Hardly a week goes by without another big story in the world of mobility. From new Apple and Samsung product releases to Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia to BlackBerry’s latest moves, mobility is a hot topic—and with good reason: by 2015, mobile devices are predicted to overtake the PC as the primary business device, and mobile apps will increasingly overtake PC apps for many enterprise functions.
However, lost in all this noise is a simple question: How are you going to support mobility as it becomes increasingly central to business operations? IT organizations have spent years building their service desk and IT operations around the desktop. Now, with mobile extending and in many cases replacing the desktop, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) diversity replacing standardization, and dozens of mobile apps replacing a handful of desktop and web apps, the old playbook is out the window.
How can you make sure mobility doesn’t crush your service desk? These five steps are a good place to start.
1. Track Mobile Support Calls
Few organizations are tracking mobile smartphone, tablet, and app issues independently, and fewer still are developing effective metrics for their mobile service desk calls. Recent survey data from Gartner shows that 48 percent of respondents aren’t even tracking mobile issues, leaving them totally exposed and in the dark. Of those that are tracking them, more than 82 percent report an increase in support load and costs. Diving deeper into their metrics yields pretty frightening results: Many report an average of two to four issues per mobile user per year; mean time to resolution (MTTR) averages one hour or more; and up to 80 percent of mobile issues result in escalations. Mobile support costs are the elephant in the room, and if you don’t measure the right metrics and figure out these costs, you won’t be able to manage them.
2. Revise Your Chargeback Model
After you’ve started tracking mobile support calls and mobile call metrics, the next step is to charge departments appropriately. Using principles of activity-based costing, profile your users and determine the cost of supporting a mobile user by device, apps, and service levels to create a tiered portfolio. Allocate the fixed cost of fully-loaded support resources to the activities they perform (mobile call duration and costs will generally exceed PC call durations due to lack of tools and standardization). Once you have your portfolio, use your chargeback model to guide user behavior. For example, make chargebacks cheaper for the devices/apps you want people to use (e.g., iOS with email might be a low $20 per month), and make the complex cases more expensive (e.g., Android with a custom app might be $50 or $100 per month).
3. Build a Knowledge Base
As mobile call volumes increase, you will begin to see common patterns. Document these patterns meticulously and begin compiling a knowledge base. Many companies already have knowledge base infrastructures for PC users. If you do, start by adding sections on mobile. And make sure your knowledge base can be used both by your support staff and users, enabling them to resolve their own issues. This is the first step toward moving beyond understanding your costs to actually driving them down. By compiling this knowledge base and promoting it widely, you can reduce your support load while improving user satisfaction.
4. Enable Peer-to-Peer Support
Unlike most enterprise systems, mobile users tend to resemble hobbyists more than passive users. They love using their phones and expanding the possibilities for use. Tap into this. If users can choose their own phones for BYOD, then why not empower them to fix them, too? Provide them with self-service tools that enable them to fix their own devices (now being called Fix Your Own Device, or FYOD), and create peer-to-peer support communities where they can share the latest tips and tricks. If your organization uses a social collaboration platform like Yammer or Jive, use the tool you already have; otherwise, consider adopting one. Encourage users to post questions for nonurgent issues on this platform. Many organizations that supported Macs successfully utilized peer-to-peer support approaches, and mobility provides an even greater opportunity. Use these communities to further reduce call volumes.
5. Enable Your Support Staff and Users with a Purpose-Built Mobile Support Automation Solution
Most importantly, consider the tools and capabilities your support staff needs to successfully navigate multiple mobile OSes, dozens of OS versions, hundreds of device types, and dozens of mobile apps. Make sure they have actionable intelligence to quickly identify and resolve support issues across this cacophony of technologies and platforms. Build your simple knowledge base out into a full user self-service portal so that users can resolve issues themselves without having to make costly support calls. Consider mobile service management solutions that complement and go beyond the mobile device management (MDM) products you may already be using. Make sure to monitor end-to-end mobile service quality and provide real-time status updates for your teams, and make sure your teams can use the back-end system to interrogate devices through their carrier networks. The ideal solution should provide automated troubleshooting and diagnostics, an embedded expert knowledge base, and remote-fix capabilities to enable IT support staff to quickly identify and resolve service issues.
The euphoria of mobility is starting to wear off. Now it’s time for IT operations and support to roll up their sleeves and focus on making sure mobility doesn’t blow the budget. By following these five steps, IT operations and support can ensure they’re supporting the real business opportunities mobility presents while controlling support costs.
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