Evolving the role of the service desk analyst with AIOps and automation
The responsibilities of a service desk analyst seem to grow more plentiful and diverse every day – from responding to ever-increasing end-user requests and incoming alarms to fulfilling dynamic change management requests.
As IT infrastructure becomes more complex, service desk analysts are expected to manage growing workloads while resolving incidents and performance issues in a matter of seconds, not days – all without adding more people to their teams.
IT service desk analysts can successfully adapt to this evolving ecosystem by harnessing IT automation and AIOps technologies, which dramatically improve operational efficiency. They also reduce mean time to resolution (MTTR), eliminate alarm noise, streamline service requests, and improve performance of critical apps and infrastructure.
With repetitive, manual tasks being executed by automation, ITSM analysts can take on new roles and additional responsibilities. In fact, whole new career paths are opening up around automation and AIOps, providing exciting opportunities for service desk professionals who embrace these technologies.
A helping hand offering immediate relief
For service technicians, AIOps tools deliver a long-awaited and much-needed single pane of glass into application and infrastructure health. These tools ingest and analyse data from multiple sources to perform a wide array of functions, ranging from auto-discovery and dependency mapping to event correlation and predictive analytics. The capabilities improve monitoring, keep CMDBs up-to-date and accurate, and enable the service desk to rapidly validate, diagnose and resolve issues when they do occur.
By applying machine learning and advanced analytics to massive data volumes, AIOps tools can correlate thousands of events, effectively cutting through alarm noise to quickly identify the root cause of a particular issue. AIOps can then identify patterns to predict and prevent future issues. It is an infinitely useful tool on its own, but it’s exponentially enhanced when combined with intelligent automation.
This potent pairing of AIOps and automation has multiple benefits for snowed-under service desk teams. AI-driven insights drive a wide range of automated actions from incident resolution to fixing common or recurring issues to proactive health checks and updating tickets, logs, and audits. This all serves to further improve service levels and maximise uptime for business-critical applications, as well as enabling staff to focus on more strategic tasks.
On the end-user side, AIOps and automation power self-service portals, chatbots, and virtual assistants. For frequent or mundane service requests that can be easily resolved, self-service portals can return time to ITSM analysts and put the resolution into the hands of the user, driving a more positive experience for all. Self-service IT has exited the realm of blue sky thinking to become a reality within many organisations (and is increasingly offered by managed service providers given the market demand for it).
Underscoring these outcomes, a recent study from EMA Research found that cost savings, improved operational efficiency, enhanced end-user satisfaction, and improved service quality were the top benefits of investment into automation and AI.
What’s next for service desk analysts?
As these innovative technologies are adopted, expect to see IT analysts of the future become much more focused on business objectives than operational tasks. As their remit extends beyond the borders of IT and into the wider enterprise, the role of the analyst will become more multi-dimensional.
With automation and AI taking care of many of the repetitive tasks that have burdened the IT team, service desk analysts can move on to more value-add work. For example, instead of continually conducting password resets, they can take on the role of automation agents, building decision trees, dynamic workflows, and runbooks for the virtual agents to perform. Using their time and skills to transform the IT department will have a positive knock-on effect on the whole company, as well as on staff morale. As the driving force of digitalisation within the company, when no longer laden with recurring requests, they will be able to proactively work to transform the IT processes that everybody from CEO to graduate uses on a daily basis, saving infinite hours and monotony.
Additionally, we will see service desk analysts become more engaged with different parts of the business, further expanding their skill sets. This will enable them to play a valuable part in progressing business transformation. This shift towards becoming a ‘strategic technology advisor’ will see a new generation of creative and forward-thinking IT service professionals. We’re already seeing IT service technicians being pulled into automation Centres of Excellence (COE), shifting from operational to strategic roles, harnessing their hands-on experience to determine which IT processes will benefit most from automation.
The evolution of the IT service desk analyst will make for more rewarding and challenging career paths, also allowing the organisation as a whole to embrace the next phase of digital transformation with IT forming the backbone in today’s tech-driven landscape. With 75% of service desks having automation as their top priority over the next 12 months, service desk analysts should prepare for this new challenge and be ready to hit the ground running when it comes to integrating AIOps and automation tools into their digital pipeline and then cultivating its success.
About the author – Rob Kelsall runs Global Sales Engineering for Resolve.