Personalized and targeted social media and marketing. Smart technologies such as robotics, autonomous vehicles, and 3D printing. And last, but not least, the digital machine-to-machine hyperconnectivity of the Internet of Things (IoT). For companies that want to compete in a digital world where every second counts and immediate response is the norm, these technologies mark the beginning of the Live Business.

But can everyone’s architectures handle the rigors of running in the moment? When you consider the growing complexity and size of most IT landscapes, most likely not.

Typically, legacy systems aren’t designed for embracing hyperconnectivity and handling massive volumes of data and transactions. Furthermore, these environments only inhibit business innovation and agility when they’re extended to embrace new, digitally connected processes and business models.

What many companies don’t recognize is just how much power a support organization has in breaking this cycle. To bring attention to the evolution of support and its potential, three panelists joined the third installment of a Webcast series sponsored by Digital Business Services from SAP, The Future of Support in an Era of Cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT)”:

  • Elaina Stergiades, research manager of Software and Hardware Support Services, IDC
  • Michael Rieder,global head of SAP Enterprise Support & Premium Engagements, Digital Business Services, SAP
  • Sei Drake, chief architect, Co-Engineering & Innovation, SAP America


Refining break-and-fix support to become proactive, predictive, and prescriptive

Traditionally, support models are manually intensive, linear, reactive, and iterative – dragging out resolution time and limiting performance and availability. Combine that with the exponential growth of the IoT, billions of connected devices, and massive waves of data and opportunities, the reactive support approach turns into an obstacle, causing unplanned disruption that could lead to customer loss and reduced contribution to the bottom line.

Michael Rieder views reactive support as “just a must do.” It doesn’t generate value, add to ROI, or reduce total cost of ownership (TCO). It only makes solutions work. But this doesn’t mean that reactive support is not still needed.

“Reactive support needs to work. If you talk about business support, ROI, and TCO, everything else will not be useful when reactive support doesn’t function well,” Rieder advises. “You need to find a way to make it as fast and effective as possible to allow self-diagnosing and self-healing without disrupting anything. And with that, we can enter safely and securely into this new world.”

As IT operations become more automated and digitized, reactive support practices should incorporate proactive alerting of solution performance. “[For example,] the IoT is very much a DevOps mentality – a new wave of building software for your business to gain strategic advantage,” states Sei Drake. Support must respond to that changing mindset by looking forward and advising the right technology platform, concepts, and solutions that enable digital transformation. If there’s a more innovative design in this DevOps wave, organizations can develop the software from a coding standpoint and take a custom-build direction.

Bonus: If you are interested to hear about next generation of support, watch this interview featuring Andreas Heckmann, global senior vice president and head of Product Support at SAP.

The four pillars: Digitally transforming the support experience

According to Elaina Stergiades, “The combination of the cloud, mobile, social, and Big Data analytics is bringing about a new value and solution delivery system that’s changing business models and creating new opportunities. But, it’s also creating a fair amount of challenges when it comes to supporting and managing the additional infrastructure that remains in the environment when these technologies are adopted.”

In her research, Stergiades revealed that four technology pillars and support transition services are transforming the experience for the user and the support provider.

  • Cloud: Cloud technology allows access to data on both sides of the support relationship across different platform and formats. Not only is support data relevant to your systems, but sharing with other central IT organizations and integrating it with support delivery can make the experience more seamless.
  • Social: With the right social technology, processes, and business practices in place, social platforms empower support teams to collaborate and solve problems quicker. Meanwhile, the users benefit from peer-to-peer networking opportunities by taking advantage of platforms that can be useful when resolving issues within their own IT spaces.
  • Mobile: Although mobile solutions have been around for a while, organizations are adopting more and more of the technology’s capabilities and finding innovative ways to apply them. For example, the technology can help support teams monitor any part of the support process – anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Many providers are even rolling out solutions that enable ticket tracking, troubleshooting, and remote control of machines.
  • Big Data analytics: During the support experience, a massive amount of data is collected. The opportunity lies in the ability to use that data – mine it, find problems before they affect the business, and take support delivery to the next level.

When these four pillars are linked together, they can make a difference in how the support experience is perceived. “By turning the experience into a parallel process, many different things can happen at the same time and, to some extent, become automated,” observes Stergiades. “The issue can be identified, notifications are sent to the provider, and the IT area is prompted to diagnose automatically through analytics, not discovery.”

By taking advantage of analytics and connectivity, support processes can become faster and more effective, which is essential in the digital economy. Drake concludes, “It’s critical [for support] to work with organizations to make sure they don’t make mistakes that will constrain their business from being successful now and in the future.”

Learn more about the evolution of support and its potential. Watch the Webcast replay “The Future of Support in an Era of Cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT).”  Also, visit www.sap-digital-business-services.com.

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