Picture this – your alarm clock goes off, you reach across the bed and take a look at your phone; it’s woken you up 30 minutes early – why? Well you have a meeting at 9:30am, but your car is running low on fuel so filling up will take 15 minutes, and traffic is a little worse than normal, so it will take an extra 15 minutes to get to the meeting. Welcome to the Internet of Things (IoT) a world where your phone can play your day ahead and your fridge knows when it’s running dry and orders the groceries itself.
IoT has captured the imagination of industry visionaries and the public for some time now; devices sending and receiving data, opening the door to a futuristic world previously the stuff of science fiction.
As the cities we live in grow into digital ecosystems, the networks around us will connect every individual device, enabling billions of new data exchanges. Industries will enter a new era, from medical devices that talk directly to medical professionals, to the emergence of smart homes that manage themselves efficiently, ensuring energy usage is checked and bills paid on time.
In the workplace it’s equally easy to see the potential advantages of the connections between devices, from intelligent service desk support through to printers, computers and other devices interacting with each other to deliver tangible user and business benefits.
The service desk is a key component for businesses in the digital age, acting as a communication hub for IT issues, a reference point for technology requirements and a tool for asset visibility. Organisations must ask themselves if their current service desk has the technological capacity and capability to manage the multitude of device and operational data in an efficient manner. An intelligent service desk can be the lifeblood of IoT implementation within businesses and enable automation to be realised.
A connected printer in a business ecosystem, for example, could effectively self-serve its own peripheral needs and order its own supplies when needed. However, the management of that data, effective registration and logging of the incident, as well as notification to the financial and technical teams would not be possible without an intelligent service desk – especially when you elevate this to an enterprise scale, with possibly hundreds of connected printers or devices.
When discussing the “connected office”, IT managers will understandably raise concerns around security. The more devices that are connected, the further the periphery is pushed, increasing potential entry points there are into a network.
An intelligent service desk will enable whitelisting to be integrated into communication protocols. This is a process which gathers and groups trusted individuals and their devices into a known category. This will enable any unusual requests from either IoT enabled devices or employee requests to be automatically flagged and questioned before action or access is given.
It is in this scenario that IT managers can reap the benefits of IoT, service desk and employee synchronisation. Through the IoT device communicating with the service desk, the service desk effectively managing all end points and the employee working in tandem with the service desk software, the minimisation of internal security risks can be achieved.
While much of this sounds quite out of reach, the benefits of IoT and service desk communication are already evident today, through use cases that are currently very fluid, personalised and often driven by an imaginative use of existing and sometimes emerging technology. Peripheral IT product vending machines holding keyboards and mice, for example, allow the realisation of this relationship to be seen.
However, with so much data being transferred and the IoT still very ‘new’, there are a number of challenges, the most critical being visibility of assets connected and operating under the network.
Communication between all end points and visibility should be fundamental considerations when planning for an IoT based implementation. Intelligent service desks, that can enrich the IT support experience as well as integrate and communicate with the business ecosystem, can host the technology capability to have oversight, communication and visibility of device end points communicating with a network.
While this may appear to be a straightforward concept, often enthusiasm to implement and complexity of service desk and technology transformation has a tendency to drown out and bypass the fundamentals – leaving potential backdoors open.
To ensure that there is a holistic approach toward securing connections with the IoT, organisations must challenge all stakeholders (vendors, integrators and consultants) to apply secure IoT principles to the service desk solution and IT operational unit, right from the “drawing board” phase.
Last month, we had the privilege of attending the 25th Annual IT Service Management (ITSM) conference in London. It was great to see so many energised service management comrades at the event, where we delivered a keynote presentation on Computacenter’s Next Generation Service Desk (NGSD) solution that we deployed with Hays recruitment. This was the first time presenting at the conference and it certainly lived up to expectations. I co-presented with Simon Gerhardt, who was the main lead on the NGSD project and acts as the IT Operations Director at Hays Recruitment.
As a leading recruitment services company Hays is dependent on the productivity of its employees, and with technology playing an ever-increasing role in streamlining the recruitment process, employees’ IT queries and issues need to be dealt with quickly. To give users greater choice about when and how they engage, we worked with Hays to help digitise their IT support through NGSD. The solution offers an online portal and intuitive mobile app which allows employees, to obtain a user-centric experience with anytime, anywhere IT support and a wealth of knowledge banks to self-serve their own IT issues.
We had a strong attendance during the presentation itself and it was great to see a wide range of engaged, seasoned professionals in one room, all willing to listen and pose questions. During our presentation, I detailed some common trends around service desk demand as well as workforce expectation in relation to technology, that allowed us to illustrate the vitality of intelligent service desk’s in modern organisations. We drew on a variety of research studies and customer feedback reports, that uncovered statistics such as 53% of employees are frustrated by a lack of flexibility in working practices and 41% of workforces will consider moving to a new role if they don’t get the support they require. Simon Gerhardt, did a great job illustrating the tangible impact that NGSD has delivered for Hays Recruitment.
It was fantastic to be able to relive some of the challenges, successes and outcomes of the NGSD project with Hays, to an audience completely unfamiliar with the solution itself.
A key highlight in the delivery of the project that raised eyebrows and encouraged positive feedback was focused around the implementation timeline. In the early stages of the project, we conducted a one day hot-house with the internal members of the Hays development team, that played a big part in the rapid implementation time of the project. By having a collaborative approach to the solution design and the onboarding process for the wider workforce, it fast tracked a number of weeks of traditional planning, meaning NGSD went live on time, in just eight weeks.
As well as implementation timeline, the lack of disruption to working norms during the implementation itself, stood out as a notable crowd pleaser. NGSD can integrate seamlessly into any IT service management platform, which removes a major challenge when transforming the key system of engagement for a given workforce. The existing platform that the employee interacts with remains unchanged as the underlying platform is being updated to the NGSD solution.
This means that no disruption is caused from the integration of the solution, maximising productivity and eliminating IT downtime.
Don’t take my word for it, Barclay Rae Interim CEO at ITSMF UK said when he awarded Computacenter with the SDI Best Managed Service Desk award – “The three finalists all demonstrated mature service desk operations plus excellent customer engagement and relationships. What marked Computacenter out was their practical focus on innovating for their customers’ customers. Their ‘next generation service desk’ showed how MSPs can lead for their customers and the industry by driving through solutions and innovations that deliver direct customer experience and continual service improvement. This is a great example for the MSP community”
I would certainly recommend all service management professionals to attend the ITSMF event, it is an excellent platform to meet with and network across the industry.
See you next year!
2014 really was the year that was. Information Technology (IT) has for quite a while threatened to play such a fundamental role in our lives that we would struggle to function without it. In my opinion 2014 was the tipping point year where the silos between “technology” at home, play or work blurred into one – “a SMART one”. Through 2014 something SMART with a processor, memory, storage and a battery at its heart became the secondary brain that the developed/developing world leveraged to optimise and enhance “living”. Personal & work smartphones became just “smartphones” as BYOD moved from a disruptive marketing fad to an important catalyst for end user behavioural change within organisations. Mobile working, once the poor relation of “working in the office” became the must have work mode through 2014 opening the door to transformed organisational working outcomes through 2015 – watch this one as it should be the biggest technology user led transformation yet.
The internet of “stuff” (I’m bonding the Internet or Things and Everything) with sensor packed connected devices always on and transmitting data across the wireless airspace emerged as the new battleground for customer service and market control. The IOT/IOE topic gained a head of steam through 2014 but watch it fly through 2015 as connected devices leverage harmonised data to really behave in a “human SMART” manner. And as I briefly continue with the key stories of 2014, I will be remiss not to discuss the shift from “cloud HYPE” to “cloud RIPE” as cloud service providers on mass utilising software-defined datacenter, network and security ideals presented an increasing portfolio of real world, customer validated services that deliver essential outcomes to a now captive and receptive enterprise audience. Cloud is now here ………..
Phew – all in all there was an abundance of IT good news through 2014 that should act as a springboard for greater things through 2015. But was it all good news? Back to the recap, an ever increasing population of mobile device users, generating masses of then stored or transmitted information, talking to sensors that transmit or store masses of information, that interact with enterprise IT systems that process and store a mass of information and so on and so on must be a good thing. When leveraged for beneficial personal, customer, enterprise or society based reasons the potential to drive value is unparalleled. However that same footprint of rich, relevant, always increasing data/information is equally digital gold for hackers who aim to utilise it in completely different manner.
The result, 2014 also saw a rise to unprecedented levels of one of the biggest concerns now at the executive top table, “security breaches”. With hacks now the norm within end user, offline / online enterprises and even nation states, 2014 and the mass of data moving freely around the heavily digitised world changed the importance personal consumers and enterprise organisations placed on information security. Since the dawn of the modern IT era, IT security has been just that “security for IT devices” often developed and managed by technologists. 2015 will see a major acceleration of a trend already permeating the enterprise with IT security a fundamental core of “enterprise information security” (that adopts a holistic view of enterprise end to end business security posture that includes IT). Security not a top priority through 2015? – not an option!
But no more talk about 2014, 2015 is here and its now. If 2014 was a dry run for the new face of people centric, end user fulfilling IT, 2015 is the year to make it happen. The end user is now king and long live the king (and queen). Stay tuned as we continue with this topic – (well at least for another 11 months).
Until next time.