Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Empowering IT users through Personalization - User Experience, Productivity & Security

The Power of Personalization

IT Can Empower Users through Personalization
while Still Staying in the Driver’s Seat

The constant struggle between IT-departments and users is reaching new heights. Well-managed desktops through lock-down and standardization are mantras for most IT administrators. On the opposite side of the scale is the personalized desktop, where users have the freedom to adapt their workspace according to personal needs and preferences.

With the never-ending wave of change, new client devices are turning up faster and faster. Users are at the same time getting more and more demanding. As a result, the cost effective, secure and standardized desktop is under tremendous pressure. The question today is how to achieve both standardization and personalization.

So, what exactly is personalization and why should you care?

Personalization is all around us, and in many cases a key factor for productivity and security. It is also important for a comfortable and enjoyable user experience. Let’s look at an everyday example: In your car, you are likely to adjust your seat and the position of the steering wheel for optimal comfort. For the best view and security, the mirrors are adjusted. And for easy operation, you may program the stereo with your favorite radio channels.

If you only have one car, never use other vehicles, and if you are the only person using that car, this personalization becomes standard. However you may find it annoying when all these adjustments are gone after the car had a visit to the auto repair service. If other family members or colleagues are using the same car, it becomes even more of a headache. And if cars were like Windows PCs with mandatory profiles, you would have to manually re-apply all personal adjustments every time you started it.

The reason this is a challenge is because the personalization is physically tied to the car itself. But what if you could separate all these individual adjustments and preferences from the car and make them follow the user instead? Some carmakers are already offering some of this through storing personal seat, steering wheel and mirror adjustments in a personal car key.

If the future would allow storing all these settings in your driver’s license or fingerprint, personalization might become completely portable. Every time you get into the driver seat of any car, your personal profile would be applied automatically including seats, mirrors, radio channels and whatever individual preferences the car may offer. Now you can pick up a rental, use one from the carpool, or even buy a new car, without having to waste any time on personalization.

Ever picked up a rental car in a hurry and forgot to adjust the mirrors before hitting the highway? Or tried to locate your favorite radio channels when your eyes should have been on the road? Empowering users with personalization would have a significant impact on security, as well as productivity and user experience.

Applying this example to IT, today’s users can actually be offered the benefits of personalization without compromising standardization and cost effective client management. Through the concept workspace management, all of a user’s personalized settings, preferences and configurations can be separated from the physical device and operating system. This allows for “dynamic desktops” where personalization follows the user regardless of operating system, device, physical or virtual desktop, etc. The devices themselves can be managed by IT in an effective and standardized way — bridging the gap and conflict between IT administrators and users.

Re-introducing the “personal” to the PC will empower both IT department and users, building a foundation for future-ready heterogeneous desktop experiences.