So many remarkable changes have taken place in enterprise IT over the last couple of years that they add up to a kind of third phase in computing. Whether you refer to these disruptions as the consumerization of IT, hybrid enterprise, convergence, or SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud), we are using computers in unforeseen new ways.
These changes have helped transform how commercial organizations support ‘end users’ – employees, partners, customers and even the public – who now have many ways to share information. While all this new technology improves productivity, agencies still need commercial support models to meet the needs of the new era.
A quick history:
Phase 1 took place with the advent of the IBM PC. At first, large organizations openly discouraged the idea of everyone having, much less needing, a PC. That lasted about a millisecond.
Phase 2, the real revolution, saw all of these PCs networked and connected to enterprise resources. You could say Phase 2.1 was characterized by notebook PCs with modems, Ethernet and built-in wireless cellular cards.
Now Phase 3 is total on-the-go computing with mobile devices, infrastructure in the cloud, and internet-enabled-information-access-everywhere expectations for everyone.
Federal agencies are rapidly adopting this latest phase, partly because policy (e.g. Open Data, Shared First, etc.) is pushing them towards mobility and cloud, and partly because computing is moving in this direction for consumers. Just as agencies must understand that support requirements have become more diverse, their approach must evolve too. Supporting “end users” in this connected environment, at a reasonable cost, is radically different than the ‘help desk’ of the past.
It’s no longer enough for IT techs to answer phones, stop by individual desks as needed, or respond to taps on the shoulder. Consider: The average user has two or three devices and operating systems requiring support. He or she operates on at least three networks – the enterprise IP wired (which is really a conglomeration of LANs and interconnecting WANs), the local wireless, and the public cellular. Users access local apps, client-server applications and web applications. Users are also online at all hours. Users range from IT savvy employees with known devices to customers with virtually any technology. The resources users draw on could be in a local data center or a distant cloud, all while mobile devices, agency-owned or BYOD, are easily lost or stolen.
Supporting users in this environment requires more self-service, more automation of the routine, more data analytics to anticipate and fend off problems that will otherwise result in service calls, and a ‘persona based’ approach depending on who is calling for support and why. Supporting a software developer is much different than assisting the communications office for instance. Now the vast amount of data collected by large scale service centers can identify patterns and both predict and avoid problems. And, delivering break-fix services is similarly ripe for innovation with commercially proven choices ranging from high-touch on-site service bars to overnight depot shipping.
Leading workplace service providers have large scale operations to provide specialized, shared support and IT service management infrastructure. Commercial best practices in use today are of great value to Federal agencies, but some old style procurements still evaluate the number of support FTEs, precluding the innovation and scale advantages of market leaders, often under the justification of small business goals.
In the commercial space ‘end user’ support is being transformed by a highly scalable, shared service model, sometimes referred to as workplace services. Through Unisys’ MyWork Services, users have access to anytime, anywhere technical support services with built in advanced analytics to predict and eliminate problems for the worker before they occur. Fewer incidents, faster resolution and improved productivity are all enhanced by Unisys’ advanced end user experience monitoring technology.
There’s no reason for Federal agencies to have 21st century computing environments with support set-ups from the 1990s.