What will affect the service desk over the next three years

Malcolm Fry asked me this question for his Session 602 The Service Desk: Past, Present & Future at the upcoming HDI conference in the USA. His question reminded me that I have been off in the philosophical never-never for too long. It is high time I got back to the bread-and-butter folks at the pointy front end of IT: the service desk team. So here are my thoughts on Malcolm's excellent question: What will affect the service desk over the next three years? Tweet this.
[Updated 25/2/13: added Bring Your own App and internal social media]

The biggest factors affecting service desks over the next three years are:

#1 BYOD. Far and away the biggest factor in the next three years. Every firm will have BYOD to some extent, if only the privileged VIPs. What is the policy? How will you deliver to (and enforce) that policy? You need your organisation to define the bounds on what devices to support, and how much support to give. You need your risk and security people to put defences in place, and you need to know the risks until they do. And until that happens you need to retain some semblance of control, for we exist to protect and serve, not just serve. Then you need to scramble to acquire policy, roles, skills and tools to support the diversity of devices that your organisation decides to support.

#2 Service aggregation. Increasingly, components of your services will come from external third parties. You must deal with suppliers (and their service desks) for Level 1 and 2 support, not just Level 3; across requests, incidents (and major incidents and continuity!), problems, and changes. How will your procedures interlock? Forget negotiated UCs for many Cloud providers - you take what you get. How does that impact SLAs?

#3 IF AND ONLY IF YOUR USERS ARE THE GENERAL PUBLIC: Social media. No, social media won't revolutionise the way the Service Desk works, certainly not in the next three years, whatever the vendors tell you. But you should be there for your users on the social channels. This requires policy, roles, skills and tools. Don't expect Level 1 to do it untrained (nor - *shudder* - marketing or sales).


#7 Standard+Case. The introduction of formalised case management to service desks will provide more flexibility in serving users, and make us more effective in our responses.

#8 DevOps and Agile. Mostly for new apps. Expect little notice of changes that will impact users (e.g. new fields or field values). Expect users not to know it's coming, except for the few "representative" users involved in the development. Expect change "failure as a learning opportunity". i.e. expect service desk chaos. Reach out to ensure the service desk is integrated with the process: know what is going on, have as much notice as possible, push for user impact analysis and training.

#9 Bring Your Own App. As Malcolm points out in the comments below, an increasing issue is the business buying their own systems. These days these are usually SaaS: Salesforce.com is the poster child. In addition, individuals are using their own apps, from Gmail to Evernote. Just like BYOD, there is an expectation that IT will support BYOA as well. Generally, this is a failure of corporate governance if IT did not play a role in it, but hey what can the Service Desk do? Tell the auditors, that's what. Seriously, when the external auditors come around, tell them about the organisational failure to control enterprise architecture. All other considerations are the same as BYOD: risk control, defenses, policy, bounds, training and tools.



#145 Internal social media. The idea that whizzy social tools inside an IT organisation are going to make a difference to the cultural issue of collaboration within support is yet another of those technical fixes to a people problem: they don't work. If you've done the hard yards of working on attitudes and behaviours in support; if you've reworked and improved your practices and you have identified some areas that need greater efficiency (cost, speed) or effectiveness (quality, errors); and IF those constraints on practices can be helped with a cool social media tool; THEN by all means buy one. Otherwise please don't get suckered by features - we ought to be out-growing that in IT.

#146 New service desk technologies. The last thing the world needs is another service desk tool - I'd say we have a glut already - and yet new ones keep popping up. Beware especially the vendors wanting to sell fizzy new user interfaces that neglect completely the back-end management of process - i.e. you can capture through a dozen channels but you can't execute reliably. That's not a revolution, it is vandalism. Tweet this

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