Help desk, rebooted: Social, mobile remake tech support

Device-toting users are taking help into their own hands, but enterprise apps still need enterprise help.

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The future of help: Self-help

IDC analyst Rob Brothers says he doesn't see enterprise help desks disappearing anytime soon, particularly with the rise in remote workers looking for assistance at all hours from any location worldwide.

"I do see it evolving into more self-help, with the help desk utilizing new and better tools to solve issues," says Brothers. There may be fewer people manning the help desk, he says, but the function itself will still be critical for enterprises. "We have no idea about the myriad issues that will arise in the next five years."

Vendors like LogMeIn, Bomgar and Citrix are working on those kinds of remote support capabilities, he says, building applications that allow users to get remote help wherever they are located. They allow remote technicians to take control of users' devices when necessary so they can solve problems then and there, he says.

"With crowdsourcing, you're waiting for someone to [participate]. In this case, you are getting a more immediate response. That's why these companies are coming up with better applications to match the end users' questions with the proper technician."

Fruewald, the CIO of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, says BYOD certainly is changing the corporate help desk, but rather than negating the need for help, it actually highlights the need for enterprises to maintain quality help desks, he says. "If users have a problem with those devices, they're calling our help desk," he says. Likewise, the Archdiocese's decision to put some of its key applications the cloud makes them easier to use across multiple organizations, but still doesn't erase the need for help.

"These things have maybe taken some pressure off, but it by no means allows me to reduce my help desk," says Fruewald. "Our help desk is busier than ever."

Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist and freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter, where his handle is @TechManTalking, or email him at

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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