There has been much debate about whether workers should be able to use their personal mobile devices in the workplace. But the fact is, employee-owned devices are coming into the enterprise despite attempts to prevent them doing so.
Even what is meant by the word 'into' is vague. Think about it: even if an organisation uses full-body scanners to prevent you from bringing personal devices to the office, you might still call or email a co-worker from your personal iPhone from home or while on holiday.
This debate is rather like pondering the question, 'should we let gravity drag us down?'. It's fun to talk about, but the outcome has essentially been predetermined. And there are plenty of compelling reasons for not shaking your fist at gravity, just as there are for you to enable the staff of your business customers to bring their own gadgets into work.
Employees are likely to be more productive using devices they're more comfortable with. And staff morale may improve when employees can use their gadget of choice.
Plus, the company will spend less on resources if it is not constantly required to re-equip employees with the latest technology simply because the business itself is upgrading its ICT.
Generation Y (or Millennials) – born between the mid-1970s and the year 2000 approximately – is currently entering the workforce. This generation is larger than the Baby Boomer Generation, dwarfs Generation X, and its demands for answers are likely to be louder.
Early-adopter Millennials are those workers most familiar with mobile devices, with many having been weaned on the technology. As such, they are likely to feel entitled to using them whenever and wherever they want – including in the corporate domain.
Some may even lean towards working for companies that share their own technology values, instead of being beholden to traditional corporate physical and technological boundaries.
So employees will be increasingly likely to expect instant access to knowledge and answers. And they will not stop at one channel to find what they need. Can't find a good hotel on TripAdvisor? Ask a Facebook friend for a recommendation. No response from the boss via email? IM them.
Mobile devices mean they can brainstorm productively and effectively, source information, collaborate seamlessly and share ideas in real time in the office, a coffee shop or on the move.
Some organisations may bristle, expressing valid concerns over manageability and security. IT support organisations need to re-examine their current policies, IT management and support tools, and asynchronous incident handling processes to become more efficient, flexible and collaborative.
Develop clear procedures for securely connecting personal devices to the company network. The aim is to determine the level of support to provide for personal devices, as well as what will happen if the employee leaves or a device is stolen or lost. Adopt support solutions that let IT easily manage and support a variety of mobile platforms.
Providing 'immediate' support for even more devices may be daunting, but there are ways to increase real-time responsiveness without cloning your support representatives.
For example, using 'click to chat' functionality and automated scripts for remote troubleshooting enables support to jump on a problem while wrapping up another.
Support reps also need to share expertise with other reps, work with the end user, and sometimes tap external vendors to get the job done. Technologies such as screen-sharing and group chat allow representatives to pull in others to work on a problem, or show an end user how to fix a recurring issue.
By breaking down the asynchronous ticket chain and truly collaborating, it is possible to begin building an IT support organisation for the current and next generation of mobile workers.
Nathan McNeill is chief strategy officer at Bomgar
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