Around this
time of year, the C-suite begins the grueling process of planning and budgeting
for another year. Many CIOs have the unenviable position of being responsible
for delivering technologies that benefit new business initiatives, but without
a boost in their IT budget.

At the same
time, subject matter experts have begun their prognostications about trends
that will gain momentum in the new year. Yet what’s new and cool in tech is rarely
mentioned alongside the help desk, which plays a key role in determining whether
these emerging trends will ultimately succeed.

With the
buzz surrounding 2014 predictions, it’s important that organizations also
confront the help desk disconnect to lay the framework for efficiently—and
securely—supporting the trends of the new year and beyond. The following are
just a few examples of how outdated help desk practices can impede IT
innovation:

OS migration

Particularly
in today’s distributed, multi-generational workforce, migrating to new
operating systems is no easy feat. With Microsoft ceasing support for Windows
2003 and Windows XP in April 2014, these challenges are likely to be on the
mind of a number of CIOs in the new year. To ensure a successful
migration—regardless of the operating system at hand—organizations need help
desk tools that can assist at every stage of the process.

For example, having
the ability to remotely access and check the migration status across devices
and geographies during the process enables IT to address any issues in
real-time, before they become significant roadblocks. It’s also important that
companies are prepared to scale support to accommodate the influx of service
requests that always follow a migration period. Given the significant interface
changes of Windows 8, any company preparing an upgrade to Microsoft’s newest
operating system in particular should be prepared to help educate end-users on
the new features.

Mobility

Get ready for
lots of new mobile devices. According
to the latest Gartner report on smartphone sales, new faces in the smartphone industry are
targeting traditional leaders Samsung and Apple for larger chunks of the market
worldwide. Vendors such as Huawei, LG Electronics and Lenovo, specifically, are
planning for stronger sales growth in 2014.

This is
likely to result in an even greater diversity of mobile devices in
organizations, putting additional pressure on the help desk to keepend-users productive regardless of their operating system of preference. To
efficiently address this challenge companies need multiplatform support
capabilities. Outdated support technologies developed for traditional operating
systems that cannot sustain new devices and platforms will create an army of
frustrated workers. In addition, organizations that fail to adequately address
today’s multiplatform workforce face an elevated security threat as end-users
will look outside of the business for their support needs.

Adoption of enterprise apps

A recent
Appcelerator survey of more than 800 app developers found
that enterprise apps are on the rise. Half of the developers polled said they
plan to roll out at least one enterprise app in the next year, while another 40
percent stated they plan between two and 10 apps in that time period.

As
enterprise apps continue to grow exponentially, the help desk must be empowered
to support these applications. Each new custom app will bring its own increase in
support requests and, as certain segments of the business develop and roll out
their own apps, requests will amplify again. Technology has evolved to enable
developers to embed support capabilities into custom apps. As such, it’s
critical that organizations consider app support from the very early stages of
development. Otherwise, the enterprise risks huge efficiency roadblocks later
for both IT and end-users alike.

Security

Study after
study reports that CIOs are increasingly concerned about security. For
instance, the Society for Information Management just published a report that found security is the second largest
worry for IT leaders behind “alignment of IT with the business.”

As CIOs
invest in new technologies to address security concerns it’s also important that they look internally at how reps are
utilizing existing solutions. Many legacy help desk tools (specifically remote
support tools) offer a named licensing model, in which each license is
associated with one set of login credentials. To maximize their investment companies
often share licenses using default logins—a practice that leads to a number of
security vulnerabilities. In addition, legacy tools don’t allow for granular
permission settings, meaning all technicians have access to even the most
confidential corporate information. Because these practices can leave companies
vulnerable to attack, investing in modern, enterprise-focused help desk
solutions is an important step in bolstering security.

Remote support

Organizations
are increasingly relying on remote support tools to virtually access and fix devices and systems. Unfortunately, many companies are using
legacy remote access tools such as RDP, VNC or Dameware, which lack the robust
security features of more modern solutions. Numerous security studies have
consistently found these unsecure remote access technologies to be the chief
hacking vector in financially motivated attacks. In order to efficiently
support today’s mobile, distributed workforce without leaving the company
vulnerable to attack, organizations should evaluate their remote support
environment and upgrade to more modern solutions if required.

Decisions
about how and where to spend IT resources are always pressing concerns for the CIO.
Stacked against investments in other areas like new hardware or software
purchases, the help desk is often overlooked yet is tasked with a larger
support role with each passing year. As the above underscores, however, it’s
critical that CIOs currently planning for the next 12 months also include the
help desk in their assessment. 

By Nathan
McNeill, Bomgar Corporation