Concepts of consumerization of IT and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies have been around for some time already. However, in my discussions with enterprise customers who visit the Microsoft Technology Center, most of them are still in the very early stages of thinking about how to make it happen. The complexity and cost of publishing line-of-business applications in addition to security concerns are slowing down the adoption. This means that many people still need to carry a few devices with them. The most common scenario is a company-issued and IT-managed laptop, a personal or company subsidized tablet, and a smartphone. In my opinion, this is the opposite of being mobile.
For most information workers, email is still the most important tool they use to complete their work. I am making the assumption here that most organizations understand what it will take to allow their employees to access company email through their personal smartphones and tablets, and the implications of doing so. There are plenty of case studies that discuss the various implementations, so I will not spend too much time talking about email. However, one important point to mention is email attachments—the most popular of which are Microsoft Office documents. When considering which devices to provide to information workers, it is important to ensure the devices will allow workers to view, edit, and create Office documents.
If your company uses Microsoft Lync 2013, then having the native Lync client on your device will help you to stay in touch with your colleagues through instant messaging and voice over IP call and conferencing capabilities. Companies can now use Microsoft Office 365 online services on more devices. See http://aka.ms/gsmobility for details.
If you think about it, you can achieve the above with smartphones or phablets. And if you are like me, I can do 90 percent of my work with email in Outlook, the Microsoft Office suite (Lync included), and Microsoft SharePoint with a browser through Office365.
Travel Light with Windows To Go DevicesSo the next question is: what would be a great second device to have while traveling for business, especially going to other offices or branches of the same company? A light and thin Ultrabook? A convertible tablet/laptop?
I carry a device that weighs only 20 grams (about 0.7 ounces) that allows me to do work just like I am using my laptop in the office. Yes, 20 grams. And I don’t have to take it out of my bag when going through airport security. It is a Windows To Go device in the form of a USB flash drive.
The way it works is that I borrow a machine from my destination, plug in the Windows To Go device, and start the machine from the USB. If it is a new machine that I have not used before, some drivers will be installed and may require a quick restart (by the way, if you haven’t experienced how fast the Windows 8 operating system starts, please go to a computer retail shop and give it a try).
After that, I will be sitting in front of my own desktop. All the applications that I need are there, and the desktop environment is 100 percent IT-managed just like a company-issued laptop. I save all my documents in SkyDrive Pro, so I will always have the latest version wherever I go. If SkyDrive Pro is not available in your organization, then roaming profile is another common way to achieve a similar user experience. The operating system and data on the flash drive is encrypted by BitLocker, and I am also shielded from any malware or viruses that could be present on the original hard drive of the machine.
Imagine transforming your home computer into your work machine in seconds and taking advantage of flextime (working from home). Your shoulders will thank you for not carrying 4 kg (laptop, adapters, etc.) everywhere you go. Note that Windows To Go requires the flash drive to meet certain performance and compatibility requirements. You can find more information at http://aka.ms/Mzrcys.
There is no issue when I am on the corporate network because Wi-Fi or LAN will work normally. When I am out of the office, maybe at a partner’s office or an event venue, I can then leverage either DirectAccess or VPN to securely connect back to the corporate network. Again, this should already be set up by IT in your organization, and you are not asking them to change or make additional investments. Once I am connected, I can finish the 10 percent of work that I cannot do on my smartphone. Isn’t that great?
In the past 12 months, we have talked to quite a number of customers in the financial industries, and most of their executives travel to regional offices or branches. Windows To Go is perfect for them. It can save a lot of headaches from an IT standpoint because the current client management solution would continue to work without any change.
Now people can be truly mobile and travel light. Really light.
Chong Lee is the Director of the APAC Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) in Singapore and is the only person in the history of the organization who has worked in three different MTCs (Austin, Beijing, and Singapore). Chong is passionate about using technology to help businesses stay ahead. He enjoys basketball, food, and photography in his free time. You can connect with Chong on LinkedIn.