Remote IT Support in the Era of Digital Transformation
Remote IT Support in the Era of Digital Transformation
Learn more about how remote support can impact your IT environments.
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In the era of digital transformation, the saying “the only constant is change” has never been truer. Change is happening throughout the organization, and remote support is no exception.
Over the past 10 years, remote support technology has come a long way. It’s no longer enough simply to provide technicians with the ability to securely access an end user’s computer from a remote location and gain access to its desktop or shadow the user’s session. Today, most remote control solutions offer a wide range of additional features that not only make remote support more effective and efficient but also improve the overall experience for the end user.
Digital transformation is enabling us to take a fresh look at the processes and technologies behind remote support solutions to determine exactly how new technologies can open up new opportunities across the organization. IT process automation (ITPA) — which enables activities to be executed automatically via scripts without the technician having to be involved — and the ability to collect data on endpoints and use it to help with remediation are currently having the most transformative effect on remote support.
The current business IT environment is a complex landscape of endpoints, comprised of disparate operating systems, application usage, and software versions. It often seems as though every PC, laptop, server, kiosk, or point-of-sale system on the network is configured differently, meaning that configuration-drift across the IT infrastructure has now become a major headache. On top of this, there are new provisioning models for employees, such as BYOD (bring your own device), CYOD (choose your own device), and COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled), which are being driven by the prevalence of mobile devices. All this means that IT teams are increasingly looking for more effective ways to help them manage the networks under their control.
Thankfully, the new remote support technologies are providing IT departments with the ability to streamline desktop and systems management and to take back control of the inherent complexity of modern networks. For the end user, this means improving the support experience, enabling personalization, and allowing people to have more choice of devices and software; it also empowers the ability for staff to work remotely.
As remote support software continues to integrate more digital technology into its remote control, desktop management and systems management feature sets. It will further open the door to changing how IT services are delivered, creating more value for both end-users and businesses. Even though it may require some change of mindset, this digital transformation means IT departments do not need to resist changing working practices as they can still maintain control over their environment. In the past, security trumped usability, but as the next section of this article explains, that doesn’t have to be the case anymore.
How Digital Technology Is Impacting Desktop Management
Digital technology is transforming IT remote support and empowering IT technicians to tackle some of the core challenges surrounding the recent trends in technology, which are stretching resources. There are three key areas where this is happening:
1. Collecting and Harnessing Data
Most enterprise-grade remote support solutions are now able to collect data about the devices an employee uses to log in to the network, including real-time statistics such as CPU and Memory usage, and disk activity. They can also access data such as details on the systems, the software they access, and their Active Directory details. This data can then be compiled into a 360-degree IT profile for each as well as providing a holistic view of all the endpoints on a network. This can help power better diagnostic tools enabling technicians to spot issues more easily, making the helpdesk process both more efficient and more effective.
2. Integrating Service Desks With Ticketing Systems
The ability to bring together two critical IT support systems — the service desk and the ticketing system — has a wide range of implications for technicians. Importantly, it removes part of the process of manually writing up case notes as remote support console operator actions are automatically logged in the ticket. This not only helps with technician time but also means that comprehensive notes are available almost instantaneously, so if another technician needs to take over a case, this can be done seamlessly.
Furthermore, the advent of background systems management means that technicians can actually fix issues behind the scenes without interrupting the user. Both of these significantly enhance the end user’s experience of the remote support function. On top of this, improved data collection via ticketing systems allows IT managers to identify cases with low first-time-call-resolution and highlight any areas for improvement and training. As a direct result of this, first-call-resolution can be increased. Beyond that, it also means that organizations benefit from increased efficiency by having one integrated system to manage users, systems, devices, software, and patches.
3. Collaborate and Communicate With Other Technicians
We’ve already mentioned the ready availability of notes to help different technicians resolve complex cases alongside each other. However, many remote control solutions now incorporate additional collaborative tools to help technicians work more closely together. These include the ability to share screens, capture and share screenshots, and video capture sessions. You can also have the ability to invite other technicians to join a user session and to collaborate on a resolution, as well as having live chat functions and push notifications. Again, this helps to not only improve the support experience but also to ensure effective resolution of issues.
How Digital Tech Impacts IT Management Through Reporting and Automation of Systems Management Tasks
Beyond desktop management, technological developments are helping improve IT management across the organization. Reporting and automation are forming a key part of this.
1) The Power of In-Depth Reporting
Comprehensive reporting functionality is an integral part of most IT solutions, and remote support is no different. This allows the data to be gathered from across the network and pulled together into specific and actionable insights. Critically, having the ability to generate up-to-date snapshots of your infrastructure means you can more easily track assets through their lifecycle and ensure nothing becomes an undue security risk — if you want to secure your networks, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Remember the adage: you can’t secure what you don’t know you have. On top of this, access to a real-time inventory of assets makes implementation and tracking of critical IT projects easier, such as patch management campaigns or upgrading hardware and software.
2) Harnessing Automation
With resources stretched and budgets often tight, being able to do as much as possible without the need for human intervention essentially means you can do more for less. This is especially true when it comes to some of the more repetitive tasks that IT teams are faced with. Developments in digital technology mean that where it used to be the case that complex scripts had to be written, requiring in-depth knowledge of programming languages (such as Powershell), today much simplified and intuitive user interfaces — which include functions such as drag and drop — allow pretty much anyone to create these automated processes on the fly so that they can run in the background and further improve the seamless delivery of remote support services.
Here are some key examples of where IT departments can really benefit from ITPA:
Taking preventive measures such as remediating problems before they become an issue. For example, endpoints with low disk space can be detected and their temp file directories automatically cleared upon discovery, so the end user doesn’t see a drop in performance.
User provisioning and decommissioning. When new staff arrives, their systems can be set up automatically with the software and access controls that their role requires. Similarly, staff leaving can have their systems decommissioned automatically, saving any issues with redundant user log-ins causing potential security risks.
Detection and remediation of undesired activities to keep the infrastructure clean and secure. Imagine you have a newly-created user whose passwords are not set to expire; this can be automatically detected and accounts brought into compliance with an organizational policy. Alternatively, discovering and alerting admins to suspicious accounts whose users have been locked multiple times during a short period of time can also be done automatically. This applies to patching as well. The same method can be used to detect endpoints with a missing patch and remediate upon discovery.
Implementing changes of global configuration can be done in real-time on multiple computers at once, for example, disabling Cortana or the telemetry features on Windows 10. This same type of process or workflow can be used for deploying patches on multiple computers when an update is available.
Sysadmins can create libraries of automation scripts to help them continue to control, monitor, and secure their infrastructure while also ensuring they meet their compliance requirements, as well as customize the configuration for a group of users.
In the digital era, users expect flexibility in terms of both the devices and software they use as well as the ways in which they actually work. They also expect the remote support of these devices and practices to be seamless. For IT, this means taking into account how this impacts key areas of the business, such as protecting corporate data, controlling app usage, and securing and monitoring multiple types of devices on the network.
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