It’s no surprise that enterprises will continue adopting Internet of Things (IoT) in 2019.

“It’s about the use cases, it’s about the solutions, it’s about the applications, managing and monitoring assets, performance management solutions, different kinds of solutions coming together to solve a problem–that’s really what the value proposition is,” said Michele Pelino, principal analyst of infrastructure and operations, Forrester. “The idea of managing the ongoing end-to-end life cycle of a connected product is becoming more important, and ultimately this managed service opportunity is going to need momentum in the coming year.”

Pelino nails the issue.

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Supporting the enterprise edge and IoT will become major challenges for CIOs this year since CIOs already know that IT will be needed to provide support.

CIOs also know that supporting IoT requires a different set of support strategies, focal points, and skillsets than help desks have delivered in the past.

A new IoT support strategy must address the end-to-end continuum, which begins with IoT devices and extends to networks, communications, security, and applications. The IT help desk also must deal with a field of new (and unproven) IoT vendors, and new and unproven technology. With the growth of shadow IT, where end users install their own IoT without IT’s knowledge, supporting IoT becomes more difficult.

Five strategic steps

What steps can CIOs take now to ensure that their help desks are ready for IoT and the edge? Below are five recommendations.

1. Recognize that your IoT support team won’t necessarily be your everyday support squad

IoT support personnel will need a thorough understanding of new IoT sensors, equipment, and other devices, as well as how these many assorted devices interface with networks, communications, security, and applications. In the past, help desks primarily focused on applications only, so the support knowledge base will change.

2. Train the help desk for IoT

Because help desk responsibilities will change with IoT, help desk personnel will require training so that they can respond to IoT trouble tickets. In some cases, commercial knowledge bases are available that provide artificial intelligence (AI) support to the help desk. In other cases, users can use self-help resources. But in the end analysis, problems will arise that neither self-help nor knowledge bases can answer. This is where the help desk must step in to assist. CIOs must ensure that the front line and back-up help desk personnel receive advanced training on new IoT technologies.

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3. Create support and interaction with end business users and IT

In some cases, an alternate strategy could be to train end user “point people” in IoT trouble-shooting. These end users might become first responders to IoT issues in the field, forwarding only issues that they can’t resolve to the IT help desk. If this becomes the approach, it is imperative to build strong communications channels and team support between the IT help desk, IT technical specialists, and end user para-IT support. By forging these relationships, IT also gains the advantage of knowing in advance when users plan to introduce new IoT technology.

4. Build close collaboration between the IT help desk and IT security and network teams

IoT problem resolution will involve hardware, software, security, and networks/communications. Secondarily, it will involve applications. This means that the help desk will need to be tightly tethered to accessible network, systems, and operations personnel when they need deeper level IT assistance. In the past, specialists in these disciplines were isolated from the help desk, so this will be a cultural and organizational shift in IT that CIOs need to shepherd.

5. Always remember that IoT support means half is vendor management

The challenges with IoT are many and varied. There is no standard operating system that every IoT solution runs on, and there are as many IoT solution vendors as there are solutions. In a situation like this, the help desk will need to communicate with vendors to resolve IoT issues. Among the many different variables that CIOs measure with respect to help desk performance, vendor responsiveness will need to be added to the list.