Consumerization Is Changing Corporate IT Support Forever, But What Are You Doing About It?

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By Stephen Mann, guest blogger from

Principal and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm Also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals.

Believe it or not, the “consumerization of IT” has been around for over 10 years; and there’s no doubt that the way that corporate IT organizations meet employee IT needs has changed for the better because of it. But there’s still much more for IT organizations to do in the context of consumerization, and this blog explains the “why” and “what.” How IT people and technology need to be better married together – to work “smarter, not harder” in delivering better services and support.

The real impact of consumerization on corporate IT organizations

I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll need to say it again – the consumerization of IT, and bring your own device (BYOD) in particular, is/was a red herring.

Consumerization isn’t just about the use of consumer-world devices, apps, and personal cloud services in the workplace. It isn’t just about the IT (or IT services).

Instead consumerization, i.e. increased employee expectations of corporate services based on their personal-life experiences, also affects the service delivery envelope that’s wrapped around corporate IT services. For example:

  • The ease of access to, and communication with, IT. Whether for issues or service requests. In particular, the quality of the offered self-service and self-help capabilities in light of their consumer-world equivalents.
  • Support, customer service, and the overall customer experience. Importantly, employees want to be treated as customers (or at least people) not just the temporary guardians of IT’s assets – what we in IT still commonly term “the end user.”

Customer experience is key across both of these points, and it’s something that corporate IT departments (and their service desks in particular) will definitely hear, see, and feel more of during 2017 and beyond.

The growing corporate IT interest in customer experience

Customer experience – simply defined as “how customers perceive their interactions with your organization” – is already big in the business-to-consumer (B2C) world. Where it’s both a competitive differentiator and a way of retaining customers.

Thanks to consumerization, it’s also finding its way into corporate IT organizations, through both IT staff “pull” and end user “push.” Take a look at these two service-desk-related survey findings for evidence of this (with customer experience at the top of both charts):

Which of the following do you expect to see?

Blog_2015 Responses

Source: SDI “Life on the Service Desk in 2016” (2016)

Reasons for changes to IT support centers


Source: HDI “Service Management: Not Just for IT Anymore” (Oct 2014)

While that latter survey is now two years old, it does show that not only are we collectively looking ahead to potential IT support changes related to customer experience, changes have already been made.

But corporate IT service desks have only come so far in meeting the impact of consumerization

I’ll cut to the chase (which is very unusual for me and my blogs) – responding to the demands of consumerization requires so much more than the implementation of a corporate BYOD policy and a pretty IT self-service front end.

Instead, meeting consumer-world-driven employee expectations also requires a focus on:

  • Improving the customer experience for end users. As B2C companies up their customer experience game, end-user expectations of corporate IT will also grow. Thus consumerization and customer experience are now inextricably linked as such B2C companies continue to win and retain market share based on delivering a superior customer experience.
  • The organizational change needed for true self-service success. Just offering self-service technology, or capabilities, isn’t enough. Nor does it follow that just because end users are happy to use self-service in their personal lives that the same is true at work. Instead self-service success requires a change in the attitudes and behaviors of both end users and IT support staff. Plus, deep thinking around how to make self-service a superior access and communication channel to the status quo.
  • Fitting self-service to end users, not users to the self-self-service technology. Take a look at your current self-service capabilities. If people aren’t using then as much as they could (or should), do you know why? It’s probably because you just expected end users to go to a defined place to self-serve, rather than the self-service capabilities coming to them. So, while changing behaviors is important, so is deciding how self-service capabilities are best offered and accessed.
  • Making knowledge management about knowledge exploitation not the art of article writing. Knowledge management is a key hook for higher self-service adoption levels. But isn’t easy, I learned this the hard way back in 2001. It can be difficult to create knowledge articles, and to pitch them at the right level. Then even harder to make end users want to use them – especially as failed searches for answers, or the inability to find the “good stuff” within knowledge articles, are not going to encourage repeat use of self-service. For me, it’s an opportunity to “work smarter, not harder” using machine learning.
  • Using automation, or orchestration, to deliver the real benefits of self-service. Without the back-end automation of help and provisioning, self-service merely replaces the end user email or call. And, while removing calls might take some immediate pressure off the service desk, there’s still the manual effort required to resolve the issues or to deliver against service requests. Even more importantly, in the context of consumerization, the end user will also most likely receive a slower response via self-service than if they just called up.
  • New consumer-world support and self-service capabilities. In light of consumerization, IT support and self-service are movable feasts. It’s the “keeping up with the Joneses” for the Google generation, where it’s all too easy for corporate IT organizations to completely lose track of where consumer-world support and self-service are and to lag further and further behind.

So that’s a quick overview of how consumerization requires corporate IT support, and service desks in particular, to change. Please look out for future blogs that dig deeper into:

  • The organizational change for true self-service success.

  • Using automation to deliver the real benefits of self-service.

  • New consumer-world support and self-service capabilities such as machine learning.

We held a live webinar on January 25th to discuss the impact of consumerization on corporate IT service desks. If you missed it, you’re in luck! You can view the webinar by clicking here.

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