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Enabling Untethered Workplaces, the Windows 10 Way | @CloudExpo #API #Cloud #Agile

Are You Ready For Untethered Workplaces

The traditional workplace consisting of fixed cubicles where day in and day out employees come and work normal business hours is gone and new generation of "Untethered Workplace" where there is no fixed slots for any employee and ideally the workplace has the capacity of only a subset of total employees will be the future.

Workplace Challenges
Digital enterprises are here to stay and more and more startups and even traditional enterprises are transforming them selves towards new ways of working. The office space in a traditional sense is not only expensive from real estate and maintenance point of view, but also that the new generation of employees are not really tied to one city or one work place rather they are working from any where, any time. Enterprise mobility has firmly taken roots such that most employees feel comfortable by accessing their business applications from outside the office boundaries to become more agile and responsive.

These indicators point to the fact that, the traditional work place consisting of fixed cubicles where day in and day out employees come and work normal business hours is gone and new generation of "Untethered Workplace" where there is no fixed slots for any employee and ideally the workplace has the capacity of only a subset of total employees will be the future.

Advantages of Untethered Workplaces
The concept and implementation of untethered workplace has come with multiple advantages for the enterprise like the below:

  • Reduction in real estate and facilities management cost, since there are no fixed cubicle and the capacity is ideally much less than the actual work force, there will be a huge reduction in the cost and it makes lot of sense in big cities where the cost of real estate is increasing
  • Highly supportive of millennial work force, who expect their workplace to be highly flexible and support working from any where
  • Support geographically separated teams, such that organizations can go for talent across the geo locations
  • Improve the user experience and provide an unified experience across devices and workplaces which in turn improve the productivity of end users.

Three Device Syndrome & Enabling Untethered Workplaces, the Windows10 Way
In today's enterprises, employees carry or use at least 3 devices to make them more productive.

  • A desktop or laptop for high productivity and memory, cpu intensive work
  • A tablet for knowledge workers, field work and presentations
  • A mobile device for voice communications and for collaboration

This need arise from the fact that, each of these devices have their own interface and no easy way to provide a common experience across them and also synchronize data across these devices. This has resulted in poor user experience and low productivity and also act as a detrimental in enabling untethered workplaces.

While most device makers and operating system makers are striving towards untethered workplace, here I have listed the specific features of Windows 10 platform and supporting devices and eco system towards Untethered workplace. The main reason is that still a vast majority of traditional enterprises are using Windows based desktops which takes much of the office space and upgrading to Windows10 and effectively utilizing these features will take them towards untethered workplace.

Enterprise State Roaming
This is an important new feature of Windows10 coupled with Azure Active Directory, such that users gain the ability to securely synchronize their user settings and application settings data to the cloud. Enterprise State Roaming provides users with a unified experience across their Windows devices and reduces the time needed for configuring a new device. Enterprise State Roaming ensures that what ever the device user uses the same user experience and user need not be tied to a desktop for getting his personal experience.

An important aspect of Enterprise State Roaming is that even custom developed universal apps can take advantage of this feature, such that users start their work in one device and use this feature to continue the work from where it left from another device.

Windows 10 Continuum
As mentioned as part of 3-Device syndrome users continue to use the tethered desktop as the convenience and productivity of keyboard and mouse out weights the mobility device. However the new feature called Continuum turns the phone into a big screen projector and a productivity tool. Think about a new generation worker creates a presentation at his Home computer and uses the Enterprise State Roaming to sync all the settings to Azure and comes to work with his Phone is Continuum mode and projects it on a big screen using a common meeting room dock. This scenario makes a truly untethered work place.

Azure AD Join
Today IT department takes lot of effort in provision devices for the end users. One of the important aspect in this is about Domain based authentication which requires the device to be at work place and configured as per IT policies. However in an untethered workplace we would like the users to provision their own devices and yet with the complete control of IT. For this a new feature of "Azure AD Join" for Windows 10 comes in handy.

Azure Active Directory Join
Azure AD Join is the functionality that registers a company-owned device in Azure Active Directory to enable centralized management of the device. It makes it possible for employees to connect to the enterprise cloud through Azure Active Directory. This feature is typically meant for new age of Untethered workplaces. This way it helps for Self Provisioning of Corporate owned device, With Windows 10, users can configure a brand new, shrink-wrapped device in the out-of-box experience, without IT involvement.

Security in an Untethered Workplace
While more flexibility brings joy for new generation workers it always brings security concerns. However surprisingly the above features of managing the device identity using a cloud based directory along with the device management enrollment makes the enterprises more secure as even the applications that are running on these enterprise owned devices can be controlled if desired. Another aspect is that the common identity across devices facilities single sign on with SaaS applications and ensure compliance across enterprise.

Summary
Like any technology solution, the above solutions may still have teething problems. But the concept of "Untethered Workplace" is a solution for future cities, where the cost of office space and difficulties of commuting are increasing day by day. This may also transform the real estate offerings specific to enterprises, like having big displays with docking station etc... to support the mobile work force. By adopting some of the new features of "Windows 10" devices coupled with Azure Cloud Services enterprises can move towards "Untethered Workplaces."

More Stories By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Highly passionate about utilizing Digital Technologies to enable next generation enterprise. Believes in enterprise transformation through the Natives (Cloud Native & Mobile Native).