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Supporting the Future of Technology

09/19/2011 by: The SunView Team

If you have spent any amount of time managing a technology department or fielding tickets on a service or help desk, you know that just trying to support existing technology can often feel like a race you showed up late to. Add to that a business' drive to support emerging technology, and you get the full picture of what all IT departments have struggled with since there has been a need for an IT department - in short forever.

Here at the ITSM Lens, we tend to discuss current technologies, and how they can support or inhibit your technology teams. If you're a regular you know BYOD (Bring Your Own Device for the uninitiated), "The Cloud," and Mobile Technology show up under the microscope with regular frequency. But, how will these technologies shape the future of Service Management, how can we help prepare you for what's coming, and perhaps most importantly, should you even care?

The short answer to that last question is, "yes." While the future will change in an order of magnitude(s) before we get there, understanding that how our users interact with technology today shapes the technology of tomorrow, is a lesson that will set your team apart from the rest.
Whether any of us want to admit it, and as much as we may struggle with integrating even current technology, IT professionals play a major role in shaping a users productivity and efficiency. Understanding what may be right around the corner, in addition to what is already here, results in success for your team, your users, and your business.

Mashable.com has a list of 8 current technologies that will shape the future. We picked four that we think will be the most relevant to IT Teams (be sure to check out the full list - self-driving cars anyone?). We've also included our thoughts on how new technology might present challenges to technology departments, and a possible plan for resolution.

Smart Phones
Prediction: A shift will occur, of cell phone technology, from our pockets to our wrists, and in turn seamless interaction with almost every device around us.

Reality: This one could go badly. Anyone that has seen a staggered rollout of new business phones knows that everyone gets jealous of needs the latest and greatest technology. From Blackberries to laptops, new means better. Anything less and you create tiers of associated value of your employees. Add to that the element that the product must also be fashionable, like a wristwatch, and IT will need experts like Tim Gunn on retainer, making sure their mobile computing device goes perfectly with a new pair of shoes.

Solution: Ultimately, more personable and wearable devices present a BYOD conundrum of epic proportions. Where does technical support start or stop? To avoid any confusion, establish an SLA with regard to such devices and communicate clearly what can and will be supported. We are in an age where IT departments are being asked to drastically reduce costs. Personal devices could set that initiative off the rails. If you are new to the BYOD concept, check out our article Managing Mobility in the Enterprise... Ready or Not, Here it Comes!.

Wireless Broadband
Prediction: A mini cell tower on every house.

Reality: With 4G (LTE) just starting to get legs in mid-size markets, and tiered, wireless broadband becoming a standard, a few new paradigms are emerging. In offices with "infinite" broadband capabilities, where streaming music and video is common, what happens when users reach their limits with a few short days? Not to mention how will we handle businesses, employees, and customers being on multiple, incompatible networks? If wireless seems like chaos in your business already, this prediction does not give us a lot of hope.

Solution: It's likely a good idea to start figuring out where and how your bandwidth is being consumed. If analysts are right, tiered rates for wired internet service won't be a wireless-only endeavor. Even if internet service goes wireless-only, it's a good idea to establish a baseline for what your company needs and what truly is necessary, business consumption. The best starting place is figuring out just what devices are connecting to your network, and ChangeGear can help with that.

The Cloud
Prediction: A future where all information is in the cloud. Where you are never without the information you need.

Reality: Utopias are great, unfortunately they aren't reality. The truth is that while it's a great service to have all the information we need available in an instant, when those systems go down you can't do anything to get them back up. You are at the mercy of the cloud, and whatever processes they have in place.

Solution: So, how do you prepare for this coming loss of control? First make sure the standard processes you have in place are represented by your Cloud vendor. We had a great article last week on five questions to ask your Cloud provider. That is definitely a good place to start.

Social Networking
Prediction: Social Networks will integrate seamlessly into our business lives, offering functionality such as providing you topics for meeting small talk based on the latest post(s) from attendee social streams.

Reality: A near endless amount of requests that will be aimed at your company's help / service desk. Imagine the recall email requests typically associated with Outlook, but now users want to delete or recall messages they mistakenly sent out to all their circles. This includes the rather non-professional, and non-work related photo from a weekend party they didn't really want to share during a business meeting.

Solution: The best bet is to get on the front end of this wave. Establish policies and standards for how social media can and should be used within your organization. Since, encouraging users to keep business and personal lives separate will get more difficult, offering etiquette and training materials will do your company and its employees a great service. This article from Forbes is from a bit ago, but should provide a good platform if your company doesn't already have a program in place.

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