Leading multinationals are opting for a new end-user support model - corporate concierge services - to save money and keep their workforce productive.
We've all heard how technology trends such as BYOD, cloud services and remote working can change the way employees interact with their organisation and, consequently, change the way organisations must interact with their employees.
These disruptive trends also bring new challenges for the corporate IT function.
In addition to its standard remit, it needs to understand how to provide apps seamlessly to a disparate workforce, offer support for numerous mobile devices, and ensure the company's data is securely stored and readily available. Some other demands on the IT department are often overlooked.
Employee expectations of support and services within their organisations are higher than ever. Many staff have grown used to a consumer experience for hardware and software support that means corporate end-user support must have fast, timely, relevant and convenient solutions to maintain and, if they're lucky, increase employee satisfaction with company IT.
In-house IT often struggles to manage the number of requests made. Outsourced end-user support providers often have a tick-box approach to issue resolution, delivering a commodity service to meet their service-level agreements (SLAs). More often than not, cost and scale do not deliver the greatest value back to individuals.
The traditional model may not consider non-productive hours due to IT issues, instead looking at metrics such as first-call fixes and the time taken for interactions.
The service desk is an easy target for cost cutting but customer employees should be supported in the right way, and at the right time.
Corporations are realising the benefit of investing more - not less - so hands-on support is available where there are large numbers of staff.
This may be in the form of on-site service desks that with knowledgeable support staff accessible when required, minimising downtime, and enabling knowledge sharing as well. Functionality can also be restored at the best time - perhaps during a meeting or when the user is off-site.
In addition, on-site support staff can focus on prevention, consulting on problems and working out new ways of working for specific devices, applications and software. More users will get the most out of their devices, and in some cases, self-diagnose and fix routine problems.
Simply benchmarking a service in terms of cost savings is a false economy. Savings can mask inefficiencies and lost productivity elsewhere.
It is clear one size does not fit all so user needs must be analysed and segmented for an optimal mix of applications, services, data access and hardware to be identified and delivered. Do it right, because the on-site service desk has an incredibly valuable role to play.
When the concierge model is rolled out at a corporate site, pent-up demand for these services becomes obvious. There tends to be a spike in the number of issues raised at first, as end users seek the opportunity to resolve lingering annoyances they may have previously ignored or put up with. Employees appreciate a face-to-face approach and some friendly guidance to resolve smaller issues.
So a new and proven approach is here and to my understanding it is already delivering results for a range of global customer organisations. Progressive organisations will realise that simple cost cutting around end-user services and support does not necessarily benefit them in the long run.
Many firms are now looking to the future - and the focus has shifted back to investment for productivity and growth.
A concierge services model can deliver tens of thousands of productivity hours back to the workforce and the associated financial dividends can run into the millions for some companies. It is about much more than supporting a device.
It's about enabling users to be as fast, flexible and productive as they can be. In a world where many of the large outsourcing players simply deliver against cost and scale, it pays to be innovative, invest in the workforce's productivity and satisfaction, and do things right.
Karl Anzboeck is vice president and head of global managed services at Unisys
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