In the last few years, businesses have started to accumulate vast amounts of data about their customers. This is thanks to online transactions, Internet of Things devices and more. In many cases, that data is being used to improve services or boost health outcomes. In others, it’s being used for shadier purposes. 
One area in which big data has, up until now, been underutilised, but has an enormous amount of potential, is IT support. IT teams are, of course, accustomed to handling and securing data, but to date they have been slow at exploiting it for their own benefit.
The demands of complexity
Recent technology trends have had a dramatic impact on support. Moving data and applications to the cloud and a greater emphasis on mobile devices have led to an explosion in the number of different devices and operating systems used, together with the use of network connections, making support a far more complicated task.
Harnessing big data has the potential to help teams to better manage a rapidly evolving landscape. For example, data can help support teams to identify any endpoint devices that are out of sync with operating system updates or compliance policies. It can help to highlight misconfigurations or user changes that could leave systems vulnerable to a data breach.
Big data can also enable support teams to better understand and stay in control of their networks. This can be achieved by building an overview of all endpoints – whether fixed or mobile – allowing helpdesk technicians access to information needed to address problems, without needing to rely on the end user to supply details of their system or assist in identifying the issue.
For example, there would be no need to ask what version of software a machine was running or what its IP address was, because the data would already be available to support staff. This also helps if a problem can’t be fixed on the first call and needs to be escalated to a higher level of support.
Improving the user experience
When technicians have access to all of the information available about a system, this leads to a better experience for the end user. Indeed, it might even mean there’s no need for users to report problems at all. It can become possible to identify and fix issues before the end user even knows that they exist. Updates can be scheduled remotely and set to take place at a time when the system is not in use.
It also reduces the burden of provisioning policies such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and COPE (Corporate Owned Personally Enabled). While popular with users, these have proved something of a nightmare for support teams. Big data can help support teams administer these provisioning models effectively and stay in control. It also allows monitoring for abuse and undesirable activity – whether it’s risky software or connecting to insecure networks.
Major corporations such as Microsoft have been making use of big data for some time. Windows and Office systems send back anonymised data about their usage. This allows development teams to see how features are working in the real world and to address any issues or make improvements in the next release. In a corporate environment, data can be collected in a similar way, but it can be personalised to each device to provide a support resource.
Of course, there are privacy concerns that need to be addressed, IT departments need to be transparent as to what data they are collecting and why. Ultimately, however, data-driven support is a powerful tool that businesses can’t afford to ignore..
If your business has accumulated a large amount of data and you are considering moving it to the cloud or improving security then give Cloudworks a call. We are specialists in cloud technologies and securing your data. In addition, we continuously monitor our clients IT cloud infrastructure to ensure they are secure and protected against the latest threats. Give us a call to find out more and we will find the best strategy and solution to fit your business.
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