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6 Strategies for Avoiding IoT Tech Support Finger-Pointing

Added to IoTplaybook or last updated on: 10/23/2018
6 Strategies for Avoiding IoT Tech Support Finger-Pointing

One of the biggest frustrations with IoT systems is that glitches, breakdowns, and failures can be incredibly difficult to pinpoint. Not surprisingly, with multiple vendors in the picture and as the number of devices, protocols, and platforms multiply, complexity increases and finger-pointing begins. This can lead to ongoing tension, arguments, and, in a worst-case scenario, lawsuits.

To avoid such headaches, integrators must adopt a structured approach to solving IoT problems. While no approach works universally, here are six things a firm can do to sidestep the blame game and resolve technical issues promptly:

  1. Develop a cultural framework for dealing with problems. Emotional outbursts only serve to amplify problems. Blaming other people or companies won’t fix anything, even if they have a level of culpability. Calmness and clear minds must prevail at all times. This leads to focus and staying on task. A framework of communication, collaboration, and appreciation is critical.
  1. Work with partners that take your problems seriously. Uncooperative vendors and partners, particularly those that engage in finger-pointing, signal an unwillingness to adopt a team approach to fixing problems. A business partner should be willing to devote some time and effort to resolving pertinent issues, as long as its products or services are in the IoT mix.
  1. Establish procedures for addressing problems. Because most problems involve a single point of failure, a support process should progress from simplicity to greater complexity. This requires a framework and methodology that keep technical support teams on track and guide them through troubleshooting. This approach also helps focus support resources more effectively.
  1. Create a process for tracking issues. Vendors use trouble tickets for tracking and resolving support problems for good reason: The approach works. However, many integrators overlook this tactic for internal problems that fall outside the realm of direct help desk support. Anyone and everyone involved in technical support should know what steps have already been taken and what comes next. Otherwise, people waste a lot of time repeating the same tasks.
  1. When a problem occurs, narrow things down. Too often, in the frenzy to fix something that’s broken, teams aimlessly ping vendors and explore every possibility in search of instant answers. Identify logical tasks and sequences of remediation steps. These may involve log files, error codes, hardware and software compatibility lists, patches and updates, documentation and knowledge bases, and more. This also helps direct questions and requests to the appropriate vendor or partner.
  1. Formalize knowledge. An organization benefits by identifying and documenting successful troubleshooting methods and spreading the word internally about what works, what doesn’t work, and when outside expertise, such as a specialized consultant, is needed. Identify specialists who can bridge different technical domains—including developers, IoT sensor specialists, configuration experts, and networking staff—before a problem occurs, and keep your IoT systems running.

As long as ecosystems in the Internet of Things remain complex, a certain amount of finger-pointing when trouble strikes is unavoidable. Integrators who embrace these six principles, though, will play the blame game less often than others.