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A digital workspace is an integrated technology framework that centralizes the management of an enterprise’s applications, data and endpoints, allowing employees to collaborate and work remotely. It provides users with self-service, out-of-the-box experiences that scale across platforms, locations and device ownership models, allowing them to work in a digital workplace. Sometimes referred to as virtual workspaces, digital workspaces bring all of a user’s resources — such as operating systems (OSes), files and apps — into one place and deliver a cloud-based console that allows IT professionals to manage all those resources under one roof.

Designed to provide a unified and secure experience for IT professionals and end users, digital workspaces simplify and centralize the overall management of tools, applications and devices. Digital workspaces also provide secure remote access to the end user because data is protected either in the data center, the cloud or on the endpoint devices.

Additionally, the delivery of resources through a workspace environment means the endpoints workers use to access resources matter less, which makes for a more consistent user experience. Plus, the digital workspace platform helps IT teams provide capabilities such as single sign-on (SSO) for identity authentication and secure file-sharing across an organization’s endpoints.

Benefits of a digital workspace

Finally, digital workspace technology is compatible with most other technologies used by businesses. This allows companies to improve user experiences of the integrated software while also lessening the number of logins that employees must remember and easing system management and maintenance practices.

Challenges of a digital workspace

While a digital workspace produces numerous benefits, it also poses various challenges to users. For example, the digital workspace lacks the ability to provide centralized notifications. Unlike a smartphone, where notifications from every application can be seen in one place — the lock screen — digital workspace notifications are spread across the range of systems and apps used. As a result, digital workspace users rely heavily on their email inbox as the primary notification center. This decreases efficiency throughout the workforce since it takes more time and energy to track what’s going on and ensure nothing is being missed.

Another challenge involves security. The digital workspace increases the amount of applications and systems being used as well as the amount of sharing that occurs. This creates a need for stronger and more scalable security that allows users to securely collaborate with external partners. Unfortunately, securing and managing data produced through this external collaboration is one of the biggest challenges in the digital workspace.

Training and adoption of the digital workspace are other challenges companies face. Users often complain that they are not provided with proper training when new systems are introduced and, therefore, do not know how to leverage the technology to improve their work processes. On the other hand, employees and managers often do not have enough time to provide or attend these training sessions while continuing to manage their daily responsibilities. As a result, users often provide negative feedback when asked about training processes.

Finally, the search interface used in digital workspaces is often inadequate and incomplete. Information within the digital workspace platform is often split across multiple systems without a centralized index. Consequently, search queries may not display all related or relevant material.

For example, customer conversations may not appear in search results because they are frequently held in a separate customer relationship management (CRM) system. Important training and onboarding materials may also be lost or forgotten because they are isolated in a separate learning and development system.

This inability for search results to produce all relevant data, files and information increases risk within the business. Decisions may be made using incomplete records or outdated data if users solely rely on their digital workspace search query findings.

Digital workspace tools

A crucial part of the underlying architecture for a digital workspace is unified endpoint management (UEM), a centralized approach to securing and controlling desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets in a connected, cohesive manner from a single console. A comprehensive digital workspace solution can include:

Workspace software options such as VMware Workspace One and Citrix Cloud enable IT professionals to deliver and manage flexible workstations that can function, whether the user is local or remote, on any device. These options promise complete virtual desktop delivery, seamless abstracted applications and aggregated third-party cloud resources and are designed to provide a single framework where users and IT administrators can access all these resources. This centralizes management and makes the user’s life easier.

How to implement a successful digital workspace

A company’s digital workspace journey should consider the following factors:

Key elements of a successful digital workspace include:

Evolution of the digital workspace

The concept of a digital workplace is not new. As companies continue to go through a digital transformation, the idea of a workplace perimeter continues to disappear. While modern desktop transformation has IT departments decoupling user data and applications from the OS and its device, users want these workspace components wherever and whenever they need them. Freeing data from the underlying software platform provides workers with the flexibility they need to be more productive and collaborate more effectively.