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10 challenges facing IT

(Alan Norton, TechRepublic) IT is always facing challenges. Some of these challenges have slowly changed over time, but many of them are perennial offenders. How will IT meet these challenges today and in the near future? Where do they rank in order of importance at the company where you work?

1. Customer service
Improve customer service by listening to and meeting the client’s needs. Make customer service job number one.
2. Human resources
Develop creative ways to minimize stress, satisfy employee needs, and match corporate needs to employee goals.
3. Productivity
Make the best use of new technologies like cloud and mobile computing but search out additional ways to increase productivity.
Read more by following the "full article" link.
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Virtual, mobile, social endeavors drive IT in 2011

(Ann Bednarz, NetworkWorld) Caution still pervades the economic forecasts, but it's not deterring IT executives from aggressively expanding their virtualization efforts, extending mobility initiatives, and tackling newer priorities such as cloud computing and enterprise social media adoption.

"If it's out there and if it can help us, we're looking at it," says Ron Smith, director of IT at logistics provider Transplace, which plans to upgrade to 10G Ethernet, overhaul its intrusion-prevention systems, and invest in cutting-edge storage gear, among other 2011 IT projects. "We're thrifty in the way we spend our money, but we go after the best."

While the budget-slashing of 2008 and 2009 has given way to more stable IT spending - projected to rise 7.4% in 2011, according to Forrester - buyers are still behaving prudently given the global economic environment. "We are in a recovery, but it's a very weak recovery. It's going to be a slow slog," Bartels says. But IDC is slightly less bullish on the 2011 outlook, predicting worldwide IT spending will grow 5.7% to reach $1.6 trillion. "Overall growth is still lagging behind pre-recession levels, but the recovery of 2010 will broadly continue and the industry will ultimately outpace the rest of the economy," IDC concludes.
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Solutions to the top 10 peeves of a support tech

(Becky Roberts, TechRepublic) Grumbling and whining about various aspects of our jobs, especially our users, is all too easy to do. Everyone does it, and it can have some therapeutic and entertainment value, but perhaps our energies would be better spent devising solutions to our problems instead of persistently complaining about them.

1: Users who insist on giving you their diagnosis of a problem rather than a neutral description of the symptoms
As with many user-type problems, a little education can go a long way. Is it really reasonable of us to expect the average user to automatically know how to report a computer problem? One simple method of training our users to accurately report problems is by asking them appropriate questions, just like a good car mechanic or doctor: “Can you show me where it hurts?”; “How would you describe the noise it was making?”; “Does it happen when you’re coasting or only when you have your foot on the gas?” Instead of becoming impatient with the user, we can use appropriate questions to coach them and elicit the information we need to solve their problem.

Consider the following interaction:
  • User: “The e-mail server is down.”
  • Tech: “Hmm, I’m so sorry you’re having a problem accessing your e-mail. What exactly is happening that makes you think that the e-mail server is down? Are you receiving an error message when you try to log in? Are you able to access other applications on the network?”
In just a few seconds, the tech is able to validate the user’s concern, extract the information needed to resolve the problem, and start the process of training the user to accurately report computer problems.

2: Users who hover around while you are troubleshooting, asking questions-and worse, making suggestions
Again, taking the time to train users may help with this situation, but if you’re trying to troubleshoot a particularly intractable problem and being constantly interrupted, you could consider one of the following approaches: (1) take the computer back to your office to work on it in private; (2) troubleshoot remotely; (3) involve users by assigning them a role in the troubleshooting process. For example, ask them to try to reproduce the problem on someone else’s computer or to make notes on what you’re doing; this will either actually be beneficial to you or they will suddenly remember something else they had to do.
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Top 10 peeves of a support tech

(Becky Roberts, TechRepublic) We all work in different environments, in different industries, with different departmental structures, different installed bases, and different users. But as support techs, we share the common goal of helping people and computers live in harmony. Over the years, I’ve worked in a variety of industries, from commercial aircraft manufacturing to management consulting, from a chemical plant to a ceramics factory. And although the hardware, software, and people have changed, the irritants have had an alarming tendency to remain the same. So here, in no particular order, are my top 10 persistent peeves.

1: Users who insist on giving you their diagnosis of a problem rather than a neutral description of the symptoms
A classic example of this is the VP who constantly tells me that the T1 is down whenever he can’t browse the Web or log into SAP. Instead of describing the symptoms, the VP tells me, “The T1 is down; fix it.” This type of behavior is doubly annoying. Not only does it complicate the troubleshooting process, but it is also often difficult to disabuse the user of his misconception, leaving him, in this instance, with a false impression of an unreliable T1.

2: Users who hover around asking questions while you’re troubleshooting — and worse, making suggestions
As much as I like to share my knowledge and educate users, I don’t want to do so while I’m struggling to figure out exactly why Ethel can’t print. This is particularly irritating when dealing with an apparently insoluble problem, as the user’s probing questions, which I can’t answer, are a reminder of my incompetence.

3: Users who deny having done anything that may have caused the problem
This is the “What? World of Warcraft is installed on my computer? I have absolutely no idea how that could’ve happened” phenomenon. In one instance, a summer intern from the local university MBA program called the help desk to complain that he couldn’t access the network. A quick survey of his computer revealed that it no longer contained any files beginning with the letter n. The intern vehemently denied having deleted any files whatsoever but eventually confessed that he didn’t have anything to do so he thought he’d delete all the files he didn’t recognize. Why he started with the letter n remains a mystery.

4: Being treated like a user by tech support from another company
I dread problems that result in a call to the manufacturer’s tech support department. I will experiment, read manuals, Google the error message, and sacrifice chickens on the keyboard before I will call a tech support number for a problem I can’t resolve. My pride simply can’t handle answering the most basic questions: Have you checked that the printer is in fact plugged in and turned on? ARRRGGGH. Get me out of here. Please, please, please, put me straight through to your highest support level because I can guarantee that I have tried everything you are going to suggest at least three times. Oh wait, never mind, the power strip was turned off….
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Strengthening the alignment of business with IT

( "Chip Salyards, BMC Software's executive director for APAC, talks to Pankaj Maru of CyberMedia News about the concept of Business Service Management, its technology, challenges for today's businesses and much more. After spending over seven years in BMC Software’s North American offices and worked at different levels including sales specialist, sales representative, senior account manager and best practice manager, he is in a new role."

Business service management, anyone? This interview is likely to shed some light on this matter, especially if you're wondering...

( "
What are the key needs of businesses that have led the use of BSM across verticals right from the automobile sector, aviation, banks and also the food and beverage segment?

What does the Pink Elephant certification mean  in terms of company's business and strategy?

What's the future of BSM in coming years? Will it become a strategic component for organization's IT infrastructure and business?

Click the full article link to learn the answer to the questions above and others as well!
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Shall we contact tech support?

There are dozens of specialized forums, online documentation pages, how to and “mini” how to articles, all-knowing contacts and search engines out there. Why then would a company or an end-user need to pay technical support to a vendor? Customers can do some reading and research a little and know anything about everything.

It’s about time…
Let’s start with time and its value. No matter how acquainted you are with forums and search results, you will never be as fast as a tech support engineer who instantly connects an error message to a solution. Most of the issues users run into are known to them (they’ve seen it many times before or, if it is a critical new incident, a few dozens emails from people in another time zone have already given them details).

...and correctness
You are also guaranteed you get the latest reply for each question you might ask. Forums, third party or maintained by the company, can have the next best reply or they can be old generation already. Moreover, testers and developers who are always the best source of information are within reach. Thus it would be wise to keep the email address and phone number of the technical support department close by. When it comes to installing, configuring and troubleshooting their product, no one can help you faster than those doing these very same actions each day, every day.
Rating: 12345
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