Jul032017

Simon Johnson of  Freshworks says that familiar service desk trends – and some crucial new ones – emerged at SITS17. 

Looking at what gets discussed at SITS provides us with some insight into how service desks are evolving, the kinds of pressures that service desk managers are under, and how these problems can be solved. More importantly, the show offers a great chance to find out what projects will be taking up your time over the next twelve months.

Based on the sessions I attended, there are three areas that attracted the most interest:

1. Getting more integration between teams – an old and new problem
For ITSM teams, areas like service efficiency and first call resolution continue to be key pressure points. However, the definition of “service” is evolving within companies constantly. Many of the service desk professionals at the show wanted to hear about Enterprise Service Management (ESM) and rolling out their processes in other parts of the business; others were seriously looking at Business Relationship Management (BRM) and how to turn this from ITIL guidance into something that would work for their business.

The growth of customer experience teams in marketing and IT should be an opportunity for ITSM too. Without getting processes in place to measure the impact on customer experience, changes won’t be adequately tracked and improvements can’t be made.

This kind of collaboration can be difficult to start. However, the fact that marketers are looking more closely at data after all these years might actually be a plus point for ITSM teams.

2. Getting self-service adoption up – how this is more difficult than it sounds
New technologies of all kinds were on display, but the one that seemed to get the most attention was self-service. Self-service is one of those areas where service teams are looking enviously at each other’s statistics on utilisation. And wondering how they can improve their operations too. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side, after all.

The biggest challenge here is not implementing self-service, but designing those services so that they actually get used. Areas like user experience and design are just as important as setting up knowledge bases. Scaling up services over time requires a great deal of customer insight too.

Learning lessons from consumer services on how they grow their numbers of users can be useful for the future. Commonly termed “growth hacking”, these approaches can help get people across an organisation to know that self-service options exist, improve how they work and get users to recommend them to each other. You don’t have to be the next Dropbox to make the most of these techniques to market your services internally, or use the data that you have already to improve take-up.

3. How service desks are looking at automation
Efficiency continues to be a key aim for service desk managers – the number one priority in 2016 was improving service desk performance. Service desk team members continue to be overworked and stressed, so taking out unnecessary tasks or routine requirements was interesting to most attendees at SITS.

In the Service Desk Institute’s State of the Service Desk 2017 report at SITS, it was estimated that around 25 per cent of service desk technicians’ work requirements could be automated. This takes out superfluous tasks and puts the emphasis on more high value work that can make a real difference to the perception of the service desk internally.

The opportunity for automation should be planned as part of a wider approach to thinking about the role of service within businesses. Without this perspective, automation will simply mean supporting more tickets with less people and not making a difference to the business as a whole. For service desk teams, providing more value back to the business should be the overall aim.

It’s a time of change
According to SDI research, more than half of all service desk teams that responded to the survey were not happy with their current service desk solution. So there are currently a lot of discussions taking place around replacements or upgrades to their existing service desk products.

As part of this, service desk teams are evaluating how they manage tickets and issues within the business, focusing more on problem management rather than incident management. As an example, Grant Harris, Head of IT Operations at Western Sussex Hospitals talked through how he was looking to manage degradations in service and prevent issues, rather than waiting for full failures to occur. Discussions around how to take advantage of a new implementation to introduce new processes were popular too.

On our side, the event saw a successful rebrand for us as well as lots of great discussions around the future of ITSM. This year’s event proved that there is a vibrant future for service desks.

Simon Johnson is UK general manager of Freshworks.
Follow Simon on Twitter: @simjoh

More lessons from SITS17 – Simon Kent talks customer experience and BRM.

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