Why Shadow IT is Good for Service Providers.

Hidden somewhere in the line of business (LOB), Shadow IT is playing an important role in delivering measurable and positive outcomes for the business. Historically, Shadow IT was that person embedded in the line of business providing service and support that usually circumvented traditional IT support channels. What they demonstrated was a deep intimacy in the functions around the LOB and an aptitude for solving IT problems. Usually a walk up and shoulder tap away, they provided immediate, personalized service and attempted to solve the problem in the first time. With a deep wealth of tribal knowledge, they also provided preventative and proactive support as they could identify emerging trends localized to their community of interest. Many times they were able to direct users to remediate problems on their own, usually by publishing a list of common fixes or communicating a set of common steps. As the LOB would attest they had higher degrees of satisfaction and customer intimacy with this service model. Either driven by the perception of improving cost or having better controls, many IT groups reigned in Shadow IT, either by eliminating any kind of elevated privileges they might have or by assimilating the person into the functional IT group. While some would have argued that this move was done to improve operational efficiencies, what they failed to understand was the fact that it was still a service business and still needed a way to delight the end-user.

Could this intimate service model be sustained? One look at Apple and its Genius Bar shows you how high touch, customer intimate service settings can be highly successful. Not only were people willing to wait for this experience, they were willing to wait for extended periods of time to have the problem resolved the first time. But for service providers, sustaining the model meant not only offering this customer intimate setting, but also being able to provide this in a cost effective manner. At Atos we began modeling this concept some time ago at a number of customers as the Atos Performance Bar. Ideal for the campus setting or HQ building, once again was the enterprise user able to do a walk up and do a shoulder tap and get immediate service. The positive impact to customer satisfaction was instantaneous, as expected customer intimacy and context made for a better experience. However, the question arose could the service be cost effective in light of customer’s desires to lower costs through outsourcing? What Atos had to do was rethink the traditional roles in the outsourcing relationship, especially those servicing the Workplace Bar. We know from modeling the service there would be peaks in the service hours and that staffing would have to match the demand to meet expectations, we also knew that during the off-hours that work would have to redirected to this highly skilled work force. To solve the efficiency problem, Atos employed a new kind of worker, one that was comfortable working face-to-face, being dispatched to service a user on campus, and taking a call redirected from the service desk. We also needed problem solvers that could take the tribal knowledge from the Workplace Bar and turn it into actionable information.

Experience during the days of Shadow IT and from the Workplace Bar demonstrated that intimacy and context would build enough trust that the same users that were comfortable in the walk up experience were just as comfortable with self-service. Self-service, long a desire of both internal IT and service providers, was always difficult to achieve, not because there weren’t available technologies, but more so because users were reluctant to adopt this change. This continued evolution in the service model represented a larger change in thinking, greater customer intimacy would lead to greater customer satisfaction, but also this intimacy and trust could build a culture were the end-users was willing to self-help and problem solve. Also a new wealth of data was entering the service desk and changing the way the interactions were managed. So much so that this change had Atos rethinking the Service Desk itself. With these new channels, changing behaviors of the end-users it became evident that the service desk was evolving, and for Atos it has evolved into the Interaction Center. The Interaction Center is the service and analytic hub for the IT organization that supports the service experience for all users. What Shadow IT had taught Atos was while the service was important, it was how the interaction was managed that mattered, and properly engaged interactions lead to delighted users.