Posts Tagged ‘Richard forkan’

Do you really want to lose (inter)face?

February 15, 2010

Off-shoring of IT services and especially Service Desks is gaining popularity as Financial Directors continue to reduce IT spend and headcount. But before a decision as crucial as this can be taken it is important to assess the potential short, medium and long term impact on the user community and ultimately the bottom line.

Although the Service Desk is just a component part of IT as a whole, it remains the ‘face’ of IT and in most cases, the measurement point of both user perception of IT effectiveness and impact on the user’s ability to carry out his or her job. A good or bad Service Desk will strongly influence the user’s motivation to engage with it and ultimately, solve issues that are affecting productivity.

The Service Desk has evolved rapidly in recent years becoming ever more technical and at present, with the use of remote tools, a decent desk will be achieving in excess of 70% first time fix. The downside of this, however, is the fast reducing need for any face-to-face interaction between IT and its customers. Ten years ago an engineer would often visit the user’s desk to solve an issue, then it would just be a voice over the phone from another room in the same building and after that, perhaps from another company in the same city. Now users can find themselves contacting someone who isn’t even on the same continent.

From the users’ point of view, the lack of interface can lead to a real trust issue and a feeling of discomfort with the service they are receiving. Over the next few years it is likely that most organisations will change their desktop significantly adopting Windows 7, virtualisation, the latest versions of Office and Outlook and ever more complicated applications, as well as any number of scenarios involving personal devices. This means that users will require coaching, reassurance and genuine old-school technical support to see them through the period of change and beyond without impacting on their ability to perform well in their jobs.

Current experiences of offshore arrangements, however, show that this level of service is not always deliverable from overseas. Many organisations with a large contingent of fee-earning employees have already worked this out and are sticking with or returning to locally based highly technical Service Desk models that extract full value from the working day of the user.  Asking a Lawyer or Banker to put up with anything less than a first class service regardless of its reduced cost is a false economy – in fact, investing in the front line of IT can give valuable time back to the user that equates directly to the bottom line.

Regrettably, for those businesses that have already off-shored or are about to follow the model it may be too late. The cost in terms of business continuity as well as impact on P&L are likely to make reversing the decision hugely painful if not completely prohibitive.

It is evident that there are many benefits to outsourcing, but when taken to the extreme, as in the case of off-shoring, the apparent cost savings are potentially not what they seem. Before making a decision with such far-reaching consequences, careful thought needs to be given to the overall impact on the business, with particular attention to how end users of the service will be affected by the choice.

Richard Forkan

 

Richard Forkan, Director of Business Development

This article is featured on Director of Finance Online  http://www.dofonline.co.uk/governance/outsourcing-the-service-desk-021016.html

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A new lease of IT life

February 11, 2010

The latest Gartner predictions state that by 2012, 20% of businesses will own no IT assets. Is IT following the paths of cars and mobile phones and will we end up leasing it?

It is actually not difficult to imagine. The growth of utility computing means organisations are already purchasing software and storage on demand, leaving its management to a third party. They don’t only do it because it is convenient economically speaking, but for a more important reason – it spares them from the responsibility of managing something that is not the main function of their business. As the trend grows, technologies are given the right incentive and resources to mature and develop even more, and this is already starting to affect other markets: with the evolution of new technologies happening with increasing regularity the need to update or replace hardware and software becomes more business critical and this of course comes with a heavy financial burden. So it is not too far-fetched to imagine that in the future all hardware and software will be at some point leased and not owned, in order to make constant updates and replacements less expensive in the long run, at least for businesses.

It is not unusual for this to happen with high-evolution technology. In their first twenty years, mobile phones only changed in shape and size, but all models did the same thing: make and receive phone calls. At some point the SMS function was added but could often be activated on older machines, so one could have had the same mobile phone for a decade without being too ‘obsolete’. Then suddenly everything started to change at high speed: some mobiles had a camera, some had polyphonic ringtones, some had both, and when you bought the one which had both, another mobile would come out on the market with ‘real tones’, a much higher resolution camera and the new MMS function, and as soon as you become accustomed to this, there came the new ones with video function and internet browsing and so on. Leasing mobile phones, then, seemed really sensible for a company, to be free to upgrade to the new technology with ease and without having to purchase each phone at full price. Maintenance and substitution are easy when management is in the hands of the provider – you only pay monthly fees to have all the services you need.

The same happens with cars – a company surely wouldn’t use the same car for ten years, and wouldn’t want to spend an awful amount of money every couple of years to buy a new model and perhaps go through the struggle of selling the old one, not to mention repair, revision and all the rest. So it sounds reasonable to pay for a service that provides you with perfectly-working cars, substitute them as soon as they start being faulty, and cares for maintenance issues.

Gartner analysts are probably right in their prediction, then. Just like mobile phones and cars, many organisations will see ownership of their hardware as ‘nonstrategic’, as they define it, but it is important to note that this is actually nothing new: in the past, there have been attempts to rent IT equipment which in the end proved unsuccessful. It is difficult to know if the new technologies will change that fate, however what is obvious is that with organisation switching their IT spending toward operational rather than capital expenditure, it seems they are happy to delegate the responsibility of managing IT assets and services to the experts, in order to increase ROI and efficiency and, nonetheless, to be free to focus on the important parts of their business – making it as successful as it can be.

Richard Forkan

 

Richard Forkan, Director of Business Development

A shorter version can be found in the comment section of CRN – Channelweb:  http://www.channelweb.co.uk/crn/comment/2257649/lease-life