Can IT support become a social affair? Service-now sure hopes so

Service-now.com's Winter release of its on-demand software is going to be an interesting experiment in social business. The general theme: Use social networking tools to make IT support easier and more productive.

Service-now.com's Winter release of its on-demand software is going to be an interesting experiment in social business. The general theme: Use social networking tools to make IT support easier and more productive.

The Winter Release was officially available on Wednesday, but has been in the hands of a few customers since Feb.4. The key items include:

Chat functionality so users can "more easily communicate with IT." Groups can also create chat rooms. Hey enterprise IT, get ready for "we're fed up with XP and IE6 dammit!" groups.

Service-now Live looks a lot like Facebook and Twitter. Users can post things on IT support's wall. The idea here is that users may be able to solve their own problems.

Streams of actionable information can be followed with hash tags. IT support and users can follow these streams. Service-now call these streams "the first-ever IT zeitgeist."

Add it up and this Winter release becomes part of Service-now's IT 3.0 rap, which revolves around making IT service and support a "people-centric" affair.

It's an intriguing idea and one that makes me chuckle a bit since I know how many folks in IT support would rather duck when users come with stupid questions. Now those silly questions can become part of your IT support wall.

We caught up with Craig McDonogh, Service-now's director of product management, to get a few more points. Here's the recap:

  • What's the productivity gain here? McDonogh noted that an IT support worker can handle three to five chat requests at a time relative to one call. Will there be any distractions? "You could potentially have a situation where a worker is easily distracted, but I don't subscribe to that," he said. "The productivity benefits are tangible and outweigh any negative impact."
  • Will users flock to these tools? McDonogh said that the Winter release isn't a generic collaboration tool. The social tools are specific to the IT department.
  • What's the biggest win here? McDonogh said that these social tools may enable users to solve their own problems. "Business users know as much about the technology they are using as the IT department. We're providing a tool for peer-to-peer support and capturing the information in a knowledgebase," he said. "The user community has matured dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years."

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