After reading a very comical article at Politico.com about how our lawmakers are struggling with the Blackberry Strom, it is becoming very clear that people need help, lots of help, with technology migration. This is obviously nothing new. Many of us in the Higher Ed IT space are accustom to creating visual documents on setting up email clients or file access on PCs or Macs. But the nice thing about creating these documents was that the number of platforms were limited. Now that mobile devices are advancing to support many of the functions we rely on from our desktop, it is becoming an IT nightmare to provide support as each platform not only changes the visual elements of access but also the physical mechanics as well (long press, swipe, multi-touch, click screen, etc).
It is easy to create standards for desktops or laptops but phones are a bit personal. Organizations struggle to find ways to standardize on phone purchases. No one wants to carry two phone yet many perform work tasks on the phone they do carry. It would be nice for IT to say we cannot support your mobile device but cave when a person’s availability is diminished from such actions. So what should organizations do? Create workshops! Workshops around platforms allow IT to reach out to mobile-specific users with the stipulation that support for their device will be handled at the event. It will also educate IT on the variety of platforms at their organization and help determine the types of platform-specific apps to develop. Also it is just a killer PR tool for reaching out to your users.
The shift from fixed offices to ad-hoc work spaces at the local coffee shop is occurring faster than we are willing to admit, especially in the Higher Ed space where tradition is giving way to commercialization. It is time for IT shops on campuses to be proactive in not stemming the flow of devices but understand why the community is selecting the phones they use. Your “Old Main” may be rooted with history and foliage, however your users are not. Keep that in mind the next time your humanities faculty member need help setting up IMAP on their G1.