How the smart software developers are moving support to the customers of their customers.
The technology industry has led many innovations throughout the years, which have later been adopted by other industries. A recent example of this is the use of Agile development to more quickly and accurately turn vision into deliverable software. Now, other industries are taking this concept and adapting it to their own product and process development.
Shift left started as the concept of taking testing, and shifting, or moving it closer to development as part of that agile development process. We then adapted this to the customer support process by moving support ‘closer’ to the customer, creating processes and functions that allow customer self-service and help delivery with minimal or no customer support involvement. A good example of this is user password resets. No longer do you need to call Customer Support to reset your password, now giving you the ability to request a link to reset your own password.
Now is the time to take the “Shift left” concept, and provide it to our customers in the software we develop, giving them this important capability in the software we deliver. So, how do we do this? We deliver functionality in our software that allows our customers to enable their employees, vendors, and customers to receive help, support, and live information in a collaborative manner, at the point of delivery. For example, delivering help/training videos, manuals, notes, documentation, images, and video to your field service technicians where they are delivering service to their customers, along with the ability to connect with a Subject Matter Expert, eliminating the need for multiple trips into the field, and expediting the resolution of issues.
There are several point solutions that have been developed over the years, with some of the more cleaver and innovative companies adapting, and leveraging them to deliver some of these capabilities. These include applications such as Skype and Facetime to collaborate live, native camera applications to capture video and images, and Dropbox and Google Docs to store content. While these applications offer many of the capabilities mentioned above, these applications are cumbersome to use, time-consuming when attempting to share with others, and were not built for the enterprise, making it difficult to share both inside and outside the organization. Nor are they brought together into a single, integrated application that allows for capturing, cataloging, and collaborating in a seamless fashion, and providing all of this content online, in the cloud, around the world, twenty-four hours a day.
Imagine a field service technician who already has images, video, and notes about an issue before they are dispatched to address an issue in the field. When they arrive on site, they have the necessary information in the form of online help/training videos, architectural drawings, maintenance manuals, and notes from this and past incidents to refer to while solving an issue in the field. While on site, they may collaborate with multiple subject matter experts, other vendors, customers, and colleagues with live streaming video and audio, while capturing images and video for future use and risk mitigation. All of this is cloud-based, cloud-stored, delivered in a device agnostic fashion, and available to all stakeholders across the value chain. This includes users inside and outside the organization, that are granted access.When we deliver these types of capabilities to our customers, we can then truly say “We are Shifting left our Shift left,” and delivering value to our customers and our customers’ customers.