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Preparing for the “Bring Your Own Services” Era

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by Jim Kane

First, there was the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon. Now we have the Bring Your Own Apps (BYOA) trend.  As the consumerization of IT accelerates, we are witnessing traditional work environments rapidly evolve into the “office-on-the-go,” thanks to social, mobile, cloud and analytics technologies that allow people to work anywhere at any time. Though this new workplace may promise increased productivity and efficiency, it also requires new levels of user support by the IT department.

Welcome to the Bring Your Own Services (BYOS) era.

To prepare for—and to take best advantage of—this next-generation workplace, companies need to embrace the “bring your own service” (BYOS) model by allowing users to obtain software and services via prescribed channels and use those channels for automated support and incident resolution. BYOS can reduce cost and increase customer satisfaction, but it requires users to wean themselves from the traditional help desk and feel empowered to find answers elsewhere.

How Businesses Can Support BYOS

At first blush, it may seem the IT organization’s two goals are at odds with one another: to empower users to manage their own devices, data and applications and to provide security, compliance and governance to the enterprise. But these goals are no longer mutually exclusive.

Here are the top five ways businesses can support the BYOS model:

  1. Provide Service Catalog-as-a-Service. The proliferation of the Internet of Things makes it possible for business units to request almost anything with an IP address, creating truly automated customer service. Service Catalog-as-a-Service (SCaaS) offers a set of pre-approved applications and services covering a wide range of business needs in a retail-inspired, online shopping experience. The most successful companies will have a cloud-based service catalog that is designed with input from business users and continually updated over time.
  2. Refer to the masses via social media. Because your IT department or service provider can’t possibly know every answer about every service available to users, it can encourage the use of social media through communities of interest within the organization. This allows users to ask a question of a colleague and obtain a fast and relevant answer. Yammer, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are effective entry-level platforms that can ease the pain of transition toward IT self-service.
  3. Create and publish trusted knowledge. When employees need to resolve an incident, they prefer to access knowledge assets that come from IT, such as frequently asked questions. Keep these information sources current and valid so they, in fact, prove to be trustworthy. Users must have absolute confidence in the services they are using or they will seek what they need from another service. Help build this confidence by providing them with easy access to the right information.
  4. Consider the benefits of hyper-automation. Artificial intelligence and natural language processing autonomics, such as IBM’s Watson and Wipro’s Holmes, can perform simple and repetitive tasks at a much higher rate than a human can. These programs can handle tasks such as automatically routing and assigning service-request tickets, generating suggested resolutions based on similar previously solved issues and conducting automated chats and tasks over the Internet. This kind of automation prevents many incidents before they occur and resolves them when they do, turning them into “learned events” that can be automated the next time.
  5. Set up kiosks and genius bars. Kiosks, genius bars and equipment vending machines that are strategically placed near users enable them to visit on their own time when they need to resolve a specific issue or seek assistance with a new service.

The Price of BYOS Freedom

The freedom that comes with BYOS doesn’t provide freedom from worry. It brings its own set of challenges, and requires adherence to corporate governance processes and IT policies.  Those challenges include the security and integrity of hardware, data and networks, even while users are seeking out services, equipment and software via these new service “channels of convenience.”

Corporate users need to be aware of and be compliant with their IT policies for the security of devices and data and any social networking programs.  Employees also should be aware of the risks prior to adding any new equipment or software in order to strike a reasonable balance between their own productivity and IT policies. 

Global IT plays a key role in the governance of the enterprise. There are three key criteria that IT should use when evaluating the available equipment and software. They should be able to:

  • Centrally manage devices over the public Internet;
  • Enforce passwords and encrypt devices, and,
  • Remotely wipe devices if lost, or stolen.

BYOS must work within existing governance processes. To maintain a compliant, secure, available and reliable environment, it must comply with the prescribed approval workflow for procurement of equipment and software.

Another key consideration is the BYOS approach could be less efficient, for example,  if users are seeking out answers to questions via social platforms when their internal IT team could provide an answer quicker.

BYOS does not replace existing and traditional Service Desk functions such as incident and service requests, but complements them.  Crowd-sourced services leverage the shared knowledge of many specialists.  BYOS should encourage innovation and productivity while working within a controlled environment based on IT policies and governance processes.

The benefits of BYOS potentially outweigh the drawbacks.  But one thing is for sure: IT cannot do its job if it does not change with the times. Businesses that are including BYOS methods in their strategic plans and seeking forward-thinking talent to make this a reality will be best positioned to leverage these changes for the benefit of their organizations and all of their employees.

About the author

Jim has in-depth experience in assessing and managing complex IT Infrastructure engagements focused on helping corporations achieve their business objectives. He offers expertise in strategy assessment and development, statement of work, service level agreements, business-driven RfP development, transactions, contract negotiations and transition planning across IT Infrastructure areas and expertise in IT service management integration. Jim has worked with global enterprises in the automotive manufacturing, banking and financial services, healthcare, utilities, aerospace and retail industries, focusing on collaborative techniques with clients and service providers to achieve the desired business outcomes. Jim is ITIL V3 Foundation certified and a thought leader on the topic of the digital workplace.