The Digital Workspace: A Paradigm for Bridging the Generation Gap

The days of work-issued technology being a state-of-the-art status symbol are long over. Workers used to the seamless customer interactions driven by Apple, Amazon, and Google in their personal lives have come to expect a similar, unfettered experience in their professional lives—only to be frustrated when security or other barriers to mobility get in the way.

Enter the digital workspace, a set of technologies redefining the modern work environment while serving as a springboard to boost productivity and security. More than a collection of apps or a remote desktop, the digital workspace delivers a contextualized, personalized experience that allows employees to work securely on any device, from any location, providing easy access to the full complement of tools, systems, and content required to get their job done.

A digital workspace ultimately fosters engagement and better decision making. “It’s helping users understand their dynamic role within the context of work and empowering them to be as productive and engaged as possible,” says Kurt Roemer, Citrix chief security strategist.

Enterprise interest in the digital workspace is rapidly growing. According to an exclusive IDG/Citrix survey, 92% of respondents flagged a sound digital workplace strategy as key to their success, and 93% were bullish on the technology’s ability to foster employee productivity. These organizations are not merely giving lip service to the concept: 96% of respondents confirmed digital workspace optimization already is or will be available to the vast majority of their workers.

Much of the push for a more flexible and highly intuitive way of working stems from the swelling ranks of Millennials, who are estimated to comprise about three-quarters of the global workforce by 2025. Millennials who come of age in the digital world expect a flexible and integrated experience in their professional environment, yet they are hardly alone.

Baby Boomers and Gen X workers are also demanding support for a variety of working styles. And all generations are hungry for mobility solutions that support multiple devices: By 2020, IDC estimates that mobile workers will make up nearly three quarters (72.3%) of the US workforce.

Differing user needs

While the digital workspace can be a boom for worker productivity, it presents significant challenges to IT organizations, specifically in the area of varying expectations from different generations in the workforce.

Older workers may be more willing to put up with cumbersome security policies and practices, but Gen X and Millennial workers are not.

To meet the challenge, digital workspaces require a new way of thinking about security. Rather than the longstanding device-centric model, the digital workspace demands a shift to a people-centric approach that puts the user at the center of the security framework.

Using technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtualization, and analytics, this new security model collects and synthesizes everything known about users and their behavior to provide contextual access and security controls. This ensures that the right levels of security are there but not in the way of the user experience. Applying user behavioral analytics pushes the new security paradigm even further, monitoring patterns of behavior and analyzing them using sophisticated algorithms to detect anomalies such as signs of a potential threat or abuse and initiating proactive responses to mitigate risk.

The new security model also shifts identity and access control away from the IT organization to line of business people who own the business processes, thus better specifying what’s required from a security standpoint. Taking other factors under consideration—for example, the device in use, the location of access, and user activity at the time—provides further contextualization and personalization, bolstering security without impeding the flexibility of the user experience.

“IT is no longer the bottleneck or godfather deciding who should access what,” says Christian Reilly, vice president and CTO at Citrix. “Security is dynamically adapted and risk appropriate across those situations.”

Click here to learn more about the future of work.