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Monday, September 10, 2012

The Service Desk and Mark Twain

Some meaningful insight from our guest blogger, Donna Knapp:

Upon hearing that his obituary had mistakenly been published in the New York Journal, Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” 

The same can be said for the service desk despite the blogs here and there that are suggesting that factors such as social support, self-help, bring your own device (BYOD), virtualization, cloud computing and wide-scale outsourcing are minimizing the service desk’s role.  

The reality is that those factors are changing the service desk role, but not minimizing it. Increasingly organizations are realizing that the need for support and therefore the service desk’s role must be considered when making strategic decisions such as BYOD or a move to virtualization or the cloud. Service desks must, in turn, embrace this more strategic role and make the transition from reactive to proactive.  
One way that service desks can make this transition is to take a more disciplined approach to Knowledge Management and by pushing that knowledge to its customers via self-help. Self-help can include not only access to knowledge bases, downloads, and patches but also facilitated community forums. Such an approach is not only cost-effective ($6/self-help contact vs. $22/service desk contact according to HDI), it also represents a positive response to customers’ increasing tendency to Google or Tweet first and only then contact the service desk. 

Other ways to make the transition to a more strategic, proactive service desk include a more formalized approach to Problem Management that not only feeds Knowledge Management (e.g., workarounds and known errors) but also seeks to eliminate recurring incidents, thus freeing service desk resources to work on new and more complex incidents. And therein lies an important point; self-help can only address known issues. The dramatic technological changes facing the IT industry are resulting in plenty of new incidents, many of which are complex in nature given peoples’ increasing tendency to access data, information and knowledge across a wide array of platforms and technologies. And here’s another important point to keep in mind… as organizations adopt practices such as virtualization and cloud computing, connectivity becomes critical and so incidents that stand in the way of that connectivity are now viewed as major.  

This means that service desks must find ways to collapse the traditional tiered approach to escalation and solve as many incidents as possible at the first point of contact. This approach has long been known to be cost-effective for the service provider. An incident that costs $22 to solve at the service desk, costs $62 at level 2 (e.g., desktop support) and $85 at level 3 (e.g., the application or network teams) according to Metricnet. It is easier said than done; however, as it requires refining or perhaps even reengineering the processes that dictate how the service desk interacts with higher-level resources such as the technical and application management teams.
Rather than talk about the benefits to the service provider; however, the service desk must learn to communicate the positive business benefits of these practices such as increased productivity and improved ability to adapt to and leverage emerging technologies. To demonstrate value for money going forward, the service desk’s focus must shift away from traditional reactive practices – no matter how well they are performed – to a more proactive enabler of customer productivity. That’s something we can all appreciate isn’t it… enabling us to use technology to innovate, collaborate and get our jobs done efficiently and effectively; rather than get in our way. What the service desk must not shift away from is what has always been its hallmark – excellent customer service.

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting blog. Yes i agree that service desk’s role must be considered when making strategic decisions such as BYOD or a move to virtualization or to the cloud. Talking about cloud which is really beneficial for most of the businesses today. I thought id share this video on Cloud ecosystem hub which provides organizations a unified gateway to build, manage and govern their hybrid cloud ecosystem.