Important Considerations for DaaS
Organizations explore a device-as-a-service model to improve user experience and enhance the efficiency of their environments.
Deploying and managing devices has become something of a balancing act for many organizations. On one hand, empowering users to be as productive as possible with the right mix of apps and devices can have a huge impact on overall efficiency — and, ultimately, the bottom line. But on the other hand, devices can feel like a distraction for IT professionals, whose time is often better invested in strategic projects than on replacing broken phone screens or configuring laptops for employees.
“The user’s experience directly affects their productivity, but organizations often don’t have time to give these concerns the treatment they deserve,” says Kimberly Cook, product manager for Managed Endpoint Anywhere (MEA) at CDW. To strike the right balance, many organizations are considering a comprehensive solution.
The term “DaaS” may mean different things to different organizations. For some providers, it’s simply a financing method for smartphones, tablets and laptops. By contrast, CDW is developing its Managed Endpoint Anywhere service, providing an end-to-end device delivery and management model. For one monthly fee, the service enables an organization to procure and configure user devices, manage access to apps and data, troubleshoot problems and retire devices when they’re no longer useful.
As CDW continues to work on this, honing its ability to mix and match features and services to meet individual customers’ needs, it also offers DaaS from its original equipment manufacturer partners, such as Lenovo and HP. CDW currently offers Managed Endpoint Anywhere to a limited set of customers and will roll out services more broadly over the coming months.
The DaaS model is such a departure from most organizations’ historical device programs that adoption is lagging behind interest somewhat, says Linn Huang, research director for devices and displays at IDC. However, he notes, many organizations are seriously looking to DaaS as their potential device model of the future.
“Device management is difficult for everybody,” Huang says. “That’s been one of the reasons we’ve been so bullish about the long-term prospects of DaaS. When we conduct surveys, we get a decent amount of companies saying they’re intrigued by accelerated refresh cycles, cost reductions and freeing up their IT departments. There are a lot of benefits.”
Key Considerations as Organizations Plan for DaaS
An effective endpoint management program, Cook says, has four pillars:
Essentially, helping organizations to identify and track distinct user groups
Tracking which devices companies are using and where those devices are
Delivering devices to end users, already set up with their personal data and tailored apps
Monitoring continuously for problems and quickly solving them
While these might sound like fairly straightforward functions, Cook notes that many organizations struggle mightily with even the most routine device-related tasks.
Seventy-five percent of DaaS customers can’t even accurately say how many devices they have or where those devices are, she says. “Let’s say you have a device you’re paying for, and there’s no activity on it for more than a month,” Cook says. “In unhealthy environments, that phone or laptop stays sitting in drawer, you’re paying for it, it’s depreciating. In some cases, a person leaves the company, and the organization is still paying for the phone and also the monthly plan. If you knew where the device was, you could wipe it remotely and distribute it to someone else.”
Huang says that inefficiencies in device programs are “probably 100 percent” pervasive. “I say that kind of cheekily,” he says. “But if you ask even the best-run IT shops in the country, they’ll probably agree that there are inefficiencies they can squeeze out along their device chain.”
One of the advantages of consuming endpoint support in an as-a-Service model is that it puts pressure on the service provider to eliminate inefficiencies over time, which benefits both the organization and the end user.
Know What You’re Getting
Organizations considering DaaS should make sure to understand all of the options available to them. Different providers offer various features with their service plans.
Lenovo, which has seen significant movement toward its own DaaS offerings, provides a “modular” approach, letting customers pick and choose which features they want. Most plans cover accident protection for devices. Lenovo can not only send someone to repair a broken screen or a wonky keyboard, but also give employees access to all of their data and apps while their device is being fixed. “We hand them a hot swap device, because we manage their image and data,” notes Rob Makin, executive director and general manager for DaaS and Lenovo Financial Services. “They type in their credentials, and all their apps and data come onto the new device. A couple of days later, they come to pick up their ThinkPad, and it’s been fixed.”
Central Management Is Key
Makin says that DaaS is hitting an “inflection point.” Many large companies have put out requests for information or requests for proposals about the model over the past 12 to 18 months, and now more are finally beginning to pull the trigger, he says. Makin attributes the increased action in part to the switch to Windows 10, which allows DaaS providers to centrally manage data and apps. Also, he says, companies have become accustomed to as-a-service IT models through cloud software and infrastructure, and many are eager to see similar benefits in their device programs.
“It’s a bit of a cultural change,” Makin says. “If you look at historical device environments, it was a capital expense, and some organizations would try to stretch devices out five or seven years to save money. DaaS removes all of that. You’re constantly up to date. It’s also a workforce repositioning exercise. By moving to a DaaS model, you’re going to reduce labor and overhead, so you have the opportunity to repurpose your workforce in that space.”
Keep an Eye on Users and Devices
Another essential consideration for organizations looking at DaaS is the ability to use data to optimize operations. Many of the benefits of DaaS, Cook says, come as a result of the ongoing tracking and fine-tuning that partners can provide. By engaging a partner such as CDW, she says, organizations can move away from a “one-size-fits-all” device program, helping to both make workers more productive and reduce unnecessary spending.
“While all workers are equal, they’re definitely not the same, and they don’t have the same needs,” Cook says. “An executive doesn’t have the same needs as a back-office worker, and a back-office worker doesn’t have the same needs as a sales team member.”
“Most of the time, users have different pain points,” she says. “Understanding what those user experiences and pain points are, that is one of the most important things to getting people the devices they need and supporting them over the long term.”
The percentage of global enterprises that regard mobility as the most significant factor contributing to competitive advantage.
Source: T-Mobile for Business, “Workplace Mobility Report,” 2019
A Modern Necessity
DaaS engagements not only help organizations to simplify management and maintenance for employee devices; these programs can also lead to valuable data and insights that help businesses to improve their efforts over time.
Data from a recent IDG survey illustrates the importance of using analytics to optimize the user experience.
• Nearly all (94 percent) IT decision-makers say the quality of digital interactions between people, business processes and technologies has a direct impact on workforce productivity.
• Meanwhile, 30 percent of survey respondents admit that their environment isn’t fully optimized to create the most productive end-user experience.
• Fully 90 percent of IT decision-makers say their end users’ expectations for digital experience are rising.
• Nearly half (44 percent) of respondents say their organizations do not measure the quality of the IT user experience.
Source: IDG, “Driving End-User Productivity with Workspace Analytics,” 2018