Waking Up to Walk-up

Get ready: IT walk-up service centers are in your organization’s future.

Ask three analysts what the biggest IT trends are, and you’ll likely get four answers. There’s always some new revolution, transformation or paradigm shift on the horizon.

That being said, both analysts and CIOs would likely agree that two trends are profoundly affecting the workplace. First is the consumerization of IT — where end users demand easy-to-use software and mobile apps along with fast, efficient and personalized technical support services.

Second is the rocketing use of mobile technology, propelled by the bring your own device (BYOD) movement. By 2020, there will be 105 million mobile workers in the United States alone, according to IDC™. And 72 percent of employees who use smartphones for work personally select them, Forrester® reports.

Those forces are pushing a fundamental change in IT support. Traditional service desks, while still vital to supporting end users, aren’t typically optimized to deliver a consumer-like experience or address the needs of mobile users. In response, more organizations are rolling out walk-up service centers. In fact, Gartner® estimates that 50 percent of large enterprises will offer walk-up services within the next three years. Chances are, one of those organizations will be yours.

Walk-up Drivers

There are good reasons for this shift. “In the past, every end user got one type of desktop or laptop, and one set of software to do their jobs,” says Tom Vetterani, vice president of strategy and messaging for CompuCom®. “That made it easy for IT to govern the environment.”

But as BYOD continues to grow, “the old way of doing things has gone out the window,” Vetterani says. It’s not unusual for a worker to regularly rely on a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone. While use of desktops will increase only 15 percent in the next three years, use of tablets will leap 75 percent, according to a recent survey by Spiceworks™. And the average smartphone owner runs 26.8 apps per month, according to Nielsen®.

Service desks now have to support a plethora of devices, operating systems and apps,” Vetterani explains. “That adds cost, and it means end users don’t always get the support they need.” As a result, “there has been a decline in the way end users perceive the quality and value of traditional service desk support.”

Mobile Statistics

Here to Stay

IT walk-up service centers give end users 24/7/365 access to support for the devices they carry. When technicians aren’t available, end users can drop off devices in secure lockers for later pickup. Multiple zones within the facility let employees have face-to-face conversations with techs, get training on devices and apps, “test drive” the latest equipment, or purchase accessories such as memory sticks and power or charging cords from a vending machine.

Service desks will remain important for PC, network connectivity and enterprise application issues. “The ratio will probably end up being 70 percent service desk and 30 percent walk-up services,” Vetterani predicts. “But in many cases the walk-up service center will become the first level of support.”

Walk-up services are well-suited to any corporate location with 1,000 or so employees. They’re being embraced by financial services, retail and pharmaceutical enterprises, “and many other industries,” Vetterani says. “CompuCom has implemented more than 30 of our Solution Café® IT walk-up service centers to date, and we’re in the process of building nearly 30 more. There’s definitely pent-up demand for this.”

Adopters of walk-up services have measured significant reductions in support costs, increases in end-user satisfaction and improvements in technician efficiency, Vetterani reports. Gartner found that walk-up experts can handle about 15 to 20 support tickets a day where service desk experts might manage only five to 10. It’s a triple win for the user, the support organization and the enterprise.

“Mobile technology is here to stay,” Vetterani concludes. “So are IT walk-up services centers. They’re a natural evolution of the service desk. And they’ll become a mainstay of corporate America.”

(Click to enlarge infographic)

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