I receive far too many calls from my (silver surfing) parents when they are unable to access something on their computer, download a new program or connect their digital camera to the TV. So, if nothing else, Dixon’s announcement this week that it is launching its TechGuys service is going to cut my personal IT advice time right down, and most probably do wonders for the relationship I have with my parents.
But from a business perspective, taking into consideration Dixons’ parent company DSG and its other subsidiaries, the move appears slightly more confusing.
Let’s park the fact that the name – TechGuys – reeks of the stereotypical sexism that is still rampant in our industry and look at the fact that the service, which DSG is ploughing £50m into, will target consumers and small businesses with IT support, including a premium-rate phone line and house/business site visits. DSG’s other subsidiary, PC World Business, provides products and more importantly support services to the SME sector. The danger for Dixons is how much crossover there is likely to be. Will DSG just cannibalise its own market?
Dixons is not just faced with the task of keeping its subsidiaries from operating against each other; it is involved in an ever-increasing battle against competitors. With other electrical retailers, the might of Tesco and the department stores, as well as the announcement last week that Marks and Spencer is to dip its toe into the rough seas of technology, Dixons will have to ensure that it offers a service above and beyond any of its competitors.
The firm said it will have 3,000 staff operating the phones in its TechGuys call centres. Training and equipping that number of people with a high enough level of IT knowledge to be able to offer a quality service will be both time-consuming and costly. And consumers are fickle: if the service isn’t up to scratch, DSG’s competitors will be waiting in the wings, claws at the ready.
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