The Future of IT Support

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How do you see IT support changing in the coming years?

In the coming years I see IT support changing in a few key areas:

  • Consumerization of IT – user’s understanding and expectations of the user experience have increased. They expect their support experience to be as good as they have at say an Apple Store and can quickly discern what constitutes a good versus a bad experience. Whether our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, IT Walk-up Stations, GoToAssist Chat or how we roll out new IT services here at Citrix we are beginning to think more retail approach than the traditional IT support approach of if we build it they will or have to come.
  • Self-service with IT as an enabler– as more business critical applications move to the Cloud and mobility apps drive simplicity and single use function for users it is tough to see the traditional support levels of Level 1 through 4 staying the same. Simplicity will see more users opting for self-service because it can drive as much if not more value than calling the traditional Level 1 support desk. IT becomes an enabler when it automates the complexity out of that experience and understands that that experience is made up of the sum of many parts – the people, the materials, vendors, the approach (service catalog, phone, ticketing system, chat, crowd sourcing, etc.). If we do it right there will be a stronger preference toward employees choosing self-service versus having the route tickets through 3 to 4 levels of IT support.
  • Data rules – great data will rock– there is a wealth of information comprised of support tickets, user data, system information, errors, logs, vendor fixes, etc. that are often looked at as standalone data points reviewed after the experience. More often than not it is used to fix stuff. Interrogated correctly though, beyond fixing stuff, that data can used to shape the user experience. On one level it can be used to implement proactive preventive measures before the user even sees an issue. On another level, it can begin to shape and define our service offerings. What services are being consumed, how often, by whom and are we delivering a great user experience? At the very least use the data to do consumer insight analysis to shape our services and drive business value.

What would you recommend to new techs wanting to get into the industry?

My key recommendations center on soft skills. Our world is about the experience and I recommend new techs have a blend of the following:

  • Customer empathy
  • Great listening skills
  • Superb customer service
  • Disciplined problem solving approach
  • Excel at interpersonal team skills

I am purposely not calling out technical skills. The technical is assumed for a person’s chosen field or degree program. In the soft skills arena is where I watch people truly differentiate themselves from others.

What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in IT that you weren’t expecting?

There are so many in such a short while. I think the biggest changes that I did not expect are:

  • Mobility Apps– That single feature or purpose built apps would be accepted by the general user population. More is better was turned on its head. Forget the product comparison charts and weighty marketing blurbs. One less click can be the deciding factor between whether an app is successful or not.
  • User Experience versus technology takes center stage – Successful services and business applications are leading with the user experience first then looking to the technology second to understand what is available to deliver that user experience. Too often the tendency is to lead with the technology; perhaps the next version or the next release in the roadmap and thinking that the technology is so wow that the user experience will follow. Often though, the technology is not a great fit for the user experience, the user is not happy and IT loses time trying to figure out how to make the user experience fit.

What would you like to see for the future of IT?

The future of IT for me is where reactive activities make up less than 5% of what we do in our day-to-day. For that to happen two key focus areas include:

  • Self-healing and self-aware applications, processes, and systems – to get in front of and anticipate business needs, to differentiate our services in a competitive fashion in order to drive stakeholder value. A good example is think of when an app misbehaves on the desktop. We call, we wait for “support” to wade through event logs, we answer a ton of questions about our operating system, and we “reboot”, so many steps. On the flip side what if we, IT, were monitoring the event logs and notifying the user that we noticed their application had a blip. If there is a fix or a workaround on their behalf we capture the error, report it, grab a snapshot of their virtual machine, test the fix/workaround and then implement all with or without the user’s knowledge.
  • Interrogating data to better anticipate our user needs – along a similar vein of self-healing and self-aware how do we respond to user activities.  An example might be the traditional support approach for a user that is traveling. If not a frequent flyer they might not think to check to see whether they have the latest softphone or perhaps they are missing a great movie app for long flights. If they remember they go to the Intranet and wade through a ton of documents and downloads to prep for their business trip. Hopefully it installs as intended and no issues. Maybe they install or they have to call the service desk. The future IT automatically polls the travel database looking for users that books travel. Our systems then do a comparison against their installed software database. Maybe we determine that they don’t have a softphone and that their movie app is outdated. We then update automatically, run some tests to verify that it is working as intended and when ready send a brief note to say that all key software has been update or installed plus other employees that traveled also used and recommended these fine apps.

 

About the author

Shawn Genoway has been in the IT industry for nearly 25 years. His experience spans Technical Architecture, Service Level Management, Support, Business Process Re-engineering, Automation, Mergers and Acquisitions, DC Operations and Network Operation Centers to name several. In 1998, he co-authored “Windows NT Thin Client Solutions: Implementing Terminal Services and Citrix Metaframe”.

During his 15+ years at Citrix, his current accountabilities include worldwide employee support, Service Level Management, IT Systems Management, IT Automation, IT Financial Management, IT Enterprise Cloud, Service Portfolio Management, Service Experience, Mergers and Acquisitions, Network Operations Centers (NOCs) and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program

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