Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tech Drama, Part 2: Be the IT Hero, or Look Like a Zero

To Win the Battle and the War, the Search for Unified Contact Management Continues
Previously on Tech Drama, a new IT manager Dylan is blindsided minutes before a Big Personal Event by a system snafu that sends his CFO into an embarrassing set of behaviors. Dylan races against time to find Kathy, the expert on the afflicted system.

Dylan, at the end of his staff list, calls Kathy’s intern – you never know, right? YES! The intern picks up, and she has Kathy's mobile number. Dylan immediately dials. No answer! After everything he's gone through, and she doesn't even pick up. His hope fading, he leaves a voice mail and hastily fires off a text to Kathy’s cell. As Dylan glumly assumes the worst, he mentally prepares to call off the Big Date. Truth be told, his one and only hates when plans are broken and Dylan would rather face a wrathful CFO.  
Awkward Triumph
At that moment, his phone buzzes. His prayers are answered! It’s Kathy. “I’m almost at the office, boss – I got this. It’s a known issue, and we have a patch.” Dylan thanks her profusely, and in a stress-induced goof, he awkwardly compliments her Facebook photos. After phoning the CFO to trumpet his heroic efforts in getting the real expert on the problem. The CFO is not ready to award the Medal of Honor, but he is relieved that the house expert is inward bound. Dylan leaps into his hybrid. Navigating through the suburbs at a blistering, carbon-free 30 miles an hour, he sees an email addressed to the CFO from Kathy. She has resolved the issue and will stay at the office to make sure everything is running smooth. What a mensch!
As he analyzes the near-disaster, Dylan's gears are turning. How could a seemingly tiny issue like Kathy’s missing phone number nearly kill his future at the company, AND ruin his date?
The Underlying Malady: Lack of a Good Enterprise Solution for Reachability
What could an IT manager do to enhance the response? Kathy’s missing contact data was a symptom, not the illness itself. It points to a chronically inaccurate contact issue that will haunt his team again. How can we escalate issues if reachability itself is the issue?
It seems old school, but Dylan realizes that he needs an Emergency Contact List (ECL). Now he has to go beg everyone to email him their personal contact information. “Wow, I just went from IT Manager to a data entry associate.”
Even if I do scare up everyone’s contact info, then what? I put it into a spreadsheet, perhaps? Then, uh, print the spreadsheet and hand it out? Who is going to carry that around? He recalls many years ago that his department head printed the spreadsheet on a super small laminated wallet card. As soon as it was handed out, someone complained new people were missing, or phone numbers were wrong.
“OK, that settles it. I am going to just email the spreadsheet to everyone.”   
Or, put the ECL on a network drive?
Maybe a public folder?
How about a shared mailbox contact folder? Maybe we should do this in SharePoint?
Maybe the data is already in the HR database?
How about just using Active Directory and the GAL?
No half-baked inventions
Like Thomas Edison running through everything that came before tungsten, Dylan evaluates and discards options. As he roars, or actually whispers, up to his date's house, he realizes that all of these ideas are half baked.
His date opens her front door and in that brief moment before his work brain is 100% replaced by non-Vulcan ideas, Dylan has an epiphany. Wherever the ECL is stored, it must be synchronized to everyone’s Outlook contacts, and thus also available on their smartphone. Dylan needs a unified contact management solution that can collect information from everyone and make it available on smartphones. Mesmerized by this breakthrough and its clarity, he stands like a statue.

Suddenly he hears, “Are you going to say hi, or have you turned zombie on me?”

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