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We’re in the era of the intelligent workspace [EMEA Atmosphere]

By now, pretty much everyone in the business world understands that people want their device experiences at work to match their device experiences at home. Everybody gets it, but there are still plenty of businesses which are still suspicious of this state of affairs. Thing is, they don’t have to be.

In fact, the workspace revolution that started with people wanting to use their personal mobile devices for work purposes, could fundamentally change the workplace as we know it. And if the right structures are put in place, leading with a mobile first approach could actually result in happier, more productive employees operating in an increasingly increasingly secure environment.

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That was the message from Aruba president Dominique Orr at the Hewlett Packard Enterprise-owned company’s EMEA Atmosphere conference, currently underway in Faro, Portugal.

A new form of UX

According to Orr, a wider understanding of user experience brought about by the personal device revolution could fundamentally change the way offices and other workplaces are structured.

Using heatmapping technology for instance, you can see how people move around offices throughout the day, looking at where they go to make Skype calls for instance. It may be somewhere a little quieter, or in an area with stronger WiFi reception, but paying attention to these things can have a major impact on how an employee feels about their place of work.

“You can not only optimise productivity and interactions in your workspace,” Orr pointed out, but with the right combination of technologies, you can actually make things easier for people interacting with the business outside of the physical building.

With those tools in place, it becomes much easier to gauge, for instance, which employees are actually more productive at home and which work better in an office environment. More importantly though, technology allows that to be an option, giving people access to their work environment without them having to step into the office.

Some companies are taking this approach to the the extreme too. KBC, gives its staff access to its systems from a variety of mobile devices. That meant that when Belgians were asked to stay home in the wake of the March bombings, KBC’s employees were able to carry on working and serving the bank’s customers.

The security question

Of course, it would be difficult for any business, much less a bank, to do this without the right security structures in place.

In the old days, that meant using a firewall or two as DMZs (usually marked as Green on network designs) as a barrier between the the company’s intranet and the internet as a whole (usually marked as red).

As Orr pointed out however, that kind of binary thinking no longer applies.

“If you want to do a cloud first insfratructure, you need to look at the whole world as red,” he said.

The ultimate goal for any business is to have a system that dynamically informs its network whether or not a user is allowed to perform a specific function based on a number of factors, including where they are and what device they’re using.

That kind of contextual thinking is become increasingly important, especially when you take into account so many other interactions people have on their devices provide great user experiences.

Understanding that has allowed people to find ways around the traditional approach of making security more complex on the user side.

A number of companies now, for instance, allow people to use images from their device gallery as form of authentication that’s much simpler than typing out a long, convoluted password.

Companies can also lockdown as tightly as possible on their employees’ devices, as has been done in the past. The trouble with that is those kinds of system can affect the performance of the phone and leave users feeling as if they’re not entitled to any privacy.

One way around this which is becoming increasingly common is managing data and applications rather than the device itself. This approach means that people feel like their devices are still their own and also makes things a lot less complicated when they leave the company.

For sure, the risks are still there, especially as an increasing number of devices come online, but there’s absolutely no reason why a workplace strategy led by the use of personal devices can’t result in happier, more productive, and better-secured employees.

Disclaimer: Stuart Thomas traveled to EMEA Atmosphere courtesy of Aruba.

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