Business Insights Newsletter Article | November 2012
A Window into Flexible Workstyles
The wait is over. On October 25, Microsoft launched Windows 8, the newest version of the world’s dominant operating system. Designed to run on everything from desktops to tablets, Windows 8 represents a complete rethinking of the world’s foremost operating system. The event at New York’s Pier 57 drew worldwide attention, with hundreds of tech-savvy reporters wandering a replica of Manhattan, exploring Windows 8 devices and apps perched atop the scale-model buildings. And while it’s doubtful that most people will remember the details of the event, it’s almost certain they’ll remember the big difference that Windows 8 made in their lives – especially if they’re mobile workers.
And who today isn’t? Think about it: how many of your employees are on the road at least one or two days a week? How many of them telecommute at least that often? And how many of them regularly check in via a mobile device in the evenings or weekends?
When you consider all these scenarios, the percentage of the workforce that’s mobile is staggering. In fact, IDC, the global market intelligence giant, predicts that three-quarters of the US workforce will be mobile by 2013. What’s more, these mobile workers are using a variety of devices to stay connected: smartphones, tablets, laptops, and netbooks. Another IDC study finds that the average affluent users in the United States own 6.6 such devices. That’s a lot of mobile devices in the hands of a lot of mobile workers.
So why will the advent of Windows 8 be such momentous event in the life of the mobile employee? Well, think about that last statistic, the one that indicates that affluent U.S. users have an average of 6.6 mobile devices. Some of these might be employer-issued, while others have been purchased by the user for his or her personal use. But in this blurring world of the consumerization of IT, your employees want to bring their personal technology into the workforce and have a smooth, unified, seamless experience across devices.
And this is where Windows 8 shines. It provides an elegant, fast, and fluid design that is perfect for the range of today’s mobile hardware: from compact, touch-enabled slates and lightweight laptops, to large, powerful all-in-one desktop PCs with high-def screens. It provides instant access to contacts, apps, and data, so employees will spend less time searching and more time doing.
Windows 8 has been designed not just to work across the panoply of today’s mobile devices, but to provide a smooth and intuitive experience that seamlessly connects all of the devices into a consistent array of work tools. Your IT department can even provision Windows 8 Enterprise with Windows To Go, which downloads a fully-managed corporate Windows 8 desktop onto a USB memory stick. Employees can just plug the stick into a laptop or remote PC and have a corporate desktop, complete with all the applications they use at work, at any location, with or without connectivity. How’s that for a seamless, connected experience?
In addition to Windows To Go, Windows 8 Enterprise edition also includes DirectAccess, which allows remote workers to connect to the corporate network with having to launch a separate connection, such as virtual private network (VPN). This is a real boon for mobile employees, who no longer have to remember to carry their smartcard and hassle with the often-aggravating process of establishing and maintaining a VPN connection. Whenever his or her computer is connected to the Internet, your road warrior or telecommuter has access to line-of business apps, SharePoint sites, and other internal company resources. At the same time, IT administrators can monitor and manage these connected computers, applying the latest security policies and software updates.
What’s more, Windows 8 provides outstanding performance on the burgeoning workhorse of the mobile employee: the business tablet. With a Windows 8 tablet, workers no longer have to choose between convenience and productivity – they get both. Microsoft calls this the “no compromise” approach, and it’s baked into Windows 8, with features such as the “touch-first” experience, which recognizes that fingers-on-screen will be the primary input mode for personal activities but fully supports mice and keyboards for work-related tasks.
Speaking of which, Windows 8 tablets can run the majority of apps that ran on Windows 7 PCs, not to mention new line-of-business Windows Store apps that enhance worker productivity. And mobile workers will find all their business apps (and personal ones, too!) conveniently displayed as tiles on the start screen.
Of course, as everyone knows, one of the downsides of tablets (and laptops, too) is their propensity to go missing. Just how many mobile computers are stolen or left behind by their distracted owners? No one knows for sure, but a 2008 Ponemon Institute survey found that over 10,000 laptops were reported lost every week at 36 of the United States’ largest airports. That’s a lot of corporate data gone AWOL. But with Windows 8 Professional and Enterprise editions, you have BitLocker Drive Encryption helping to protect that data from prying eyes.
As you can see, Windows 8 brings together the two great trends in today’s business world: the rise of the mobile workforce and the consumerization of IT. It brings greater productivity, enhanced connectivity, and superior security to the realm of mobile computing, and offers a seamless experience from tablets to desktop PCs. In short, it gives today’s employees the flexibility that fits their workstyles.
Isn’t it time to turn your mobile workforce loose with the OS made for them? Odds are, you and your employees will fondly the time – if not the exact date – that Windows 8 came into your lives. In the meantime, you can learn more about Windows 8 here.