The Shape of Things to Come!
Storage Intelligence - about time!

Desktop of the Future? What Desktop? - Shake up of the Digital Workspace!

I have been saying for some time that CIO/CTOs should be taking a serious look at the "desktop" of the future. What type of applications are needed, where they are sourced from, form factor and the impact on workplace design.

Tablets are already firmly entrenched in consumer hands, and indeed the hands of professionals. However, they fail to make a dent against the estate of desktop/laptop devices and the associated workplace implications.

Google Glass perhaps represents the next evolution of the desktop->laptop->netbook->tablet saga. This not only challenges the existing notions of mobility, but adds to the rich experience that you and I are demanding.


Google-glass-patent-2-21-13-01This is not necessarily a new idea. We have been seeing this in sci-fi movies for decades. Indeed, Sony also had a similar ambition around a decade ago.

However, this design, with modern materials and the massive backing of Google may well succeed en masse compared to previous designs.


The ability to link into Cloud based backends, stream applications magically/wirelessly, as well as surely providing input devices of corresponding smartness - maybe something tracking eye movements as we see for disabled individuals.

The really interesting feature that is involved is augmented reality for everyone. Google has been investing heavily in technology for mapping the real virtual in their 3D Google Maps. This investment is really going to pay off by providing a compelling lead.

Augmented reality

The practical application of information gathered all around us, and mapped onto our line of vision will increase our ability to navigate an increasingly complex world.

Such a concept could be easily translated to our business or indeed consumer worlds. Why can a stock trader not look around, cuk in relevant information about world events, annotate verbally on impact on stock price trends, and then have an automated trading engine supporting the actual trading desk.

A consumer could walk into a shopping center and automatically be presented with details of competitive offers in the area/online, trace the production chain to check the articles green credentials, and indeed order online from the same shop that the person is currently in - reducing the need to keep large quantities of stock at hand. And the effect on advertising.....well!

An office or knowledge worker would be literally able to grab data, manipulate it, enter data and essentially carry out any other task without the need for the traditional stuffy workplace environments we are surrounded by. Yuo never know, perhaps we could end up with workplaces that look like....(film: Matrix Trilogy - Zion control room)

Questioning "Accepted Wisdom"

Traditional ideas of the workspace environment being provided for employees and partners should seriously be challenged. It is not necessarily about whether a Microsoft 8 or Ubuntu will be rolled out. It is very much about providing a safe secure working environment, protecting data assets of an organization and increasing efficiency dramatically.

  • Challenge the idea of a desk! Find out what types of work environments are conducive for your staff, ranging from highly creative to highly task oriented individuals.

  • Understand how the walls of the organization can be made safely permeable. How can the technology enable an individual to be out there - physically, socially, online etc? What if voice recognition and real-time language translation capabilities are added?

  • What applications classes are being used? Where are they being consumed, in which form, are they on-premise sourced or from a SaaS/Public Cloud provider?

  • Understand the impact on the physical workspace, its constituent parts, how work and play can be mixed? Cost control and making creative workplaces can be benefit dramatically in this mindshift!
The way the physical world and information is being represented as digital assets that can be manipulated without regard to time and space constraints represents a dramatic opportunity for organization willing to challenge the current accepted wisdom.

Why is this important for the CIO, CTO & CFO?

CIO/CTOs are responsible for the overall digital enterprise architecture and workplace environment. The CFO has the fun work of ensuring sufficient funding whilst maintaining cash flow and a generally healthy financial posture. 

Rather than simply accepting what your IT staff are telling you regarding options for workspace computing based on a legacy view of software and physical computing devices, challenge what could be done by leaping forward.

  • How would this improve the financial situation regarding licensing, physical desktop estate, building space, furniture and employee productivity?

  • Understand what is needed from a human capital management perspective? Legislation and health may well be key drivers or blockers. What would such a workplace mean for talent management and making your organisation a 1st class address for potential graduates/employees?

  • From an enterprise architecture (a middle up-down architectural approach) what would be needed to service such a workplace environment and the implications on business stakeholder aspirations as they expressed currently?

  • Security, physical and digital, needs to be more pervasive but also more invisible. Data assets may needs to be stored in more secure ways in corporate datacenters. Databases are fine, but database firewalls, controlling who is doing what and why, would be required. Ditto for other areas powering the enterprise.
  • Database silos, using workload stacking and virtualization makes sense. However, combining them into the general compute environments together with other general data assets is probably not secure enough. A level of physical security should be ensured.
  • Understand if current investment in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) makes sense. Does it capture new digital realities? Understand new demands on mobility. Are you investing in something that literally will disappear?

Many organisations are experimenting at scale with full mobile (as we understand it today - usually tablets, smart phones, mobile video conferencing) technology.

They are experiencing the implications on the cost of providing IT capability, the impact on how employees are exploiting the technology, and overall performance of the organisation.Subtle areas such as training, motivation, social contact implications if working away from a "traditional office environment" need to be factored in.

This is a great chance to innovate and basically get the organization in top form for globalisation where labour factor costs are continually driving employment further offshore (until it comes full circle - the earth is indeed round and not flat) Smileyearth2


The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by my current employer and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of my employer.


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