Published on in Reshaping Business

mobilityMy last blog focused on those organisations struggling to get off Windows XP, or those living with the legacy of a poorly performing post migration Windows 7 environment.

How things could have been so very different.  Well before Windows XP reached end of life, industry watchers were getting very excited about new ways of delivering a corporate workplace service.

Within the industry, this new approach has been called User Centric computing, and the predicted benefits were significant – happy users, a significantly more agile business and plenty of money saved.  From a technology perspective, we’d enjoy instant boot times, no application lag, no blue-screens, zero-impact device failures, the ability to work from any device in any location and all for less cost.  It represents a paradigm change, moving away from the previous model of Device Centric computing.

The real opportunity was to take the budget set aside for moving from Windows XP to Windows 7, spend about the same or maybe even less, and move in one go from Device Centric to User Centric and gain all the predicted benefits.

Of course the reality did not entirely live up to the hype.  Many organisations abandoned plans to make the switch – instead they went back to Device Centric for Windows 7.  Now, the budget has been spent and with it the opportunity lost.  Or has it?

You have to understand why organisations failed to deliver projects on the promise of User Centric.  The blame lies fairly and squarely on the Information Technology industry.

We developed ‘virtual desktop’ software that didn’t account for the complexities of large enterprises.  We ‘innovated’ at breakneck speed, releasing products that weren’t ready, and worst of all, we told our Customers it would be easy to make the change.  In reality it was never, ever going to be easy, and to make it work needed experience and a lot of effort.  Some specialists even started to believe their own hype!

User Centric can, however, be done.  We have many case studies, some numbering in excess of 50,000 users.  Our standard offering, VCS, draws on the experience of many different deployments, and delivers using standard approaches that we know work.

The secret is to know that its complex, and to behave accordingly.  Work with what you know works, don’t experiment with unproven technology, plan for everything and don’t ever just think “it’s just a desktop, how complex can it be?”

So is it too late?  Do you need to wait until Windows 7 goes end of life to get your budget to move to User Centric?  Some of our Customers don’t think so.

I am working with one organisation of over 60,000 users that has been through migration to a Device Centric Windows 7 environment, and now intends to move to User Centric within the next 2 years.  Why?  Because the Device Centric solution just isn’t working for the business, and the User Centric solution anticipated business benefits are significant.  It’s easily worth spending the money.

Other organisations are taking a more tactical approach to the opportunity – moving certain types of users to a User Centric solution that will get the most benefit – and increasing volume over time.  Interest in BYOD, Home working and mobile devices is also funding investment in User Centric projects.

Strategic or Tactical, just be sure to expect the move to be complex, and seek help from experienced suppliers – check their references as well.

My next blog will be about funding IT infrastructure projects in large enterprises so if you are considering a move to User Centric but can’t see how to fund it, I may have some ideas for you.

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