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How user experience monitoring can benefit help desks

If there’s somethin’ strange in your mobile device, who you gonna call? The IT service desk.

Because of the sheer number of mobile devices employees use for work these days, mobility-related help desk requests have increased dramatically. Top questions IT receives around mobility range from cracked screens and lost devices to forgotten passwords and crashing applications.

IT needs new ways of dealing with those problems, especially because troubleshooting a mobile device is a far cry from handling traditional desktops, said Satish Sinha, end-user computing practice head at Zensar Technologies, an infrastructure management software and services provider. It’s often harder to diagnose the problem on mobile devices because IT has to rely on explanations from users, which aren’t always clear or accurate, he said.

“It’s very different than the standard laptop and desktop because with [those devices] you can get some relevant diagnostic information,” Sinha said.

Smartphone- and tablet-related issues in 2014 represented about 17% of the IT service desk workload, up 10% from 2013, according to a February Gartner report. That figure will increase to 40% by 2018, Gartner projects. Plus, as more IT departments begin to manage their users’ devices, admins will have to handle more complex service desk questions around device enrollment, security breaches and certificate management, Gartner said.

That increased complexity means that, more than ever, IT administrators need insight into what makes users more satisfied and productive – and that’s their apps.

App monitoring tools can help provide that insight and reduce the number of help desk calls, said Marty Resnick, a mobile strategist at a large global enterprise. His company uses an in-app analytics tool to monitor the user experience across enterprise apps.

“If we understand our users better, then we can understand ways to increase our app adoption and increase productivity in our apps,” Resnick said. “The more information we can get, the better.”

Today, there are a variety of options for IT to peek inside enterprise apps. There’s mobile app analytics software such as App Annie and end-user experience monitoring services like Zensar. There are in-app analytics features in enterprise mobility management (EMM) tools such as IBM’s MobileFirst Platform. And even mobile application development platforms now include built-in analytics capabilities for the apps they create.

As IT has come to require more granular insight into app usage and performance, mobile app analytics has moved toward real-time user experience monitoring rather than just metrics reporting. Zensar’s end-user experience management software, for instance, monitors users’ actual interactions with their enterprise apps and reports on the experience, pinpointing problem areas more closely and determining how workers are using apps. By capturing real-time data in all business apps running on users’ devices, the software helps IT track, log and compile usage metrics and analyze them to determine the causes of problems.

“The service desk can become smart enough to know the most common problems that users are having,” Sinha said.

So how does end-user experience management (EUEM) help IT identify those problems?

Take a common mobile issue: email syncing and loading. If a user connects his corporate email account to a native mail app or the Microsoft Outlook app, the EUEM software tracks activities inside the app, such as opening the inbox, writing an email or reading a message. The software then compiles that information so IT can determine which activity is causing problems — like crashing or slow loading times – and dig into the data to see why that might be.

“Is it the device that’s causing the problem? Is it the back end? Or is it a network problem?” Sinha said.

Understanding how workers use apps also informs what training IT needs to institute, Resnick said. In his organization, app monitoring also helped alert IT to the need for a better way than EMM to deliver apps to users – so it turned to an enterprise app store.

“Eight out of 10 tickets we got at the service desk were deployment-related,” Resnick said. “So that told us that our users really wanted a different way to receive their applications.”