When you look at your everyday operations it is easy to see that a highly IT connected world, fast performance from devices and quick response from systems and people is an increasing expectation.
Have you had someone question why you didn't respond right away to their email? You got it immediately right? Are you expected to respond to text messages, chats or other communications constantly?
In our fast paced connected world there seems to be an expectation on some parts that 24/7, 365 day interaction should be a norm and any delay in getting a response is not acceptable. Of course to be able to do this there is a whole range of tools needed to make even something close possible.
Automatic electronic intelligent response is needed for customer service, information sharing and for anticipating what might be a potential problem for your customers. Nine to five support is not enough in many fields as utilization of tools is spread over more hours in a day and more days in a week.
Being able to respond to the needs of customers requires compiling frequently asked questions (FAQ) so that the customer can do some self help when a support person is not readily available. Many tech companies and most software companies incorporate this form of support into their web presence to assist in solving problems and perhaps decrease the load on their direct support resources.
Internet search for support
Of course the Internet has become a broadly used support tool as well with many people seeking answers to their support needs through a search or a product review. This kind of open and available system is a valuable means to increase performance and get activities back up and running quickly. Of course it has its pitfalls as well as you have to sift through the accurate and good responses while trying to avoid the bogus or even misleading data.
One place the Internet can often move well ahead of other sources is when you need information on an older or more obsolete product. Recently I searched for an operators manual for an older Honda snow blower because the original was misplaced. A full pdf copy of the right manual was found online in seconds and made it possible to determine the solution to the problem I was trying to solve very quickly. Figuring out how to accomplish this without great delay through alternative tools would have been quite difficult.
Building connectivity into the design
For many products acquired in recent years an IT connection is expected even if the product itself is not inherently IT related. Often the source of manuals, warranty registrations or updating information will assume that the purchaser will have access to online tools. This can be problematic for those who are not connected either by lack of interest or by geographic constraints. Vendors still need to consider whether their product will be sold in such situations and provide some form of alternative if that is the case.
The concept of Internet of Things (IofT) is a field which is expanding in study because of this connectivity issue and has yielded some interesting observations on the world we currently inhabit and which has a future which is hard to predict. What does not appear to be questioned is that we are going to increasingly see our world and our products interconnected and IT enhanced.
Sometimes I think the speed and the need for constant connection is overdone but it looks like it is here to stay and we need to simply learn to manage it and figure out where and when we wish to be connected and when (maybe whether) we are going to shut down for a rest.