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Synchronizing Service Desk Data with PIM Applications on Desktop and Mobile Devices

Synchronization has the advantage of low cost and minimal deployment overhead

Wireless networking and mobile device technologies are starting to reshape the IT help desk and customer support environments. In this new world, data is no longer held in a single location or accessed through a single application or device. Using off-the-shelf office productivity software, agents and service technicians view and change appointment schedules, customer contact data, issue status, and other mission critical data from their handheld computing devices or their desktop computers. In particular, agents are using personal information management (PIM) software to organize incident data. Agents have found PIM software to be a powerful and convenient tool for organizing data from numerous sources. In short: agents are treating their PIM software as a lightweight version of their service desk application.

As a result of the use of PIM software and mobile devices, data has become spread out across the enterprise, residing in local databases and caches. Unfortunately, this data is effectively trapped, disconnected from the source, and therefore subject to issues of staleness and inconsistency. As just one example, scheduling and calendaring are available as core functions in both PIM tools and the service desk software. Since these applications don’t directly communicate with each other, updates to PIM appointment entries are not automatically reflected back to the central database. Managers making staffing decisions on inaccurate, out-of-date schedules will allocate resources in a less than optimal way. Home-grown solutions to correct this problem, like scripts to copy appointment data, may make the consistency problem even worse—e.g., if the transfer programs fail to run or recover properly after a network outage.

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