By Dick Stark
Network World reported last Wednesday from the Gartner Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit on Gartner’s “top 10” list of the most significant emerging trends that will impact data centers and information technology used by businesses and government from now into the next four or five years. The list included the usual suspects of mobility, hybrid clouds, and big data. Number nine on the list is “the end of your service help desk.” That caught my attention since RightStar has spent the past nine years designing and implementing service desks for companies and government agencies.
What Gartner Chief of Research Dave Cappuccio actually said is: “Mobility, consumerization of IT, the cloud — all of these trends are leading to another trend, the possible end to the traditional helpdesk. It may be ending, or morphing. The emerging trend is more reliance on crowdsourcing, such as the friend who knows the answer, the Web resources of vendors or blogs, and it all may mean a “transition strategy” related to how IT troubles are handled.” While his “end of the help desk” trend may be somewhat exaggerated, certainly help desks must change and are changing to keep up with user needs and evolving habits. Here is my list help desk trends that must change.
(1) Self-service. Nearly all help desks have implemented some sort of self-service portal in varying degrees of sophistication ranging from on-line ticket entry to knowledge bases to service requests to service catalogs. And most commercial based help desk software is evolving such that the service request module, and not the agent screen is the centerpiece of the application. Software such as BMC’s Remedyforce even comes with a built in chat feature to allow for a rapid-fire response to any type of query. Also coming is integration to social networks. It’s a self-service world and the good news is that self-service reduces the number and duration of calls, which allow help desks to do more with less.
(2) Knowledge Management (KM). KM software and knowledge packs have been around for years and should be a critical success factor for all help desks. Most organizations have a raft of company specific information, not available on Google, which needs to be readily accessible to users with a need for that information. The return on a KM process and software investment pays dividends in terms of improved problem and incident resolution especially when offered to all users. Unfortunately, some KM projects fail because the data quickly becomes outdated.
(3) Problem Management. Often overlooked, Problem Management must be a keystone habit of all help desks as the potential impact, especially when linked to incident, change and knowledge management is enormous. The problem and the resolution should be identified, ranked and readily accessible.
One thing is certain: IT is becoming more and not less complex so continuous help desk process and technology improvement will return significant value to the organization. The result: reduced costs, increased agent and employee productivity, and overall, improved customer satisfaction. If help desks can’t or don’t evolve to compete with Google or other crowdsourcing technologies, then the end of the help desk as we know it may be at hand.