Seeking Solutions to Help Workers Solve Simple Tech Problems on Their Own

Give employees a help desk and you support them for a day, but teach them to help themselves and you support them for a lifetime.

May 28, 2013

Bring-your-own-device policies are supposed to help companies cut information technology costs, but if the IT team spends half of every day fielding support calls for personal devices, that savings quickly evaporates.

Help-desk calls are the most expensive and time-consuming tool in the IT support arsenal, but costs can be cut dramatically if employees learn to help themselves, says Michele Pelino, a Forrester principal analyst who specializes in BYOD policies. "Self-service support is a big trend for BYOD."

The IT department can foster this technological independence by giving employees the self-help tools they need to find and share answers to the most common technical problems. These may range from simple frequently asked questions and support blogs to a new self-service mobile application called MyIT, an app developed by BMC Software Inc. that lets employees solve their own IT problems.

"Many of the technical problems employees face every day are trivial," says Kia Behnia, BMC's chief technology officer. They call the help desk when their password doesn't work, when the printer is jammed or to announce that the Wi-Fi connection is down, he says. "These are all mundane highly repetitive issues that users can solve on their own with the right technology."

MyIT helps them deal with these tasks by giving employees a customizable dashboard of current corporate IT issues such as, 'We know the Wi-Fi network is down and we expect to have it up again by noon,' along with links to troubleshooting strategies so employees can solve their own problems. And if they still can't fix the problem on their own, they can send requests electronically using their camera to record error messages or serial numbers.

"Instead of sitting on the phone, they submit the report and get back to work," Behnia says.

The MyIT platform features a unified interface with a consistent look and feel across multiple end­user devices, as well as the infrastructure behind it.

The interface consolidates multiple information sources, and both IT and business users can manage content and communication. For example the IT department might use both automated and manual processes to update content and alerts, while business leaders, from the head of HR to business-unit managers, can use the tool to set and send updates regarding company technology issues. The tool comes in software-as-a-service, or on-premise models, with per-user monthly fees.

Such self-service technologies will be a rising technology trend in the BYOD world as more companies embrace these policies, Pelino predicts. "As BYOD becomes pervasive, companies will need these kinds of tools to support employees without stretching their limited resources."

Sarah Fister Gale is a writer based in the Chicago area. To comment, email Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.