When you conjure a mental image of an IT helpdesk what springs to mind? The comic scenes witnessed in smash TV sitcoms like ‘The IT Crowd’ or a vast open plan office packed full of grey, bland hexagonal booths with call-handlers eagerly watching the clock countdown to quitting time?

Sad to say, the reality is probably closer to the latter than the former. In an environment where innovative technology should be at the heart of a service, the quality of workplace IT has unfortunately changed very little in recent times. Surprising really considering we’re in a digital age and our children will be at a level of ‘technophile’ by the time they hit high school that we can only dream of! However, the fact that we’ve reached a state of awareness that acknowledges digital innovation and the need for a shift in attitudes to apply these new technologies, means that it is surely our responsibility to forge the way and energise IT workforces. Should we not be ones to change the way they operate to not only increase productivity – but also to change the working experience and the end user computing experience?

One such organisation that was of a similar forward thinking mindset was London Gatwick Airport – a metropolis of air, road and rail transport links that houses a myriad of retail outlets, shops, hotels, bars and restaurants, each relying on IT as an integral part of everyday business. Roll back the clock a few years and all was not well with the IT support and services helpdesk that had to service over 23,000 people 24 hours a day, seven days a week 365 days a year!

Always up for a challenge!

We first engaged with London Gatwick Airport in 2012 to address a complex IT system that was deemed no longer fit for purpose. The enormity of changing the IT system was eclipsed only by the need to change end user perception of IT support and services. So deep seated was the dissatisfaction that we knew very early on that it was going to be a huge challenge - but never ones to shy away from a challenge, we tackled the situation with gusto. Velocity Director and Interim Head of Infrastructure Delivery, Anthony Lamoureux sums up the situation perfectly:

“The [previous IT] project had been running for seven months and had, in its goal to try and deliver quickly, fallen into a series of common IT project pitfalls. As a result, the project was already over its initial budget and I estimated would be more than six months late. It was heading for disaster.” 

With an ambitious CIO at the helm in Michael Ibbitson, together with the Velocity team, we set out to address the growing sense of employee frustration and disillusionment with IT support and services and transform the IT systems in use.

First off, we needed to understand just how bad the perception of the IT support was at London Gatwick, so we rolled out a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to find our starting point. The results were… enlightening, but before we could act on the findings of the NPS survey, and in order for any real change to take hold, we needed to design a Change Management Plan and encourage a willingness within everyone involved to be adaptable and flexible.

To address any potential failures we employed a “people-centric” approach, dealing in plain English and ditching the ‘tech speak’ jargon that can so often leave people feeling alienated. This feeling of alienation and disillusionment had started to creep into other areas of the business and time was being eaten up dealing with supplier issues rather than focusing on the real customers - the end-users, internal business unit customers, and passengers.

It was a period of discontent, but it wasn’t a hopeless case. Through the adoption of fundamental changes to how the IT helpdesk operated, the end user computing experience of London Gatwick Airport’s IT support and services was transformed – turning those involved on the IT support helpdesk from zeroes to heroes in an incredibly short period of time.

file-2293404494To read the story in full of how the end user experience was revolutionised at London Gatwick Airport, then please click on the button below.

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“Successful implementation of improved IT represents a golden opportunity for businesses to evolve, grow and accelerate their activity and profits - providing they recognise the paradigm shift in attitude required to achieve it.”

The Velocity Team



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