Do Mobile Workspaces Actually Improve Productivity? Prove it!
‘Do mobile workspaces actually deliver on the vision of improving workforce productivity?’ That’s a question our customers frequently ask us. It’s a question that SteelCentral Aternity is all too happy to answer, since we have a unique perspective on the issue. The perspective of the end user, of course. As a long-time Citrix Ready partner, Aternity frequently helps our customers incorporate end user experience monitoring into their Citrix environments, including XenDesktop, XenApp and XenMobile. With Citrix Synergy only a couple of weeks away, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at the question. And, by the way, you can find Aternity in the Enterprise Mobility Management pavilion at Synergy, if you want a deeper discussion and demo of our Mobile APM capabilities.
The mobile workspace vision: anytime, anyplace work experiences improve productivity
Mobile workspaces can improve enterprise workforce productivity by enabling people to get their work done in a fully secure environment as they conduct business from smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Businesses benefit from increased agility and performance by empowering the workforce to collaborate across geographic regions, to prepare for important meetings while in transit, and to conduct business from home offices or the soccer field. A mobile workspace has the potential to increase productivity by providing the workforce with access to all of the resources they need—applications, content, or data—delivered on any device and any network.
Mobile workspaces can improve IT productivity too. By breaking down the technology silos of desktop and mobile computing, mobile workspaces enable IT to use a single integrated solution for security, policy configuration, and provisioning, rather than separate management tools.
Beyond secure access—the need to measure, manage, and improve workforce productivity
Mobile workspaces provide fundamental capabilities for achieving the vision of increased business agility and productivity. However, improving the end user experience of the workforce only begins with providing secure access to any app and any device. Breaking down silos between mobile and desktop computing is only a start to streamlining IT’s ability to support the mobile-first enterprise. These capabilities are absolutely critical pre-requisites. However, by themselves, mobile workspaces don’t enable enterprises to measure, manage, or improve mobile improve workforce productivity.
To complete the vision, enterprises must move beyond access and control to actually measuring and improving the end user experience of their workforce as they conduct business. After all, what drives the business is not whether the workforce simply has access to apps, content, and data. What counts is usage and performance, as experienced by the workforce in the field.
To improve workforce productivity, enterprises must ensure their applications deliver the quality of service and responsiveness the workforce requires to execute critical business activities. Collaboration across geographic regions doesn’t work if the designers are unable to modify the CAD file. The account representative can’t prepare for the upcoming sales call if she is unable to look up her client’s account in the CRM application. And the lawyer watching his child’s soccer game won’t be able to review the latest agreement if mobile app performance prevents opening the file.
Aternity fulfills the mobile workspace vision
Fulfilling the promise of improved IT and workforce productivity requires the ability to assure the reliability and quality of the entire range of enterprise applications, as experienced by the end user. Aternity monitors any application on any physical, virtual, or mobile device, providing a user-centric vantage point that closes the visibility gap existing with network and server-centric APM tools. Aternity provides important capabilities to enterprises deploying Citrix Workspace Suite that enable them actually measure, manage, and improve workforce productivity.
Aternity provides several key capabilities for enterprises deploying mobile workspaces
- Focuses First on the End User Unlike traditional APM, mobile APM, desktop, or virtual desktop performance management tools, Aternity has a deeper understanding of the enterprise end user—their identity, role, department, office location, and the full range of business activities for which they are responsible. Just as enterprises must understand the enterprise end user in order to tailor mobile workspace applications and security policies to their needs, IT Operations and the line of business must also have the context of the enterprise end user to prioritize service assurance response and to validate the business impact of strategic IT initiatives.
- Any Application, Any Device Aternity extends real-time visibility into the end user experience across the widest range of applications such as cloud, mobile, thick client, web-based, Rich Internet, Java, and .NET, and virtual platforms such as Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop. A primary benefit of mobile workspaces is to provide a unified app store for secure provisioning of any Windows, mobile, SaaS, or web app on any type of device, whether physical, virtual, or mobile. It almost goes without saying that IT must assure a quality end user experience for any of the applications provided by the mobile workspace to the workforce.
- Real-time Performance Analytics For every performance metric collected, Aternity automatically sets baselines that enable proactive problem detection, impacted user isolation, and probable cause analysis. And because we understand the correlation between users, applications, and devices, baselines can automatically be split by location, subnet, device, and hardware configuration. This means that the baseline for a given business activity can be different for the marketing team in New York than it is for the development team in Mumbai. Or different for a business activity conducted on a mobile device in the field vs. on a PC in the office. In a mobile workspace, what constitutes acceptable performance depends on who the user is, where they are, and what device they are using.
- Business Activity Analytics Simply providing applications to the workforce won’t increase productivity. What will is ensuring those applications actually enable the workforce to execute business activities quickly and flawlessly. And that means that IT needs the ability to define and monitor the business activities that are most relevant for the business.
Applications used by the workforce may be part of a single step business activity, such as ‘apply credit,’ for a retailer, or part of a more complex user workflow, consisting of a sequence of business activities, such as ‘resolve a disputed charge.’ Unlike APM products which require tagging to instrument applications, or that primarily report application diagnostic data like SQL and code level execution times, URL response and page load times, or HTTP and TCP errors, Aternity enables enterprises to define user interactions with applications in the context of a business workflow, to measure, manage, and improve workforce productivity. Monitoring and reporting on business activities, not just application diagnostic data, will indicate the success of a mobile workspace in supporting designers modifying drawings in CAD, sales people closing deals in CRM, and lawyers uploading files in email.
With these four capabilities, Aternity enables enterprises to answer the key question of how mobile workspaces improvement workforce productivity. The answer is to measure user experience from where it counts, the end user’s perspective, as they use the apps delivered via their mobile workspace solution.