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Is Standardization IT’s Friend or Foe—or Both?

Kevin Strohmeyer

Author: Kevin Strohmeyer

Kevin is VMware End-User Computing (EUC) senior director of product management, workspace services.

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Exploring Part I of the *New* Digital Workspace Story Map

Getting the Digital Workspace Story Map Straight

Here at VMware, we have talked about the digital workspace story for years. But if you put 10 people in a room and ask them what a digital workspace is or how to get there, you will get at least 25 very interesting and very different answers.

The Journey to the Digital Workspace Story Map

Many of us technologists jump right into an architectural discussion or show off a cool demo focusing on self-service access. Others might point to an app catalog. Still others talk about a “virtual workspace,” where their virtual desktop is their “digital workspace.” Of course, they are all wrong and they are all right. This makes discussions about what it takes to create a digital workspace extremely tough.

Recently, a team across VMware—from product managers and marketers to engineers, designers and professional services architects—sat down with some talented artists and storytellers to create a digital workspace “story map.” The goal of the story map was to replace reams of fluffy whitepapers and never-ending slide decks (I get to say that since I am one of those marketing types who create them). We wanted to foster a richly visual dialog about the journey to the digital workspace. No products. No technology. Just the journey itself.

We took these ideas to some of our best customers and partners, and it was amazing to hear the excitement in their voices. They too struggled to articulate their own vision of the digital workspace to colleagues and management. We took their feedback and further refined the story map into the image we are proud to share with you today.

In some ways, I am loathe to annotate the story. Like the MAD magazine cartoons some of us grew up with (sorry if that reference is beyond your years … wait, no, I’m not…) the discovery and the details are half the fun. If you also enjoy a good puzzle, STOP NOW! Take a look at this section of the story map yourself and draw your own conclusions. When you’re ready to proceed, READ ON!

Journey to the Digital Workspace Story Map by VMware - Part 1

Part 1 of the Digital Workspace Story: Is Standardization IT’s Friend or Foe—or Both?

Standardization is in the DNA of probably anyone in IT, learned from process-oriented organizations. The concept of interchangeable parts popularized by Eli Whitney in the production of guns and cotton gins allowed manufacturers to better specialize labor, reduce production costs and permit better serviceability of increasingly complex machines. It is no surprise that we want to apply the same logic to IT by supplying modern tools of production (namely apps and devices) to today’s workforce.

By waging war on variables, IT is better able to achieve economies of scale.

  • If an organization standardizes on laptops, three standards are better than five.
  • If an organization is looking at office productivity apps, one is better than three.
  • And on and on from there.

From a serviceability perspective, I get it. Why reimage a laptop over the network if I can pop the top, plug a fresh SSD into the slot that I just took off a drive burner and then button it back up?

In the digital workspace story map, we show this idea of standardization with the Beetles and station wagons clogged on the packed highway. Every user should look like either a Beetle or a station wagon; depending on their job role, they get the keys to their car. It might not be the car they would choose, but it’s reliable—or at least IT will be there to fix it with their stash of backup parts.

This does not mean standards are unimportant. It just means the standards we need to care about in 2017 changed. Instead of standardizing on apps and devices or even web browsers, we standardize on APIs and service level agreements (SLAs), which are the new production frameworks for the mobile-cloud world.

Regardless of the standards, culture and policies of nearly every company, executives, line-of-business leaders and rogue-but-well-meaning employees do not want a Beetle or a station wagon. They want different apps and different devices. No matter how much IT wants to support these users, their production line is not equipped, ultimately leading to shadow IT.

Keeping with the transportation theme, it is no accident that IT is out fixing the “IT budget” potholes in the road. Under the weight of our legacy systems and continued focus on devices as assets, an increasing portion of our shrinking budgets continue to be spent on keeping the road open and drivable.

We believe the status quo is unsustainable.

Application growth, device advancements driven by consumer technologies and the ever-increasing expectations of both users and line-of-business leaders will cause traffic jams an emergency pothole crew cannot clear. Like many modern transportation systems, building a bigger road or a new bridge is not enough. We must think differently about how to move people from one place to another … and where those people are going.

That sets the stage for where many of us our today. In the next blog, we will talk about the transition to a digital workspace, the IT initiatives laying the groundwork for next-generation infrastructure and how organizations can plan for transformative change.

See the Digital Workspace Vision for Yourself—Live & In Technicolor

Thinking about heading to VMworld? VMworld is now the leading-industry event for End-User Computing (EUC) with nearly 100 dedicated sessions and a must-see showcase keynote specifically about the digital workspace. If you have not registered yet, there is no time like the present! Click here to get started.

Already registered for VMworld U.S.? Here’s your Vegas to-do list:

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Hear first hand how leading companies empower the digital workspace for transformation during VMworld. Register for the EUC Showcase keynote to hear their stories, dive into brand new innovations and much more. Seats are going fast, so register today!

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