hype (v.): to intensify (advertising, promotion, or publicity) by ingenious or questionable claims, methods, etc.
Hype is a shortened form of hyperbole, defined as “obvious and intentional exaggeration.” We see hype all the time in the actual or implied claims of advertisers. “Drink this soft drink and your life will be wonderful!” the ads tell us. We know these claims aren’t true because experience tells us that nothing much changed the last time we had a soft drink, except that we were maybe a bit less thirsty.
Hype gets attention—and that’s the point. It’s hard to sell a product or service if no one knows about it, and getting conversations started is one way to get the word out. In the new world of social media, it’s even harder to grab attention and get your signal to break through the noise. Hence, both marketers and those who track and comment on trends are taking hyperbole to whole new levels.
In the business world, we’re often required to decide between products or services we don’t know much about; this is especially true when it comes to new, cutting-edge technology and trends. We’re much more susceptible to hype when we’re in unfamiliar territory and have no prior experience. This makes it relatively easy for people to make predictions that may be tenuous at best, horribly misleading at worst.
Remarkably, the future tends to work out somewhere very close to the middle ground between what Gartner calls the Peak of Inflated Expectations and the Trough of Disillusionment. After the dust settles, Gartner says, things wind up progressing along the Plateau of Productivity. Ideally, then, when planning for future support spending and projects, it would be helpful to know where the Plateau of Productivity might be. A powerful tool for pinpointing the plateau is research. Knowing what companies are actually doing—as opposed to making prognostications about what they could do—can be very valuable.
HDI has a large and extensive body of research on what support organizations are both doing and planning to do. As I wrote in a recent blog, “the best predictor of what will be in five years is what is being purchased now.” Businesses sometimes make radical shifts, but in general, they plan and execute in a three-to-five-year cycle.
However, technological advances may force businesses to rethink their plans. Take, for example, the whole trend toward the consumerization of IT. Organizations have had to move rapidly to catch up to the breakthroughs in smartphones and tablets over the past few years, and support centers are still playing catchup. In fact, we know that about half of support centers (52%) say that they’re struggling to keep up with emerging technology with regard to mobile devices. But think for a moment about the many industry verticals where consumerization doesn’t work very well: law, banking, insurance, investment institutions, healthcare, government, military, and so on. Soldiers may have personal smartphones, but they aren’t accessing secure military networks from those devices. Also, keep in mind that labor laws and regulations may have a significant effect. Many support analysts and technicians are hourly employees, but hourly employees aren’t supposed to be “always on, always connected,” and their companies may face financial and legal consequences if they allow that behavior.
With all this in mind, how can we sort through the hype and get real? Let’s take a look at some examples of recent pronouncements from online pundits.
“Support is going away.” On the contrary, our research shows that 26 percent of support organizations will be expanding (creating new positions) in the coming year. An additional 52 percent will be filling positions that come open.
“Nobody needs support anymore.” Again, au contraire. Our research shows that 66 percent of support centers say that their ticket counts have gone up over last year. This is a trend we continue to see, year over year.
“Everyone is using their own devices at work.” Although we don’t know how many people are using their own devices on the sly—that’s a personnel and policy issue as much as it is a security issue—only 7.6 percent of organizations have official BYOD programs for all employees’ smartphones, while 36.2 percent have such programs for some employees. Blanket BYOD programs for tablets and laptops are quite rare.
“Everything is going to be virtualized and moved to the cloud.” It may surprise you to learn that more organizations have no plans to implement desktop virtualization (33%) than those that have implemented it (22%). It may also surprise you to learn that the percentage of virtualized desktops in these organizations is relatively small. About one-third (32%) of organizations that have implemented virtualization have virtualized a mere one to five percent of their desktops. In addition, 79.8 percent of these organizations’ virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) are hosted not in the cloud but in their own data centers, along with 76.4 percent of their users’ data storage.
Does this mean that there aren’t trends toward virtualization, cloud computing, and consumerization? No, that’s not what it means. Those things are happening, and those trends will continue. But they will—in most cases—happen more slowly than we’ve been led to believe by both marketers and pundits, and the effect won’t be as widespread.
HDI’s research can help you ride the hype-cycle and reach the Plateau of Productivity without sinking into the Trough of Disillusionment or, worse, falling off the Cliffs of Insanity. To learn more, visit www.ThinkHDI.com/Research.
Roy Atkinson is HDI’s senior writer/analyst. He is a certified HDI Support Center Manager and a veteran of both small business and enterprise consulting, service, and support. In addition, he has both frontline and management experience. Roy is a member of the conference faculty for the HDI 2013 Conference & Expo and is known for his social media presence, especially on the topic of customer service. He also serves as the chapter advisor for the HDI Northern New England local chapter.