1 Management Summary
The KuppingerCole Market Compass provides an overview of a market segment and the vendors in that segment. It covers the trends that are influencing that market segment and the essential capabilities required of solutions. It also provides ratings of how well these solutions meet our expectations.
The KuppingerCole Market Compass Workplace Delivery Platforms covers solutions that assist organizations in managing the applications and data that end users can access, usually from a single pane of glass. These can be delivered to existing PC workstations and to remote devices including smartphones and other devices. Even before the world went into lockdown during the pandemic forcing millions to work from home there was growing interest in digital workplace solutions as organizations wanted to provide greater flexibility to employees while offering a streamlined access point for tools and services that would also boost creativity and greater productivity.
Another benefit is to more easily secure these employees now unexpectedly working from their home offices. The actual endpoint is shielded from workspace software running directly on it, while a virtualized platform can impose a high level of security from application level down to the hypervisor and below.
Employers have started to respond to changing demands from Millennials and Gen Z’ers who expect a more consumer like and flexible experience in the workplace with access to tools that resemble those they are used to on their own devices. Older employees would too benefit from a more joined up approach to getting projects finished. Another driver for the growth of digital workplace delivery is the complexity of modern IT infrastructures in which a mix of cloud services, endpoint tools and on-premises applications are available to end user. Few organizations exist without some sort of hybrid architecture which leads to users drawing on multiple access points and platforms to get work done with a knock-on effect for job satisfaction and efficiency. While it takes time to re-architect networks and infrastructures, simplifying access and user experience at the endpoint or front end is a relatively easy win that can deliver value through deployment of a Workplace Delivery platform. The market and the technology have some crossover points. The terms Digital Workplace, Digital Workspace and Collaboration Platforms are often interchangeably used to describe similar technology, deployments, and policies. However, for the purposes of this Market Compass we use the term Workplace Delivery Platforms for those solutions that deliver a single pane of glass UX that gives access to applications, data, and other services. Many of these will offer browser-based access to applications, files, and services.
Many organizations already use forms of browser-based applications suites and file sharing – Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Google Apps and SharePoint are good examples, but often these are introduced on top of existing desktop applications giving users the choice to switch between the two. While this can alleviate intermittent bandwidth problems (specially for home users) it can lead to disparities in versioning and difficulty in ensuring all contributors work on the same document – previous errors can be reintroduced, for example.
It can also add a security risk through downloading and uploading files to the group tool. For desktop delivery to succeed there must be a disciplined approach to deployment to ensure that users only work on files and application within the tool and safeguards should be introduced to prevent duplicate files and applications.
IT managers and directors therefore need to offer choice and flexibility for users’ satisfaction – modern, fast, well designed applications - but operated within a strict security layer, backed up by good identity management tools and enforced policy guidelines so that users cannot use non-sanctioned applications in conjunction with the digital workplace delivery platform. Ideally, web versions of key applications should offer the same functionality and options of their desktop equivalents.
Also, while a digital workspace may contain collaboration tools, such tools on their own do not constitute an example of digital workplace delivery – hence this Market Compass addresses those platforms that can provide a complete Workplace Delivery solution to end users at all levels of an organization.
The platforms on offer range from enhanced intranet solutions, virtualized desktops to multi-featured digital workspaces that offer seamless integration with third party applications. Some have roots in ERM software while others have focused on HR management tools – all are pushing towards a more joined up and efficient way of doing IT that encompasses user, business, and IT needs at the same time. We have assessed several leading Workplace Delivery Platforms that should meet the operational requirements for the environments listed above.
Some large IT consultancies also provide Digital Workplace Delivery services, but these will invariably scope existing tools from software providers to provide a white label solution, hence we do not cover such services in this Market Compass.