The IT service desk exists to make businesses work better. Standing by to fix a computer is less common today, while monitoring networks, preventing service outages, and relying on intelligent machines are becoming more common. IT service desks are turning into centers of innovation by keeping up with technology and teaching businesses how to benefit from it.
As machines get better and smarter, service desk support is as crucial as ever. Today’s service desk should be looking 12, 24, and even 36 months out to develop a long-term vision based on changes taking place in business, technology, and society at large, because these all affect services demanded and how they’re delivered. Here are five ideas from IT visionaries about what’s on the horizon for help desk software.
1. Smarter P2P Support with Increasing Emphasis on Social Media
Sometimes peer-to-peer support is the fastest type of IT support available, but today it can be difficult to locate a person with a similar workstation setup who can provide answers. Help desk software that uses internal social networks like Salesforce and Yammer can monitor these networks and facilitate better peer-to-peer support. Tier 1 tech support could evolve toward monitoring of social networks and ensuring that information is correct, easy to find, and that problems that can’t be solved via social network are routed to the proper point of contact. Drawing on the knowledge of an entire team can improve the efficiency of solutions while giving everyone a voice and the opportunity for better employee engagement and morale.
2. Support Systems That Know You
End users are increasingly comfortable with checking forums, Googling problems, and using self-help portals to solve their IT issues. But when they call a support technician, they generally have to start at the beginning and repeat the process when bumped to Tier 2 or Tier 3 support. Thankfully, when IT service desk solutions can discover that an end user has already tried X, Y, and Z, technicians can skip some of the preliminaries. What is envisioned is an automated voice system with intelligence to know that an end user tried various self-help procedures already, and that the end user has successfully used self-service before. From this information, it should conclude that if you’re actually placing a call, you probably need Tier 2 or 3 support and route the call appropriately.
3. Self-Healing Devices
Many end user definitions of “printer” would be something like, “an inoperable box that continually flashes a message reading ‘PC LOAD LETTER.’” But that could be changing. Printers that can look for firmware updates and drivers by themselves and request permission to install them aren’t that far away, according to Hewlett-Packard Web Support VP Brent Potts. The goal with self-healing devices is that before something goes wrong, a conversation could take place between the device and its service center, preventing problems as well as hassles — like going to pick up printout only to discover there’s a huge document queue awaiting a new toner cartridge.
Once they become self-aware, however, we’re doomed.
4. Augmented Reality Using Smartphones as Eyes
Say you have a server that needs a memory upgrade. You open it up and stare at what looks like primary-colored spaghetti, trying to remember exactly where that new memory card goes. You could go back to your office, go online, and download the schematic for the server and start digging. Or you could scan a bar code on the server, another one on the memory card, and let an augmented reality app show you exactly where in that mass of techno-spaghetti your new card goes, labeling every connector for you, and pointing a big arrow at the faulty memory card. This isn’t reality yet, but it could be in a few years. In fact, it was a topic of discussion among augmented reality visionaries at this year’s South by Southwest.
5. As Dr. Zoidberg Said, “What Would the Robot Do?”
AnyBots has robots that can actually walk around worksites to set up videoconferencing, with the robot’s movement controlled by a remote expert who communicates by voice as if he or she is right there. Robots doing hands-on support is gaining attention, particularly in medical fields where dysfunctional equipment can cost thousands of dollars per day in lost productivity. These 35 lb. “experts” can be FedExed to work sites, and may prove to be a valuable part of technical support in the future. Such robots are expected to cost about $15,000 each, but if they work properly, they can have a pretty quick ROI by preventing travel expenses and getting facilities running again quickly.
While you await tech support robots and personal hoverboards, you can already use IT service management software that stays at the leading edge of technology. Samanage is a leader in SaaS help desk technology, offering smartphone apps, remote desktop control, knowledge base creation, and powerful self-service portal capabilities. We want smartbots and augmented reality as much as you do, and are committed to remaining at the forefront of IT service management provision.
About Darroll Buytenhuys
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