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The ITSM Shift Toward Collaboration

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My last blog (read it here “IT at 30,000 ft“) created a good discussion thread on Google+. One of my friends, the well-known Rob England (aka @theitskeptic), weighed in on my post. You can read his summary here in the Skeptical Informer. Rob said, “My generation built our own PCs from 8080 chips. 🙂  I remain skeptical (SURPRISE!) that this latest generation is much more technically adept than mine, or any more inclined to fix things themselves. In fact I think they are possibly more spoiled, with a greater sense of entitlement, a shorter attention span, less ability to problem solve, and a lower level of initiative — but then old men have always thought that way. :)” (Emphasis is mine.)

Two other individuals (Simone Moore and Aale Roos) also weighed in with Simone stating that she didn’t want a flight attendant “fixing mission critical systems.” Aale mentioned that “new cars need much less fixing (but may need to be rebooted sometimes 😉 and there is very little you can do.” (Again, the emphasis is mine.)

I started wondering if maybe I was wrong about this whole notion that IT IS everywhere, and we need a new a paradigm shift. And then it hit me! Notice the highlighted words. It’s all about FIXING. That’s the shift I am experiencing. It’s not that IT will become obsolete tomorrow, in 12 months, or in 5 years. In fact, I am beginning to believe they will become more critical in the months and years ahead. Follow with me…

It’s not that this younger generation is better at fixing things or even more inclined to fix things.  They do not have a long attention span and probably do have less ability to problem solve — because they do NOT have to!  But I don’t think it is a result of them being spoiled or feeling entitled. No, I think it’s that this generation is better INFORMED!

Information is readily available. We live in the information age, and more information is at our fingertips than ever before in the history of mankind. I butcher Chris Dancy’s (@servicesphere) phrase every time, “Information cannot be contained.” (Sorry about the paraphrase!)

This generation doesn’t want or need user manuals. They don’t want to solve issues. But they will show up with their diagnosis. It happens all the time. When is the last time you called someone up on any type of service desk before trying to troubleshoot? Consider some examples, non-IT related:

  • I had a green light blinking on my furnace. I had no clue at 10 p.m. at night why it was doing that. No one to call or need to call, but it bothered me. What if it was bad for my family? I googled the furnace name/model # and “blinking green light” and found out a filter needed to be replaced. Could I replace it? No. Did I sleep more peacefully that night? Yep.
  • I purchased another Isuzu Trooper to replace my old one. I had two extra remotes left over. I wondered if I could use them on my new Trooper. Isuzu quit making and selling Troopers in the US years ago. Service Desk — non-existent. User manual — useless. Google — gave me an option. Tried it, didn’t work. Found a couple of other corroborating sites. (The first bloke didn’t cut and paste the info correctly!) I now have two more remotes for my vehicle.
  • My farmer friend (have to read the last blog) does not want to be in the field as Rob says, “trying the troubleshooting page in the back of the manual.” He’s in a field. He pulls out his phone, and googles the issue. Can he fix? Maybe. Does he at least know what the issue is? Yep.

I believe, people want to feel empowered. We want to feel like we are part of the solution not part of the problem. Calling a service desk is never easy. It requires us to admit that we are stupid. We want the service desk to succeed. We want to help.

IT is no longer just in the business of just fixing, IT is in the business of COLLABORATION. Jarod Greene, Gartner analyst, has been harping on this for some time — and he is on to something. Good for you being persistent, Jarod! We want to collaborate with IT. We want IT to collaborate within their department. We still want, or rather NEED, them to fix, repair, and fulfill our needs. But, we want to be a part of that process.

Think about it. How many times have you received a phone call or an e-mail and the employee or customer on the other end already googled the error message and is telling you what they think it means? Before you tell me how much you hate that, let me finish.

Is it really that bad that they Googled it? Probably not. Is it potentially dangerous? Possibly. Do they have the potential to really mess things up if they go at it alone? Probably. Are they more technically adept than IT? No. But they did call you didn’t they? Are they trying to collaborate? Most likely. Do they feel empowered? You bet!

I don’t think people really want to replace IT. They still need IT to FIX things. They still want IT to help them get back up and running with whatever issue they as soon as possible. But they want to be a part of the PROCESS. They want to COLLABORATE with IT.

What do you think?  You know how to get a hold of me…