Contents and executive summary
Organisations seeking to become dynamic, efficient and productive are increasingly concerned about the lack of agility in the provision of ICT to their users.
84% of CIOs feel that their inability to respond quickly enough to business demands is directly affecting the competitiveness of their organisations. As a result, the vast majority (82%) are investing in digital transformation as part of the solution, however a combination of cost, user experience and legacy applications is holding back progress.
These are the headline results from research carried out to investigate how far organisations have progressed in building agile workspaces, enabling workforce mobility, and digitally transforming the work environment.
It was undertaken by independent market research firm, Vanson Bourne, surveying the opinions of 200 CIOs and senior IT decision makers.
The research assesses whether CIOs are delivering on the promise of digital, particularly when it comes to meeting the growing expectations of a workforce that demands a connected and collaborative environment.
In particular, it looks at how far CIOs have come in creating an agile, usercentric workspace – one which gives users everything they need to work productively from any device at any location and at any time.
So, are there issues for organisations in adopting new ways of working, or are they in place but failing to deliver the expected improvements in business agility?
Overall, the findings show that while CIOs are making progress in building workspaces that are more agile, they need to overcome a number of hurdles.
While there are a wide range of issues detailed in this report, the biggest issues slowing transformation are the cost and complexity of dealing with legacy applications, and the restrictions imposed by outdated financial models.
CIOs are responding to the challenges through strategies addressing mobility, user engagement, cloud delivered applications, and BYOD, but with limited success.
On a more positive note, most CIOs are responding to the challenge with increased flexibility and are also taking a more environmentally friendly approach towards their workspaces.
The key findings are that the overwhelming majority of organisations are seeking to improve agility through digital transformation, however:
- Outdated CAPEX finance models are holding back 88% of CIOs and issues around legacy applications are slowing down 86% of transformation projects.
- User experience and the expectations to younger staff for flexible working were of importance to almost all organisations in attracting and retaining talent.
- The growth of ‘shadow IT’ and its impact on security was of concern to most respondents.
- Despite market hype, less than half of the companies have actually adopted BYOD and of those that have, the majority felt security risks and support costs had increased as a result.
- By contrast, 64% of companies have adopted self-service tools and of these 86% reported that they were noticeably reducing the volume of calls to the helpdesk.
- Green IT is becoming a bigger factor, with three quarters of organisations now including IT when setting / achieving CSR policy guidelines goals.
Ultimately, organisations are seeking to take advantage of digital transformation and increased agility but are finding it a significant challenge due to the legacy of outdated financial models, applications, and working practices.
Green IT is becoming a bigger factor, with three quarters of organisations now including IT when setting or achieving CSR policy guidelines and goals.
A new approach is therefore needed which takes advantage of the latest developments around cloud technologies and commercial models to deliver workspaces-as-a-service.
Taking this approach removes many of the barriers identified and supports the broader digital transformation agenda.
As organisations are looking to move away from a traditional desktop IT environment to a more flexible one that caters for mobile, digital-savvy employees, the appeal of the agile workspace has grown.
An agile workspace gives users everything they need to work productively from any device at any location – including applications, shared data and documents, and self-service support.
However, stitching these elements together seamlessly is not an easy task, particularly as IT environments have grown in complexity.
When asked to identify the barriers to creating an agile workspace, the single biggest issue across all industries was cost (48%); closely followed by security and compliance concerns (47%), and legacy technology (44%). Legacy technology was more of an issue in companies with more than 1,000 employees (51%) compared to organisations of 500-1,000 (37%).
Other significant barriers are company culture (39%) and misalignment between business and IT (36%), suggesting that there is still a lack of understanding between the boardroom and the CIO when it comes to digital priorities.
Furthermore, the pace of technological change (37%) and a lack of skills within existing IT teams (33%) are barriers for a significant number of organisations. However, the key takeaway from these results is that there is not just one hurdle for CIOs to surmount, there are instead a multitude of issues they must resolve to deliver an agile workspace.
It is perhaps not surprising that cost is such a challenge, when operational issues surrounding IT budgets present yet another barrier. Many organisations operate a fixed multi-year budget cycle, so IT investments in infrastructure, platforms, and applications, are often accounted for as capital expenditure (capex). This can restrict organisations in gaining the flexibility needed to scale usage up and down, and move towards a more dynamic (opex) operating model. When asked, 88% of CIOs stated that capex models are making it more difficult to create an agile workspace.
As these findings have outlined; to become user-centric and enable workspace agility, organisations have to move away from the traditional IT desktop model; giving employees access to all the applications and data they need, and empowering them to collaborate with colleagues over any connection.
For most, this is easier said than done. Companies are adopting cloud at varying speeds, and many organisations and sectors have made historical investments in IT that make migration challenging, at best.
Legacy applications in particular are a significant problem; 87% of CIOs agreed that legacy applications will slow their journey to an agile workspace.
Specifically, the main reasons why legacy applications slow the journey to an agile workspace are the cost of re-architecting or transforming applications (68%), the disruption to the user experience (43%), and the lack of in-house skills to modernise applications (46%).
Managing legacy applications is something many organisations struggle with, particularly when so many of those applications support business critical processes and systems.
In fact, the research shows that legacy applications are not just a barrier to creating agile workspaces but are actually delaying digital transformation of the entire organisation for more than half of respondents (56%).
A large number of enterprises are still dependent on these on-premise applications, which have been heavily customised and are not built to be delivered from a cloud infrastructure or as a cloud service.
Re-architecting and integrating applications is difficult work, and for many CIOs, this barrier is best overcome by seeking outside help and bringing in skilled application remediation experts from a third-party.
Four strategies for increasing agility
Strategy 1: Improve user engagement and experience
CIOs are well aware that one of the biggest drivers of change and demand for increased agility is the experience and expectations of users within the organisation. Today, modern workers, and digital natives in particular, expect to use the latest technology at work, and see being able to work flexibly and remotely as standard.
Furthermore, employees are increasingly influenced by their interactions with companies outside of a work environment – such as Google, Amazon, and Apple – and want the same intuitive, simple experience.
This ongoing consumerisation of IT is growing in consequence. Indeed, the IT user experience is felt to be very or somewhat important in attracting and retaining new talent by 91% of respondents.
Overall, almost half felt it was very important (47%); this figure was higher amongst CIOs in organisations of 500-1,000 employees (55%), underlining the value of retaining talented employees for smaller enterprises.
These figures are important, but in fact the situation becomes more critical when you consider the new generation entering the workplace. The overwhelming majority (93%) of respondents say younger employees are driving demand for more flexible technology and ways of working.
Given that this demographic is the workforce of the future and will increasingly demand more flexibility in how, when and where they work, as well as the flexibility to choose the tools they use.
Developing a truly user-centric place of work requires a closer focus on monitoring and improving the IT user experience.
In external customer-facing situations, user experiences are continuously and closely monitored – consumers are frequently asked, for example, “How did we do today?”. However, by comparison, the internal experience of employees has not always ranked as highly.
This is gradually improving, as the research shows; more than three quarters (79%) of CIOs are currently measuring the IT user experience, but this still leaves a fifth (21%) not yet measuring user experience.
The frequency of measurement is also of concern. Of those that are measuring the IT user experience, 38% do so monthly, 33% every three months, and 18% every six months. On average, companies measure IT user experience six times a year, but more than a quarter (28%) of organisations are only measuring it once or twice a year. Given the pace of change in technology, this simply isn’t enough.
Moreover, a key learning here is that measuring experience tends to be a reactive, not proactive function. While almost all IT teams are measuring user experience retrospectively after at least a month, they are failing to build in toolsets to monitor the environment in real time.
This, in effect, puts the onus on users to report an issue, and unresolved issues turn into unhappy users. Those unhappy users are then far more likely to turn to shadow IT to resolve problems. As workforces become more dispersed, if enterprises fail to engage with these users then all they are doing is simply dispersing unhappy employees.
A truly agile workspace should allow IT teams to continually monitor user experience by giving employees the power to constantly rate their environment. This means CIOs can be far more proactive and responsive; if they can see in real-time that a part of the experience is being flagged by several users as negative, they can react to rectify it.
Modern employees don’t want to wait months for a requested change to be made to an application, greater agility will allow CIOs to amend and refresh applications far more quickly.
In recent years, the ability to ‘self-serve’ has played a central role in addressing these challenges and improving user experience. Whether paying at the supermarket or checking in at the airport – it is possible to complete these actions without needing to interact with another human.
The world of work is no exception; increasingly, organisations have sought to make it possible for employees to use self-service support rather than directly contact the IT team.
Not only is this more straightforward for users, but self-service also helps organisations become more efficient by decreasing costs and reducing the amount of resources needed – as long as the service owner has effective visibility and control of the self-service function.
The research found that two thirds (64%) of businesses have implemented self-service tools; a further 30% of CIOs said their organisation hasn’t yet implemented self-service but will in the next 12 months.
Of those organisations offering self service, 86% feel support tickets have been reduced to some extent. Most organisations (82%) that have implemented IT self-service are currently measuring employees’ usage; this figure is highest in organisations of 500- 1,000 employees at 95%.
The majority of respondents that have implemented IT self-service are also gathering feedback to improve the usability of self-service tools (87%).
Today, most of us – conditioned by our experience of slick consumer devices – expect that technology
For enterprises with large numbers of employees, the ability to reduce IT support tickets is a positive. However, organisations can’t simply roll-out self-service and then stop there.
Genuinely improving the experience requires a continual focus on understanding how employees are using the service.
The research shows that there is still work be done in ensuring that self-service technology upgrades the user experience, finding that the majority (83%) of CIOs typically find out about users’ experience of IT through calls to the IT helpdesk. Surprisingly, this figure is even higher in those organisations that have implemented self-service (87%).
Today, most of us – conditioned by our experience of slick consumer devices – expect that technology ‘just works’. For much of the time, the technology we use operates unnoticed in the background. This means for many employees, their only contact with the IT department comes when there is a problem, which is borne out by the research results.
IT departments must address this gap by pivoting to an agile workspace, one which enables continual monitoring of the user experience and ensures that selfservice interactions deliver value.
Strategy 2: Implement BYOD
One way in which organisations have sought to bridge the gap between users’ expectations and the experience at work is to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy.
BYOD is not new, the phrase entered common usage almost a decade ago, and allowing the use of personal devices at work is an important aspect of a user-centric workspace – yet the research shows many organisations are struggling to manage it. Of our respondents, 46% have introduced BYOD to allow staff to use preferred devices, and to encourage flexible working and greater employee productivity, with a further 35% considering it.
Explaining some of the reluctance to implement BYOD are concerns that it contributes to security vulnerabilities and an increase in support issues. When asked, 87% of organisations that have adopted BYOD feel it is has increased security risks.
In addition, the majority (89%) of organisations that have adopted BYOD believe it has also increased the burden on IT support teams.
These factors combined mean 88% of CIOs that have adopted BYOD believe it has increased IT management challenges in general.
Overall, the findings show that while a number of organisations have adopted BYOD, many are not yet realising its full benefits, and are concerned about the associated security and support headaches.
It is not surprising that the perception of BYOD is that it increases security risk – CIOs are bombarded with news of new cyber-attacks on a near daily basis.
In addition to threat from external forces, businesses rightly worry about the ease with which mobile devices are lost – research from UK thinktank, Parliament Street, found that 26,272 devices were handed into the Transport for London’s lost property office alone between 2017-2018. But reluctance to give staff access to preferred technologies holds back enterprises from becoming user-centric.
There is a careful balance to strike between being too draconian in forbidding staff from using personal devices, or too lax in letting staff connect however they please to the corporate network.
Organisations must seek out solutions that enable BYOD in a secure manner while minimising the support burden. Replacing the traditional IT desktop with a managed workspace agility service, for instance, gives users access to the applications and data they need from any device and location, with access centrally configured, managed, and permissioned.
Such a service, backed by a proactive and interactive support function, provides a smarter way to work and a better user experience, one which empowers rather than hampers users.
Despite the concerns expressed over security and support, the research also shows the significant majority (92%) of organisations that have adopted BYOD, feel it has increased employees’ general productivity.
The message for CIOs is clear – adopting a more agile model that embraces BYOD will satisfy increasing employee demands and will also enable greater flexibility and responsiveness between employees – empowering innovation and collaboration amongst the workforce.
Strategy 3: Increase Mobility
Too often, IT is seen as restrictive; more concerned with security and maintaining the status quo than in driving change.
But by pivoting towards an agile workspace, organisations can capitalise on the opportunities that digitisation offers and see the impact on their bottom line. More remote and mobile working, for instance, reduces overheads associated with running physical buildings and covering travel expenses.
This can be one of the most significant parts of any business case for change in both public and private sector organisations, where releasing premises can deliver considerable income and savings.
When asked, more than 64% of respondents said they were planning to reduce fixed office space in the next two years, with 40% looking to do so in the next 12 months.Of those organisations looking to reduce fixed office space, almost all (93%) are looking to enable employees to work in a more agile way.
A notable factor in enabling greater agility will be growing demand from the workforce. There is no escaping the fact that employees increasingly expect to work whenever and wherever, enabled by the technology they choose.
The influx of mobile devices into our lives has made using technology ‘on the go’ second nature. Research from GSMA Intelligence finds that the number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide has now reached five billion, a staggering figure when we consider the world’s population is seven and a half billion2.
Remote and mobile working will increasingly become the norm and is a core tenet of an agile workspace. Our research shows almost all respondents are seeking to enable this model, with 97% either strongly or somewhat encouraging remote and mobile working
2 GSMA Intelligence, Number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide hits five billion, June 2017
Given this finding, organisations must ensure they have an agile support and enablement model that makes remote and mobile working simple, secure, and cost-effective.
However, facilitating remote and mobile working presents challenges for users and IT teams alike – thanks to issues such as varying levels of connectivity in different locations, the variety of devices being used and supported, or security restrictions that prevent access.
On average, respondents to the survey think the number of IT support requests due to remote and mobile working has increased by a quarter (25%).
Not surprisingly, given the findings around BYOD security concerns, a large majority (88%) of businesses are also concerned that a growing mobile workforce presents an increasing number of IT security challenges.
The whenever and wherever model of work means staff need access to corporate data and systems from different locations, using a multitude of devices, and a variety of connection methods – businesses must be ready to enable this choice in a secure manner. Furthermore, alongside remote and mobile working growing in popularity and BYOD adoption on the rise, ‘shadow IT’ has continued to proliferate. This makes it a challenge for IT teams to consistently stay on top of the devices and applications employees are using at any one time, which has implications for businesses’ remote and mobile working policies.
A majority (83%) said shadow IT is making it a challenge to keep their remote and mobile working policy up to date. The finding suggests that organisations are struggling with the rapid pace of technological change taking place.
Slow, cumbersome devices, poor support, and restrictive policies frustrate users who just want to get on with their work. CIOs must seek to make information mobile and give end-users the ability to do anything they want, on their choice of device.
In order to achieve this goal and successfully make the shift towards a more agile workspace, organisations need the flexibility to grant access to the corporate network, dependent on a number of parameters.
This ensures that employees can access the data and applications they need, while the security of the corporate network is maintained. The research found organisations are currently restricting access to corporate systems based on user profile (57%), device type (46%), connection type (46%), and user location (33%).
Naturally, CIOs cannot allow unfettered access to corporate systems, but they also must ensure they are not acting as a blocker to employees’ productivity. They must be able to quickly provision and de-provision access as needed, and have robust identity and access management solutions in place – allowing employees to work safely from any location without interruption.
CIOs must seek to make information mobile and give end-users the ability to do anything they want, on their choice of device.
Strategy 4: Implement SAAS
Most organisations have looked at the cost and complexity overheads that traditional Windows applications have introduced into their environments.
As the demand for technology to support the business continues to grow at a rapid pace, and employees’ expectations over how they work change in turn, CIOs must seek an alternative, more flexible model to meet the needs of the business and remain competitive.
While some have looked at ever-more sophisticated means of deployment, many others have taken the strategic decision to source as many of their applications as possible from the cloud. Software-as-a Service (SaaS) allows applications to be accessed from a browser, with minimal need for set-up or client configuration on the device.
The challenge is matching the functionality of ‘off the shelf’ software with the requirements of business process and specific demands of the individual business. Tailoring is possible, but ultimately the added professional services costs and the creation of a bespoke product may compromise many for the expected benefits.
It’s clear from the responses that SaaS applications are making a difference but are not providing a cure-all for the application issue, which remains one of the biggest barriers to agility.
There is also a significant difference in outcomes from using SaaS applications between medium sized and large organisations. A third of those who have fewer than 1,000 employees report significant agility benefits from SaaS, whereas the equivalent for larger organisations is 17%; this is likely to be down to the complexity of the application set.
Overall, SaaS applications are likely to play an increasing role by replacing the functionality of traditional Windows applications, but the pace of change is slowed by the mismatch between functionality and specific requirements, making it likely that legacy applications will be with us for some time.
To address this, it will be necessary for organisations to adopt an integrated application delivery strategy. This may well prioritise the preference to use SaaS applications wherever possible, but also recognises the continuing strategic requirement for the packaged delivery of Windows applications or enterprise-class virtualisation using solutions like Citrix Cloud.
The agility challenge is to ensure that the complexity of application access and delivery methods is kept within the service, while the user is simply presented with the applications they need to be productive in their role.
The agility challenge is to ensure that the complexity of application access and delivery methods is kept within the service