What I learned on the first day of Citrix Synergy 2019

My first repeat conference!

I started my first week on the job at Citrix Synergy 2018. I was largely overwhelmed but enjoyed everything I saw and learned (helps it was all new). Now that I’m sort of a conference veteran, I’m less fazed by information overload.

Still, there’s always a lot to absorb at conferences, so what are a few things that stuck out to me during the first day of meetings, breakout sessions, and a keynote?

Citrix completes their pivot toward general-purpose users

Though Citrix made several major announcements, they spent the bulk of the keynote outlining how Citrix and their products were an ideal option for all users, not just power users. Citrix has been working on this for a while, revealing back at their Q3 earnings call they wanted to appeal to general-purpose users. 

So, while this messaging was expected, it still stood out to me in an event meant to show off what Citrix was working on and where they wanted to go; earnings calls only reveal so much. A year after announcing the long-expected Workspace app, CEO David Henshall, PJ Hough, and others focused on how the Workspace app could potentially solve everyday user issues and IT admin issues. Whether these issues are in productivity, security, or product/platform choice (Citrix is positioning itself as software agnostic—customers can continue to use their preferred cloud provider and more). 

Additionally, Citrix looked at it from the company side, saying that it could handle the employee disengagement issue, which is an issue they claimed costs companies $7 trillion a year. 

Sapho integration: Workspace intelligent experience

When Citrix acquired Sapho back in November 2018, we were curious how they would integrate this workflows app vendor into the Citrix Workspace app. (Jack definitely expected it to make an appearance.) At the keynote, David announced the Workspace intelligent experience, which is expected to go GA later this year, and is currently in beta for some test customers.

I’m hoping to get a demo of the Workspace intelligent services before the end of the show. While it wasn’t too difficult to speak with many vendors and other Citrix employees in the expo hall, this was one booth with consistently long wait times. To me, that speaks volumes around the interest it may generate.

From an existing Citrix user perspective, I could see this being a hit. (It’s not a differentiator from VMware Workspace ONE, since it’s a similar product to Mobile Flows, so not sure if it will attract net-new customers.) But, I would love to have something like that in my office, since so many small tasks can be solved with a micro-app integration.

One anecdote from Tuesday: Jack and I spoke with a friend after the keynote who said his own company had looked into RPAs (and Sapho was even on the shortlist). So that’s me and another person with at least some degree of interest!

Citrix is certainly high on it, boldly proclaiming they could see it giving employees back one day a week (or two months a year). 

In addition to announcing the intelligent experience, they also showed off the Micro-App Builder, which will allow IT admins to create their own custom workflows for users through customizable templates, APIs, and a no-code, drag-and-drop tool.

Workflow Assistant

One neat little announcement Citrix made was their Workflow Assistant. It didn’t warrant much time during the keynote, but when speaking with PJ, he explained what he hopes the Workflow Assistant becomes when it is released later this year.

He emphasized that he sees it not as a bot, which implies simply looking for a way to automate small tasks, but as more of an assistant. It’s not Clippy 2.0, but an assistant built with natural language queries that plugs into Citrix Analytics, giving the assistant some real power.

The Workflow Assistant is end user focused for the moment (Jack wondered if it could be used on the management side, which PJ appeared to be intrigued by—but who knows if anything comes of that). The user initiates with the assistant, using NLP to make their queries. Eventually, it may be able to make workflow recommendations.

It’s just a small announcement, but one at least a few beside me were curious about following the keynote and something PJ showed enthusiasm for.

Final thoughts

These were just a few things that stood out to me from the first day, there were a few other announcements and products I want to learn more about before writing on them, such as the newly announced Citrix Analytics for Performance.

You can find Jack’s live blog of the keynote address here for everything Citrix announced and talked about. I’ll also leave it to him to discuss some of the identity announcements and conversations we had (if you ever want to see someone’s eyes light up with excitement, just ask him about identity).

We’re just getting started here at Citrix Synergy: two more days to go. With more meetings and sessions to attend, alongside getting an update about the Citrix Workspace Hub, be on the lookout from additional coverage from Jack and me.

Jack put together his thoughts on how Citrix Synergy 2019 went, so check it out!

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