Click and collect comes to desk-side IT support

Velocity Smart is a new company hoping to revolutionise desk-side support by removing the need for IT staff to physically visit employees’ desks

A new company has taken the Amazon Locker click and collect principal and applied it to desk-side IT support.

Powered by ServiceNow, Velocity Smart Locker is designed to speed up the process of providing hardware to users when their company-issued equipment fails or they need peripherals.

Speaking at the launch, Velocity Smart Technology director Stuart McDonald said: “Everyone gets a feeling of dread when their technology fails and they have a deadline. It is important to make sure their IT gets fixed as quickly as possible.”

According McDonald, workers’ expectations of business technology are higher today than ever before, due to their experience of the services they use in their personal lives, such as Amazon, with the simplicity of click and collect purchasing.

But in business, IT support is extremely sluggish, he said, and it can take “over two days for a desktop support request to be resolved”.

Hardware in a vending machine

In 2013, when the company started, McDonald said there was no cost-effective way to deliver IT hardware to users, on-demand, in a cost-effective way.

But with the emergence of enterprise cloud computing and ServiceNow, the company believes it is now the right time to go to market with its Smart Locker product, which is effectively a secure vending machine.

“The benefit over a traditional vending machine is that the Smart Locker can hold laptops, monitors and projectors,” said McDonald. 

The bullet-proof and tamper-proof Velocity Smart Locker vending machine uses a barcode reader to enable users to open a locker door using a barcode emailed from ServiceNow to their smartphone.

The approximate cost of the Velocity Smart Locker is £900 per month, or £26 per day. This is a more cost-effective option than desk-side support, according to McDonald, given that an average desk-side support ticket costs £40-£60 and takes, on average, 2.9 days to resolve.

The locker provides power and connectivity to the devices, allowing them to be configured with a system image and ready to use once the collected by the user.

“Microsoft SCCM [System Centre Configuration Manager] can be used to download images to the laptop, which is automated through ServiceNow,” said McDonald. “As long as your data is backed up, we can re-image a laptop with your configuration.”

Shrink support costs

The company believes Smart Locker could reduce user support costs by 20%. As an example of potential savings, McDonald said losing a power supply lead would take time out of the business, whereas a quick replacement could save time and money.

Rather than waiting for a replacement laptop from IT, McDonald said users of the ServiceNow portal could issue a request for a hardware replacement or a break-fix request. “We can identify which items are available and offer an opportunity to click and collect, a bit like Amazon click and collect.”

“Most businesses do not prioritise laptop replacement, unless you are a VIP, so it is likely to take days,” said McDonald. But with Velocity Smart Locker, a new laptop with the user’s system image can be ready to collect in about 45 minutes.

McDonald said the company plans to ramp up production over the next few months and will begin rolling pout proof of concepts.

Among the potential opportunities is working with IT service providers, which could manage replacement laptop inventory, fix hardware and collect broken machines via the Velocity Smart Locker.

“It requires five IT staff to provide 24x7 dedicated support. Now you only need half a person,” said McDonald, adding that an IT service provider operating 10 Velocity Smart Lockers serving 50 requests per week could save £1.2m a year.

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