Given the rapid and dramatic changes occurring in business and technology, it’s challenging to predict events even one year out (though a post here last fall took a shot at predicting IT trends for 2015).
Yet the researchers at HDI have even more ambitiously taken a stab at prognosticating the state of enterprise technology and IT support five years ahead in Foresight Is 2020: Industry Predictions from the HDI Strategic Advisory Board.
This article by Roy Atkinson and Craig Baxter shares some of the findings from “an ambitious project to look ahead about five years and make some assertions about where the technical service and support industry will be by the year 2020,” launched late last year by the HDI Strategic Advisory Board.
Atkinson and Baxter outline 19 trends and topics, grouped into five categories, that the board believes “will have a significant impact on the technical service and support industry” over the next five years. Below is a representative sampling of the findings—one item from each area of interest, along with additional commentary and observations from this blog.
“Increased scope of services offered: This rolls up into the broader topic of the desire and need to centralize and streamline the ways in which various services are offered and supported, including HR, facilities, and others, as revealed by recent HDI research.”
The ideal approach for centralizing requests across shared services groups is (as detailed previously here) a self-service portal. The service portal combines a single intuitive request interface with back-end process automation to:
- simplify support and service request processes for employees;
- accelerate service delivery and reduce costs through automation;
- improve routing accuracy and first-time fulfillment by eliminating error-prone, redundant data entry;
- leverage an organization’s existing investments in departmental and enterprise management and control software;
- empower business process owners in IT, HR, facilities, and other departments to easily add their services to the portal, and automate back-end workflow processes, with minimal technical assistance;
- eliminate the need for phone calls, emails, and other manual processes; and
- delight employees by enabling them to submit requests, and check on the status of pending requests, from any department, using any device, at any time.
“The Internet of Things: Since more objects of more types will have IP addresses, they will become more manageable, but configuration management will become much more complex.”
The Internet of Things (IoT) will open up new possibilities, supplying huge volumes of data with a range of uses including predictive diagnostics and analytics; notifications of specified metrics from devices located anywhere (or in motion); and automatically triggering an action. For example, a product could communicate back to a factory that is has been damaged in transit, automatically initiating shipment of a replacement unit.
The Role of Support
“Personalization: Support will be provided in a context, the way OnStar and Amazon’s Mayday work. The support analyst and organization will have much more information about what customers are trying to accomplish and how they’re trying to accomplish it.”
An ERM portal, as described above, can be integrated with an organization’s existing ID management system, enabling single sign-on. It can then display, based on the login, only items and services specific to that individual, based on role, location, and other factors.
So, for example, a shipping clerk in Vancouver may be able to request a new iPad or access to the CRM system, but not even see options for changing the VP of finance’s base salary or reserving a conference room in Tallahassee.
In the bigger picture, “IT support’ will transition to “workforce enablement” over time, as predicted by Forrester Research. The focus will shift from answering questions and break/fix activities to proactively providing employees with the applications and knowledge needed to maximize productivity.
The Role of IT
“Shadow IT: Direct purchase and/or use of technology resources by business units has been around for a long time, but it is increasingly prevalent due to the ease of cloud provisioning and other readily available services. IT departments will likely have to leverage Shadow IT and/or provide comparable services at comparable costs to achieve their business goals.”
Though shadow IT is many times viewed as an understandable response to urgent business needs and over-burdened IT staff, it’s unhealthy for organizations and puts them at risk for excessive costs, data breaches, orphaned applications, and other issues.
A better approach is for IT to provide employees with tested, secure, approved options for file sharing, messaging and other common needs, presented through a unified ERM portal. IT can also provide business users with tools such as request-oriented low-code platforms enabling them to build their own automated processes, with minimal IT assistance.
“Focus on the customer experience: Organizations will focus more spending on improving the customer experience both within and across channels. There will be increased unification of the views of external and internal customers from the standpoint of providing rapid, reliable support and properly prioritizing the work.”
While the focus of “customer experience” efforts has typically been external, organizations are now recognizing the importance of turning that notion inside as well. In fact, improving the user experience is the top priority human resource information system (HRIS) managers hope to accomplish with new HR technology.
A lot can happen in five years. Looking back at just one example, throughout most of 2010, the phrase “responsive design” didn’t even register on Google Trends. But searches for that phrase, as with interest in designing optimized experiences for mobile devices in general, skyrocketed starting at the beginning of 2012.
Much, much more will unquestionably change over the next five years. This research provides valuable guidance for CIOs and IT support teams to help anticipate, prepare for, and proactively address several key trends. It will be interesting to look back with hindsight in 2020 at how these trends evolved—as well as what other, unexpected developments emerged.
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