This is not a post about the death of the desktop/monitor. I find that I still need one now and then. When I need to stare at a screen for 2-3 straight hours, with Microsoft Office open, a permanent-style desktop of some sort (virtual, physical) with a big monitor is quite useful. It keeps my focus in one area. It lets me use a toolset designed for the job, similar to call center operators or any operator for that matter. If you need to stare at a screen, make it a big one.
But then there are the other times. I spend two-thirds of my week roaming around talking to people or in meeting rooms. I don’t use a desktop anymore (I see hash tags on Twitter of #mobileonly increasing). I zip in and out of mail, Yammer and Twitter for social, Dropbox for presentations, etc. And I have talked to many companies who say their knowledge worker force is changing in these same ways:
The knowledge worker is changing. Regardless of BYOD, the existence of touch-screen devices with instant-on and cloud power at your fingertips means people will migrate to a more natural work style. Desktop permanent-type environments will exist. But reliance on them will lessen.
Humans are social. We like to talk. Even the introverted of us have a need to interact with others. Being able to shove the ingestion of data/information into smaller chunks of time empowers us to flourish. Innovate. Talk. Discuss. And sneak in a quick high-fidelity peek at my email.
I want casual access to a desktop, but really, I want to choose my own interaction method most of the time. I don’t want to be constrained. I don’t want an 8-minute boot time. I don’t want a piece of hardware for 3 years. Please stop talking about desktops and massive VDI farms and asking when the ugly-looking business case will get better.
So, given all this, here’s what I want to say to IT:
These are not the knowledge workers you’re looking for. They’ve adapted and evolved, and you must, too.
Let’s spend the effort giving the users full-fledged access to their high-fidelity productivity apps across their various devices.
Let’s help them be flexible. Give them access to a pooled VDI farm on-demand, when needed. Empower their tablet or hybrid touchscreen device. Heck, offer your own corporate asset if you want. Let them work on the corporate WAN or wild external networks. Access a high-fidelity experience of my workspace aggregator.
Don’t do it? Miss the boat, er, ship? You’ll probably find yourself alone on Tatooine…
This post also appears on Stephen’s Getting a Grep blog.