IT service desks have more technologies at their disposal than ever to help IT support teams achieve all three of “better, faster, cheaper.” In recent times, artificial intelligence (AI) has generated a lot of buzz for its potential IT service management (ITSM) and technical support benefits. However, there also many other modern software tools and solutions that will help redefine and transform your IT service desk, greatly improving service experience, while also cutting costs.
For example, there’s what I call the “IT support technology staples,” which includes remote control, self-service, and chat capabilities. These capabilities, which can be part of comprehensive Remote Support solutions and other tools, will help your IT service desk to deliver against the “better, faster, cheaper” mantra. Then there’s traditional automation, including service orchestration, and platform capabilities for both ITSM and enterprise service management. AI-based capabilities have the potential to further extend the benefits of all of these other capabilities.
This blog highlights the most powerful feature categories that you should consider adding to your service or help desk to improve performance and realize cross-platform synergies, while minimizing administrative overhead and other costs.
4 Technical Support Capabilities to Improve Service Desk Effectiveness & Efficiency
1.The IT support technology staples
There’s a lot that could be covered here, including ITIL-aligned ITSM tool suites and integrated collaboration solutions. There are also different triggers for the use of these technologies. For example, the service desk analyst will likely invoke remote control, whereas the employee/help desk customer will decide if they want to use self-service or chat in their pursuit of IT support.
Within this category, there are many potential obstacles to employee adoption to consider and address. For example, employees/help desk customers may not see any obvious benefit in self-service versus existing support channels. Perhaps they find self-service impractical or confusing to access and use. Or, perhaps the available knowledge base articles are insufficient and/or unhelpful.
Importantly, even if these technology-based capabilities are working well for your IT service desk, the lessons learned in their successful adoption also need to be applied to the use of newer technologies.
2. Traditional automation
As with category #1, I’m not going to assume that automation is already optimized for most IT service desks. “More automation” continues to be a top priority, according to IT service desk surveys.
Importantly, the benefits of traditional automation, including service orchestration, go deeper than simply enhancing IT support operations through being faster and cheaper. Although, the other benefits can also be viewed as contributing to one or more of “better, faster, cheaper” too. For example, automation doesn’t always need to directly replace discrete human activities, it can also be used to bridge existing automation-based activities – saving time and cost, perhaps with a better service experience too.
The consistency delivered by automation confers many benefits—from reducing human errors, to expediting workflows, to reducing costs. All of these contribute strongly to an improved support experience for both the IT support technicians and their customers. For example, the automation of mundane tasks can result in happier and more motivated employees. The automation of complex tasks can even mean that new service desk staff can be more quickly onboarded more.
3. Platform capabilities
One trend underway in the ITSM is that traditional “ITSM tools” are evolving into service management, workflow automation, or service automation platforms. These platforms allow the creation of business-specific solutions for both ITSM and other business function operations to support enterprise service management or digital transformation.
Importantly, these platforms offer low-code and no-code creation capabilities to different business functions that empower non-developers. The design, delivery, and modification of automated workflows or apps can all be executed more rapidly by leveraging platform-level functionality, such as automation, notifications, intelligence (covered next), and reporting and analytics.
The more advanced vendors of service management platforms also offer pre-built business-function processes like employee onboarding.
4. AI-based capabilities
With regards to the service desk, AI and automation should be thought of in tandem. Why? Because, for many ITSM use cases, while AI might decide on “what to do next,” it’s automation that’s used to “do that next thing.” Hence, it’s often “AI and automation” that will make the difference to IT service desk operations and outcomes, not AI alone.
A good example of AI and automation helping with the “heavy lifting” is intelligent ticket processing – where machine learning, natural language understanding, and automation are used to automate the categorization, prioritization, assignment, and, potentially, actioning of incidents and requests based on historical data patterns. AI will know whether a given situation requires human support or not, and who needs to be involved. Importantly, it will get this right much more quickly and reliably– than we humans can. Thus, service desk analysts are liberated to focus on more interesting and valuable work.
Then, there’s also helping with the “heavy thinking.” Where the help from ITSM tool suites that has traditionally made IT support staff “better versions of themselves” is extended further with AI and automation. For example, virtual agents that augment service desk analyst knowledge and capabilities. This isn’t just the provisioning of relevant knowledge when needed, it can also be prompted or automatic actions, such as closing completed tickets.
Take the Next Steps to Modernizing Your Service Desk
There are many opportunities for technology to galvanize your IT service desk to achieve “better, faster, and cheaper.” To get this right, you should tune the design, and delivery of any new technological capabilities based on the outcomes your organization needs and the ITSM industry’s many learnings from the last decade. For a more in-depth exploration down this path, check out my on-demand webinar: How to Cut Your IT Service Desk Costs While Improving its Service Experience
Stephen Mann, IT Service Management Expert and Principal Analyst and Content Director at ITSM.tools
Principal and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm ITSM.tools. Also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals.
Previously held positions in IT research and analysis (at IT industry analyst firms Ovum and Forrester and the UK Post Office), IT service management consultancy, enterprise IT service desk and IT service management, IT asset management, innovation and creativity facilitation, project management, finance consultancy, internal audit, and product marketing for a SaaS IT service management technology vendor.