People & Process Thoughts

Thoughts and musings all things people and process

The Issue Tracker is Dead, Long Live the Integrated Help Desk!

First there were point solutions -- for Accounting, Manufacturing, Logistics and the like. Next there came an amalgamation of functionality and the ERP system was born, containing all the features and functionality that man could think of. More recently we have seen a move towards the unbundling of technology and in software, the rise of the API. Witness the evolution of If This Then That and Zapier to support this model in software. Now it seems that things are coming full circle -- plugging functionality together to manage the multiple Use Cases in the customer’s ecosystem is back in fashion!

If anything symbolises this movement it is WeChat the Chinese chat application that is a Swiss army knife of features and functions for half a billion people. In a much smaller way, through the changing nature of customer enquiries through our help desk and website, we have found that the level of interest in Issue Tracking as a single, point solution is dropping rapidly, to the extent that we wonder if we should say “Gemini is an Issue Tracker with a built in Help Desk” or “Gemini is a Help Desk system with Issue Tracking built in”.

It made sense back in the early days, to follow the trend for point solutions and build an Issue Tracker that did just and only that. Everyone was following a similar model in software and predicting the demise of ERP. Over time however, we felt the pressure to expand the functionality that we offered our customers from our customers. “Why can’t Gemini do…” on something related to an issue that was being tracked was often a perfectly reasonable question. And when many of those questions related to managing issues generated by 3rd parties or large stakeholder groups, it was clear that a Help Desk would have to be built or our customers would walk.

The question then was whether we should build a separate Help Desk as an isolated product, sticking to the point solution mantra, or to build one in Gemini. Luckily Gemini has an extensible framework, where significant parts of its functionality are delivered in Open Source apps. I say luckily because it meant that we could build a fully-fledged Help Desk in its own right but integrate it into Gemini as if it was always part of the plan.

We think the demand for single track Issue Trackers is on the decline. The Issue Tracker is dead, long live the Integrated Help Desk! People want software that solves all of the problems with dealing with external parties, not just one that tracks them. The question is where next now we have caught the extension bug? The answer lies with our customers I suppose, but they no longer need to worry that our ideology is based on delivering one-dimensional, point solutions. Suggestions please!

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