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20th of April 2018

Internet



Self-service click and collect is the future of IT support

In today’s self-service, on demand economy, 24x7 technology reliance has become a given.

Individuals across businesses work flexibly and remotely, including at weekends. Yet what happens when the vital piece of kit to support that work – the tablet, phone or laptop – fails? Typically, a wait of 2.9 days for a replacement. How does that fit in with a consumer world offering immediate click and collect and delivery via drones?

This model is outdated and inadequate. Why can’t individuals get click & collect access to essential equipment 24x7? Why are desk-side support organisations not leveraging the proven technologies now available, from smart lockers to remote laptop build, to provide users with fast access to a laptop configured with their own passwords and data?

Anthony Lamoureux, Director of Velocity Smart Technology, explores how the integration of smart locker technology to IT Service Management (ITSM) Applications is set to provide users with fast, frictionless access to vital equipment 24x7.

Twentieth Century Experience

Technology now dominates every aspect of twenty first century business and consumer activity. Cloud based systems ensure users have continuous access to applications and data, anytime, anywhere. Remote IT support technology combined with 24x7 ‘follow the sun’ help desks has significantly reduced downtime. However, there remains one critical area of IT support that remains entrenched in twentieth century thinking: IT equipment replacement.

What happens when a laptop fails completely?

The user has to log a request via their help desk or online request portal – and wait nearly three days on average to receive a replacement. And that is assuming the failure occurs during ‘working hours’ – an increasingly out-dated concept in itself.

If the failure occurs after 6pm or over the weekend, the delay will be even greater.

The business implications are very significant: the average UK worker is wasting 50 hours a year as a result of failing technology in the office, according to research by serviced office specialist Workthere. 

This suggests wasted time could be costing UK businesses £11 billion, based on employment data from the ONS.

And the cost of this ‘service’ is expensive.

The typical cost of a call to the service desk is £15-£20; while the cost of the desk-side engineer is £40-£60. Essentially an organisation could be paying as much as £80 to wait three days to resolve a single user’s problem.

Companies are essentially paying twice for a completely outdated approach to desk-side support.

Time for a Smart Solution

There has to be a better way of provisioning new and replacement IT equipment. One that minimises both user delay and wasted desk-side support time. There is. The latest generation of smart locker technology is set to transform the way end users access IT kit.

Of course, some companies have experimented with the use of vending machines for low cost items, such as iPhone chargers, cables and keyboards. But these are simply not suitable for high value items such as laptops, the items that can wreck productivity when they fail.

Furthermore, they have been stand-alone solutions, that have achieved both limited user adoption and failed to streamline desk-side support operations.

The key to achieving on demand access to equipment is the integration of the lockers into the ITSM. With this approach, there are no new databases and no new processes; no change to the established approvals or reports; ‘click & collect via a locker’ is simply added to the existing service options within the ITSM’s Request Portal, thus immediately encouraging users to adopt the new approach.

Customer First Experience

The fundamental goal of any desk-side support operation must be to resolve a user’s problem as fast and effectively as possible. In a world dominated by cloud based applications and data, replacing a laptop quickly with a brand-new machine can be a more cost effective and efficient model.

With this approach, when the user requests a new laptop, a click and collect option – including a list of nearby lockers with the right equipment – pops up.

As soon as a locker is selected, the user is emailed a barcode to collect the item from the locker. If the user happened to be standing by the locker at the time, the entire request-to-collect process could be completed in under a minute.

That’s 60 seconds – as opposed to 2.9 days. That is a massive productivity boost – and eradication of frustration – for any business.

Locker technology is inherently flexible. Lockers can even be shared by multiple smaller organisations (in shared office locations), while larger buildings can link up to six lockers together. They can be located in the lobbies of buildings which are not only manned by security guards but also typically open at weekends, ensuring staff have 24x7 access to equipment.

Each locker can have power and a network connection, ensuring kit is always powered up and ready to go; while each of the up to 34 doors on a locker can only be opened independently by scanning a barcode, delivering essential security.

With this approach, not only can the locker meet the needs of hundreds of users, but multiple support and hardware providers can deliver to and collect from the locker at any time, totally securely, enabling firms to use the lockers for anything from a brand new laptop to replacement chargers or fragile items like cameras and lenses.

Streamlined Desk-Side Support Model

The mutual benefit of this approach is that in addition to an improved customer experience, it also reduces the desk-side support workload, enabling deskside teams to focus on higher priority problems.

With requests for new equipment typically around one third of the demands placed on desk-side support, integrating smart lockers into an ITSM application can transform day to day activity, radically reducing cost to serve.

Administration can be minimised by using ticket information regarding the type of incident logged to automatically inform the relevant organisation that equipment is ready for collection.

In addition, asset management can be transformed by automatically updating delivery information provided by suppliers with laptop serial numbers and location, to minimise the risk of mislaid assets, a key consideration given the cost of lost equipment to businesses globally.

The direct integration between the smart lockers and ITSM applications also ensures stock levels within the lockers are continuously optimised to the organisation’s pre-defined rules. As soon as stock drops to the lowest threshold, the supplier is automatically emailed with a request for new equipment to be delivered to this location, with the required barcode for secure entry.

If applicable, this delivery can be combined with a collection of failed equipment awaiting repair, further streamlining processes. Critically, organisations now have a simple, effective and low cost model for extending support services from 8am-6pm to 24x7 or providing support to satellite offices without dedicated support engineers.

Conclusion

Clearly there is a massive need to update a twentieth century desk-side support model that has its roots in mainframes and green screens. Providing on demand access to replacement equipment offers a raft of benefits for users, organisations and IT service providers alike, benefits that deliver ROI within months.

It is estimated that organisations will save between 10 per cent and 20 per cent on end user support costs by adopting the innovative self- service approach smart lockers offer; while eradicating the unacceptable 2.9 day wait for equipment which will radically reduce the cost of productivity loss.

In today’s 24x7 economy, much needed innovation to IT desk-side support is long overdue. It is time to stop paying twice for an inadequate service and embrace a customer focussed model that delivers equipment on demand.

Anthony Lamoureux, Director, Velocity Smart TechnologyImage source: Shutterstock/everything possible

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