In a recent article in CIO magazine Tom Kaneshige argues that the rise of BYOD spells the demise of the traditional Help Desk. He intimates that BYOD has now been overtaken by BYOS – bring-your-own-support! The network-enabled user, with access to huge volumes of information, requires a new Help Desk.
He is right that, ultimately, power-users need better, faster support delivered to them in a format and by people with a deeper understanding of the context and with more intricate solutions.
BYOS is the exception and not the rule.
Although the IT function is becoming more commoditised, the larger fields of knowledge work isn’t, hasn’t and won’t be commoditised anytime just yet. Otherwise, any 12 year old with a laptop would be in with a chance. Help Desks don’t need to be expanded but they do need to become more mature, agile and integrated into the KM procedures of modern networked enterprises (ie those businesses with a heavy KM focus). Expanding the remit of the Help Desk opens the door for colossal cost increases. Internal knowledge management functions need to become more structured beyond simplistic portals.
INTERNAL KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
In a recent article in McKinsey Quarterly, Tom Davenport argues that organisations need to get a lot smarter in their approaches to supporting knowledge workers. He says that greater use of social media and internet use will harm the business more than help it. Lower level knowledge workers need more structured support to their processes. On the other hand, high-level knowledge workers are better supported by an open platform of tools. Getting the right balance is as much art as science.
BYOS is the wrong approach. It’s a derogation of KM responsibilities. Organisations need to focus on an approach to KM with the following structures:
- A good Help Desk function for knowledge workers involved in highly structured processes.
- An IT function which supports a flexible arrangement of tools for advanced knowledge workers.
- Knowledge Managers: people who provide the focal point for certain areas of knowledge.
- Portals: A single entry point for people seeking access to communities of interest.
So, be careful when thinking about Tom Kaneshige’s advice and “blowing up” your Help Desk. IT can be a self-licking lollipop. More tools and more information won’t necessarily improve productivity. At the lower level, sometimes it makes more economic sense to support the process. It’s only at the upper levels of expertise that it is more profitable to support the person.