An Oasis of High-Touch IT Assistance

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Sometimes you just need someone you can talk to, someone who can show you how to wrangle your computer or your apps. You don’t want to make a phone call, watch a video, read an article, search a discussion board, query a database, or wait for a callback. You want that immediate help and personal touch from your IT guru.

The IT organization at VMware knows how busy employees are. It works to ensure those employees have the tools and services they need to remain productive, as evidenced by a solid online and phone-based help-desk service. But the VMware IT team believed that sometimes employees prefer a high-touch, on-the-spot, live-help experience—one similar to experiences they have as consumers, like at the Apple Genius Bar.

In late August of 2015, the IT End-User Services group introduced Oasis, a walk-up IT service center on the VMware campus in Palo Alto, California. Oasis techs now manage one-third of all help tickets opened in Palo Alto. Clearly the service is meeting a need.

An Integrated Experience, Served Up with a Scoop of Gelato

The build-out and launch of Oasis was a collaboration between the IT and the Real Estate and Workplace (REW) organization. Employees with IT issues can walk into Oasis, sign up for help on an Apple iPad, and sip espresso while they wait to be served. REW helped convert an underutilized café space into the Oasis help spot and hangout, retaining the coffee and gelato bar. Combining the IT service center with the café has proven a win-win for both organizations as well as for employees.

Fully staffed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oasis techs offer help to any employee on a first-come, first-served basis; no appointment is necessary. But there’s also an option for employees who prefer to schedule ahead. The IT Applications team developed a mobile app for making appointments with the Oasis staff. Both the walk-up and mobile scheduling and ticketing applications are integrated with the internal help-desk tool, so all cases are captured centrally and tracked to conclusion.

Thinking strategically, the IT Applications team also used the launch of Oasis as an opportunity to help drive employee adoption of the latest version of AirWatch® by VMware, which manages devices on the network and access to those devices. To do so, the team gated the download of the mobile Oasis reservation app with an AirWatch installation or upgrade. Users get one and then the other—and voila! They’re current on a key enterprise app and they conveniently have the IT help app on their smartphones.

Catalyzing Change

Three years a concept, Oasis materialized when VMware CIO Bask Iyer joined the company in May 2015. One Friday, dubbed “new idea day,” IT manager Terry Wong proposed the idea to the team. “Let’s do it,” said Iyer. “And make sure there’s a mobile app for it too.”

Iyer recognized the new service could be a quick win and relatively easy to implement. “People judge me on how well I do end-user computing,” says Iyer. “Nobody cares that I have 20 years of experience or run all of the VMware back end. If I can’t fix their PC problem promptly, they believe that I’m not doing a good job. So by launching Oasis and making sure IT is at the front end, we’ve created a great opportunity to build relationships with people.”

Iyer believes that CIOs must become advocates of IT evolution. “This means that I—and by extension, the entire IT organization—must actively lead a company-wide process of IT experimentation and iteration,” he says. “We need to be change agents. If we want our colleagues to witness IT change they can believe in, then IT needs to be plugged into current trends.” Trends such as those driven by the consumerization of IT and the consumer experience now reflected in an onsite work environment like Oasis.

Moving forward, Wong says the team is thinking about how to expand Oasis offerings to include training on new tools, and perhaps some automated no-fault self-service capabilities for tasks such as PC re-imaging.

Proof of Concept: Success!

Asked to rate their satisfaction with this new help-desk experience, VMware employees have responded with a 96 percent approval rating to date. Iyer is exploring options for expanding this next-generation support model to other VMware locations in 2016.

Employee Michelle Healey’s sentiments reflect those of the majority of employees who have visited Oasis: “The service you get here is great and immediate. It’s so easy to use, too. I love it.”

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