The online survey indicated some apparent limitations in Canadian companies’ mobility strategies, such as not seeing mobility and remote working as the same thing. Citrix Canada chief Michael Murphy is, however, rather more positive about where Canadian companies are here, and where they are going.
A new Canadian-based survey of Canadian IT decision makers contains some contradictory findings about how they define a mobility strategy and how they should build it out. The online survey, Enabling the Remote Workforce in Canada, was conducted by Citrix Canada. The company sees the findings as mainly positive however, because while the data reveal some apparent inconsistencies, they are less problematic on closer examination.
“The impetus was to check the pulse of Canadian businesses and see their views on mobility, BYOD, and working remotely,” said Michael Murphy, VP and Country Manager for Citrix Canada. “We had done other surveys in the past about mobility, but this is the first from a Canadian perspective. Local surveys in Canada are important, but its all about getting the right people on the other end of the survey – gaining the right insight by talking to the right people.”
One of the main discontinuities in the data was that while 84 per cent of IT decision makers surveyed said that their organizations have remote working employees, almost as many – 83 per cent – defined mobility as the ability to send and receive emails. Murphy doesn’t see the discontinuity as massive, however.
“I’m not sure there is confusion with those numbers,” he said. “I think the results are fairly consistent with what I’ve experienced in conversations with customers. Sometimes, their mobility needs are as simple as getting secure access to email and internet. That’s all they really want and need. BYOD doesn’t fit into this, but as a strategy, it’s used where companies don’t provide employees with the right tools.”
Murphy said that it’s not uncommon for customers to not see remote working and mobility as the same thing.
“I think today that remote work or remote access is something people think is different from mobility,” he said. “The use of the term is a form of evolution. Remote access is something that Citrix has been enabling for 25 years, but mobility can be seen as something different.”
Other data indicated that 95 per cent of decision makers stated that mobilizing their enterprise is important to their business competitiveness, and 75 per cent said all employers should offer the ability to work remotely – even though 32 per cent said they think remote working is simply a trend that will pass. Here too, Murphy said that what appears to be contradiction and confusion likely has a more rational explanation. Some workplaces – like the Canadian federal government – have a workplace culture which has historically not been receptive to remote working, but Murphy thinks that’s a culture that is on the wane.
“The federal government is an example where the concept of working from anywhere on any device at any time is a challenge to have accepted,” Murphy stated. “It is evolving, however, and I think it is largely generational, which will fade as younger people become managers. Most of these types of organizations also have a collective bargaining agreement which can limit what they do for work out of the office. The government, though, is in a form of evolution, and it does move – just not as quick as private companies – to alter the process. I do, however, have tremendous hope that they will get there.”
Some of the data was more positive.
“Two thirds said that they don’t believe a traditional office is needed to be productive,” Murphy said. “I don’t think you need a physical presence to provide mentoring and guidance. One of the benefits of mobility is that you can bring in talent from anywhere in the world.”
Citrix has been making a major push with their Citrix Workspace Suite, which provides employees with access to their mobile workspace – desktop, all of their apps and their data – no matter where they are. It’s a newer type of solution, and Murphy said there are still some customer misconceptions about it.
“We have been using events, both our big Synergy event and two mobility events we have done in Canada to help people understand what we mean by workspaces, but people often translate the definition to ‘oh, my desktop,’” he said. “That’s our own doing, because VDI meant a virtual desktop for a long time. I think the Apple Store paradigm is having an impact in educating people, and we will get there, one person at a time.”
So what should be in a proper enterprise mobility strategy – particularly since 41 per cent of respondents acknowledged they didn’t have a comprehensive one in place?
“You need to define what you are trying to accomplish,” Murphy said. “You likely need a productivity suite of applications, access to the Infranet, must-have applications like email, and any specialized app that is relevant for the particular organization. Beyond that, it varies by the company. The strategy also has to be to make the device irrelevant, to make sure they operate on all operating systems on any network. That’s a good starting point for any mobility strategy. BYOD is also a practice customers are increasingly embracing, and so is a focus on the security aspects of mobility.”
Murphy said that Citrix’s job as a vendor is to make all this simple to use.
“Understanding how it all fits together is IT’s job,” he said. “People in IT get it, and understand the bigger macro-issues. Our job at Citrix is to shield that complexity from the user, to make it all simple, easy and transparent to use, so the experience is more consumer-like for the individual using it – even though it does tend to make it more complex for the IT departments.”
The Enabling the Remote Workforce in Canada survey was conducted using LegerWeb, Leger’s online panel, from February 22 to March 6, 2016. It has a margin of error of +/- 5.7%, 19 times out of 20.