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Killing the Help Desk Softly–or Blowing It Up

You would think that a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy would cause the help desk to be working overtime to fix new problems, but according to Gartner’s Jarod Greene in an interview with Tom Kaneshige, just the opposite happens. BYOD decreases help desk calls, leaving the help desk with even less to do in an era where the majority of people are finally computer-literate. Is it time to shut the lid on the help desk?

Of Course Not, We’re Just Trying to Sound Dramatic

Greene is upfront about the stats on what is happening as time passes and BYOD proliferates:

IT service desk cost as a percentage of IT costs dropped from 7.9 percent to 7.2 percent [year over year]. It's not huge, but the only way you cut costs for service desk is to cut labor. The annual contacts handled by the service desk per FTP went from 5,384 up to 7,003. So we decreased staff and left [remaining employees]to handle more volume. By 2016, we'll see a 25 to 30 percent drop in user-initiated contact volume. I see a scenario where service desk contact volume goes down over the next three years, and IT groups mistake this as solving complexity. In reality, all of the users are personal cloud-enabled, BYOD-enabled, consumerization-enabled—and IT loses its relevance.

Workers enabled by their own technology, and millenials especially, are more likely to seek out their own solutions to problems than call for help. In this way, BYOD becomes “bring-your-own-support.” Area-specific forums and SharePoint portals are just much more convenient for finding reliable information fast, and the social element to it feels more natural. Enterprise app spend in 2012 was $119 billion, so it can be hard to imagine that the help desk is fully equipped to help even with issues that technically do fall under their area of expertise. Greene cites one example where a help desk stayed relevant by actually going out to a business-approved SharePoint used by the workers, absorbing the pertinent information from it, and supporting the workers based on that shared information.

But Greene thinks a more long-term solution is for a help desk to evolve into an enterprise “Genius Bar.” This would mean letting workers talk face-to-face with the help desk, receiving personally useful information. The genius-enabled help desk would cross barriers to rain down knowledge upon everyone in need. That sounds nice.

You can read the full interview with Greene here: http://www.cio.com/article/730650/Killing_the_Help_Desk_Softly_or_Blowing_It_Up

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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