Today, my workspace is on a transcontinental flight on American Airlines. Tomorrow, my workspace will be in a cozy corner of the Moscone Center.

Over the course of the next 24 hours alone, my workspace will probably be connected over at least four different Wi-Fi networks and three different devices, personal and corporate owned. There is nothing “standard” about today’s way of working. While enterprises are finally taking to the notion of supporting a truly digital workspace, it won’t be long before that digital workspace undergoes yet another transformation.

It’s fair to say that the devices we use daily, many of which were considered “non-traditional,” have made their way into the status quo. Smartphones, tablets and Macs have pretty much infiltrated enterprise IT. But as IT makes headway on supporting devices and flexible working style requirements, a new surge of technologies are rumbling in the not too far distance.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the concept of wearable technology, appliances, machines and sensors have transformed static objects into digital tools is on the cusp of becoming part of day-to-day operations.

Is IoT just hype? Gartner forecasts that, by 2020, there will be 20.8 billion devices connected to the Internet, generating over 20 zettabytes of data. The expected spending on IoT endpoints is predicted to be $3 trillion across consumer and business worlds combined. With those staggering numbers, this is a trend that enterprises must begin taking seriously.

But what exactly does this mean for IT teams? As businesses undergo a digital revolution, the digital workspace will no longer just consist of users interacting with a host of personal computing devices - it will encompass any interaction between people and digital properties that contribute to delivering a product or service from a company to its customer.

That means not only managing and securing users and devices themselves, but also looking after the infinite number of connections and integrations that will intersect at the digital workspace.

While the IoT may transform the business as a whole, IT will find itself tasked with supporting a holistic, and complex “Workspace of Things” that extends far beyond even the most sophisticated of digital workspaces today.

What can IT do today to prepare for the most complex wave of new digital resources that will enter the enterprise in the coming years? For starters, they can focus on decisions they are making today that will build a foundation for dealing with this anticipated complexity. The key to keeping up with a growing web of technology to manage lies in both automation and integration.

Fundamentally, automation puts IT in a position to take on more connections, more tasks and more complexities. Perhaps more importantly, it provides a platform for extensive levels of integration that supporting a growing network of interconnected things will require moving forward. As a result, it promotes the following benefits:

Speed

If IT can stop tackling the same routine tasks and communication between systems manually, they can save time and focus on a faster delivery to technology requests. If workflows can link together the processes between people, devices and networks, IT can be more agile when it comes to supporting a growing number of components to the digital workspace.

Quality and Consistency

Using repeatable workflows means that actions taken toward managing users and devices are always the same, making the outcome predictable and repeatable. For the business, the transition to a more connected workspace will breed benefits, without a hit on the level of service quality being provided by IT.

Security

Mistakes or careless people can pose some of the greatest vulnerabilities. With more things to manage, the window for errors opens wider. With automation, the possibility of human error is lifted and IT can have much greater visibility into processes or workflows acting out of the norm.

Flexibility

With automation, IT is in a position to adapt quickly to changing business dynamics. Workflows can be adjusted quickly to reflect new needs of the business. New technologies can be incorporated into processes and be implemented seamlessly to promote productivity and avoid potential disruptions. As IT develops its strategy for optimizing the digital workspace for today’s agile workforce, they should also make sure their plans are able to scale to more devices and machines.

Every technology decision they make today take into account a relatively short-term need to begin supporting a much more complex Workspace of Things that digital business transformation is inevitably steering us towards.

(About the author: Bob Janssen is the founder and chief technology officer at RES and is a prominent speaker in the industry).

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