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How to adapt IT End User Support in the post-pc era

Mobile devices are invading the workplace and all studies show that, by 2014, they will be more prevalent than regular laptops.

Whether company driven via corporate issued devices or via BYOD policies, the trend appears unstoppable: if a company does not provide its employees the same level of technology these use privately, how could it ever get any adherence to the company’s own information system? Furthermore, how could you possibly expect excellent productivity from employees with mobile mindset if working on stoneaged tools?

Evidently, ensuring security seems the biggest obstacle so far: non encrypted devices, lack of PKI infrastructure in many enterprises, various security levels from the device constructors…. However, all this can be overcome with a MDM (Mobile Device Management) layer: at SAP, more than 30,000 mobile devices (smartphones, phablets, tablets…) are managed with Afaria allowing a totally secured environment for all our mobile fleet.

More challenges loom ahead… the apps offering for exemple: enterprises need to offer mobile apps that are not simply recoded apps, or even html embedded in binary, but real native apps which require lot of different SDK for all OS versions, screen sizes and resolutions. Those apps need to be integrally mobile and that means they need to work outside of the corporate network. For this again, solutions exist such as Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) which allow us to have a real internal/external apps offering.

One of the challenges people always forget to mention is the end user support. Supporting multiple OS, like IOS, Android, Windows phone, RIM OS (and all the open source OS coming up like Boot to Gecko…) with their different versions, not to mention the multiplicity of devices (enterprises will have soon to address the Wearable and the Body Area Network devices), can turn into a nightmare for any IT organization… Or not!  Actually it can become the best opportunity for IT Field to be back into the middle of the business, gain acceptance from employees and smoothen the end user support. Here is how we’re revolutionizing the IT Support at SAP:

First, with our Afaria MDM solution, employees enroll their devices themselves with a one-click step (a simple URL.). In the minute the security policies are applied, the certificates are installed and the mail/PIM and VPN are configured:  the device is setup, controlled and secured. Moreover, recommended apps as well as pre-configured reports are pushed to employees according to their profiles. For any additional setups (RSA softtoken, single sign-on,…), IT provides wikis available to employees. As a result, the first level support (remote help desk) is rather simple, providing mostly authorization management and help with the wiki procedures.

Where lies the main transformation is on the local support (2nd level); The changes we are going through nowadays seem the perfect opportunity to reshape the always-messy hidden IT offices into mobile age IT helpdesks, and that is what we are currently working towards at SAP under the guidance of our CIO Oliver Bussman.

In the largest SAP locations, we are turning the IT support offices into sleek and hip Mobility Solution Centers, Apple-store-like, sometimes even located in the heart of the company (i.e. Entrance of the buildings for NSQ and Walldorf). These are spaces where employees can simply walk around and test the different devices, experience the look and feel of our apps on those devices, and discuss with “Mobile champions”, a network of experts (basically our most mobile-mindset IT employees adept at exploring all the different devices). Employees can take a look at the app prototypes in a Dream Zone area, train on new devices and new apps, watch videos of the best demos, discuss their data plans (Mobile champions have access to both the MDM and the TEM -Telecom Expense Management-platforms)…

As concerns employees have with their devices usually extremely quick-fixed issues (wrong network, wrong version of apps, wrong settings of the device, change of SIM card…), the employees simply come by the Mobility Solution Center; their badge is scanned as well as the bar code of the issue category, and this immediately feeds reports that allow us to adapt our Wikis accordingly (we could imagine QR code creating automatically a ticket too…)

Thanks to this new model, we have been able to deploy more than 30 000 mobile devices in the last 12 months, without any additional IT staff and we have enjoyed much better proximity and inclusion to the business. Not only do we feel ready for the post-pc era, we feel enthusiastic about it!

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      I love the idea about having a QR code linked to an employee and the idea of scanning a QR to log a ticket request, however the ticket catagory could be tricky to process (unless you know more)....but I still love the idea 🙂

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Blog Post Author

      Tks Darryl. Regarding mobile, my guess is that we have not that much different categories (in UK, the MSC record everything within less than 15 bar codes), but obviously this would need to be studied carefully...

      Author's profile photo Aidan Hyland
      Aidan Hyland

      Great article Nico! There is little doubt we are seeing a paradigm shift with the rise of mobile devices as the de facto tool for business. The idea of IT Support becoming a more visible entity, providing assistance in a user centric environment like the MSC's is a great example of how IT is evolving along with the technology.