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Fight Fire with Fire to Support the Consumerized Enterprise

Editor's note: Early versions of this article incorrectly identified the author

The consumerization of the enterprise has been the hottest trend in IT over the past few years. The focus of most organizations' "consumerization" strategy has been to make on-boarding devices easier and allow workers to use them in the workplace. This is one of the reasons why the terms "BYOD" and "consumerization" are being used synonymously today, which I think is incorrect.

In my mind, BYOD is related to devices and allowing them to be used as a company endpoint. Consumerization, though, is about transforming the workplace to be more consumer-like. The device is part of this transition but certainly not all of it. One of the issues that I've discussed with many organizations is that the support model for IT needs to change from the non-scalable model in place today.

Historically, IT was responsible for knowing everything about every piece of technology in the workplace. If a user had a problem with anything, they called the help desk. This put an overwhelmingly large burden on most help desks, most of which couldn't keep up with the growing demands on corporate IT. As a person that used to run a help desk, I heard all the jokes about the help desk--the "no help desk", "need help desk", "helpless desk", the jokes go on and on.

Another challenge of UC management has to do with the help desk's inability to fully process telecom MACs (moves, adds and changes). For many organizations, the help desk responds to calls for MACs by simply opening a work ticket, but the actual task has to be performed by a telecom engineer or administrator. This is because help desk agents don't have the knowledge or capabilities to perform these changes without assistance from telecom. If the help desk could actually perform many of these functions themselves, that would alleviate much of the frustration that users feel. However, improving support through help desk enablement is a whole other challenge and I'll save that for another blog.

So if users don't like calling the help desk and the help desk is overloaded with calls, why is the current model in place--particularly in an increasingly consumerized organization? In the consumer world, almost every organization has moved away from having its customers call a number for support. Instead, self service has become the norm. Consumers today install their own cable modems, update software on their mobile phones, install their own applications, reset their own passwords, so why the heck are we relying on the help desk for these tasks at work? As part of any consumerization strategy, I strongly advocate for moving to a self-service support model.

One vendor that offers tools to help this transition is the UC management vendor, Unimax. They offer a product called "LineOne" that offers customers a configurable, web-based self-service portal for employees to self manage their own UC environments. In some ways this is the epitome of what consumerization should be--workers managing corporate-acquired technology through consumer means--self service.

By implementing LineOne, organizations can empower their employees to perform a number of tasks that users typically had to call the help desk for, including:

* Voicemail password reset
* Phone PIN reset
* Setting speed dials
* Call forwarding numbers
* Setting simultaneous ring
* Notification preferences via email, text, phone, etc.
* Find me/follow me settings

This isn't an exhaustive list of LineOne settings, but it should give you an idea of the breadth of tasks that workers should be able to do on their own. These tools can be particularly useful when a worker is traveling or the help desk isn't available. One important note here: Some IT organizations may not want to just jump in with both feet when it comes to self service. LineOne can be configured to allow employees to only see and change what the IT department is comfortable with. This is helpful to enable control and execute a managed rollout of self service.

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