The Coming War over the Help Desk

Michael Vizard

There's a war coming for control over the help desk in large corporate environments.

At most of them, there are two groups of IT professional providing help-desk service. The first is the traditional PC group that supports Windows and Macintosh PCs. The second group focuses on telecommunication services, including smartphones.

But as smartphones and now tablets such as the iPad become mainstream, there will be a tussle over who is ultimately responsible for help-desk services.

For example, Bomgar, a provider of help-desk software, this week added support for iPhone and iPad devices to the Bomgar appliance. Nathan McNeil, vice president of product strategy for Bomgar, says that given the amount of investment that large companies have made in traditional PC help desks, the odds are good that these folks soon will assume responsibility for smartphones and tablets, too.

Of course, those who manage telecommunications services might not see it that way. Many of them rely on companies such as Zenprise to provide a range of help-desk services for phones.

McNeil says this issue won't really come to a head until we see the next generation of multi-tasking devices from Apple and companies building devices based on the Google Android operating system. Right now, it's limited to the BlackBerry. With the new generation of smartphones, however, it should be easier to run help-desk applications in the background that will allow IT organizations to remotely control those devices. That's assuming Apple and the other vendors allow that to happen, he said.

In the meantime, senior IT leaders are starting to give serious thought to how the convergence of PCs and smartphones will change the way they deliver IT support across the enterprise.

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