I took a look some years back at how Cisco deployed to both Microsoft and Apple PCs and why the Apple PCs were cheaper to support. I thought a similar approach to empowering employees to do much of their own support would lead to not only lower costs but higher satisfaction. Since then, one of the tools I’ve been fascinated with is BMC’s MyIT.
Buchanan Technologies is a service provider that was deploying MyIT in schools and found a creative way to share the relatively significant resulting savings with its clients. This week, I had a chat with some folks at Buchanan.
Let me start by sharing what I learned years ago about the Apple Cisco deployment (this was long before the Apple/Cisco partnership). Those with Microsoft PCs had the full-on support package with internal and external resources available for handling support issues. But if an employee had a Mac, he or she had to agree to contribute to the support and IT then just hosted a forum where Apple users could ask questions and get help from other Apple users. Not only did Apple users often get their questions answered more quickly, they became part of a tight-knit community of folks who shared a love for Apple.
So the result helped raise their status, and generally gave them a higher level of service from people who often better understood the problem. They became part of an elite group of folks who often hung out with each other, like a company support group that I expect ended up supporting more than just Apple products over time.
MyIT is kind of like an Amazon Web Services portal for users. MyIT helps users provision, solve problems, and, generally, cuts support costs, increases satisfaction with IT and makes users feel like they have more control. Buchanan is rolling MyIT out to a number of its clients, including 35,000 students at one of the colleges. Reception, as you would expect, is strong.
Given the fact that the number of incidents is dropping rapidly and that Buchanan is paid per incident, you’d think using MyIT would be counter-strategic. But Buchanan splits the savings with the customer. Buchanan handles fewer incidents and the customer pays more per incident, but the total costs go down so both parties get more profit. This is the very definition of a win/win. So far, the incidents have dropped by 50 percent, giving the client a reduction of 25 percent of the price and the vendor 50 percent of the cost.
Additional reported benefits are that the students are learning to collaborate through the tool and gaining skills that will likely help them when they enter the industry. These are practical skills that colleges often don’t teach. The tool eliminated forms, and apparently was integrated nicely into the overall BMC Remedy solution.
As you’d likely suspect, Buchanan is a BMC Remedy shop.
Part of what I think will define IT shops of the future, and this hit me while I was reading John Sculley’s new book Moonshot!, is the effort to give users better tools to control their environment. It’s why Amazon Web Services is successful and service providers like Buchanan coupled with products like MyIT are showcasing this trend. An employee who feels he has control, is happier and more productive; firms with happy productive employees are more successful. The service organizations that make this happen are better supported and more greatly appreciated.
So, in the end, the results that Buchanan is reporting aren’t surprising. What is surprising is how long it took us to get to a place where an effort like this could gain traction.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+.