Empowering End Users Means Changing IT Support Models

Disruptive IT Trends3 minutes readJun 2nd, 2011

Consumerization is forcing changes in enterprise IT management policies across the board — from device procurement to end-user support. The conversation about this revolution has focused largely on the devices employees want to bring to work, because we’re all intrigued by smartphones and tablets. But the ways that employers must support the end users so they can attain maximum productivity are just as important. The old command-and-control models just won’t work in a decentralized environment designed to empower the end user.

For example, numerous CIOs in North America and Europe have told me that they are implementing managed digital allowance (MDA) programs. These are more closely managed variants of Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), programs, where employees select and often fund the productivity tools they want.

In MDA, the employers provide their workers with a portion of the funds they need to invest in applications and devices of their choice. Rather than dictate a limited range of company-provided mobile devices, this policy adjustment helps employees choose the tools that best suit their work styles, roles, and geographical location.

On the support side, the MDA model requires creation of a flexible service catalog, in which the IT organization matches the support services it provides to specific applications and devices. This increase in choice actually helps reduce service-delivery costs, because it eliminates the old, always-on-call help desk and relies instead on significant user self-service in support and IT service request management.

A self-service portal is key to successful support in this new decentralized environment. Through the portal, end users can create profiles based on multiple factors, such as their role, work location, percentage of time spent traveling, and applications and devices owned.

The end-user profile is linked to a service request catalog containing an index of selectable services that comply with corporate policies — for example, desktop software updates for Apple iPhones. The catalog can also contain an approval workflow configured to route service requests through the appropriate queue, speeding up resolution of the end user’s service request without the expense of intervention by service personnel.

At a recent conference on managed services, a CIO asked me how the mass service customization I’ve just described can provide tangible benefits for the enterprise. I replied that that kind of framework embraces the individuality of the end user and their unique methods of productivity while providing a balance of choice and standards. At the same time, it contains unnecessary costs by changing the service delivery focus from a supply-side to a demand-driven process — the service equivalent of just-in-time logistics in manufacturing.

This new model for end-user services overturns the old analogy of Henry Ford declaring that customers could have a car painted any color they liked, so long as it was black. Nowadays, enterprise IT organizations can give end-users the support they want cost-effectively, in the shade that best suits their mobility and productivity requirements.