Perhaps The IT Help Desk No Longer Needed?

Just like suspenders, the IT help desk may have gone out of fashion
Just like suspenders, the IT help desk may have gone out of fashion
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Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, one of the biggest crazes to sweep through the world of IT has been the BYOD trend: “Bring Your Own Device” (to work) .The thinking is that workers have been purchasing and using such sophisticated electronic devices in their personal lives and because of the importance of information technology it no longer really made sense for their company to provide them with lesser quality devices. Instead, workers should bring in their own personal phone, tablet, etc. and use them at work. What we all thought would happen, never did…

Where’s The Spike?

People who have the CIO job were dreading the arrival of the BYOD craze. The thinking was that IT help desks were going to be flooded with requests from end users for help with a virtually unlimited number of personal communications devices. However, the exact opposite has happened – help desk call volume has gone down.

There were two reasons that this occurred. The first is that the Internet contains a vast collection of information on how end users can solve their own problems with their devices. It is often easier to do a search with Google then to call the company’s help desk. Additionally, the mobile device management software that firms have started to use has reached a level of functionality that many problems with mobile devices can now be fixed remotely.

The arrival of the Millennial worker in the modern workplace means that there are now more tech-savvy workers. They are less prone to pick up the phone and call the help desk and more likely to either talk with friends about their problems or do their own online research. Some firms have tried to help by creating shared online communities of workers that allow workers with the same types of devices to exchange suggestions and tips for getting their devices to work with the company’s various systems.

What Does This Mean For The IT Help Desk Long Term?

Clearly, there are changes happening in the rest of the company that are going to affect both the role of the IT help desk and the CIO. Gartner, the IT industry analyst group, is forecasting a 25% – 30% drop in IT help desk call volume by 2016. The value that the IT help desk brings to the company is clearly decreasing.

This change is opening the door for CIOs to make dramatic changes to how the IT department provides support to the rest of the company. More and more firms are creating peer-to-peer support networks where employees help each other with IT related problems. In order for these networks to work, the IT department needs to have installed the tools that will allow the various people to connect with each other and to exchange information.

Taking things one step further, some CIOs are creating so called “genius bars” at work. Modeled after the technology experts that can be found at Apple retail stores, these knowledgeable subject matter experts are able to quickly and easily resolve even the most difficult end user IT issues.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

The world is changing and IT is going to have to change with it. The arrival of BYOD in the modern workplace is going to have a lasting impact on the world of IT. Specifically, it’s going to change how the traditional IT help desk operates.

When the BYOD craze started, it was anticipated that there would be a spike in calls to the company help desk. However, the exact opposite has occurred: call volumes have gone down. In fact, call volumes are forecasted to continue to decrease over the next few years. What this means for IT is that the traditional help desk function has to be reshaped. Providing fewer people who have deeper levels of understanding of the company’s IT operations is what will be required going forward.

The person in the CIO position is going to have to learn how to deal with the changes that are happening in the rest of the company. What used to work in terms of IT help desks will not work in the future. You are going to need to educate the rest of the company about the help desk changes that will be happening and make sure that everyone’s needs are taken care of. Welcome to a brave new era of help desk support!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What should you do with the help desk staff that you no longer need?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Face it, we are all going to move our company’s IT applications into the cloud eventually. The importance of information technology demands that we do this. Just exactly where that cloud is going to be located and who will be running it for us is another question. What questions does a CIO need to ask when you are trying to select the right cloud vendor for your company?