This article is brought to you by ComputerworldUK in association with Intel IT Center

Consumerisation of technology has fundamentally changed the relationship between the IT department and the people it serves. But it has barely scratched the surface of what is possible and necessary.

Genuine workplace transformation must go beyond BYOD and CYOD, where IT teams struggle to maintain control over devices and data, to offer fundamental change.

The next level of workplace transformation is less about ensuring conformity and more about unlocking staff potential. The most successful IT teams will not only support, but also anticipate the business’ various applications and service needs and the devices that support them.

Various business trends are driving workplace transformation, including consumerisation, and the need to offer the workforce - particularly young workers – tools that are familiar to them and easy to use.

There are two good reasons for doing this. It unlocks their productivity, on the one hand, and changes the way you do business on the other: bringing mobility, collaboration and flexibility to existing processes, and making them more streamlined.

Workplace transformation is also being driven by the need for businesses to become more competitive, in a ‘disrupt to be disrupted’ world where change is a force for good. Mobile, cloud-based apps such as collaboration, communication, shared project management and calendaring, and social computing - not to mention cloud-enabled line of business tools - are emerging at an unparalleled rate, offering competitive edge to organisations that can harness them.

Forrester Research analyst David K. Johnson, notes: “Mobile applications with access to corporate data and systems will fuel business transformation and deliver real productivity gains for employees.”

Workplace transformation is much more than just allowing your staff to bring in their mobiles, however. There is also a need for IT to manage and service their clients, and the new modes of working this produces. This means having the right infrastructure, policies and management controls in place.

Technology-enabled transformation

So, what sort of technology is available to drive workplace transformation? At the CeBIT trade show, Intel demonstrated its latest on-processor technology – technology that will have as profound an impact on the enterprise as the first wireless processors in laptops. The next iteration of wireless computing was on display with innovations such as Intel’s use of the WiGig wireless standard, and its ProWiDi wireless display technology to the fore.

Innovations such as these will take the wireless revolution beyond mobile internet access, and allow workers to use high bandwidth wireless docking, for collaboration, high-definition videoconferencing and large file transfer, with WiGig now running at up to 7Gbit/sec.

The new technology will be supported in laptops, tablets and 2-in-1 hybrid systems powered by Intel’s next-generation microprocessors, code-named ‘Skylake’. WiGig will eventually be accompanied by Rezence, a wireless charging technology.

ProWiDi, meanwhile, offers the means to use high definition wireless displays in the office, via a simple black box attached to a display’s  HDMI port, which is ideal for impromptu meetings. It also offers security controls to ensure that the right documents are displayed on the right screens to the right people. A feature called Intel Pro WiDi allows workers to prevent outsider access to the network by securing the Wi-Fi Direct connection to Intel Pro WiDi-enabled displays, adapters, and projectors.

According to Intel, wire-free docking will mean going beyond devices that are optimised for mobility, and moving more towards the concept of a “productivity-optimised area”. This is where the workplace itself supports mobility within the office infrastructure, through wireless monitors, hot-desk areas, designated secure conferencing zones, and so forth.

Jim Henrys, Intel Chief Strategist and Architect, comments, “We’re in a period of intense change”  in the business landscape. “This means we need to innovate our working models and use hyper-connected agile working.”

Next generation mobile devices

Meanwhile, a new generation of mobile device form factors is emerging, offering more options to facilitate workplace transformation. For example, tablets, two in ones, laptops and all in ones all have their place in the transformed workplace.

These are powered by new Intel processors such as the 4th Generation Intel Core vPro Processors, and the 5th generation Intel Core vPro and Core M processors, that enable manufacturers to produce innovative 2 in 1 designs that combine a lightweight, thin laptop with a fast tablet, and extended battery life. The 5th generation Intel Core vPro processors, in particular, offer enhanced mobile security and manageability that enable workers to display and dock wirelessly.

Also at CeBIT, different manufacturers demonstrated their hardware innovations and developments. For example, tablet manufacturers are increasingly offering jackets or skins for their products, adding industry-vertical specific enhancements to commodity tablets.

HP is one vendor that has produced a ‘retail jacket’ for its Windows tablets, adding bar code readers, magnetic stripe readers and elements that can turn a tablet into a mobile EPOS machine. In addition, there are toughened jackets for field service engineers; the addition of an Ethernet port to a tablet for laptop-style connectivity; and a healthcare-specific jacket.

Fujitsu has a similar approach to HP. It has manufactured all-in-ones which fold flat, and offer collaboration based on touch screen technology. With the core processor technology right, device manufacturers are offering real innovation at cost effective prices for industry-verticals seeking enhanced mobile solutions.

Windows 10

The Windows operating system is set to dominate enterprise IT for years to come, and the forthcoming Windows 10 platform promises to enable workplace transformation through the use of mobility and cloud applications.

Amongst its features are seamless sharing of documents between devices, whether they are desktops, tablets, phones or laptops. With cloud-centric computing, it matters less what computing device is being used by the individual worker. More important is whether the IT infrastructure supports multi-device and ubiquitous usage, with wired, wireless and remote access to data and business applications around the clock.

However, Microsoft isn’t alone in offering seamless and ubiquitous document sharing: Apple and Google are also developing similar platforms for enterprise adoption.

The key point to take away is that manufacturers are working hard to make it easier for businesses to transform their workplaces, and they’re doing this at the operating system,application, hardware and processor-levels.

Naturally they also want you to buy the latest technology and equipment, but the next generation of products offer compelling business reasons to consider upgrading and kick starting your workplace transformation programme.