where's the support desk?

Like many highly mobile employees, I've been used to self-supporting over the years. With more of my colleagues also becoming BYOD-ers (Bring Your Own Device) I've seen a rise of a different kind of social network, based on supporting each other

Internally we have a thriving comunity of iDevice (and 'Droid) users who regularly swap tips on internal discussion forums, via mailing lists, and on internal and external social networks.

The behaviour I'm now seeing is that a user will start from an assumption that any problem is their fault for not using the company standard, so fault finding takes the following path:

  1. find out if anyone using the same equipment has the same problem. post a question on the mailing list, or directly to someone else with the same device
  2. if they have anything similar, try to set up your own device in the same way (a lot of screen shots of configuration screens get sent around)
  3. if that doesn't work, send more messages pleading for help
  4. if you catch the attention of one of the gurus (there are always a few), they might help you.
  5. if nothing works, try the 'official' help desk in full expectation of a 'it's not supported by us' response.

If this is a familiar scenario, you here are some hints to make the BYOD experience a lot better:

  • have at least some of the help desk staff as part of the BYOD community
  • have a clear, documented policy which help desk staff can send to users that spells out the demarcation lines ("we do this, we don't do this")
  • capture work arounds and fixes for BYOD devices and use cases so that if/when that paticular device gets deployed as a supported unit you will be ahead of the game.
  • consider issuing, or posting a FAQ (Our Apple users keep one as link in the footer of our mailing list)

There has been a lot written about the impact of BYOD. From business leaders it's mostly positive; for IT professionals it's more of a mixed message.

For a jumping off point I recommend this field guide from CIO.com.

Peter Glock

With management roles in sales, marketing, and strategy I have over 30 years in IT and telecoms specializing in transformation projects.