Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Are You Effectively Managing Your Contact Center Desktops? Numara Software Offers Advice

June 04, 2010

Desktop computers are the contact centers' engines. In the hands of contact center agents they make the interactions happen: sales, lead acquisition/qualification, service, support, billing and collection, by phone, e-mail/SMS and chat, including via social media. With the advent of VoIP and softphones, desktops are becoming even more critical in contact centers as all customer communications now pass through them.

That's why it is critical to effectively manage your agents' and supervisors' desktops at each stage of their lifecycles both to maximize their availability, and employee productivity and to control costs especially IT support. Wonky computers mean that the agents assigned to them cannot work until the units are fixed which unless this happens ASAP could wreak havoc on service levels, customer satisfaction and in meeting service, sales and collections goals.
Numara Software makes integrated IT service management and IT asset management software platforms that enable organizations to efficiently automate a wide variety of IT related tasks and processes using interoperable solutions from a single, proven vendor. Adrienne McAninch, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Numara Softwarehas written a helpful paper titled "The IT Circle of Life: Are You Effectively Managing Your Desktops from Hire to Retire?"
Here it is, in her words:
"As IT organizations return to growth and ramp up new projects, we're seeing a marked change in the demand for transparency and accountability for every penny they spend. IT can no longer afford to have a handful of unused desktops lying around; now every asset must be accounted for. IT professionals are also under the gun to optimize the use of each asset, squeezing every bit of value out of everything they own.
Mistakenly, many organizations think the price of hardware and software is the highest cost in desktop ownership, but in reality the time and effort to support and maintain those desktops throughout their lifecycle ends up costing the most. Installing operating systems, tracking assets across the network, deploying applications, patching vulnerabilities, protecting company data and managing PC energy consumption all eat up valuable IT time.
Improving the management of your desktops can be daunting task, especially for large or distributed organizations. To kick start the process you first to change the way you think about your IT environment. Successfully managing your desktops isn't just about taking inventory-although it's an important part. Instead it's about implementing a process and system that encompasses their complete lifecycle, from hire to retire.
The lifecycle of any IT asset generally includes four phases:
1.         Provision (Hire): Distributing new machines, applications or operating systems (OS) to specific individuals, groups and departments in your system
2.         Secure: Ensuring your assets are protected through effective vulnerability, patch and device management
3.         Maintain: Maintaining your systems and the overall health and functionality of your IT environment
4.         Retire: Looking at the end of the line for your assets, properly sunsetting and disposing of each one
There are a lot of Desktop Management and IT Asset Management (ITAM) solutions that promise to save you time and money, but the truth is many of these solutions only address one part of the complete Desktop Management lifecycle, creating more issues than they solve. When selecting a system to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of your desktops, you should keep the following considerations in mind.
Tap into "The Power of One": Instead of disparate buying point products, invest in a comprehensive desktop management solution that addresses every part of the lifecycle. Look for software suites or solution families that allow you to purchase components one at a time, but leverage a single platform and user interface for seamless integration. That way you can start with the pieces you need now and eventually expand your solution without costly integration projects and headaches.
Move from Manual to Many: According to Gartner, "PCLM (PC Lifecycle Management) tools have one of the most obvious returns on investment, which is to manage the client environment in an automated, one-to-many fashion, rather than on a manual, one-to-one basis."  Your PCLM solution should allow you to administer desktops, manage deployments and push new applications or updates to end-users from a central location and user interface. An effective solution will enable you to manage the client environment in an automated, one-to-many fashion, rather than on a manual, one-to-one basis, making better use of your limited IT resources.
Be S.A.F.E. not Sorry: According to the National Vulnerability Database, approximately 15 new security patches are released every day for known vulnerabilities. Make sure your solution will allow you to Scan, Assess, Fix and Evolve (S.A.F.E.) your systems through an integrated vulnerability assessment and patch management process. The solution should automatically synchronize with the latest patch releases, identify security gaps and remediate vulnerabilities to keep your environment secure. It should also allow administrators to disable USBs, printers and other device ports from a central console in order to lock down stolen or lost devices.
Go Remote: IT organizations have relied on site visits as their main method of resolving complex user issues, resulting in high support costs, decreased productivity of desktop administrators, and decreased customer satisfaction due to lengthy repair times. The ability to troubleshoot and diagnose desktop issues without physically visiting each workstation is a crucial component of any Desktop Management solution. This will allow you to effectively optimize IT resources while keeping end-users happy and productive.
Save Some Green: Analysts estimate that close to 60 percent of IT costs are related to power consumption, and there's growing momentum for companies to adopt Green IT policies. To help your organization reduce its impact on the environment, select a Desktop Management solution with centralized power management capabilities. At a minimum it should enable you to automatically hibernate or use sleep modes on machines that are not in use, and automatically wake these machines for routine maintenance or updates. Look for a solution that will let you build power management schemes based on different time zones, locations and departments so you can maximize your savings. Also ask about the ability for the tool to report on the power management savings, so you can easily communicate these back to the business.
No matter the size or complexity of your organization, you are guaranteed to encounter disruptions and changes to your IT environment that will make effective Desktop Management challenging. With a comprehensive solution and process for managing the full desktop lifecycle you can get control of your IT environment and ensure you're getting the most out of your assets from hire to retire."

Brendan B. Read is ContactCenterSolutions's Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi