Why I need a workspace portal, a corporate app catalog, or some other place to find all my apps

My digital workspace is a mess—I need help!

I keep my desk pretty neat. I dock my laptop, I have my display mounted on a fancy stand, and I hide all the cables. I use a wireless keyboard and mouse. Even my pens and pencils have their own organization system. (Truth!)

But my digital workspace needs some help. Outside of the apps and data that I use on a daily or weekly basis, everything else can be hard to find.

We’ve always used a lot of SaaS apps at BrianMadden.com, sometimes unofficially. And, in recent years, our company has been providing us with increasing numbers of official SaaS apps. (We even started federating a bunch of them!) When we finally moved to Office 365, though, things really came to a head. There are now just too many tools and data repositories in too many places for anybody to remember where to find anything.

We’ve been writing about various types of digital workspace portals, app catalogs, and aggregation points for many years. Now, as our company’s app estate continues to expand, I’m feeling the need for some sort of digital workspace portal more than ever.

The problem is that today, there are already a ton of different places where I go to access my work apps, including:

  • Our corporate intranet.
  • The web login page for our VPN.
  • The webpage for our SSO server.
  • Now that we have Office 365, we have Office.com.
  • Plus, we have other portals that sprout up around Office 365. (For example, check out the similar-sounding but actually slightly different myapplications.microsoft.com and myapps.microsoft.com.)
  • Many of our SaaS web apps aren’t in any of these portals, so we just have to remember the URL. Some of them I have bookmarked, some autocomplete in my browser, and some I just have to guess at. Or I have to search for links in old emails, or in Word docs that are posted to our Intranet or somewhere (who knows where?) in Box.
  • On my desktop and mobile device, I have the native clients for some of my apps, but certainly not the random SaaS offerings that I only use occasionally.

Then there’s the data. HR docs are all over the place. I have notes and bookmarks in at least half a dozen apps. And this is not to mention all the collaboration and chat options, which I recently wrote about.

While I’m using my personal experience and company as an example here, I don’t mean to be calling anybody out. This happens to everybody. But clearly, we—and most organizations—could use some sort of digital workspace portal to bring all of these apps together in one place.

Another issue is forgetting the names of the apps that I only use a handful of times a year, or even just once a month. How many apps have some combination of the words Smart, Clear, Good, Work, Company, Data, Box, Sheet, Analytics, Now, and Social in their name? So for our workspace portal, I want the apps to have friendly names, like “Pay Stubs and Tax Forms” and “Annual Employee Review.”

At one point last year, I wrote about how digital workspace portals are getting all the attention in EUC right now, and pointed out that there are other ways to work. For example, not everybody starts their day by going to the exact same front door for all of their apps. Often, we head directly to the app, website, or folder that we need. But now I’d like to amend the point that I made by saying even though this is the case, it’s still good to have it there for when you need to find more of your apps and data repositories.

I’ve long believed in the value of digital workspace portals to aggregate all of our apps. As we adopt more SaaS apps, we’re just going to feel the need even more.

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