Pat Vickers, Expert in Help Desk Management

Support Tech or Carrier?

Every year about this time people start calling in sick. They have a cold, or they have the flu. They have something that they rather not go into detail about. As a manager you expect the flu season to wreak havoc and most of us prepare for it. We encourage our troops to get flu shots. We are prepared to fill in if need be and we make sure all of our techs wash their hands before and after touching anyone’s keyboard.

Typhoid Mary

What? You mean to tell me you don’t have your techs wash their hands between customers? You think that would be overkill and your techs would laugh at you anyway? Well get over and get on board. If your techs are moving from cubicle to cubicle, keyboard to keyboard, helping one customer after another without washing their hands then your team is the reason so many people call in sick.

According to the WebMD about 80% of contagious disease is spread by touch. We touch a contaminated surface then we touch our mouth nose or eyes, allowing the germ to enter our bodies.  Most people pick up the germs from door knobs, banisters, the things we all tough daily, but the onsite support techs are the only people in the office who regularly touch other people’s keyboards. That exposes the techs to everything anyone might have at the office. Since they often immediately go from one keyboard to another they are a great transport for any germ looking for a new host. Think of it has having a bunch of Typhoid Mary’s with pocket protectors.

It’s not Easy Being Clean

Hand washing is the Key. The CDC reports that the simple act of hand washing prevents the spread of most diseases. Some people like to carry sanitizer and that is good but sanitizer only kills bacteria. They don’t work on cold and flu viruses. The only way to get rid of viruses is to wash them away. Scrubbing your hands together with soap under running water does the trick.

Some think that techs should use disposable gloves, throwing them away between each stop, like doctors and nurses. It’s a good idea but the weirdo factor the gloves bring to anyone outside the medical community would be too much to bear. Let’s face it. Everyone already thinks we read all of their email know where to get the best porn. Add latex gloves to that and it’s just too much.

Most techs will fight it and even those who don’t will have trouble remembering to stop in the restroom and wash every time they touch someone’s keyboard but if you can enforce it, the policy could actually save lives. Believe it or not, 49,000 people die every year from the flu. I don’t know any of them catch it from their support tech but it wouldn’t shock me if one or two could be traced back to an infected keyboard. Don’t let any be traced to your team. Start the hand washing policy today.

For tips on getting your techs to follow a difficult policy like hand washing,  check out the Practical IT Manager Gold Series. It can be an invaluable tool.

The 3 Components of Developing Big Data Capabilities

Before we dive into the depths of Big Data, let’s first define Big Data services. Any activity within an organization that requests the collection, normalization, analysis, and presentation of data is a Big Data service. The responsibility of such a service may include the required hardware and software that is necessary to execute said activities, particularly if dedicated to Big Data capabilities. Big Data services may provide ad hoc data analysis and/or continual scheduled data analysis. The scope of the service may be distinguished by customer, application, product, or business service: each with a different binding service level agreement.

Developing Big Data capabilities has three major parts:

  1. Developing the Vision
  2. Developing the Data Analytics Capability
  3. Developing the Infrastructure

Developing the Vision

In order to develop the vision for Big Data, it all begins with understanding the needs of the business and potential “problem areas” (areas that need improvement or opportunities that need investigating) currently and over time. The Big Data vision should answer the question, “How can Big Data be used effectively to support the organization’s achievement of its strategic goals and objectives?” Developing the Vision defines the goals and objectives of Big Data and how it will provide value to the organization.  Often, the adoption of Big Data in most cases will vary.

Some organizations may initialize its efforts with a seemingly insignificant business process, that being a small pilot program. The intention here is to test its capabilities. Others may have had existing data management programs for quite some time and are simply looking to expand their capabilities. No matter the situation, developing the vision encourages the organization to define its expectations clearly, as well as plan its implementation of Big Data carefully.

Developing the Data Analytics Capability

To develop the data analytics capability, focus should be set on the handling, analysis and presentation of data within an organization. This section will cover the majority of the overall development process. This process aims to develop an organization’s capabilities.  The following process is recommended for an organization’s development of its capabilities with regard to data analytics. The process should be implemented for each Big Data service or project for service improvement.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Develop the individual data analytics process(es).
  2. Determine the sources of data.
  3. Automate extraction and validation of data.
  4. Build appropriate business rules (reducing anomalies and false positives).
  5. Prioritize areas of concern.
  6. Refine and document solution.
  7. Increase capacity based on demand.

Developing the Infrastructure

The final part involves the development of the infrastructure, which will provide guidance in order to be able to meet the processing, storage, and transnational needs of the Big Data service. The emergence of the said service’s technologies has created an intense need to understand the requirements necessary in infrastructure, as well as the need to continuously seek out greater efficiencies with regard to infrastructure design. Some of the significant issues that are results from Big Data are as follows:

  • Capacity
  • Security
  • Access/Privacy
  • Latency
  • Flexibility
  • Cost

The technologies utilized in Big Data will often address two or more of the issues mentioned earlier. Usually, the collaboration between intersecting technologies will provide greater benefits as compared to when implementing a single technology on its own.

The dedicated team at The Art of Service has designed a step-by-step toolkit to aid any IT professional in the implementation of Big Data capabilities in any organization. The toolkit aims to introduce Big Data concepts, and provide you with the tools to successfully create a workable Big Data culture in your organization.  Download the Big Data Toolkit at Toolkit Cafe today!