JV: I want to go circle back to some stuff that you wrote on TechWell. You wrote a recent story on the idea of concierge tech support. I thought that was a very entertaining story. Could you just give a little brief summary of what that is for some of the people who may not have read that column?
EB: First of all, anyone who hasn't read the column, shame on you. The idea here is that there are help desk groups in 90 percent of the companies; what happens is that a senior executive calls them (the help desk) and they (his issues) get handled a little bit differently than everybody else.
The president of the company calls up and says, “I just bought a home on Cape Cod. I'm going to be working there three days a week during the summer. I need someone from the help desk to drive down to Cape Cod for a day to make sure I can properly connect it to the internal business systems.” Or, the VP of sales walks in and says, "Hey, I just got a new iPad. Make this thing work for me. I don't care what you have to do, but make it work."
This is for senior executives and certain other professionals—for example, it could be portfolio managers within asset management firms, chief rainmakers in a law firm, doctors or faculty, people who are very senior and in high respect in their specific industry—if they walked down to the IT help desk and say “Make this work.” They might say “Make this work at my house, because that's where I need to be able to connect to if I am at home and an emergency happens.”
That’s what concierge support is. It's a recognition that these people get special handheld support whereas your typical help desk call is maybe twenty minutes. In this case, these types of calls can be effectively a whole day or more.
JV: The idea of this is not necessarily fighting back against this extra time. It's a given that you're going to have to do this extra time.
EB: Yes. It's a given that it happens. Therefore, it should be given a name, because if it didn't have a name, it can be given its own budget item.
Additionally, what happens is that you can remove it from the typical help desk performance networks that you keep track of. I'll give you an example. Let's say that during a given week, you did twenty-five help desk calls, twenty-four of them took twenty minutes apiece and one of them took a day-and-a-half. If you include the one that was a day-and-a-half, because they have to drive down to Cape Cop to make sure that the president can securely connect into the company from his office at home, and you add that one in, what's the average help desk time? Instead of being twenty minutes, it's maybe forty-five minutes or however the math works. It really hurts the IT help desk manager's ability to properly measure and track productivity of his or her team because of these larger instances that are sort of one-knocks that always seem to hit at one time or another. It's really a re-categorization and a budgeting and measurement for it.