IT Architecture & Planning (ITAP) Business Value Assessment (BVA): Microsoft® Windows® 7 White Paper The Real-World Path to High Performance Windows 7 as a Focused Business Strategy Abstract This paper discusses the gap between utopian, high-functioning business models and the gains possible in current enterprise environments, and shows the value of Windows 7 as a practical, real-world performance aid. Most enterprise organizations want to be high-performing organizations, but ideal models rarely occur in the real world. Common information technology (IT) challenges include technology-related productivity drains, the needs of a fast-moving remote workforce, managing a workforce resistant to change, and constant cost-reduction pressures. In the context of these and other real issues, Windows 7 is more than a software product—it is a focused strategy for countering organizational friction and productivity loss related to the software environment. Windows 7 for the enterprise addresses the changing needs of end users and IT professionals, with improved mobile productivity, enhanced security and control, and streamlined computer management. The Truth behind the HighPerforming Enterprise Consider the characteristics of a high-performing enterprise in the 21st century. The organization is increasingly dependent on mobile workers, distributed across cities, time zones, or even continents. They, in turn, depend on technology to connect with one another, their managers, and customers. Ideally, their mobility is no threat to the integrity or security of the data they handle, because their enterprise has consistent, reliable protocols for information management. The company steadily pursues greater efficiency, helping cushion it from economic downturns. IT resources are proficient if not vast; the high-performing enterprise seeks to do more with less. This enterprise and its people respond appropriately to risk and change— preparing for likely scenarios and taking advantage of promising new opportunities. coordinated, and efficient are often stressed, sometimes even frantic, behind the scenes. The Inside View In truth, few organizations meet the full textbook definition of a high-performing enterprise. An insider’s view of a typical enterprise can be sobering: Productivity is often suboptimal. Knowledge workers expend too high a percentage of their time managing (or working around) computer technology, leaving less time to collaborate, innovate, sell, and outperform competitors. A complex enterprise naturally needs a complex technology infrastructure, but too often, servicing the computing infrastructure takes precedence over fulfilling core business functions. The speed of business and an increasingly mobile workforce escalate productivity and security challenges. The knowledge worker is expected to work and make contact regardless of location. But a broadly distributed workforce can find itself amid a tangle of incompatible software versions and “phantom” (unapproved) applications, expired licenses, idiosyncratic desktops and security solutions—all of which work against the ideal of effortless communication and collaboration. Workers tend to resist workplace and workflow change. People stick to what works for them. The early adopter is a minority. Most employees will adopt and use new technology only when they see clear personal advantages. Unless technology changes are trusted by their users to solve defined business problems, there is usually resistance to a new way of doing things— even though IT advances can unlock more human potential in the long run. When economies slow and profit forecasts grow less certain, every cost center in the organization comes under closer scrutiny. This often stalls infrastructure investments just when they can generate needed productivity gains. “What [firms] want now most of all is agile leadership. Leadership that can guide us through cost control and This is the model to which organizations aspire. But to a leader in the get-it-done-today business world, it is almost always just that: a mere model, an aspiration. It is a laboratory prototype that is rarely glimpsed, fully formed and functioning, in actual practice. Barriers to implementing high-performance business concepts are common. Many organizations, for example, acquire a technology landscape marked by incompatible systems and erratic upgrade schedules. And cost is always an issue, regardless of the current economic situation. The real business environment demands innovation, expansion, and cost controls all at once. As any good enterprise manager can attest, the actual road to high performance is rough—paved with challenges missing from theoretical whiteboard diagrams. As any good enterprise manager can attest, the actual road to higher performance is rough— paved with challenges missing from theoretical whiteboard diagrams. Like the proverbial duck that looks unruffled above the waterline but paddles frantically below, large organizations that appear to outsiders as productive, well expansion at the same time,” said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner’s global head of research, as Gartner cut its outlook for 2009 IT spending increases from 5.8 percent to 2.3 percent.1 In a slower economy, merger and acquisition activity increases. Shareholders look for gains from organizational synergies. In practice, though, mergers touch off a clash of processes and technology systems that counter productivity gains and can take years to resolve. In-house IT resources are perpetually overextended. The more attention that is focused on a fraying technology infrastructure and the users at odds with it, the harder it is to reach peak performance. When profit forecasts grow less certain, every cost center in the organization comes under closer scrutiny. This often stalls investments in technology infrastructure just when they can generate needed productivity gains. problems. But if technology enhancements are chosen wisely, are matched with key business and personnel needs, and solve defined organizational problems, they become strategic business solutions. “In high-performing organizations,” counsels the consulting firm Relativity LLC, “customers, people, and process come first. Technology systems support them.”2 Commonly noted enterprise business challenges fall into five broad categories: productivity brakes, mobility issues, technology security and control, cost management, and IT resource bandwidth. This paper considers each in turn, citing specifics in addition to potential solutions. In this context, the Windows 7 operating system is not only a product, but also a business strategy that can help enterprise organizations move toward high performance by making workers more productive when mobile, enhancing security and control, and streamlining enterprise-wide computer management. Merger Pays Mixed Dividends Two small, local insurance firms merge, forming a regional competitor with sights set on expansion. The expected economies of scale do not materialize as quickly as hoped; in fact, the merged technology landscape is hurting productivity and customer satisfaction. Is an expensive wall-to-wall replacement the only solution? All these factors can be regarded as sources of organizational friction, applying an unwanted brake on productivity and innovation in an era when no competitive enterprise can afford it. Evolving into a high-performing enterprise is still a worthy goal. There are clear strategic payouts. But progress under real-world constraints requires more than approving a whiteboard schematic that maps ideal processes and relationships. Unless the target organization is a startup, it means working with the status quo in all its fragmented, battered, not-quite-optimized glory. It means figuring out how to enable productive change in workers and workflow— change that the organization’s citizens will embrace rather than resist. Where Technology Fits No hardware upgrade, operating system, application, or toolset is a quick fix for a subfunctional enterprise. For one thing, no two such organizations have the same set of Productivity Brakes An unmanaged technology environment—with an unplanned mix of standards and applications—can inhibit business operations in insidious ways. Consider the merger of two insurance companies with separate systems: Agents struggle with infrastructure incompatibility, affecting customer and employee satisfaction. The company presents one face to the world, but still operates like two—with multiple applications, platforms, even messaging and voice communications systems. Plans to increase business diversity and volume have to be scaled back; some customers have begun shopping competitors. Policyholders in City A cannot get questions answered by staff in City B because there is no central data facility; their account information is not universally accessible to all agents. Decentralized policy and credit databases across the enterprise, a legacy of the pre-merger days, impede agents searching for information, so they become less responsive to customers. Stale or duplicate data persists in the system; the need to protect confidential customer data is potentially unmet. No comprehensive data-recovery plan is in place in the event a disaster befalls individual offices. Early plans for combining best practices from each merger partner have faded as communication and training costs rise. Most workers continue as if the merger had not occurred. As a precursor to becoming a high-functioning enterprise, this company should first implement systems to support basic single-company functions. Windows 7 offers capabilities of interest: Search Federation improves corporate search functionality, so more information is shared more quickly with the right people. BranchCache caches remotely located data in local branch networks, so relevant, noncentralized data is included in search results. File sharing and offline file enhancements enable transparent caching on client computers. Software Assurance/Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (additional service) can reduce platform and application management complexity. Mobility The empowered mobile workforce brings both strengths and challenges to business optimization. For example, it is good for the enterprise when a sales team in Hong Kong is empowered to collaborate dynamically with a technical specialist in Helsinki. But it challenges the enterprise when that team cannot access the company virtual private network (VPN), cannot find current data, or loses irreplaceable material by losing a laptop or mobile phone. Globetrotters under the Gun A leading energy company operates around the world. Competitive pressure means regional managers and virtual work teams want to respond to customers and prospects quickly and independently while presenting a united front on pricing and corporate policy. Can they exceed customer expectations, operate efficiently, and still protect sensitive information from risk or loss? Such are the issues facing a global energy corporation increasingly reliant on virtual teams and employees who remain perpetually in the field: Company VPN connections take time to set up and can be unreliable; users have difficulty logging in or are disconnected. The remote workforce finds it unwieldy to synchronize its computers with company servers, risking compromised data storage or loss. Field personnel have difficulty collaborating on presentations and delivering them remotely. There is confusion about which version of price and active-project data is the “latest and greatest.” Document flow between remote workers is difficult to track. Company operatives are under pressure to cut costs by substituting more virtual team meetings for air travel, but some are wary of risking account relationships by relying on a new technology. Windows 7 addresses pressing needs of the mobile workforce in specific ways: Windows 7 addresses these primary security and control needs: DirectAccess lets users access a corporate network without using a VPN. BitLocker™ and BitLocker To Goimprove file encryption, enabling secure data storage for a remote workforce. AppLocker allows IT to specify which programs run on the desktop infrastructure and create addressable per-desk use rules. Smart cards with improved plug-and-play functionality can serve as an out-of-the-box security solution. Microsoft Desktop Optimization Program supports governance and change control and can help lower application-management costs. VPN Reconnect automatically reconnects VPN users when connections are dropped. Technology Security and Control When an enterprise’s technical structure evolves from serving centralized users to distributed ones in pursuit of responsiveness and efficiency, new security and data-control challenges are common. Imagine a pharmaceutical research firm with offices in several countries. The firm is engaged in sensitive clinical trials for specialty drugs, so controlling private information is mandatory. However: Each company office favors a different desktop configuration and application toolset and sets its own upgrade schedule. This has resulted in a complex, varied computing environment. “Phantom” applications—software adopted by individuals and not supported by IT—are common. Smaller research, operations, and manufacturing players acquired by the firm pose more technology diversity challenges as their systems are integrated or become legacy environments. Transborder System Maintenance A pharmaceutical firm maintains offices in four countries. Over time, each has progressed independently to a different software configuration and upgrade plan. With pivotal drug trials going on, there is a critical need to safeguard sensitive data. Can the company centralize security and data management in a costeffective way? Doing More With Less A regional grocery chain is facing a perfect storm of increased competition, tired marketing, high overhead costs, and penny-pinching customers. Can a computer operating system make a difference? Cost Management Pressure to control overhead costs is virtually a constant in organizations driving toward high performance, but it grows acute in periods of economic uncertainty. Certain business sectors are particularly vulnerable during downturns. For example, a regional grocery retailer might fall into this category. As consumers spend less, the company has kicked off a critical overheadcutting campaign and turned its attention to technology infrastructure to address these issues: Technology support and telecom expenses must be reduced. The company requires a reliable Voice over IP (VoIP) solution. Management wants to reduce energy use and adopt a “green” marketing profile. The company cannot afford to risk application or peripheral compatibility with changes in the IT environment. Windows 7 can serve as a costreduction strategy: Providing strategies to maximize effectiveness of IT resources, Windows 7 solutions include: Group Policy management improvements can simplify Windows PowerShell™ startup and save energy. Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) enhancements offer multi-monitor and microphone support. Deployment Image Servicing and Management to improve component and driver management Mobile Broadband driver–based setup for wireless broadband cards, which can reduce or eliminate IT involvement Managed Service Accounts for automatic password management IT Resource Bandwidth IT personnel within enterprise organizations are often burdened with repetitive hands-on, timeintensive tasks, from setting up new user passwords to hunting down drivers. This leaves them less time for strategic assessment and upgrades—activities that promote high performance. Never Enough IT Help Public sector spending budgets tend to shrink between economic booms—but public sector IT needs do not. A state government agency that provides emergency services is under pressure to stretch its technology budget without compromising responsiveness. Can resources be any more productive? A case in point: a state government agency supports police, fire, and other emergency services but faces budget cuts because of increasing competition for tax revenue: IT needs continue to grow, but the ranks of personnel to address them do not. Password and logon management, thirdparty device-driver management, and wireless broadband management consume too many IT personnel hours and create delays for users. Windows 7 as a Realistic Productivity Enhancement We are in an era when it is critical for every business proposition to demonstrate value and relevance. It is appropriate to evaluate a new computer operating system first and foremost in terms of its business value. For an organization considering Windows 7, these questions may be useful: Which of our processes will be sped up or made easier? Where will we observe measurable productivity gains? Which business benefits will accrue? When the Windows 7 discussion starts with the specific needs of the enterprise, then progresses to features and capabilities, the potential for genuine, positive change exists. This may be a new way to look at a desktop operating system—as a focused strategy for mitigating friction and productivity loss in an enterprise software environment underperforming in clear, identifiable ways. But Windows 7 for the enterprise addresses the changing needs of both IT professionals and end users, which today are immediate and urgent: productivity anywhere, enhanced security and control, and streamlined computer management. Addressing those needs moves an organization closer to high performance. Windows 7 is designed to deliver in the real world. Ask for More from Your IT Architecture & Planning (ITAP) Advisors We would like to continue the conversation about the business value of Microsoft technology. Your Microsoft Services IT Architecture & Planning (ITAP) advisors have some ideas about how to proceed. E-mail your Microsoft Services Representative to find out more. 1 Campbell, Scott, “Gartner Lowers 2009 IT Spending Outlook,” Gartner Group, October 13, 2008: http://www.crn.com/itchannel/211200181. 2 Relativity LLC, “Help Create a High-Performance Organization,” http://www.relativity.com. © 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of publication and is subject to change at any time without notice to you. This document and its contents are provided AS IS without warranty of any kind, and should not be interpreted as an offer or commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented. The information in this document represents the current view of Microsoft on the content. 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