Get ready for a Genius Bar at work
CIOs would do well to tap into Apple's retail flare and improve IT's sour relationship with the business side. Specifically, Apple's super-friendly Genius Bar fosters a cozy connection with patrons. This stands in stark contrast to the often hair-pulling customer interaction of a traditional help desk call.
So why not an enterprise Genius Bar at your company?
"It's a good face lift," says Mike Burgio, vice president of managed services operations at Inergex, an IT services firm.
Apple iPhones, iPads and retail stores have redefined people's relationship with technology, which, in turn, has helped drive the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement. Rather than lament the loss of control that goes along with BYOD, CIOs can take a page from the BYOD playbook and turn their help desk into a retail-like service desk.
An enterprise Genius Bar is basically a walk-in center for employees to not only service their BYOD phones and tablets but also check out the latest gadgets on the market, receive tutorials on enterprise apps, and chat about where cool tech is heading. This doesn't mean that IT workers will have to wear Apple's trademark blue Genius shirts, but they will need retail people skills.
Enterprise Genius Bars aren't pie-in-the-sky concepts. Tech companies such as SAP have already built such next-generation service centers around the world. There are even a few of SAP's "mobile IT solution centers" in the United States.
[Here's a video of SAP's flagship center at its headquarters in Waldorf, Germany.]
SAP aside, most companies are still in the planning stages if they're evaluating an enterprise Genius Bar at all, says Burgio. A Genius Bar is a significant cultural shift for the IT department. If handled poorly, there's high risk of failure, he says.
Burgio talked to CIO.com about the advantages, potential pitfalls and current state of the enterprise Genius Bar concept.
CIO.com: What's the payback of an enterprise Genius Bar?
Mike Burgio: With the traditional service desk model, people are driven by internal service level agreements (SLAs) and by looking at metrics. What are our hold times? What are our call times? But enterprise Genius Bars bring about better relationships. There's no clock running. Customers are helped from end to end, even if it doesn't have anything to do with what they came in for.
I rarely see people complain about bringing their devices into an Apple store, compared to the dread of calling the service desk. It's not just getting service; rather it's an educational experience for them. It's an opportunity to look at and touch the latest and greatest things.
CIO.com: Are you seeing a lot of enterprise Genius Bars?
Burgio: I'm not seeing the shift happen, but I am seeing the planning. Not a lot of our customers are executing it right now, but you'll see the big shift next year.
There's a connection between the consumer-driven BYOD and the enterprise Genius Bar. By 2016-2017, you're going to see a drastic decrease in the amount of IT assets that people are supplying to their end users. BYOD is going to take off, and IT is going to be pushed by their end users to supply the enterprise Genius Bar or something like it.
CIO.com: Who will be the early adopters?
Burgio: It's going to be the people in finance. A lot of changes seem to take place there anyways, such as regulations. Five years ago, finance companies were being told that they had to stick with products like BlackBerry for security reasons. That totally changed. Now the finance industry is starting to have all these different devices. People are usually more mobile in finance, too.
Finance companies are letting employees bring their own devices, and these devices are being utilized more. So they're the ones that'll be shifting to a lot of enterprise Genius Bars.
CIO.com: The shift away from the traditional help desk seems like a giant leap. How should CIOs get started?
Burgio: People have to look at what they have at their current service desk.
Are they taking the majority of calls about these types of [consumer] devices? Or are the calls being re-routed somewhere else? If they're already taking these calls on, they will just have to shift the resourcing from, say, 10 people sitting at a service desk to seven people sitting there and three sitting at an enterprise service bar.
It really just depends on the amount of users on these devices, in determining how quickly you're going to have to get up to speed. I also think it's going to expand beyond somebody just sitting at a location to a full service, where people are even getting the attention of someone coming out to visit them.
CIO.com: Do CIOs need to re-think their staff?
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