What is IT support?

What's the difference between a help desk, a service desk, and technical support?

While the terms are often used interchangeably, there is an important distinction between a help desk, a service desk, and technical support:

  • A help desk is set up to offer quick support and rectification to the most basic of technical problems (tier 1 support), including password issues, software and application support, and server backups.
  • The service desk has its roots in managing IT as a service. While the help desk is tactical and focused on fixing what is broken, a service desk is more strategic, managing IT incidents and service requests directly with the users.
  • Technical support offers more technical input and will take on the problems that can’t be resolved by the help desk. Tech support agents require extensive technical knowledge and handle a variety of different issues.

Does effective IT support challenge IT security?

Security is an important consideration when choosing IT support solutions because, in order to offer effective IT support, a tech support agent will often require sensitive access to the user’s (or organization’s) network or device. If an IT support solution does note have adequate security controls in place, such as privileged access controls, password management, remote access security, session management, etc., it can expose the organization to risk. It is important to choose an IT support solution with advanced security controls in place to enable tech support to securely and productively do their job without creating security exposures, increasing threat vectors, and creating elevated risk.

It is also important to choose an IT support solution that can enable process efficiencies. While a common misconception permeates that security will interfere with IT support efficiency, it is more probable that process inefficiencies will introduce added security risk. Redundancies, lack of transparency, poor IT security hygiene, and poor documentation will interfere with your IT support team's ability to oversee and run health checks, preventing important problems from being properly reported.What are the most essential tools for IT support?

What are the most essential tools for IT support?

  • Integrated communication technologies (i.e. email, VoIP, teleconferencing, video calling, chat, etc.) will help ensure efficiency of communication, and higher levels of security.
  • Ticketing tools & IT service management (ITSM) systems enable information tracking, allowing tickets to be opened and assigned, and for their progress and completion to be monitored and reported.
  • Remote support tools and technologies allow an administrator’s computer to remotely access another computer or device to facilitate tech assistance. Using a single tool for remote support can help improve incident handling time, technician productivity, and other important KPIs. Because remote support sessions often entail some degree of privileged access, it is imperative that robust remote access, password management, and other security features be baked into the solution.
  • A self-service or employee portal to enable end users to self-service their own technical support issues. The support portal should provide accurate and reliable guides, system documentation, FAQs, and an easy way to escalate more complicated issues to a help desk agent.
  • Change and problem management tools that can help plan, manage, report, and audit the impacts and effects of change management initiatives. These can include projects, resource changes, etc.

What are the most essential tech support features?

  • Chat – In addition to helping exchange more information about the problem, chat can allow the technician to send links, knowledge base articles, and even canned responses.
  • Automation – Automating some or many components of the help desk can free up time for your IT professional to focus on completing the higher-impact queries faster and more efficiently.
  • Collaboration – Your IT team should be able to collaborate easily on queries to access, tag, prioritize, and assign tasks to ensure smooth operations.
  • Integration – APIs and service integrations are critical to ensuring the success of your digital and IT ecosystems.
  • Self-service – Your end users should be able to troubleshoot for themselves, to a point, using an accessible dashboard or resource pool. This will keep your IT department focused on the higher-impact tasks.
  • Reporting – Having the ability to submit and monitor reports easily means having access to accurate metrics that can be analyzed regularly to audit for success. It is also imperative to balance internal reporting needs, those imposed by compliance standards, and broader considerations that seek to limit data collection.
  • Troubleshooting – The IT support systems should provide the transparency and visibility necessary for your team to quickly and easily troubleshoot problems, identify security threats, and more.
  • Adaptability and Scalability – The best tech support tools are readily adaptable to changes in the IT and work environments and scalable.

Why do organizations need a VPN alternative?

Having some sort of remote access is non-negotiable for almost every organization’s IT processes. Remote workers, third parties, vendors, and others need to access your systems from outside the firewall, and to establish remote connections, organizations often use some form of Virtual Private Network (VPN). However, for infosec teams, securing the VPN presents a constant challenge. VPNs attract considerable attention from hackers because they can be used to gain unauthorized access to your critical data and applications and pose as entry points into the administrative back-ends of systems. Organizations require an alternative means of providing network access that offers the additional ability to monitor and control the accounts that are accessing their network.

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What are the key improvement areas your IT service desk needs to focus on?

  • Switching from IT-centric, or even service-centric support to people-centric support to build an employee-centric IT support solution.
  • Meeting hybrid worker IT service and support needs.
  • The correct adoption of AI-enabled IT support capabilities, with adherence to learning from past IT self-service mistakes.
  • Leveraging the wealth of data at our disposal to make more informed, data-driven decisions and improvements.
  • Facilitating scalability by empowering employees with self-sufficiency.

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