobile devices and apps, unconsciously embracing cloud computing at the same time. Users are often unaware that they are migrating to an entirely new paradigm of application delivery, one which today’s business climate is just starting to reflect.

Mobile Computing’s New Wave Of Challenges

The rising tide of employee-owned devices flowing into the workplace brings numerous challenges. A successful BYOD program requires centralized management and security to protect company networks and IT resources. In addition, many workers require access to business-critical Windows-based apps that cannot run directly on a mobile device.

Desktop virtualization, also known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), solves many of the new challenges of BYOD. Virtualization lets organizations deploy virtual Windows desktops and applications that users can access from their personal Apple iOS or Android mobile devices, while also delivering the on-demand computing experience that users expect with the security and management that IT demands.

The Next Solution: A New Kind Of Desktop

In a BYOD world, what happens to the desktop PC? Is this longtime office workhorse dead as some industry analysts proclaim? Not so. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are ideal for consuming content on-the-go. However, as anyone who has tried to compose more than a brief message on a phone can attest, these devices are ill suited to content creation. When users need to create emails, documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, a desktop device complete with keyboard, mouse and full-size display is still essential.

Traditionally, this workstation would consist of a standard desktop PC or a thin client with access to a virtualized Windows desktop. While these solutions are still viable today, they fail to take full advantage of recent technological developments and an organization’s investments in mobility and virtualization, such as mobile application development and IT infrastructure, which supports BYOD initiatives.

The ideal solution for the mobile workforce and enterprise IT is therefore, a new kind of client device engineered for virtualization, cloud computing, and the latest mobile and web-based apps. This all-in-one desktop workstation has onboard computing power to run local applications and supports leading virtualization protocols. The mobile workforce today needs a versatile PC replacement that integrates with existing BYOD and virtualization initiatives that also offers the flexibility and scalability to grow with an organization and meet future needs.

The Future Of Mobile Computing

Enabling a seamless transition between both mobile and desktop devices, while maintaining an uncompromised user-experience and security, are critical elements in this post-PC era. Organizations looking to balance the demands of BYOD with the continued need for desktop computing power and enterprise security may find the right solution with an all-in-one smart display client device.

With such a device, users have access to local computing power and a wide range of productivity apps. IT departments can lock down devices and secure enterprise data, while also developing applications and solutions that will work on both desktop and mobile platforms. Organizations have a flexible, cost-effective option as they incorporate mobility, implement virtualized environments, and deploy new types of IT environments to serve evolving computing paradigms. Smart display client devices are the thin clients of the future because they help organizations bridge the gap between mobile platforms and the continued need for powerful and manageable desktop devices.