Lesson No. 1: To change the economics of break/fix support, you need to change the support approach from a cycle of "break, fix, and then script something if there is time" to one where support solutions are continually fed automated troubleshooting workflows.
We have learned that enterprise e-mail support staff really needed a means to automate the thousands of problem identification and troubleshooting workflows. The best solutions today are able to proactively identify when problems are occurring (without depending on users to report symptoms) and provide the best practices needed by support administrators to efficiently resolve problems.
Lesson No. 2: Move away from the idea of solely supporting devices. It is important to provide an end-to-end view of all infrastructure involved AND the multiple devices used by an individual to access the service. Business users change their Blackberry devices frequently, making it hard for support staff to pinpoint device-related problems.
We learned that IT staff needed a complete view of all devices used by the customer to access the Exchange service. Immediate access to device and application versions and configurations will simplify problem resolution.
Lesson No. 3: Keep the automated workflows current. Every quarter brings new devices (did someone say iPhone via ActiveSync?), Exchange upgrades and updated best practices for problem resolution that should get automated. I know of one mobile management solution provider who added more than 1,000 new workflows to its Blackberry messaging solution in the last 18 months-and that's just for e-mail.
IT staff simply do not have the resources to discover, research, script, test and implement automated troubleshooting workflows for business-critical applications running side-by-side with applications such as HRS Hotel Organizer and iheartradio. Let's not forget the added complications of a global recession and credit crunch!
Whether the support is provided by the device manufacturer, network provider or enterprise, the support paradigm has to change before the stress fractures occur and drive up costs at a time when the company can least afford it. Management solutions, which enable support organizations to move from break/fix, PC-based support to supporting mobile application users, will be worthy of a "There's an Automated Workflow for That" ad campaign.
Jasmine Noel is founder and partner at Ptak, Noel & Associates. Jasmine is an experienced analyst who researches how technology trends such as virtualization, smart devices, cloud computing, service-oriented architecture and Web 2.0 impact IT management processes such as application, performance and configuration management. Prior to her current position at Ptak, Noel & Associates, Jasmine worked as a systems and applications analyst at Hurwitz Group and D.H. Brown Associates. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.