Consumer-driven technology trends have put enormous pressure on IT departments to rapidly adopt the products that their users prefer, whether that be Dropbox, Google Apps, Skype, WhatsApp or new computing devices. Rather than allowing a shadow IT situation to occur in which employees adopt applications and devices without explicit organizational approval, IT must lead the way in adopting new technologies and integrating these innovative services within their established management processes. Chrome OS devices are a good example of what can happen when technologies get ahead of the processes that IT has in place for managing them.
Chromebooks have seen rapid growth in popularity and use since they were introduced to the market five years ago, yet Chrome OS falls outside of traditional asset management practices, making the setup and administration of these devices difficult. While the Chrome operating system and Chromebooks have streamlined costs and simplified a number of the computing needs for organizations, they have also presented unique challenges for IT teams, which can overpower the initial incentive to adopt Chromebooks in the first place.
Chromebooks in the Field
One of our customers, Luke Brown, is the technology director at Eaton Rapids Public Schools, a 2,400 student school district in Michigan with 420 staff members; and he shared that his school system decided to introduce Chrome devices in the classroom after piloting a few different options and finding Chromebooks to be the easy winner. However, during the summer his team shrinks to just him and setting up and distributing 1,800 Chromebooks required countless hours of administrative time.
The process required hand-typing each device’s serial number into their inventory system, and then taking each inventory tag ID and hand-typing it back into the Google Admin Console. Then each Chromebook had to be stickered. The workload was so daunting that Brown brought his parents, his wife and his kids into the office to assist with the process. He stated, “I had no idea how much work we had taken on with Chromebooks and what was going to be involved with manually entering them in one by one.”
Many teams, like Brown’s, that have long since streamlined their management of Macs, PCs and other devices, have continued to be forced into manual and tedious processes to manage Chrome, and even then they are left with limited visibility into the performance of each asset.
In an environment where IT teams are expected to report on asset lifecycles and solution performance and ensure that full benefits are being reaped from technology investments, the limited visibility this management approach offers can be as big of a concern as the lost time IT teams face.
A Better Way to Manage Chrome
The good news is that simplified management for Chrome devices is now available, so those weeks of tedious work can now be a thing of the past. IT teams can reclaim hours of time that were previously spent on mundane administrative tasks and can access data pulled daily from Chromebooks, providing valuable insights that foster better support of the technology.
Samanage introduced Chrome OS support earlier this summer. With this new capability, Samanage Service Desk can integrate with existing inventory via an API connection to the Google Admin Console. This allows organizations to manage tickets, service requests and all assets, including Chromebooks, Chromebases, Chromeboxes and Chromebits, in one central solution that delivers real-time actionable insights.
With centralized management, teams can identify larger trends, deliver better support and foster continuous improvements by associating Chrome OS assets with their ticket histories.
Brown summarized the benefit well, saying, “I’m excited about automating these processes because a software that prevents us from having to inventory each device, one by one, saves us about five minutes per device. And when you have almost 2,000 devices, like we do, that adds up to a lot of minutes saved.”
These behind-the-scenes management improvements add up to a big impact. When IT teams are freed from hours of tedious work, they can focus on more complex and strategic tasks that drive value for the organization; and when devices are closely monitored, with the ticket history associated with each asset, teams have a better view of what maintenance is needed. This leads to a better user experience and protects an organization’s technology investments by extending the life of assets.
The New Era of Computing
We now live in an era in which most business and social interactions are happening on online platforms, hosted in the cloud. In order to keep business running, organizations must have easy and constant access to their applications on any device at any time. When employees turn on a computer or look at their mobile device, they expect to have all of their applications at their disposal.
At the same time, the lines between personal and professional lives have blurred, which is reflected in application and device usage. Many people no longer have both a work and personal device, and they don’t conduct business communications solely on Outlook or Gmail. They are just as likely to use LinkedIn to communicate with a colleague or partner and, in some cases, the only app they need on their device is a browser.
This is one reason why Chrome OS and Chrome devices have become so popular for both personal and professional uses – fueling sales growth by 38% in 2016 alone. In education, Chromebooks can be easily distributed to classrooms, via carts or direct-to-student, then tracked through data pulls every 24 hours to ensure they are receiving the necessary support, and used to access Gmail, Google Docs, online research and countless other applications that empower student learning. Outside of education, many retail organizations are adopting Chrome as their preferred point of sale devices for their simplified management and minimal licensing requirements.
Chromebooks are quickly evolving and opening up new doors for technology use across industries. Now the ground-breaking user experience doesn’t have to come at the cost of a setback in management and analytics, which makes Chromebooks a true win-win for organizations.
The Whole Organization Steps Forward
Tools and technologies are constantly evolving, presenting IT teams with new opportunities and challenges. Devices like Chromebooks, which promise to simplify the user experience and transform technology use across an organization, shouldn’t come at the price of outdated and tedious management. The burden falls on IT teams to make sure they are adopting the best management practices, not just the best technologies.
Transformative technology can and should provide a step forward for everyone it touches, from the IT team that sets it up, to the employees using it each day to do their jobs, to the external customers who are served by it.
Steve Stover, VP of product at Samanage (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Photo-Mix / Pixabay