Try to see it their way – 3 approaches to overcoming IT friction for business users

Imagine what your business could do if it was able to recover hours and hours of lost productivity per month for every employee? For all the benefits modern technology brings to the workplace, there’s also a largely hidden cost generated by the “friction” associated with using and accessing IT systems and services.

You’ll recognize IT friction from an business user’s perspective: It’s the time lost in raising or chasing requests with IT, finding and connecting to printers, WiFi and other facilities in the office. It’s the having to wait around to get your PC fixed, take on a new hire, commission a new service, contacting IT to report a problem that they’re already aware of  – etc. etc.

To get a handle on just how much time businesses are losing, we commissioned a survey in partnership with Forrester Consulting. You can read the report here and explore the thought provoking data and conclusions in detail. And as you’ll come to realize, friction for business users invariably means additional cost and inefficiency for IT.

So what can you do to make interacting with IT a smoother, more pleasant and productive experience?

Make self-service even easier

I’m not sure when as a society, the effort of dropping down a list became burdensome, but it has, and things are all the more useable for it. If the percentage of your employees who actually use your self-service portal is very low (and most are) you need to think very carefully about how easy it is to find and use.

Employee expectations are now very high as they experience cutting edge design and the highest levels of usability in the apps they consume outside the workplace. You can very easily order a week’s worth of groceries from your phone because someone has really thought about how to make that experience as easy (and repeatable) as possible.

The ability to make that grocery order from a phone or tablet wherever that person happens to find themselves is also rapidly becoming the norm. In fact, it was these expectations of familiarity and ease of use, coupled with an increasingly mobile workforce that helped give shape to our MyIT app.

Remember the more effective and accessible your self-service is, the more likely business users are to use and embrace it – and you’ll finally reap the long promised rewards of the self-serve model.

Let them choose where and when

The modern workplace is frenetic, fast paced and increasingly not restricted to a single physical location. Do modern business users want to wait around at a facility they didn’t choose, miles from where they’re supposed to be, just so you can swap out a hard drive? The answer, of course, is a resounding no.

The major technology retailers understand the demands of modern working life very well. Many now offer an in-person support facility in their stores – where you can book an appointment to see an expert at a pre-agreed time and location. Fitting in around their customer’s lives has actually fostered greater efficiencies for both sides and has deepened the customer-supplier relationship.

It’s not a huge surprise to discover that more and more of our customers are choosing to create in-person, concierge style support desks. Employees respond very well to being able to make an appointment at an agreed location and at a time that suits them. For IT, it means better predictability, greater efficiency and a closer more personal relationship with the customer.

If you’d like to understand more about how a concierge bar might work in your organization, you can check out this great SlideShare presentation. When you’re ready to dive into the detail, you can also get our free in-depth guide to build and running face-to-face support.

Again, there’s no point building a concierge bar if the process surrounding it is complex and cumbersome. To see just how easily appointment driven support can be integrated into IT self-service, take this interactive guided tour.

Stay one step ahead

Knowing exactly who is accessing your self-service facilities allows you to tailor the content they see and the services they can access. It also allows you to reduce the effort involved in raising tickets, as lots of useful information can be pre-populated based on knowing the identity of the requestor.

But what if you also knew precisely where that end user was too? What if you knew, for example, that not only was Alice in sales, but that right now she’d just stepped into your London office? How much more aligned could the information and services you present to her be?

Location based service and support is going to be one of the most important factors in genuinely transforming an end users experience (and perception) of IT.  You can ensure that the notifications you provide to Alice are timely and appropriate to her role and location.

You can offer her support that’s specific to the facility she currently finds herself in.  You can provide connectivity information, the location of key devices and how to connect them. You can even provide floor plans and maps of where everything so she can orient herself in unfamiliar surroundings.

Modern mobile computing devices are opening up new kinds of contextual information about their users. This information can now be used to massively enrich the IT experience and eliminate a lot of the wasted effort both sides expend in tracking down the right services at the right time.

Location bases service support is a reality here and now. You can see how we’re using location information in MyIT to deliver new capabilities in IT services and support in this interactive demonstration.

In conclusion

I’ll be exploring a number of these themes in more depth over the coming months, but it’s clear that putting yourself in the shoes of a modern business user can reveal a great deal about where the potential sources of IT friction might lie in your organization.

Hopefully, I’ve also introduced you to some of the latest thinking in how we can respond to the changing expectations and demands of supporting the modern workforce.

Until next time…

Cheers!

Chris

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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Chris Rixon

Chris Rixon

Chris has worked in IT Operations Management technology since 1990, in roles spanning: IT helpdesk, software engineering, consulting, architecture, sales engineering and marketing. Chris joined the Remedy Corporation in 2000 and came to BMC during the acquisition in late 2002.