Monday, 7 May 2012

The Lure of Shiny New Toys

I like to think that, at least for someone working in the IT world, I am largely immune from shiny new toy syndrome. I just don't get that excited by technology, unless it is powered by steam and runs on rails - and no I don't mean ruby.

However, I have to admit that I've been watching developments in the Android smart phone world very closely of late, though the rumours that I was salivating before the Galaxy S3 launch are untrue. What is true is that I make fairly limited use of my personal phone, an ancient HTC Desire, for making phone calls, and a lot more use of it for note taking, mind mapping, internet browsing and games playing. Above and beyond anything else it is also the hub of my SocMed world.

So yes OK, you've got me bang to rights, this whole article is really my justification for upgrading to a new phone.

Seriously I believe we are beginning to see devices come on the market that add a new dimension to the supposed BYOD debate. Looking at the connectivity offered, in theory at least, by the S3 the question for ITSM practitioners becomes not  "How can we control, BYOD?" but:

"How can we exploit BYOD?"

Imagine a user whose main device is not working. Running  a Service Desk 2.0 like solution on a  BYOD device would enable the user to still report the incident using a mobile optimised browser version of the self service tool. They could even take a picture of the error message they are seeing on screen and append it to the incident record.

That incident record could also contain details of the physical location of the user that could be vital in identifying the best source of local support for them, and directing them to the user.

The mobile then becomes the best communication channel between support teams and the user, with an enormous amount of information being able to be pushed out to the user, including "how to" videos and updates specific to their location.

The user of browser based apps might in any case allow the user to make use of them on the phones as a workaround, at least for some critical elements of their workload. I've already worked in environments where the user's workspace follows them around seamlessly from device to device. Indeed none of this is new, the technical capability to do any of the things I've mentioned has been there for sometime, which begs the question:

What is needed to make it work in reality?

I think the answer is threefold. The first two are quite rational.

  1. A rethinking of how our processes need to be adopted and taking care to avoid pushing out unnecessary and irrelevant information to users 
  2. Building the processes  in a collaborative manner so they become business solutions not IT toys
The third is less rational and more psychological:

"Exploit everyone's underlying love of shiny new toys"


  1. I like the idea of a snapshot of the error message. Having a Report a Problem app also helps with the issue of the Location of the user (Location data).

  2. It was commented on at SDITS12 that an awful lot of people were taking photos of demo screens using their mobiles, which is what made me think of it.

    The other way round the service desk could send a "How to" screenshot to the users mobile

  3. Great Blog!
    Using portable smartphone cameras for pics and movies to aid troubleshooting is a practice that certainly went on when I was a SD practitioner. I see it as being especially helpful in self-service scenarios, where a customer may be logging a non urgent call via a web support portal for example. It is a quick and familiar method of capturing useful information. I expect some activity from vendor solutions around this over the next 12 months, introducing ways of more formally managing this rich info.

  4. Adam, in deed the tools to do this have been around for awhile in one form or another. I first came across digital cameras as a vital support tool for users on supertankers in mid ocean.