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While many organisations have plans for digital transformation, almost half (45%) of UK businesses have not undertaken a major refresh of user computing devices in the last year.
Some 30% have not done so for between two and five years, according to report from Pierre Audin Consultants and Capita.
Among the major challenges facing IT departments has been the need to support increasingly diverse sets of devices (Windows and non-Windows, corporate and user-owned), which has shifted the role of service management platforms away from locking down and controlling devices, to enabling secure access to company data, the End User Services report noted.
More than 84% of businesses are concerned about supporting a more diverse desktop landscape with their existing IT infrastructure; while 81% are concerned they will be unable to support increasing workforce mobility, including the use of smartphones.
According to PAC and Capita, many companies have yet to formulate their Windows 10 migration strategy.
For many UK businesses, the arrival of Windows 10 offers an opportunity to roll out a unified operating system (OS) across desktop, laptop and mobile devices.
Nick Mayes, principal analyst from PAC, said: “End user computing executives face a huge challenge in balancing the need to drive operational efficiency, while securely supporting increasingly complex and fragmented landscapes.
"Windows 10 represents an opportunity to bring the mobile and traditional desktop estates closer together – but the study shows UK businesses adopting it at different speeds.”
UK companies' migration plans
The study reported that more than 50% of UK companies have yet to plan to migrate to Windows 10 in the next 12 months; and just over a quarter started testing Windows 10 during 2015.
Some 19% say they will unify their mobile and laptop support functions in the next 12 months, with a further 9% planning to do this in conjunction with an external partner.
The merger of mobile and laptop support will be a major undertaking for many organisations – but could yield many benefits. Having a "single pane of glass" approach and a management platform for ensuring compliance, tracking assets and distributing applications will drive consistency as well as efficiency, the report stated.
Paul Birkin, chief technology officer of Capita IT Enterprise Services, said: “We see two type of client. Some have seen quite complicated, old, managed-desktop environments, while others don’t want to care about the device.”
Aligning IT and policy to business needs
He said using IT departments do not need to care about the end user devices if they use cloud-based infrastructure. But if the cloud is used to enable desktop infrastructure, the IT department needs to refocus on how to keep corporate data secure, Birkin said.
In the past, an enterprise would have deployed a virtual private network (VPN) to protect enterprise data. But Birkin said: “A VPN costs a lot of money and 75% of knowledge workers only require office productivity tools and collaboration – so why continue using the VPN?”
Birkin said IT security policies tend to be 30 years old and the technology they were designed to protect bears little resemblance to modern IT. Similarly, a company may have previously invested in a product such as SharePoint to support collaboration. But many people today are happy to use software as a service (SaaS) such as DropBox and Box, which support file-sharing and collaboration.
Birkin recommeneded that CIOs encourage IT departments to separate the application from the device used to access it, by creating a flexible way to access the application and data.