Workplace Computing: it’s Time for a New “Normal”
Published Apr 08 2019 10:03 AM 20.7K Views


If you’re old enough to recall being tethered to large desktop machines and bulky monitors, you might expect a certain amount of pain from your work-issued device. Maybe you power-on before you get your morning coffee because you know it’ll take 10 minutes to boot up. Maybe your five-year-old laptop is as heavy as a brick and as hot as a furnace. Maybe you lug your power adapter everywhere because your battery will certainly die within a couple of hours.


It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time to shift paradigms and imagine if logging into your work PC was as easy as powering up a smartphone. Can you imagine a work laptop that boots in 30 seconds or less? A device that works as expected without any system crashes? A battery charge that lasts a full business day, and then some?


I can imagine. In my last role in Windows 10 engineering, I was personally accountable for operating system performance, reliability, battery life, app/driver compatibility, and responsiveness. I know what modern workplace devices are capable of.


What makes a great user experience?

Since then, my team has been building a new service, Microsoft Managed Desktop, intended to help large and small organizations deliver a frictionless device experience while enhancing – not compromising – device security.


We are inspired by consumer experience expectations, in which everything just works, and we want to bring that simplicity and reliability to the workplace. Our productivity apps and secure data already enable people to get work done from anywhere, but we want to make sure our customers are equipping their talent with the frictionless device experiences they need to focus all their efforts toward creating a competitive edge.


So we started with an ambitious vision of a great user experience.


For example, we believe devices should be ready to use in 30 seconds or less, even if you’re just powering up for the day. We believe your device should resume from sleep in about two seconds, and it should support biometrics to make authentications and logins fast and easy, while enhancing security.


We believe your battery should last throughout your workday.


We believe your teams should have a central hub where they can collaborate, chat, meet, share files, and work with business apps in a shared workspace. Your data should save automatically to the cloud.


We believe your salespeople deserve automated design to help to make their PowerPoint presentations look beautiful.


We believe you shouldn't have to worry about the latest malware threat in the news. If a user leaves their backpack on the bus, we believe they should be able to receive a new device that they can boot wherever they are, log in, and get their personal configuration, policies, apps, and documents back in minutes. And we believe that lost device should be able to be remotely wiped.


We believe your people should inspire envy at meetings and professional conferences when they open their modern, touchscreen, lightweight, highly responsive devices – and everything just works. And we believe those high-performing, feature-rich devices can actually be more affordable to source and maintain.


I’m proud to say our vision has become the new normal for our Microsoft Managed Desktop customers. But we’ve found that, for a number of organizations, implementing this vision may require some stakeholders to shed long-held assumptions in order to embrace a new user-centric reality.


What’s more important than user experience?

Pragmatic senior leaders may accept the idea that security and cost-efficiency inherently compromise user experience, productivity, collaboration, and innovation. But the newest generations of talent don’t. I don’t. And if your competitors don’t, you’re at a disadvantage.


Many organizations are doubling down on legacy policies, tasks, equipment, and priorities that incrementally address the symptoms (though never the root cause) of poor user experience.


But it doesn’t make sense to use outdated tools and methods to protect and maintain your environment when the threats evolve faster than you can secure your devices.


It doesn’t make sense to keep your IT talent busy maintaining and restoring devices to a functional state instead of innovating technology solutions to core business problems.


And it doesn’t make sense to squeeze a few extra years out of legacy technology instead of investing in modern tools that attract, retain, and truly empower top talent to be productive and collaborative.


In collaboration with customers and partners, we’ve learned about the systemic, technical, and mindset issues that block large and small organizations alike from empowering talent with modern productivity tools and devices.


And we’ve seen what happens when those organizations stop having to commit so much time and many resources into desktop management, instead equipping information workers and IT talent with the frictionless productivity-enhancing tools and environment to achieve core business goals.


Over the coming weeks, my team and I will be using this space to unpack the obstacles that block organizations from delivering a great user experience—and then we’ll start sharing how we’re working alongside customers and partners to make delighting end users the new “normal.” So be sure to subscribe, explore and share.


Learn more about Bill Karagounis

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