‘Service desk leaders are not taking advantage of the predictive tools available’

by | May 4, 2016

The IT Service Desk is a crucial part of the IT organization and its efficiency in problem resolution is correlated to improving the business. With the availability of smarter and more predictive technologies and tools, the ITSD should have now moved from reactive to proactive mode, yet this hasn’t happened. DIGITAL CREED met Jeffrey M. Brooks, Managing VP, Gartner on the sidelines of the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Data Center Summit in Mumbai. Brooks explained that it is really a change management issue. He also talks about the new (non-technical) skills that ITSD leaders need to have in hybrid environments.


Jeffery M Brooks_Managing VP, Gartner

Jeffery M Brooks_Managing VP, Gartner

Q. Why is the IT Service Desk (ITSD) still in firefighting mode? You have predictive tools today that can accurately predict outages. But people are not utilising these tools and have not changed their processes. Why is that so?

Today the average service desk is in reactive and firefighting mode. They are busy trying to solve the immediate problems and they might be able to stop the problems that may arise. But we believe that in future, if they have to make a cultural shift from reactive to proactive, they have the data and the tools that start preventing issues from arising. But this is a forward looking statement.

The tools can do it today, but I don’t think that the service desk leaders are taking advantage of it. It’s a miss between what the tools can actually do, the data that they actually have, and what we do with the data.

It calls for realignment.

The big fear for the IT service desk is: If I solve problems before they arise, what will I work on? As a service leader you have 10 people on your team and you know that these 10 people can solve X number of problems/tickets in a day/month/year. Many service desk leaders measure their success by the size of their teams. The service desk agents are often judged by their productivity: Did they close enough tickets? What was the resolution time? Did they meet the SLA?

What we at Gartner are suggesting is, instead of doing all this work after the problem arises, what if you could prevent it from happening?

(But if this were to happen) an agent fears that if there are less tickets, then he is no longer needed. And the manager fears that his team will shrink.

We don’t believe the team will shrink — it’s the reallocation of resources. If the resources are preventing downtime, they make the business stronger and this will create more revenue for the company. So someone in Finance could say: If I gave you more money and more people, could you prevent more problems? Could you make the business more efficient and better? That’s where the cultural change from reactive to proactive happens.

Q. As businesses move to hybrid environments, there are going to be more challenges with the infrastructure of ecosystem players integrating with the business. How should the service desk prepare for that? What are the new skills that IT service desk will need?

People have been talking about the death of the service desk for many years. But every company is still struggling with getting it (service desk) right. The service desk is one of the most talked about elements in our discussion with customers.

A hybrid environment does present new opportunities for the service desk, as much as it may present challenges.  But everything that we have learned over the years (best practices) remains true, whether it is singular environment, on-premise or hybrid.  I need to have strong SLAs between me and my customer, I need good OLAs (operating level agreements) where the different pieces of my organization know how they impact the service delivery chain, and I need good underpinning contracts with the providers.

So if I am going to use three different managed services to deliver one overall service to my customer, I have to have the contracts in place so that every player knows what they have to deliver. The service desk then takes on the role of a broker in this model. It is about coordinating with different people but I am still responsible to the customer to deliver the solution for their business.

Today, technical skills have become a commodity, so it is easy to find people with technical skills. Having someone who can communicate effectively and to bring different organizations together to solve a problem, that’s a harder skill to find.

It also means that I can’t have an SLA that says: Every level-1 incident has a four hour turnaround. Level-2 is eight hours and level-3 is 24 hours. For me, all level-1 incidents are not the same. So SLAs have got to be based on what the business needs and the business priorities. It is not about IT anymore.

Q. To what extent have organizations embraced digital and completed their digital transformation? How is the service desk adapting to digital business?

At Gartner we talk about Type-A, -B and -C organizations. Type-A is very aggressive and cutting edge and have embraced digital transformation and digital workplace. That’s not so much with Type-B and much less with Type-C organizations. There are far more B and C organizations than A organizations.

Walk up service and support is a new way to support the business. With consumerization of IT everyone’s got their own devices and you just walk up to them and offer support — much like what you see in Apple’s Genius Bar.

While this is happening in some organizations it is not practical for all organizations to do this. If you are a large global company you will have offices at multiple locations and in different countries. So it would be expensive to do this compared to traditional support.

So IT leaders will have to figure out what works best in their case.



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Brian Pereira
Brian Pereira
Brian Pereira is an Indian journalist and editor based in Mumbai. He founded Digital Creed in 2015. A technology buff, former computer instructor, and software developer, Brian has 29 years of journalism experience (since 1994). Brian is the former Editor of CHIP India, InformationWeek India and CISO Mag. He has served India's leading newspaper groups: The Times of India and The Indian Express. Presently, he serves the Information Security Media Group, as Sr. Director, Editorial. You'll find his most current work on CIO Inc. During his career he wrote (and continues to write) 5000+ technology articles. He conducted more than 450 industry interviews. Brian writes on aviation, drones, cybersecurity, tech startups, cloud, data center, AI/ML/Gen AI, IoT, Blockchain etc. He achieved certifications from the EC-Council (Certified Secure Computer User) and from IBM (Basics of Cloud Computing). Apart from those, he has successfully completed many courses on Content Marketing and Business Writing. He recently achieved a Certificate in Cybersecurity (CC) from the international certification body ISC2. Follow Brian on Twitter (@creed_digital) and LinkedIn. Email Brian at: [email protected]
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