Apple’s Genius Bar Model Setting Example for Corporate Help Desk
One of the growing concerns for IT departments as many iPhones and then iPads crept into the workplace was how to support the personal devices and apps for employees. This week, security vendor, Fortinet, identified that most millennial workers feel that support and security for their mobile devices and other technologies is their responsibility and not the responsibility of an employer or the IT department.
This means that many IT departments need to rethink what technical support means. The concept isn’t new as various studies have shown that members of Gen-Y prefer to engage support resources using a range of technologies beyond a help desk phone line including email, texts, and social networks. As the new vision of support emerges, it seems that one model for the future of the help desk I the Genius Bar from Apple’s retail stores. Some companies have already experienced success experimenting with a Genius Bar type service. An example would be Starbucks, who initiated such a program and made its results public knowledge.
The idea is quite shocking to some longtime IT professionals, but it does present a unique mechanism in dealing with the personal/business challenges that come up around Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) models and the emerging Bring Your Own Apps (BYOA) concept. Similar to a Genius Bar, support professionals are hard at work to resolve issues while not claiming ownership of the technology they are supporting. The whole mindset is different from a random IT staffer who swoops in after receiving a call about an issue, taking a user’s personal device, and changing various configuration options (possibly without permission).
The Genius Bar approach here acknowledges that there is a personal/professional partnership inherent in environments involving BYOD or BYOA. It also allows IT to have a more friendly and social presence, that can help engage users and offer a chance to try to educate them about security and other issues. This kind of model can also serve as a setting for users to learn more about mobile options and technologies so that they can make more informed decisions about what to buy and use.
One of the suggestions offered by mobility expert Eric Lai is that companies need to have someone take ownership of mobility and related issues. The idea of a Chief Mobile Office as a new type of executive has been afloat in the business world for quite some time. Even if companies don’t opt to create a new C-level executive to oversee mobile and consumer technologies, creating a team to explore and manage issues regarding this area is a valuable idea to consider. This team would ideally include IT professionals as well as employees from other parts of the organization.
At the end of it all, similar to many consumerization of IT trends, user support is an area that companies will need to rethink and restructure over the coming years. It seems like Apple has it down right and is headed in the right direction going forward and more companies might look to adapt.
Source: Eric Lai