Categories
Me

Welcome!

So the time has come, I’ve FINALLY launched my own blog again.

I’ve had this domain and blog for several years and it has transformed over the years. Now, it will take the form of a modern workplace blog where I will share my learnings, findings, and hands-on tips on how to solve things!

My idea is to do this my own way and adding a personal touch to it.

So who am I?

You can find this under the About section as well.

I usually describe myself as a millennial since I’m born in that period and I identify a lot with the definition (and I do prefer avocado toast over diamonds).

I’ve worked within IT since 2011 and I’ve always worked with device management in some way or another. It all started back in 2011 when I worked with mobile device management at Sandvik IT Services. In 2013, I joined Microsoft’s MACH program as a consultant within devices, further developing and expanding my knowledge to also the Windows platform and more traditional management.

In 2017, I joined Sandvik IT Services once again, this times as a Service Manager over the client platform. In mid 2019 I switched role to become a Solution Architect in the modern workplace area. During this time, I helped drive the internal digital transformation with switching to modern productivity tools. I was also was involved in several big projects with the goal to modernize IT.

Since late 2019 I work as a Technical Specialist within devices at Advania, within the specialist unit Knowledge Factory.

I realised early on that to catch up with my senior colleges, it was a clever idea to focus Microsoft Intune since it was a new product in the Microsoft echo system where I could dive in and evolve faster. With that said, I do have knowledge of traditional management. I choose to view it as I understand what you have you in your legacy backpack to apply modern methods and helping you on your modernization journey.

My work life drive is quite simple (and you might find where the inspiration come from): I believe that everyone should be able to be as productive as possible with the tools they prefer in an uncomplicated way.

With that said, welcome to my new blog: Ola Ström – My modern workplace.

Categories
Digital Transformation Modern Workplace

The grey-area between work and private applications

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

TLDR; Microsoft AppStore, consider making this available for your users to unlock their full potential.

So, you have taken the leap over to Windows 10? (That’s awesome since support for Windows 7 ended 14th of January if you didn’t by additional extended support, I´m really hoping you did move).

Windows 10 brings you a LOT of new features, services, ideas and challenges. One of those is the Microsoft Store which grants your users access to all kinds of apps and other things like themes and language packs.

This is great, isn’t it?

This is an interesting topic. On one hand you have the fear of more support and your users demanding support for things your IT department is not prepared nor staffed for. On the other hand, this is a hidden gem full of potential and users expecting things to work in a certain way. This post will cover that, but mostly on the end of “this is a great idea” rather than “lock that down, we don’t support that!”. I’m not in any way judging someone or saying “your decision is wrong”, more on the hand of giving the point of view from someone who was responsible for 35k clients and what I learned from that and form talking to customers, peers and friends who uses Windows 10 in a corporate setup.

Disclaimer before I start. I will as usually oversimplify stuff (as the naive millennial I am), don’t care about network capacity and things like that. This will target an expected user behaviour and user expectations. Also, I’m aware that I’ve in some way or another discussed this with people who reads this and I’m not calling you out on any things mentioned in this in any shape or form, you inspired me to write this. I might also be neglecting any legal/licensing aspects of this.

Microsoft Store – the difference between private and corporate

But let’s start with the basics. What is Microsoft Store?

Microsoft Store is a marketplace for applications, much like the AppStore/Google Play Store we know from our phone (I know MacOS also have this but I’m leaving that out for now). The store offers users to download applications to their machine from a trusted source (applications are checked by Microsoft before being published) and they can install these without privileged access (admin access). All applications are installed in a user-context and user A will never see user B’s applications. The risk or malicious code is extremely small.

There is however one major thing to point out here, which is easily missed. There IS a distinction between your private sphere and your corporate sphere.

If you download e.g. Spotify or Netflix, this application will be connected to your PERSONAL Microsoft account if you download it from the public part of the store. If you choose to download it without and account, it will still be connected to a “personal sphere”.

BUT if you download an application from the business side of the store, this will be connected to your corporate account. To download things connected to your corporate account, you need to enable Microsoft Store for Business and this will give your users a new tab in the store called e.g. Contoso. Everything downloaded from this tab, will be connected to your organisation and you will have to obtain a license for it (free or paid). This requires your users to either sign in with their Azure AD account, you to enable hybrid join or the machine being only Azure AD joined.

This means that Windows can keep track of what is private and what is corporate which means that you will only need to keep track of what YOU support.

What if your employees are more productive if they listen to music? Should you block that on their computer? And what happens when you block e.g. Spotify on their corporate computer?

Well, most information workers today have corporate issued smartphone… You didn’t restrict that app on those kinds of devices. So, your workers will consume that service, with a privately owned account, anyways on a corporate device…

And to be honest, if you blocked this one their corporate phone, they would use their personal device instead (or even an old fashion radio).

Enter the grey-area between work and personal life

What does your user expect in the form of services, support and how to use their devices?

User behaviour has shifted a lot since the dawn of device management. We are now entering 2020 and most people have some form of knowledge of how to use a computer or a phone. This means that the expectations are shifting and we at IT needs to adapt to this and understand that our users now know their way around a computing device (computer or phone). Concepts as internet, App-stores and browsers are not new, this has been around for about a decade (the Apple AppStore was released 12 years ago, in 2008). The next generation workforce is also entering the market, and now I’m talking about the Gen Z people who doesn’t know about the world without internet and computers. Millennials are entering their 30’s, time to move on and stop being scared of us.

All this, and the fact that >80% of the population in Sweden have access to a smartphone, means that we need to expect more from our users today than we could 10-15 years ago. We can also expect that they know what services they need, e.g. Spotify might not be a corporate app but might be something that your users’ need to stay focused (and paying for them self). Simply put, we have more experienced users today and we need to meet their expectations, not limit them from reaching their full potential. Simply put, using a computer to perform tasks is not a new thing anymore.

The use of such apps leaves a grey-area between what is work and what is personal. E.g. Spotify might be something your user is using to stay focused to do their work better, while paying for it as a personal service, and it’s not accessing any corporate data since its running in an isolated container (I’m intentionally leaving out network from this). Since this is a subscription service, purchased privately and consumed on personal devices, this won’t require any support from you and the user won’t expect it either. They application will also be “owned” by their personal account, not the corporate one.

What do we support?

One thing I’ve heard from several different customers/partners/peers is “What if they call and want support on application X, we must support whatever we allow on the device”.

My usual answer to this is “Do you support Angry Birds on iPhone?”. The most common answer is no.

Why? Well, it’s not a corporate app. Neither is Spotify, Netflix, WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter is a corporate app. UNLESS you make it available in the Microsoft Store for Business.

If you make it available in Microsoft Store for Business, that means that you as a company acquired a license for it and you actively made it available for the user. The same goes for applications from Apple AppStore (using VPP) and Managed Google Play. Any application you mark as a corporate approved application, you should expect your users to expect support on.

What about everything else in the app-stores? Well simply tell your users that this is not an application approved for your company and they need to reach out to the application developer/vendor for support, its simply “not supported” by your organisation. Like I said earlier, you don’t support all +130 million applications in the iOS AppStore, do you?

What does real life users expect?

By talking to network of friends, customers, peers, and former co-workers. What do they say?

Well it was a straightforward, non-statistical secured, answer:

We do not expect IT to help us out with applications we obtain for “personal use”

This means if they have problems with e.g. Spotify or any other applications which is not work relate nor sanctioned by/licensed by their employer, they won’t call IT. This is also something I can confirm as previously being the operations manager for the client platform in a global company, support for app-store apps is not a huge problem. And if you managed the expectations from your users in an effective way, you will be fine.

Let’s face it, the way we use technology today is different from that it was 5-10 years ago. We need to adapt.

The go-do…

What’s the go-do from this? Well, I’m not saying that you should make this available for all users tomorrow but consider piloting this outside the comfort of IT and evaluate the outcome before deciding. This might be an appreciated addition to your offering towards your end-users.

What are your thoughts? Do you see the app-stores on the different platforms as hidden potential or a potential support problem? Let me know in the comments.

Categories
Intune Modern Workplace

Why should you care about your phones?

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

By now you have gone through several generations of different practices on how and why to manage your computers, through a Microsoft product such as #ConfigMgr or a third-party product like SpecOps. For Windows, managing the device is a standard procedure and most larger organizations have some sort of management.

But what about your mobile devices such as your iPhones, iPads, and Samsung phones? Are those managed?

Why should you manage your mobile devices?

There are a lot of arguments why you should manage your mobile devices such as keeping an inventory, security, and ease of use.

But why should you care? What’s in it for you?

Knowing what devices you have in your organisation, who has them and if they are used are a few things that are increasingly important in a cloud-centric world. Devices are no longer only living on the corporate network, and the mobile devices never even made it there.

Adding management to your mobile devices can provide you with many benefits:

  • You can keep track of what devices are used by whom
  • You can utilize a mobile device as a factor in multi authentication scenarios
  • Ease the access to corporate data for your end-users
  • Distribute software and settings (much like on Windows), making the user experience smoother.
  • Ensure that your corporate data is safe

There are several other arguments for this as well.

But to keep it short. You will gain control of what devices are used, by whom, in your organization. These devices are also most likely accessing corporate data, and it’s a clever idea to manage data on these devices (to minimize incidents).

What’s in it for the user?

So why would your users care about if their device is managed or not?

A lot has happened since the iPhone was introduced back in 2007. The services available, the threat level, user behaviour and more. We have also gained a lot of possibilities during the last couple of years when it comes to mobile device management. There are constantly new settings being available to manage to make the end-user onboarding better. We can define email account, deploy corporate Wi-Fi credentials, install business-related apps and much more. But we can also enforce security measurements such as PIN-code and encryption.

Lately, we are also able to set trust to a device, by registering it in Azure AD and by doing that claiming it to be trusted and not enforcing MFA each time it the end-user is trying to access the corporate sphere. Doing this will increase the user experience and at the same time ensure that you obtain a higher level of security since you know what device your data is accessed from.

One other important thing in this for the end-user is that you can now remotely assist the user in case they lose their device PIN or need some other help. For some platforms, there are even remote tools through e.g. TeamViewer so that your support team can see what the user is seeing.

So why should you care?

Since the behaviour of the workforce is changing. The term “mobile-first” isn’t applicable anymore, but if you look at what devices people are using, they spend a lot of time with their smartphones. So why wouldn’t you secure this device and make it member of your IT environment? There is a lot of hidden potentials here, where you can provide a valuable experience throughout the whole life cycle of the device (from onboarding to decommissioning).

Especially if you look at the younger generations of your workforce, they are more heavily dependent on their mobile device and if you are not on top of this on an early stage you will have a lot of catching up to do.

And just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you manage your mobile devices as you do with your on-prem computers. Adopt to what the mobile device management world looks like and protect the right things (data and identity), having the device locked down and not useful from an end-user point of view will only make your end-users find ways around it and you are back to square one.

What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment!

Categories
Modern Workplace

Evergreen – the road to stay current

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

I´ve touched on this in an earlier article, but it’s worth coming back to.

When we talk about Evergreen, we often get stuck in talking about Microsoft products (Office, Windows, Config Manager), but “Evergreen” is larger than that.

Keeping applications up to date is a challenge we struggle with like everyone else. There is basically always a newer version of our VPN client at any given time and the one we have in production does not support the latest Windows 10 feature release (this has for real been the case since we got started with servicing Windows). This is not the only one, there are several other examples of applications which are hard to keep up with.

You might argue that we don’t need EVERY version of our VPN client, and that is true. We need the one compatible with our back end and the latest Windows version.

But there are other applications which are working in the Evergreen context.

In our IT environment, we have several other applications which have a lifecycle much like Windows or Office, but sometimes with an even higher pace.

Two examples of these are Google Chrome and Adobe Creative Cloud. However, we don’t give them close to as much love as we do to the Microsoft application even though many have a crazy high penetration of Google Chrome usage without it being the default browser. Google updates Chrome every 6 weeks, that’s about 8-9 times a year. So, wanting to keep up with this and testing every release is a huge effort.

One could also argue that a lot of web-based services are also evergreen, since they are constantly updated, a little bit at the time. Sometime smaller changes, sometimes bigger (like when Facebook changed their design a few years back and everyone went crazy). But taking this to a desktop world is where the new challenges lays for the corporate world.

This is a vast area of improvement, realizing that the Evergreen spans outside the soft and cosy Microsoft bubble.

My point is not to make a big complex process for every little application, but to take the evergreen concept with a bit more ease since the idea around this is not new, it’s been around quite some time for at least browsers.

This might be a little bit over simplified, but for many of the applications you don’t need a big testing process for every update of e.g. the Windows 10 version or Office 365 release. Of course, for business-critical applications and applications with a lot of customizations/integrations, this is a good idea, but that can’t be most of your applications. By optimizing and prioritizing what applications you need to do application testing for, you will minimize the effort in moving between versions in an evergreen world. Think of it as application verification rather than application testing, since you want to make sure the application still works (which it most likely will).

We could also twist it a bit. Your users are using a smartphone, let’s say an iPhone. Apps for that iPhone which comes from the store are updated on a regular basis, and you don’t really control when Microsoft wants you to update Outlook to a later version on the phone. But it still works even after being updated. Of course, there aren’t as many integrations toward mobile apps as for desktop apps, but I want to highlight the mindset in this.

However, this also puts a great demands on the ISV, and you need to put more clear demands on your ISV’s to commit to this process when discussing and dealing with line-of-business applications.

The world has changed, and we need to adapt to this, even if we think it’s scary and will give us a lot of extra work.

And to loop back to a previous post again, to navigate the evergreen jungle, Desktop Analytics should definitely be your best friend in this since it can provide you really good insights about applications, drivers and much more!

I hope this article inspired you to start looking into how you can get moving with the Evergreen concept within your organization, and feel free to leave a comment or send me a DM if you want to discuss this further!

Categories
Digital Transformation Modern Workplace

Dare to break old habits in 2020

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

We all love email, don’t we? It’s such a fast and efficient way to communicate. You can just write your short message in the subject line and the person you send it to will see straight away what you wanted to ask…

Okay, there might be some irony in that part.

Emails are great, but not in communicating “one too few” in 2020, there are so many other great tools. We also have a new generation of workers showing up which don’t really get the whole email thing. We also have this whole thing with crowded inboxes. I’ve met people who have over 10 000 unread emails, and I bet you have too, so how would your email even be found or noticed in that case?

So, what can we use instead?

What if there were a tool which is based on chat, much like text messaging. Were you could easily share documents and you keep all conversation history? Oh, and group chats to include more people would be awesome!

In fact, there are several tools which does this such as Microsoft Teams, Slack or Google Hangouts. But since I’m a strong Microsoft advocate, I’ll focus this article on the Microsoft product Teams.

What is Teams?

There is a lot of buzz around Teams, and have been for quite some time now and if you are not looking into it yet it’s time to get started since Skype for Business is going end of life in 2021.

But what is Teams and how can you make use of it?

Teams is a collaboration platform in the aspect of “one to one – one to few – one to many”, and keeping it focused to your team (virtual or organizational) and not your complete organization, but of course based on size and such. Teams is not a new social intranet; this is where Yammer comes into play if we speak Microsoft terms.

Teams is heavily centralized around conversations and collaboration in different context. Conversations can either be private in chats or more public in a team where everyone in the team can participate (private channels are coming as well as presented at Ignite during Q1 of 2020).

Collaboration can also take different shapes and forms in Teams. But to set the expectations right, Teams is based on SharePoint Online and shares the same access principles and collaboration feature set as SharePoint Online.

Teams shouldn’t be looked upon as “yet another place” to look for news and updates, it should be considered as the hub where you keep track of things. The more conversation you move to Teams from especially email, the easier the transition will be. Also, this is your one stop shop for calls, meetings and chats which means this should be a part of your daily workflow!

And yes, Teams is so much more than what I just wrote. But it’s an easy place to start and an effective way in to using the platform!

So why should you care?

Even if we all love sending email, it’s not an efficient way of communicating since we all know that feeling after a few days of and you have 200 new emails where most of it is “for your knowledge” or just irrelevant. There is also a significant risk that you miss something important and you will need at least a day to go through it all.

Teams can help you gain more transparency and faster collaboration. You also get the benefit of traceability of all discussions you have had either in personal chats or larger forums, and its SEARCHABLE.

Looking at the trend and buzz around Teams, it’s here to stay and is a more modern way to communicate. Emails will still have its place in the world, but not as we use it today. There is also a whole new generation out there who doesn’t really understand why one would use email to communicate since it’s not efficient.

Let’s break the old habit in 2020 and send less email and more instant messages! It doesn’t have to be Teams since this is more a behaviour than a product. I promise you, both you and your users will find it more pleasing to get less emails!

Categories
Me

My break-up story

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

Sandvik IT Services. It’s not you. It’s me….

I’ve decided it’s time to move on from Sandvik IT Services and do something else.

I started my professional career at Sandvik IT back in 2011. A young kid who didn’t really know what he wanted to do when he got older. I still don’t know, but now I have some sort of idea. I left Sandvik in 2013 and spent 4,5 years at Microsoft as a Windows consultant (or Workplace which it would be called today). In 2017 I decided to come back to Sandvik since some cool challenge was presented to me and an awesome manager was hiring.

During my time at Sandvik IT Services, we have done a ton of cool things.

  • Rolling out Windows 10 in a large global environment
  • Established servicing for Windows 10 and Office365 Pro Plus
  • Changed hardware vendor
  • Changed sourcing partner
  • I got an internal award for Passion to win (first ever to get the award)
  • Put Windows Autopilot in the production environment
  • Put co-management into the production environment (SCCM)
  • Established an awesome relationship with our partners and vendors
  • Been disruptors in enterprise IT, tried making it more punk
  • Established “no one remembers a coward” attitude in the team
  • Evangelized digital transformation
  • Engaged with next-generation information workers to get them to work with IT
  • Talked at conferences
  • Showed up in several of our vendor’s presentations and marketing material

There is even more cool stuff that I can’t think of right now.

I’ve really appreciated that I’ve been let to work towards my personal vision: everyone deserves a good digital workplace. During my time at Sandvik, I’ve really tried to reach this goal. Simple, effective, and smart workplace.

There is still work to be done, we can always improve.

I’ve also grown a lot as a person during my time at Sandvik. I’ve been given the possibility to explore and try new things. Pushing myself outside my comfort zone from time to time. But also realizing what I like doing and what I want to pursue. This is something I’m thankful that I was encouraged to do.

And finally. I’ve had so many awesome colleges. I will miss all off you terribly, not seeing you on a daily basis will leave a mark!

But now the time has come for me to move on and face new challenges. In mid-November, you will find me at Advania – Knowledge Factory as a Technical Specialist within Devices!

Categories
Modern Workplace

Desktop Analytics – the new black

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

On the 16th of October, Microsoft released a new tool called Desktop Analytics where we got quoted, which to me is insane but also proves that we are doing the right things right now.

We have committed to follow the Windows 10 Feature Upgrade schedule of two updates per year, which put high demands on out applications and devices to be ready for this. That is where Desktop Analytics comes into play. This tool provides us with insights around all applications present on our computers and we can identify many known issues before they happen.

By adopting this workflow, we can create more dynamic pilot groups to make sure that we cover as many scenarios as possible before deploying the update to all end-users. This will also help us build a bigger trust in the organization around the Windows 10 feature updates.

Having bigger upgrades of Windows two times per year is a tremendous change from how things have been done in the past, where larger upgrades where released every 3-5 years. Now this happens 2 times per year which comes with a lot of new challenges when we have such a large and complex environment with a lot of older applications which were not designed for Windows 10. However, we are seeing most applications to be working, but this also puts a larger responsibility on the application owners to keep their application up to date and move quick if there is a problem.

We still have things to do around this, but we are getting there and by getting new tools with access to better data will help us take better decisions going forward.

If you haven’t yet read the blogpost from Brad Anderson, you can find it here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2019/10/16/announcing-general-availability-desktop-analytics/

Categories
Digital Transformation

Redundant systems

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

Okay, so you are shifting to Microsoft 365. That’s great! It includes a lot of things that are useful, and a lot of services you already have from another vendor. You might even have the same service from multiple vendors.

Let me put some context to this.

Your users need a phone conference system, so you go and buy this from vendor A which require a specific license. Vendor A isn’t that great on videoconferencing or does not do it at all. So, you reach out to vendor B and buy a video conferencing system to use in your meeting rooms. The licenses for this system were pretty expensive, so you decide to also go to vendor C and buy a more cost-efficient system which can be used from a user’s computer and you put a lot of time into getting the system from vendor B and C to work together. These two systems also have the possibility to do phone conferencing. It never gets a 100% smooth, but your users settle in for this, hey it’s corporate IT.

Then comes Microsoft Teams and does all these three things you bought separate products for, but you add this to the mix as well since Teams is the future and all users have a license for it. The three old ones are still there, and everyone is confused when to use what.

Does this sound familiar?

This doesn’t just go for Teams and meeting platforms. This can be applied to any service you provide to your users. You have one or two solutions, then comes the new product that you and your users want, and you just add it to the mix without decommissioning the old solutions. Hey, your users still love the old one then why remove it?

We have been there and still are

When we started our journey towards Microsoft Teams as a collaboration platform, we had a lot of solutions doing parts of the things Teams does. We had one solution for chat (Skype), two-three for video conferencing and at least two for phone/online meetings to name a few.

Having several solutions that do the same thing is not a wanted state for several reasons:

  • You will have to pay multiple licenses for the same thing
  • Your users will get confused when to use what
  • Your users will get frustrated when they can’t use solution A to connect to solution B
  • Life cycle management for several products is a hassle

But just throwing out that expensive video conferencing system you installed in your board room is probably not something you wish to do since you will have to replace it with something just as expensive. So, saving parts which can be integrated into one solution is the way you want to go.

Our trickiest one to close is our old online meeting platform, which people are fond of. When we introduced online meetings through Skype, people were missing some features which they had really liked in the old setup. At the same time, we had a change in user behaviour where users were connecting to the meetings through their computers instead of dialling in which had an impact on the network resulting in poor call quality. This gave Skype a bad reputation internally and everyone wanted the old, quite expensive solution which “worked” were you often called in with your phone for audio. Eventually, we have reached a state where the trust is high in Teams and functionality is good which have made the shift a lot easier. This also gave EVERYONE the possibility to host online meetings, not only the ones who had an expensive separate license.

Remember to retire old services

This doesn’t only apply for Teams and Microsoft 365, this can be applied to anything. In a big corporate IT environment, it can be hard to close services which have been loved and heavily used by the users. It’s important to put in the effort with making the users aware of WHY you are transitioning into a new service. Letting the service die by itself is never a clever idea, you will gain a lot by putting the effort in to decommission something (and it will be cheaper). Even if we might act like it sometime, we never replace/change services just because we like new shiny things. There is ALWAYS a business case behind every major change, and the goal is always to improve the service even if the road there might be bumpy.

If you can optimize and simplify your environment by decommissioning redundant services, get on it!

Categories
Tips & Tricks

Making use of Windows features

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

Have you noticed that Windows 10 has a lot of built in features, some of them which are really good?

In this article my idea is to shed some light of two small ones which might not be known to everyone. These can be useful in an enterprise perspective and might even replace some other applications that you might have bought separate licenses for.

It might require that you be on Windows 10 1903 or higher.

Clipboard history (Win + V)

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In the Windows 10 1809 release there was an improvement to the clipboard feature in Windows. You no longer need to go back and find that text or picture again that you copied earlier. By enabling and using Windows button + v you can retrieve old data that you have copied. You can also set it to synchronise between devices.

Screen Snip (Win + shift + s)

Did you know that there is an improved Snipping tool in Windows 10 called Screen Snip? This can be used to take screen shots or screen snippets and add annotations if needed. It’s easy to use. You can either find it in the pen icon in the task bar or use the shortcut windows button + shift + s. You can then select to either take a snippet, window or full screen shot.

If you want, you can also through Settings > Ease of Access > Keyboard set the Print Screen button to activate this instead.

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Categories
Digital Transformation Modern Workplace

Increasing device flexibility

(Originally posted on LinkedIn)

Let’s dig into hardware, since this is an important part of the workplace services.

In the old world, IT centrally basically dictated what computer to buy (you had a handful to choose from) and the ones available probably didn’t really fit your needs but it was the closest you could get.

Okay, not THAT extreme, but I hope you get the point.

Limiting the selection of computers (and a set specification of these) are great in some sense:

  • Standardized range of models
  • No “surprises” for the support team
  • Easy for end-user to pick a device
  • Life cycle management becomes easier
  • Centrally decided which models and specifications to use = no discussion

There is also a bit of a flaw in this setup. There is no room for flexibility and user needs. You will get stuck with something which is what you needed, but not completely.

Let’s start with an example

You have this range of computers to choose from:

  • Computer A – Small lightweight laptop, great for travel but not powerful
  • Computer B – Standard laptop, fairly mobile, fairly powerful.
  • Computer C – Powerful and large workstation, lots of power, lots of memory.
  • Computer D – Executive top model. Pretty powerful and slim design. Expensive.

For a user who travels a lot and needs a powerful computer. Are any of these a good fit?

Taking a new approach

As part of the transition from one hardware vendor to another, we decided to change this approach and offer a broader range an even having models which overlapped. All of them could be specified to the users need. In this context, range means certified for our custom image.

This also meant that we offered a more complex setup, potentially offering about 15 computers towards our end-users. This is where Local IT comes into play for an important part. Creating the custom range for THEIR site. For us, Local IT are the ones providing the user with hardware, which should be fit for purpose for the end-users need.

Just because we centrally offer 15 models doesn’t mean that all 15 should be offered to the end-user on all sites. Most sites actually ended up offering just a few models BUT could get that special machine which just a few users per site needs and the possibility to upgrade the processor, RAM and the hard drive size without making it a non-standard device.

New challenges for central IT

Having this broad offer created new challenges for us as central IT. How do we explain to local IT when to pick what computer, especially when models might overlap? This is something which we hadn’t dealt with before in the same way and this also positioned us in a different place.

We are becoming an enabler rather than a provider.

Positioning us as enablers doesn’t just apply for hardware, this could be said about a lot of our new services. But this is where we need to go since we operate on business demands and not on what we think is interesting. We enable the business to succeed and to do that we need to understand and meet their demands. Once again, understanding each local business need is very hard as a central organization and we need the local IT staff to help the user to navigate the jungle we are creating by adopting a more flexible environment where we no longer dictate what devices can be used.

The conclusion

So how do we tackle this? We have only found one effective way and that is information. Information about the services and information about the hardware so that a good decision can be made as close to the end-user as possible.

However, we are not making things easier for ourselves right now. We are about to enable Windows and Mac managed from Intune. How should we position that and why should one be picked over the other or the traditional custom Windows PC? We are working hard on creating good service descriptions right now to assist in making this decision together with the end-user. Defining what you can do, but also what you cannot do, with each service becomes increasingly important to make this decision.

Since the modern workplace puts more focus on the user, the approach to what device the end-user consumes the services on must change. We cannot be a “Windows only” environment anymore. Different people have diverse needs and if we want to keep being an attractive employer, what device you can use is not something IT can afford dictate. You need to meet the end-user on their grounds and provide tools they are comfortable and used to work with since they will bring their own work style.

Today we are doing this shift with our devices. Who knows, tomorrow it might be the applications.