Today’s enterprise help desks are seeing some huge shifts in how they operate.
New technologies are being developed constantly, allowing for broader services and more intelligent monitoring. Priorities have been changing too, particularly with more of a focus on the employee experience of the help desk.
What are the current key trends impacting enterprise help desks?
Automation has been a hot topic in recent years. As more companies see the benefits and relevance of automation to their businesses, that emphasis continues.
One thing that is getting more attention is the need for “smart” automation. While your help desk could simply buy up automation tools to work with the processes it already has, this is not an efficient means of automating. “Smart automation” means that you look at your processes first. You assess them for efficiency and rebuild or re-design those processes that need it. Automation comes after this, so you’re automating a process that has been made as efficient as possible already.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is growing part of this trend. This is generally used for automating repetitive daily tasks, especially where they don’t require a high level of skill. As Service Desk Institute says:
“By utilising RPA, service desk staff are able to intelligently optimize workloads and effectively automate tasks that otherwise would require low-value human intervention. This allows more resource time to be spent on more valuable and proactive tasks.”
More enterprise help desks are exploring automation in this intentional way. Smart automation means they can operate at optimum efficiency right from the onset of their new technology.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), has been a growing trend, but behind this technology is a vital reliance on strong business intelligence. AI utilizes machine learning, which means what it learns is only as good as the source data it reads from.
An example that is relevant to many enterprise help desks is the use of chat bots. These can be very helpful and efficient when they’re operating well, allowing users to get quick answers to questions and freeing up the time of agents to answer more in-depth queries. However, chatbots aren’t so great if they don’t have a lot of data to learn from.
Some problems with chatbots include not understanding questions or not understanding context where that is relevant to the query. While chatbots are still “learning”, it can mean a frustrating user experience. In a nutshell, the business intelligence behind them isn’t extensive enough.
Some larger enterprises have had success quickly with chatbots, but their main advantage is generally the amount of data they have available for the chatbot to learn from. With a focus on quality business intelligence and good data, enterprises of all sizes can have better results using forms of AI.
Business intelligence must be strong for support desks to benefit from AI
On the subject of artificial intelligence, the technology is moving and developing in ways that will be useful for enterprise help desks.
For one thing, in companies where there is plenty of good business intelligence for the machine learning component, AI is becoming very good at accurately understanding how regular people describe their IT issues. Using millions of data points to learn, the AI can take over tasks that would otherwise require a lot of input from human operators.
When AI works well, it can also save on costs, particularly in terms of how long tickets take to resolve and the number of hours required to solve it. Purely from a business sense, this can be good for enterprises that want to keep staffing costs at a minimum.
Virtual Support Agents (VSAs) are the next step from chatbots and are becoming more widely used. A VSA is a different sort of bot in that it can take support farther, by taking action on behalf of the user. For example, it might reset passwords or carry out changes that restore services. This AI is usually smart enough to categorize and prioritize issues, escalating those that need it.
The United States Airforce unveiled a new generation of help desk, powered by AI:
“That was really about reimagining how we do help desk services. If you think about Genius Bars with Apple, how do you build that next generation of service desk that is artificial intelligence-enabled, tier zero?” Marion said on Ask the CIO. “That went live for about 70,000 airmen with a ServiceNow platform underpinning how do you work trouble tickets with speed and agility and how do you get tier zero help so as a user I can actually fix more of my problems, and starting to enable some of the Genius Bar concepts. Instead of additional duties as assigned, it’s actually trained and armed people that can come in and help remedy any problems.”
Enterprise service management is driven by the people that make it work. Not only that, in most parts of the world there is a war for good talent for the enterprise help desk. Organizations are looking for new ways to attract good employees, so employee experience is becoming more of a focus.
Survey results tell us it should be. Employee wellbeing in ITSM is not the best, with around 83% of respondents feeling undervalued in their jobs and 71% saying that working in IT has adversely affected their wellbeing. It’s time for IT, including enterprise management, to step up.
There are many possible initiatives that companies can employ to make their workplace more desirable. One of those is breaking down the silos that exist between teams. Here’s what Enterprise CIO has to say about it:
“2020 is expected to be the year for collaboration between service departments, a key component of ESM.
This doesn’t necessarily mean merging into one huge supporting department, it could be as simple as a shared self-service portal.
Not only is improving employee satisfaction a driver of ESM, but the likes of automation are too. Keeping processes simple and efficient is getting rid of time wasting, eliminating the duplication of processes or systems, and above all else, presenting to the customer a 360-degree experience, rather than the cumbersome headache of siloed departments.”
A newfound productivity focus is tied in with the employee experience. It’s the responsibility of IT to own the tools and procedures that drive productivity for the enterprise, so a laser focus on having the right tools, providing better support and generally driving productivity through a better service is needed.
A productivity focus means choosing the right software and support platform. The idea is to make support easier for both the operator and the user. Simple interfaces, along with new technology such as automation and AI will help.
These are five trends that we see happening right now in the world of enterprise help desks. While it’s reasonable to assume that most will be driven by new technology, that’s not always the case.
One thing all providers of service or support should value are the people who keep their help functions going. In the increasingly competitive world of IT talent, we’re seeing more focus go to improving the experience of skilled workers, making the workplace more attractive and streamlining how they get work done.
It’s a smart approach: focusing on how to improve that experience should result in a better experience for all stakeholders.
Katie is our writer who specializes in technology and travel. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her on a trail, taking photos.