Infographic: Anatomy of the Service Desk in 2016

By Ollie O’Donoghue from Service Desk Institute

service desk

For a few months now, I’ve been talking about the evolution of service desk staffing models. I’ve become more convinced of this change as we publish more and more SDI research. I have the privileged position of being able to look at all SDI research as a whole, which means that while reports will have a particular focus, I can marry the findings up with other research to draw broader conclusions.

I have been able to do this with the recently published Anatomy of a Service Desk report, kindly sponsored by LANDESK. The report focuses on how service desk professionals spend their time, the strains and pressures of day-to-day service desk activity and the perception they have of their colleagues and access to resources. All said, the report is refreshingly positive; professionals felt less pressured and stressed than ever before, and there is an increasing focus on proactivity and strategy over the reactive firefighting that has dominated the landscape for many years.

It’s the latter point that interests me the most. Although not a remarkably significant increase – the average service desk now spends 38% of its time on strategic projects, an increase of 5% since 2012 – it’s possible to draw some insight when matching the increase with other trends in the industry.

Specifically, the increased utilization of technologies to ‘sponge up’ some reactive support is a trend I’ve been wittering on about for a while. My argument for the inevitable rise of technology is based on several themes – customer and staff expectations, the increased prevalence and cost-effectiveness of the technologies themselves, and the drive to provide more value with less resource to name a few.

What interests me is whether the positive results we’ve seen in the Anatomy of the Service Desk research and the increased adoption of technologies noted in other reports are linked. Are professionals less pressured and stressed because self-help and self-service are absorbing some of the reactive support burdens? Are service desks now better able to focus on strategic projects because automation has reduced time-consuming manual tasks?

At the moment, the correlation could just be a coincidence. However, it’s food for thought until the next piece of SDI research is published looking to link all the trends together.

I will be talking about these trends at LANDESK Connect 16 this year; I hope to see you all there and look forward to joining you all in debating what these trends mean for us and our industry.

Click below to download the FREE report!

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The Productive Power of Communication

Regular readers may know I tend to have a fairly eventful and at times rather entertaining business-travel experiences.  I’m not sure what I’ve done to offend the Travel-Gods, – perhaps I’m somewhat behind in my sacrificial offerings – but generally when I travel if things can go wrong, for me they frequently do.

To be fair, it’s never my fault. I’m always on time, always leave plenty of time. Never forget my passport or laptop (although there was once an unfortunate forgotten-underwear incident, although that’s a story for another time). However, I do seem to get more than my fair share of travel changes, holdups and unexpected reschedules. I’m also intimately familiar with the maintainenance routines, de-icing and now also electrical fuse-boxes on airplanes.

I’ve learnt a thing or two about being at the customer-end of a service interruption, and it has got me thinking about how in the world of IT Service Management, communicating the right information makes a huge impact on the productivity of the enduser/customer.

Let me illustrate with a real example. A week or two back I found myself at London Waterloo train station about 10 p.m. ready to jump on the train to take me back home. When I arrived at the station to get my return train it quickly became apparent that all was not well. The departure boards – and there are many at Waterloo – were all flashing DELAYED. Crowds of people were standing in front of the display boards, staring up at the boards. Of course I joined them and quickly spotted the train I had hoped to be catching listed up there – alongside the words DELAYED.  Now, each train did have a departure time listed – but it quickly became apparent as time passed that this was theTrain Timetable original listed time and that soon passed into history and irrelevance.

Two hours passed. No trains arrived or left.

What did I do?  I did the same as everyone else. I stood gazing slack-jawed up the announcement boards, looking at the word DELAYED flash next to the train that I was waiting for.

The problem was that although I had STATUS information, I had nothing else. STATUS alone doesn’t let you decide the right course of action.

Occaisonally there was an announcement over the tannoy, and a largely distorted alien voice mumbled something with the word ‘…power failure… all trains temporarily halted… as soon as we know… apologise…’

So I knew INFORMATION on the fault – not that I cared greatly – and I knew the status. But I didn’t know any TIMESCALE or ALTERNATIVE, and that was why I had no choice but to stand there getting cold along with everyone else. In the absence of ‘how long’ I couldn’t risk going elsewhere in case my train suddenly arrived. In the absence of an alternative travel option I could only wait until I knew when my train would be ready.

The point I’m making here is one of communication and the effect of good and bad communication on the customer.

Let’s look at it from an IT perspective. If corporate IT is to be User Oriented, we must not only provide the right services, but also the right information to encourage choice and productivity. Even in a situation where a service is impacted or unavailable, the way we communicate can still enable choice and productivity.

So what do you communicate? When your IT services are offline do you proudly communicate through self service and email and other routes? Do you communicate STATUS? Most self service sites show service status don’t they? But thats half the picture. If you miss other vital pieces of communication then you can actually cause the enduser to freeze, just as all the passengers had no choice but to stare at the departure boards for 2-hours. You put the enduser in a bad position where they are hindered even more by our communication than by the service being unavailable.

It’s a little bit like the last blog I wrote where I talked about the concept of always identifying a next-action date. There are a few value items of communication that let you understand and decide and act. In this case these items are :-

STATUS: what is impacted

INFORMATION: what is understood about the impact, including scope and scale.

TIMELINE: how long it will be impacted

OPTIONS (alternatives, workarounds)

Imagine, if the train departure boards had said ‘Ian’s train home: DELAYED. Cause: Power Failure. Timescale: Until at least one hour from now. Options: No alternative routes exist.’ then I’d have been able to go into a coffeeshop or bar, have a warming drink and perhaps work on a document or send some emails. I’d have been productive. Instead I was unproductive and I got very cold toes. (Mind you, I did get this blog out of the experience so perhaps it’s not all bad).

If you are in IT, when you communicate to the business, remember what you communicate should encourage choice and productivity. Just another example of User Oriented IT.

Engage IT – Introducing Service Desk 7.7

Announced to the market January 21, 2013 LANDESK Service Desk 7.7 is the latest release from LANDESK, strengthening our portfolio of User-Oriented IT solutions.

So what’s this new release all about? Well, Service Desk 7.7 is the Engage IT release, which enables end-user customers to engage once again with IT in ways they want to—visually appealing, location-aware, picture driven support, and more. From the service desk standpoint, version 7.7 boosts the service desk’s ability to engage with its end users, other IT teams, and the business through greater service visualization, best practise reporting, project portfolio driving IT Service management improvement and customer satisfaction.

Why is engagement so important? Well in case you missed it, the world has changed. It’s no longer enough for IT to focus on the traditional cost cutting objectives that were once the pervasive mindset. In the age of IT and Service consumerization it’s too easy for end-user customers to find their own IT solutions elsewhere. Whether you call it the Engage IT Service Desk 7.7consumerization of IT, the consumerization of services or just BYOD it’s evident that if you don’t provide the services or IT tools that customers want they will go elsewhere.

Understanding your customers and how they want to work and making sure the service desk operates wherever customers choose to work is all important. Plus building better business relationships means that you will be able to be more aware, respond faster and better to change.

Charles Darwin put it really well. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin

User Oriented IT from LANDESK

Service Desk 7.7

  • Superior Mobility Solutions
  • Unique Picture Driven support
  • Best Practice, Certified Reports
  • Improved Language Support
  • Beyond Core IT Processes and Best Practice

Want to find out more about 7.7, watch the video

Hybrid Cloud: A Win-Win in Service Desk Software Delivery?

I was saddened to learn that Stephen R. Covey passed away on July 16, 2012, due to complications from a bicycle accident suffered in April. He was 79. Whenever I hear Dr. Covey’s name, I immediately think of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. First published in 1989, this book has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages and was named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential business management books.

Chances are some of the seven habits espoused by Dr. Covey will strike a familiar chord: 1) Be Proactive; 2) Begin with the End in Mind; 3) Put First Things First; 4) Think Win-Win; 5) Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood; 6) Synergize; and 7) Sharpen the Saw.

Personally, I’ve always been intrigued by the potential of the fourth habit, Think Win-Win, and its application in personal and family relationships as well as in business collaboration. Rather than having it either “my way” or “your way,” the most successful outcomes are those that mutually benefit the parties concerned.

Frequently however, arriving at those mutually beneficial outcomes requires a third alternative. In contrast to a compromise where both parties concede something in order to obtain an agreement, striving for a third alternative can transcend to something above and beyond what either party originally envisioned.

The Alternative of the Hybrid Cloud

When it comes to implementing your service desk and the mechanism by which your service desk software solution is delivered, this “third alternative” way of thinking can also apply. You can read more about it in the whitepaper Choose the Service Desk Delivery Model that Makes Sense – Cloud, On-Premise, Hybrid.

As the title implies, no single software delivery model fits all, and each comes with its own advantages, disadvantages, and conflicting concerns. For example, cost concerns are often a primary driver for choosing a cloud or SaaS model. With LANDesk Service Desk as a Service (SDaaS), you subscribe to a service rather than take ownership of a license. You benefit from a simple, predictable subscription pricing model that controls ongoing management costs while providing flexibility in how you consume the service.

With the LANDesk Service Desk on-premise option, all aspects of the implementation such as performance, availability, and maintenance are under your control, as are full QA, staging, and test development. For organizations that operate in industries with strict legislation and compliance requirements where security and the handling, location, and redundancy of data are key issues, the on-premise model may be best.

But what about a third alternative? The option of a hybrid model opens numerous possibilities to run applications where they fit in the corporate infrastructure. One such scenario is using LANDesk Service Desk as a Service and federating on-premise data sources to a CMDB in the cloud. Another example is having a service desk SaaS implementation in the cloud linked to an on-premise service desk implementation for business-critical activities. In these instances, you can leverage the LANDesk management automation platform to orchestrate all of your on-premise tools and technologies that talk to the service desk in the cloud.

In the end, you should be in a position to balance the benefits of cloud-based accessibility and premise-managed security. You should be able to optimize the configuration of your service desk by leveraging the cloud, your existing on-premise infrastructure, or taking advantage of both via a hybrid approach. It’s important to look beyond the financial returns to the underlying benefits of each model and evaluate what makes the most sense for your organization.