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VMblog Expert Interview: Robb Henshaw Explores the 2023 DWEA State of the Digital Workspace Report


In September 2022, the Digital Workspace Ecosystem Alliance (DWEA) introduced its first annual survey to gauge the current state of digital workspace adoption, benefits and challenges.

This DWEA survey comes at a pivotal moment in time. The pandemic upheaval and the lessons learned are still fresh everyone's minds, yet organizations are also eager to begin solidifying the cloud and digital workspace strategies that will see them into the future.

To find out more about this survey and its findings, VMblog reached out to Robb Henshaw, the Co-Founder & CMO of Cameyo and Founder & President of the DWEA.  I also invite readers to check out the full DWEA report for themselves.

VMblog:  Tell me about your recent survey.  What was the focus of this survey, and why was it important to cover it now?

Robb Henshaw:  In September of 2022 the Digital Workspace Ecosystem Alliance (DWEA) introduced our first annual survey to gauge the current state of Digital Workspace adoption, identify the real-life benefits organizations are experiencing, and pinpoint the primary challenges that organizations have experienced in their digital workspace journeys.

While we did ask some baseline questions about what percentage of each org's workers were remote, hybrid, or in-office (like every other digital workspace survey) - that was not the primary focus. The true goal was to identify to what extent organizations have executed on their digital workspace strategies, what their experiences have been as they've implemented those strategies, and whether or not those strategies are delivering the desired results.  We also set out to strike a balance between reporting on the current state of the digital workspace AND the future plans that organizations have not yet realized.

VMblog:  This survey was a joint effort by the Digital Workspace Ecosystem Alliance.  Can you provide a little background on the DWEA?  What is it?  What is its purpose?

Henshaw:  The Digital Workspace Ecosystem Alliance (DWEA) is a consortium of technology vendors dedicated to helping organizations enable secure productivity for all of their people, regardless of location. Together we are committed to providing the vendor-neutral education and resources needed to empower organizations of all sizes to develop the digital workspace strategy that makes sense for their business. The DWEA is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization dedicated to market education.  

The purpose of the DWEA is to cut through the significant amount of noise when it comes to the term "digital workspace." Back in 2021 we were frustrated by the fact that there was no consistent definition of the digital workspace, which made it increasingly difficult for IT decision makers to determine which technologies would help meet their specific needs. Our goal was to help standarize the definitions of the different layers of technology that make up the digital workspace stack, and then provide IT pros with the tools they needed to determine which layers of the stack are actually necessary based on their organization's requirements.  

To date, the DWEA consists of 12 members: Cameyo, AppCure, DeviceTrust,, Fortinium, IGEL, Liquit, Login VSI, PolicyPak, Rimo3, Tricerat and XenTegra.

VMblog:  Can you provide an overview of the methodology of the report?  How many people did the study survey?  What were the demographics?

Henshaw:  This survey targeted IT decision makers globally, and was completed by 2,660 IT professionals, making it one of the largest surveys to date focused specifically on the adoption of digital workspace technologies.

Rather than solely focusing on the location of the individuals responding to the survey, with this survey we set out to identify the geographic breakdown of the location of the end-users that each survey respondent manages. Especially in this age of remote & hybrid work, just because the IT admin completing the survey is based in the US doesn't mean that most of their users are based in the US. So we wanted to get a clearer picture of the distribution of workers looked like for these organizations.

That geographic breakdown is as follows (reminder: the figures below do not add up to 100% because each respondent was able to choose multiple options based on the location of the end users they manage):

  • 69% of respondents manage end-users in the Americas
  • 30.5% of respondents manage end-users in EMEA
  • 29.4% of respondents manage end-users in APAC

As for the size of the organizations represented in this survey:

  • 47% of respondents represent small-to-medium enterprises (500-999 employees)
  • 30% represent enterprises (1,000-9,999 employees)
  • 20% represent small businesses (less than 500 employees)
  • 3% represent large enterprises (greater than 10,000 employees)

VMblog:  What are some of the consistent themes and topics from this report?

Henshaw:  Here are some of the main themes that arose from the survey responses: 

Hybrid and remote work are here to stay for a majority of organizations

However, the lack of consensus around the model for the post-pandemic workplace points to the clear need for organizations to develop and implement a digital workspace strategy that can adapt over time.

Strategy is critical, but execution is lagging

Whatever their opinions on the path back to the office, organizations are now in agreement that developing a strong digital workspace strategy is paramount. Yet only a very small number of them have fully executed their plans so far.

User experience is critical, and complexity is a challenge

The biggest roadblocks to digital workspace adoption are concern over its impact on the end-user experience and the perceived complexity of any digital workspace initiative.

Legacy tech is holding us back

Issues caused by legacy technologies-specifically virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and the need to support legacy apps-are the primary source of the above concerns related to the end-user experience and complexity.

Productivity sometimes outweighs security (for now)

In a stark departure from recommended best practices, companies are increasingly putting their end users' experience ahead of cybersecurity concerns.

Personal devices are everywhere, and that's a problem

As BYOD adoption skyrockets, so have worries over the cost of supporting personal devices and the security vulnerabilities they might introduce. These worries go hand in hand with an increased focus on endpoint management.

VMblog:  What sets this survey apart from other surveys tracking similar things?

Henshaw:  Rather than simply providing updated stats on the number of organizations who have committed to remote and/or hybrid work, this survey was focused on determining whether or not organizations have a digital workspace strategy in place, where they stand in the execution of those strategies (if they have one), and the pain points and roadblocks they've experienced along the way. We also set out to determine whether or not IT pros feel like their digital workspace strategies are paying off, or if they plan to course-correct in the future.

Overall, the goal was to provide IT decision makers with data to show them where the industry is at today so that they perhaps don't feel so alone in the struggles they're facing. But also, to provide them with better insight on what's working for their peers so that they can make more informed decisions as they continue to hone their strategies moving forward.

VMblog:  Was there anything in the data that truly surprised you?  And why?

Henshaw:  There are two key findings that surprised me the most, and those had to do with strategy and security. 

First, it became clear that a vast majority of organizations have still not successfully established and executed a digital workspace strategy. The results of the survey point out that organizations remain too busy putting out day-to-day fires to sit down and take the necessary time to solidify their digital workspace initiatives.

Close to 45% of the respondents said that they were still in the process of developing their digital workspace strategies at the time of the survey. Around 37% claimed to have developed a digital workspace strategy, but only 10.7% had actually evaluated solutions and started to deploy them.

The next most surprising finding was related to the security issues in the digital workspace. Many respondents admit to the fact that some of the decisions they made in rolling out their digital workspace strategies actually prioritized the productivity of their users over security.

For example, 86.5% of respondents said that they are very concerned about the security of their endpoints, but 87% also confirmed that they are letting at least some of their users use their own personal (BYOD) devices.

Granted, there's no doubt that business continuity and a positive end-user experience are critical to the long-term success of any organization. Nevertheless, they shouldn't come at the expense of an organization's cybersecurity.

VMblog:  After reviewing the results, what are some of the most important things organizations should consider as we move into a new year?

Henshaw:  Here are some of the key takeaways from the report that will help organizations as they are planning for 2023 and beyond: 

1)     Regardless of your remote/hybrid/in-person plans - a digital workspace strategy is key. Although roughly 6 out of every 10 organizations are banking on remote/hybrid work for the long term, there's an undeniable division of thinking when it comes to whether workforces will eventually make a wholesale return to the office. Those that have committed to hybrid and remote work will benefit from being able to build a digital workspace strategy accordingly. And they will almost certainly benefit from those actions being more in line with employees' broad expectations of a remote work option.

For organizations that expect their people to be back in the office full-time at some point in the future, the roadmap to get there is murky. As a result, it will be vital for them to establish a sustainable and flexible digital workspace strategy that can support hybrid work right now and adapt over time. With the lesson of the pandemic still fresh in everyone's mind, whatever strategy they adopt will have to allow them to respond to rapid and unforeseen shifts in workplace environments.

2)     There's a noticeable disconnect between the known benefits of a strong digital workspace strategy and the perceived impact that its implementation will have. While most respondents signaled that they're fully aware of the need for an actionable DW strategy, they have valid concerns about a winding up with diminished user experience and being overwhelmed by too many moving parts. These concerns aren't particularly surprising since the report's data also shows legacy technology (like VDI) has been a big concern and roadblock.

3)     Speaking of legacy technologies - organizations seem to be taking a hard look at the legacy technology they have in place and asking themselves if it's truly working for them While there are still legacy apps that are vital to their workflow, other legacy technologies, like VDI, is not meeting expectations and needs to be supplanted. The question is, how can they streamline the management and delivery of legacy solutions they want to keep while seamlessly replacing the legacy solutions they want to eliminate? The answer for many organizations is to adopt cloud-native solutions - like Cloud Desktops - that simplify and reduce the cost of deployment and management, provide a better end-user experience, and help increase digital workspace security.

4)     There is no doubt that business continuity and a positive end-user experience are critical to the long-term success of any organization. Nevertheless, they shouldn't come at the expense of cybersecurity. Organizations simply can't afford to put their people, networks and data at risk-quite literally, as the IBM "Cost of a Data Breach" report pegged the average cost of a data breach at $4.35 million in 2022 (up from $3.86 million just two years earlier).

A viable digital workspace strategy must also incorporate Zero Trust, change management and infrastructure modernization. The upside is that these initiatives aren't necessarily at odds with one another. There are a growing number of solution providers who recognize that simplicity can actually bolster security, for example, or that Zero Trust doesn't preclude flexibility.

VMblog:  How did the pandemic and the shift to work from home affect things?  Any data or findings touching on that?

Henshaw:  Like any sound policy decision, digital workspace strategies should ideally be adopted after considerable research, evaluation and real-world testing. But the sudden onset of the pandemic didn't afford organizations that luxury, which is why so many of them were forced to simply enable digital workspaces on the fly - regardless of whether a strategy was in place or not. 

This correlates to the number of people in the DWEA survey who indicate that their priority in the early days of enabling remote work was to keep people connected and productive, with security often being an afterthought.

Two years on, it might seem reasonable to assume that these same organizations have finally had enough time to develop and implement a more stable and future-oriented digital workspace strategy. But that doesn't appear to be the case. The DWEA survey shows a majority of respondents indicate that they're currently engaged in developing and refining their long-term digital workspace strategies, with very few having put them into action.

VMblog:  Did you gather any information about the future of work?  Will organizations remain allowing employees to work from anywhere or are they pulling things back into the traditional office space?

Henshaw:  Supporting a hybrid and remote workforce continues to be a priority for a majority of organizations. More than 58% of DWEA survey respondents confirmed that they will offer their people the option to work either remotely or hybrid on a permanent basis.

All the same, the breakdown of that percentage reveals some valuable nuances. Just under 40% said that supporting a permanent hybrid workforce is a priority, whereas only 24.5% said that supporting a permanent remote workforce is a priority. Clearly, then, the preferred option among respondents is for users to balance remote with on premises work, although one-quarter are more than open to the idea of fully remote users.

On the flip side of this is the nearly 42% of survey respondents who said that they expected all of their users to be back in the office full-time "at some point."

VMblog:  Are organizations continuing with legacy technologies like VDI, or are they budgeting for and thinking about transitioning to something else to support similar work challenges?

Henshaw:  Legacy technologies like VDI and VPNs clearly emerged as problematic in this survey, and for many organizations they are roadblocks to rolling out an efficient and effective digital workspace strategy.

But based on the DWEA survey results, an increasing number of organizations are finding the answer in cloud-native technologies like Virtual App Delivery. The respondent breakdown (51% using VDI, 47% using VAD) shows that adoption of the two virtualization technologies is already close to parity, even though VDI has a multi-decade head start. The rapid uptake of Virtual App Delivery suggests that organizations are finding it to be more cost-effective, less complex and more capable than traditional virtualization methods.

VMblog:  Where can viewers go to find out more about the survey results?  Can they download the report or any other data?

Henshaw:  Despite the amount of information above, this is just the tip of the iceberg. To download a free copy of the final "State of the Digital Workspace 2023" report and accompanying infographics, readers can go to the DWEA site here:


Published Friday, November 18, 2022 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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