Originally posted November 29, 2011
Consumers are users, and inversely, users are consumers. If you are in anyway involved with the user aspect of IT Service Management, especially in the area of Service / Help Desk, that statement should be your mantra. At the very least it should be the guiding principle in dealing with the coming changes caused by the consumerization of IT. While we tend to associate hardware with this topic, understanding interactions that users have with technology, outside of their professional lives, essentially when they are consumers, is increasingly important. The best example of this lesson to date is Black Friday, and its newly popular cousin, Cyber Monday.
Here in the US, the aforementioned Friday and Monday in November represent the official start to our holiday season. For the most part there isn’t much that can be gleamed from the madness that typically results. Those braving the physical world on Friday risk life and limb. Not to mention, the chance of getting sprayed with this season’s latest fragrance – ode de pepper. However, there is a specific dichotomy between the two days, and a new trend is starting to form. It would seem an increasing amount of individuals are choosing to increase their online shopping habits.
Now, remembering our mantra, we can be drawn to the conclusion that as consumer behavior increases in any specific direction, we see user behavior trend the same way. In this, users are becoming much more familiar with the nuances of online shopping and will come to expect similar features and points of interaction when using technology at their workplace. So, what does all this mean for an IT department, and how can you prepare?
First and foremost make sure you have a Service Catalog. Even if your Service/Help Desk has this component already, make sure it’s organized and easily navigable for users. An intuitive and well-organized Service Catalog will allow users to browse and shop for services that are available to them, in much the same way they would search Amazon for killer deals. Next up, and a near parallel component to the Service Catalog, is ensuring that your Service Desk / ITSM solution provides for proper automation when users encounter difficulty. Again, using the Amazon example, they have a great process for handling almost any customer issue. Based on what the user selects from pre-defined fields, users are directed to the right problem quickly and easily. Finally, don’t abandon the human component. While many organizations want to (and do) see incredible efficiency gains from automation and self-service tools, completely removing the human component is not likely possible. Even as large retail chains like Best Buy and Target see electronic sales increase, consumers are still held to the peace of mind that problems, if and when necessary, can be solved by contacting and speaking with a human being.