Rewarding Impatience with User Self-Service

Apr 27, 2015 7:34:39 AM

There seems to be a direct correlation between how successful business professionals are and their level of impatience. While I am not familiar with any studies on this particular subject, it is simple logic that the most productive employees are those who most frequently demand rapid response to service requests. From my past experience managing and providing IT administrative support, I can attest that these individuals are usually the most irritating—constantly requesting access to new applications, data, and other business resources with expectations of an immediate response. Begrudgingly, I must acknowledge that these are the folks who are also most likely to close deals, beat deadlines, increase revenues, and win awards. In the modern world of highly competitive markets and increased organizational requirements, impatience may actually be a virtue.

Of course, it does not make sense to accommodate these impatient employees at the expense of supporting other business-critical requirements. But the solution to this dilemma is simple—empower the users to perform the tasks themselves. In truth, most people inherently appreciate self-service. It’s the key to the success of many business models, including restaurant buffets, ATMs, and supermarket self-checkout kiosks. Self-service allows individuals to get what they want faster and in exactly the way they want it without having to engage in potentially awkward social interactions (a benefit easily understood by anyone who has had their eating habits questioned by a nosy grocery store clerk).

In recent years, the broad adoption of mobile devices has altered the perception of self-service in IT from a feature of convenience to one of necessity. No longer content to wait for IT support to respond to a request to procure and install a new application, today’s mobile users expect to be able to download whatever they need from a centralized app store. In the recently published EMA white paper, “Empower Your Mobile Workforce: Adopting Service Automation to Achieve Unified Endpoint Management,” enabling end user self-service was identified as one of the three key pillars for supporting workforce mobility. However, there is no reason that the user self-service experience needs to be limited to mobile devices, as it is just as effective in improving user productivity on laptops and desktops. Regardless of the devices supported, any comprehensive approach to user self-service must deliver the following fundamental capabilities:

  • Provide a single interface for accessing all business application – most commonly this is enabled by the introduction of an enterprise app store or app catalog that serves up access to all relevant software, including downloadable apps, web apps, and virtual apps. This establishes a “one-stop-shopping” experience that allows users to select any applications they are authorized to use and that they wish to use.
  • Store all enterprise data in a centralized data repository – enterprise data should also be accessible from a single location, such as a data share or a SharePoint site. This allows users to easily locate any data relevant to their job tasks.
  • Automate repeatable processes – automated processes, such as software installations and configurations, creates consistent deployments and actually reduces problems related to human error while empowering users to perform tasks that would otherwise be beyond their technical capabilities.
  • Establish group policies to govern IT resources – individual applications, data, and IT services will require different security permissions and configurations depending on the role of the user accessing them. By creating profiles that predetermine access rights for groups of users, privileges can be automatically applied to business IT resources without needing to be reviewed by IT support professionals.
  • Ensure all security requirements are continuously met – organizations achieve trust in the ability of end users to safely initiate business tasks by ensuring appropriate measures have been taken to secure apps and data where they are hosted, when they are in transit and on any endpoints where they are accessed.

With the right technology in place to support user self-service, even the most impatient users can operate on their own timetable with accelerated productivity and responsiveness. In fact, when users are able to initiate immediate response to their own needs, user impatience ceases to be a factor in IT service achievement.

Steve Brasen

Written by Steve Brasen

Steve Brasen is a Research Director leading EMA’s practices covering endpoint management, identity management, and access management. Steve’s career at EMA follows 20 years of “in-the-trenches” enterprise experience in IT management, operational support, and engineering for high-technology, telecommunications, and financial institutions, including: MCI Worldcom, Bell Communications Research, UNIX International, Salomon Smith Barney, and Agilent Technologies.

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