One of the reasons I came to Citrix was because it has always remained focused on a vision of helping people work better. As innovation has progressed over the years, the company has used different words to describe the technology that enables this vision, but the focus has always been on providing people access to apps and data.

Lately you have heard us talk about our vision for a software-defined workplace. That phrase could seem like a clever use of an industry buzzword, but in our case it is a perfect definition of where we are taking our customers.

First Came Location-Defined Workplaces

To help you fully understand our point of view, let me share some thoughts about where we have been as an industry. In the 70s and 80s, we had location-defined workplaces. We went to one place and did specific tasks on specific equipment. IT environments were built in isolation without common networking, operation systems and user interfaces, and were often restricted to proprietary hardware and software. Apps were often tethered to one person or device and productivity was realized at a departmental level.

Then Came Hardware-Defined Workplaces

in the 90s and 2000s, during which the IT environment was designed and deployed with enterprise LAN/WAN technology and common/standardized software and hardware. As a result, work became transportable with devices such as desktops and laptops, apps were developed on a one-to-many model, and productivity was realized cross-functionally. This is the era that Citrix, founded in 1989, excelled by optimizing how data was accessed from any device.

Now, We Are In The Software-Defined Workplace Era

Other companies have talked about software-defined datacenters or software-defined networking – which are both important – but in the context of our vision you can see why Citrix focuses on the workplace as a whole. At Citrix we like to say that the software-defined workplace drives both human and business outcomes for our customers. A good  illustration of this is highlighted in recent research from McKinsey Global Institute that estimates that optimizing workflows and increasing collaboration via software-based solutions by even 20 percent can save workers up to 200 hours per year1.

In a software-defined workplace, workers are characterized by who they are and what they need to do – not what device they have or where they need to go. The new IT environments are designed, built and combined with common technology  on internet architecture, such as the cloud. As a result, apps are based on an any-to-any model that enables global and business-wide productivity, while security can be more contextual based on the person who is accessing the data.

We are in an exciting time for technology, but not every vendor is prepared to help its customers take  full advantage of the software-defined workplace. In addition to my role as Chief Strategy Officer, I recently became GM for our Workspace Services business unit, which focuses on core Citrix technologies such as XenApp, XenDesktop, XenMobile and XenServer. My colleague Klaus Oestermann is overseeing our Delivery Networks business unit, which includes the Citrix NetScaler and CloudBridge products. Chris Hylen heads up the Mobility Apps business unit, driving the strategy for the GoTo and ShareFile products. These virtualization, mobility management, networking and SaaS solutions – together and apart – are already enabling our customers to benefit from a software-defined workplace. But we are early in the software-defined era, and there is a lot more innovation to achieve. Our goal is to go even further to enhance how these technologies can raise the bar in flexibility, security and total customer experience so that people can truly work better.

In the coming weeks I will elaborate further on how we are leveraging the software-defined workplace to shift how people work. But first, I want to hear from you. What possibilities do a software-defined workplace bring your business? Tell me in the comments or message me on Twitter – @Geirheads.

1 “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies,” McKinsey Global Institute