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Service and sensibility

Stuart Facey, vice president EMEA, Bomgar Corporation, tells us how the role of IT support is changing within universities


ast your mind back to 10 years ago, when IT services within universities centred on providing

and supporting lots of PCs for student labs, with some departments supporting more specialist technology required for specific coursework. The situation today is very different.

With fees of up to £9,000 per year, students now expect far more from their university when it comes to technology services. Students see themselves as customers paying a premium, and for this they expect premium service. Many IT teams are still gearing up to

meet this change in circumstance. They see their existing approaches failing, not because they are wrong, but because the end-user’s mind-set is different. Students expect a level of service that goes far beyond the traditional IT service desk approach, and they are often ‘vocal’ on public forums and social networks if they don’t get it. Thus IT service teams need to take a

new approach when interacting with students. This comes down to two things: speed and flexibility. Speed goes hand in hand with the

increase in costs around tuition. The level of support that people expect when they are paying top price is far higher than when the service is “free” or lower cost. University service

desks will therefore be dealing with people who are less patient when it comes to problems geting fixed. The flexibility aspect is due to the

sheer variety of different devices and operating systems that today’s students use. Rather than labs full of university- owned Windows desktops and laptops that students previously used, there is a far greater range of operating systems to deal with, from XP stalwarts to the latest Apple OS. There are also now smartphones and tablets to consider as well, including iPhones and iPads, plus a variety of Android and Windows devices. This heterogeneous device landscape

goes alongside a greater number of ways to provide support. Rather than traditional email or phone support,

About Bomgar

Bomgar connects support staff with users, on any device, anywhere, while keeping sensitive data and system access behind your own secure firewall. More than 650 educational organisations around the world use Bomgar to drastically improve support efficiency, performance and security while significantly cutting costs.

new approaches like chat or collaboration sessions can help service teams fix problems in ways that suit how students want to interact. These can go across all the platforms that are involved, so services are delivered in a uniform way irrespective of what the students are running. Behind this, IT support teams also

have to think about security when delivering these services. This includes remote support sessions where advice or fixes are delivered via the internet – which could potentially lead to a breach in security if information is passed through a third party. In the future, university IT support

teams will have to think again about how they define and deliver services to students. This will include re-evaluating the processes that currently exist for providing support and thinking about how to keep up with the technology that students bring with them. Universities that deliver services in

secure, flexible ways will find they are edging away from similar institutions in, what is now, a highly competitive market; this student-centric approach can have a bearing on whether they are willing to commit their funds to one university over another. By keeping this changing service imperative in mind, IT service teams can ensure that they are able to meet that demand. ET

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