Next week — on 3 and 4 October — IP Expo Europe will happen once again at London’s ExCel. With a bursting schedule, a huge number of enterprise tech insights will be shared from the start to the finish of the event’s two days — and Citrix itself has a hand in nearly a dozen sessions across the show’s various platforms, as well as a dedicated Partner Zone coupled with all-round #CitrixPartnerLove.

What do we hope to pass on and learn next week? Apart from being excited to hear about life on the International Space Station from everyone’s favourite singing astronaut, Chris Hadfield, IP Expo is the perfect opportunity to reflect and take stock of just how much change happens in 12 short months in tech. In some industries, an annual get-together like this might have a Groundhog-Day, been-here-before feel to it, but quite the opposite is true of tech. As the digital revolution gathers pace, and disruption is everywhere, the challenge so often is to step back and make sense of where we’ve reached — and what’s next.

The human factor

Among our band of speakers next week is Citrix senior systems engineer John Moody — and his take on how tech transformation gets to the heart of why it’s crucial to put users first to realise tech’s potential today.

“My starting point is app virtualisation,” says John. “It sounds fairly dry and technical in isolation, but don’t be fooled. What I’ll be talking about, and getting my audience to engage with, is why individual users need to be given free rein with technology to experiment and express themselves. That’s because it’s the individual users who often know, once they’ve been given permission to think creatively, just how tech should work best for them.”

John works with customers in the public sector, and says app virtualisation and mobile workspaces are bringing through big changes in local and central government as legacy on-premises apps are retired.

“That’s great in itself, but it’s what you do with that transformation that has the potential to be the real game-changer. Most organisations still have quite limited policies around the issuing of devices to staff, often taking their bearings from the broad category of work they do. If someone is office-bound as a rule they get issued a desktop, someone who does a lot of writing gets a laptop and someone who is out and about every day gets issued a tablet of some sort.”

But John says this kind of approach often misses its mark, and particularly when there is so much potential now to develop really targeted, nuanced approaches to match individual need.

“I’m not saying that anything goes when it comes to using devices in the workplace — bring your own device is a massive challenge in the public sector —  but I am saying that one way or another most needs can be met, even when you factor in the need for security.”

To bring it to life, John gives an example.

“My partner is in social work and when she meets with clients and takes notes she doesn’t want to get a laptop out — it’s too much of a barrier between her and the person she is trying to help. But note-taking on a conventional notepad isn’t really the best thing, either. In her case, a reusable smart notebook called Rocketbook Everlast is the perfect way to bridge the gap. It’s a wipe-clean notebook that’s designed for instant, crystal-clear scanning and uploading of content to cloud services. So she gets to use hi-tech pen and paper, and all of her client notes are safely stored on secure enterprise servers for later access.”

Safe and secure

If the versatility offered by today’s tech is beguiling, John will also be exploring how users stay secure in this brave new world of virtualisation and mobility.

“If you think about meetings, many capture and organise ideas on a whiteboard, which is natural, but you also need some good practice to apply. Grab the image on a secure device, for uploading instantly to a secure server, with the right tagging for easy retrieval by all – and then wipe that board clean before you leave the meeting room. It’s easily overlooked, but it’s an action that needs to be taken. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories I hear about left-behind sensitive material.”

John adds: “I don’t want to emphasise the bad and the risky here. I can say with confidence that users do not want to be insecure in their working practices. There is a lot of committed good sense on view wherever I go, so applying the right processes is something most embrace enthusiastically. At the same time, people have work to do, and IT teams need to recognise that productivity is the main motivation for many. In other words, if there’s a much easier and simpler way that presents itself to a user to get a task done, there’s a good chance they will embrace it. The challenge is to ensure that process or choice can be incorporated into secure practices — and making sure users understand that the willingness is there to support their brainwaves and work-hacks, so they don’t need to do things covertly. Asking the question about a process, and whether it can be adopted, is the culture you want to foster.”

Making the most of it

Beyond the Citrix presentations, the whole of IP Expo is a melting-pot of ideas and individuals coming together. The keynote stage not only hosts Chris Hadfield but the author and TV star Dr Hannah Fry, who’s delivering what promises to be a fascinating and witty session on the place of algorithms in our lives today. The outspoken Andrew Keen, once dubbed “the anti-Christ of Silicon Valley,” is also in the mix. Along the way, in short, all the sessions will keep you guessing and keep you learning.

For the record, our Citrix sessions include:

  • Nez Bellis on running the Citrix workspace to best effect
  • Gujraj Singh on extracting actionable insights from the rich data you gather
  • George Christophi on the role of collaboration to get more from data
  • Dave Brear on the place of public cloud in enterprise architecture
  • Andrew Scott on some of the challenges posed by hybrid cloud
  • Jason Poole on how Citrix networks create a real-time map of user behaviour

Every one of our session hosts has useful stories and insights to share, so do come along. Have a great IP Expo – and please say hello to any of us at any time. It’s always great to connect and find out what you’re thinking! And in the meantime, click here for more info.