If you read much tech news, you may have started to feel the push of a choice, four-letter acronym, BYOD (think BYOB minus the alcoholic beverage, and taking place at your workplace). In fact, according to a recent Gartner study discussed on The Wall Street Journal's Market Watch.com, "worldwide media tablet sales are expected to top 119 million units in 2012."
At first look it just seems like a lot of iPads and Android devices are being sold, which is most definitely so. However, the real piece of information that sticks out here is the increase in sales from 2011. That figure is far more impressive.
With 2011's tablet sales topping out around 60 million units, there is nearly a 98 percent increase into 2012. Now, all these numbers point to sales that are to end users, or more importantly, not part of giant vertical market buying sprees. Instead, the college student, perhaps your parents, but more importantly, your coworker, and in turn all those help desk users are starting to, as expected, purchase these very personal devices.
As Gartner is predicting, and we fully side with, these end users, your customers, are quickly looking for ways to integrate their new purchase into their professional lives. What better way to do that than to bring them to work (BYOD), and connect to - most likely - an already over-tasked wireless network.
Even as managers, directors, and CIOs alike choose to embrace, or perhaps condemn, the use of these devices, your customer's focus on making a tablet part of their work routine won't change that much. Liken all this to the days of trying to prevent cell phones from even existing in an office type environment - not a fruitful or successful endeavor.
If you are one of the unlucky teams that this skirmish turns into a full battleground for IT policy, you are going to need everything you can to prevent an all out war. For those of you on the Help Desk, you're ultimately sitting in a DMZ with regular shots being fired just to prove a point. We feel your pain, and we wish we could be there to guide you through it personally. Since we can't, we'll do the next best thing.
Listed below are five ways to better prepare for a battle in which you may already find yourself sitting in the middle. All of them can be managed manually, though that's never our preferred method. However, with the right IT Service Management solution, any efforts you do make in this direction will be backed by efficiency. After you check out the list, take a look at one of our most popular guides focused on fifty questions you should be asking when evaluating your current or next ITSM Solution.
1. Evaluate / Establish a Battle Plan (SLA)
Devices may have already slipped their way in before a policy was in place, which might just be a small sample of what is to come. Take the time now to use those first movers as a way to establish a set of processes and policies on what your customers can bring, and how they can use it. If you have an SLA, review and revise it, working with your customers to understand their expectations. Make sure your ITSM solution supports discovering these devices automatically. For example, with the influx of iPads that will come with the first waves of BYOD, you'll want to know the moment one hits your network.
2. Avoid a Battle of Little Big Horn (Routing)
Custer learned this lesson the hard way. In order to make sure you don't find yourself alone at the top of an unfortified hill, you need to get issues connected to resources as quickly as possible. In the Help Desk world, this means routing incoming incidents and requests as soon as possible, and to the right teams as easily as possible.
3. Win the War with Technology (Automation)
Every Help Desk is looking to find more time, and the right technology can provide that. From Automated routing and reporting, to seamless SLA integration, automation is the single point where you can actually recover time, and let your staff do what they do best. For example, if BYOD setup is weighing your team down, write a knowledge base article and publish it on your Service Catalog for customers to see. If setup requires staff, make sure you have a service request that can easily be completed, and captures all necessary information, the first time.
4. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (Training)
There is no replacement for making sure your staff is trained in what to expect. With BYOD, they will need to be familiar with the most popular, or common, devices. Buying an iPad or two for them to use will aid in their ability to understand the technology, and how it can be integrated into your organization. Even better, if your staff already own devices, consider testing a pilot BYOD project with them.
It's not all about understanding the tech though. Your staff may very well need to be trained on how to say, "No." Many organizations have a standing policy that BYOD devices are self-supported, meaning, they can't bring them down to the Help Desk when there is an issue. Telling someone in need of help no, or directing them to the company policy will require a fair bit of training.
5. Know When to Hold Them, Know When to Fold Them (Retreat)
BYOD isn't necessarily for everyone. The Gambler offers some great advice with regard to this. In fact be prepared to make a serious evaluation of the cost of a BYOD program. Some organizations are already finding that this may be more about a buzz, and not what's best for the business.
Image: Flickr | ahisgett