Six Success Tactics for Supporting Mobile Knowledge Workers


by Pete McGarahan


Just one year ago, TechCrunch.com predicted that the number of mobile devices would exceed the world’s population of almost seven billion people by the end of the year. The evidence to date suggests this prediction was right on target. With that in mind, Forrester analysts concluded that enterprise IT managers currently underestimate the demand and are ill-prepared to handle mobility solutions in the corporate arena. Forrester suggests that employees—whether they are mobile mavericks or the mobile wannabes who are deskbound employees—are using their own mobile devices and apps under the corporate radar. Combined, these two worker segments currently account for 22 percent of all employees. However, by 2015 this number will almost double to 42 percent of all corporate employees.

Mobile data research is piling up, and most organizations have accepted the fact that BYOD has become a mainstream practice that IT must support. The upside is a proven increase in worker productivity and a reduction in the total cost of ownership (TCO) burden for the organization. In “On the Move: How Mobile Employees Are Changing the Workplace,” Herman Miller points out that knowledge workers represent the most rapidly growing sector of mobile workers, and that mobile workers spread out over an average of 3.4 places to get their work done.

To support this new mobile work style, IT organizations should adopt “The New IT Everything” attitude—repositioning, retooling, and rethinking their service and support models—and do so with a sense of urgency. IT must understand the business’s needs, gather requirements, and meet mobile knowledge workers’ needs on their terms, in their daily work lives. “The New IT Everything” attitude elevates IT to the role of valued, trusted advisor and business enabler. By providing seamless access and mobile device integration into the IT infrastructure, applications, and services, IT organizations demonstrate their commitment to improved responsiveness, flexibility, and support.

In the mobile world, employees, customers, and IT staff expect to work from anywhere. It’s about freedom of location, device choice, and productive applications. As such, business services must have the capacity to deliver support to mobile devices and their users as well as the ability to provide support from a variety of mobile devices. Cloud-based tools that are accessible from any Internet-connected device readily facilitate this ability. Consider these six success tactics for delivering valued services and support to this growing mobile workforce.

1. Establish Clear Security and Access Practices.

Update, document, communicate, and enforce security and access control procedures to enable qualified, certified support analysts and/or technicians to protect the organization’s intellectual property (IP) and permit access to internal resources from authorized mobile devices. This is the most important of the six success tactics for senior management, who have legal and regulatory accountability for the protection and privacy of customer and employee information. Additionally, this is essential for creating confidence that the “treasure chest” of IP—patents, plans, formulas, algorithms, financial information and confidential information—is protected, secured, and access-controlled.

2. Develop Your Support Policy.

Incorporate the procurement, configuration, and support of all mobile devices into the services catalog, standard operating procedures, and service level agreements. Include a regular process for measuring customer satisfaction, gathering new business/technology requirements, and capturing the voice of the customer. Make policies specific enough to be effective and enforceable, but flexible enough to embrace the wide variety of devices workers may bring into play. “Set the policies by using the security criteria, and then make support decisions around what devices can or cannot connect based upon those criteria rather than by device brand or operating system,” says Roy Atkinson, HDI’s senior writer/analyst, in “The Mobility Revolution and Its Consequences for Support.” Once support policies are established, communicate “The New IT Everything” attitude of responsiveness, flexibility, and adaptability that underpins these policies.

3. Communicate and Collaborate with Stakeholders.

Empower the support organization and partner with the business community as a “trusted advisor” to ensure that your mobile device policies, procedures, and services are meeting mobile workers’ needs. Then, train all stakeholders on the security policies, support processes, and mobile device management, and position the support center as the single point of contact and communication (SPOC) going forward. Create a library of mobile-ready “how-to” training recordings that illustrate the supported functionality and the wide range of available business productivity apps at their fingertips. Keep the communication channels open and moving in both directions so that the support center can stay abreast of new apps and devices coming into the environment and quickly blend support for those emerging tools into the mainstream.

4. Select Strategic Service Providers for Device Support.

It’s difficult to anticipate what new devices may emerge and what choices workers will make. Rather than try to embed universal support expertise in your environment, investigate sourcing and partnering opportunities with companies that have these commoditized services in their portfolios. Establish support plans with vendors that can demonstrate the required level of expertise and services for device break/fix/replace options. Provide those vendors with your standard corporate mobile configuration or image (OS, apps, access, etc.) to enable seamless support. Also, look closely at providers that offer SaaS-based services for OS and app support to ensure maximum flexibility and lower costs.

5. Integrate Service Desk, Remote Support, and Monitoring Tools.

Design a support center cockpit that provides support analysts with easy access to all available and necessary resources, a suite of remote support tools, easy access to self-help functionality, and multichannel support options that facilitate high first contact resolution. For workers on the move, it’s all about multichannel communications and remote support tools, fully integrated at the service desk. When mobile workers encounter a problem, they need a variety of ways to reach out for help, and the phone may not be an option. Consider someone working at a local café who needs to communicate quietly with someone through any channel other than the phone: email, chat, instant messaging, a web portal, etc. Once connected, analysts can use remote tools to access the device and resolve the problem. Using a fully integrated tool set, analysts can also log and track the incidents for end-to-end support, manage the configurations, and automatically monitor networks, servers, and services for performance and accessibility.

6. Train Support Center Staff.

In addition to becoming experts on mobile device management, the support analysts and technicians need to be proficient in the remote support tools, service desk applications, and supported business apps available to mobile workers. Beyond that, they need to be well versed in the mobile support processes, advocates for the policies and procedures, vendor liaisons, and communication central. Equip the support center staff with the devices they may be called upon to support and train them completely in the use of those devices. With this new blend of analyst skills, broader multichannel workflow processes, and a constant influx of new devices, it’s also time to update job descriptions and skills assessment matrices, enhance onboarding training, and create new workshops that reflect these changing dynamics and support long-term success.

In a 2012 McKinsey survey about mobile strategies, the 250 CIOs surveyed agreed that the use of a single device for both personal and work purposes is both a major challenge and a major opportunity. Mobility is a technology trend that cannot be ignored or taken lightly. It’s time to adjust your strategies, fine-tune your policies and procedures, and follow these guidelines to provide a supportive, successful, and productive environment for today’s mobile knowledge worker.

 

Written by Pete McGarahan , founder and president of McGarahan and Associates.

Tag(s): it governance, mobile device support, mobility, security management, support operations

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