Despite recent research suggesting that myths around IT self-service may be holding back adoption, channel partners say there are good reasons why there has been no mad rush to further automate IT support.
Gartner reported in August that 40 per cent of all service desk contacts could be solved with self-service offerings, up from the five per cent of issues that are currently dealt with that way. The reasons, the market-watcher indicated, were because of four commonly held myths about IT self-service – that it reduces costs, does not require ongoing spend, that end users will flock to it, and that it is easy to do.
In reality, Gartner reported, IT self-service tends to reduce level 1 support – such as how-to requests, FAQs, and password resets – it requires constant care and updates, end user acceptance varies enormously, and it requires the right companion tools and processes for successful implementation. By 2015, only about 10 per cent of support issues would be solved with self-service.
Mark Forster, operations manager at channel-only comms support provider Comms-care, said he broadly agrees with Gartner although the level of understanding – particularly in the channel – of the realities of IT self-service is much higher.
“We do provide a self-service option, via online portals, so I think the majority of the market does it ... as an option,” he said. “People can make massive investment into self-service, and yet people still go on to Google and ask things.”
Forster suggested that many enquiries simply were not suitable for self-service, except perhaps if you had a vastly sophisticated engine which also enabled follow-up, trend analysis and the like.
If a 300-staff customer was requesting 300 password resets a week, as a support provider you would want to know that – and self-service might just be treating a symptom of some far larger customer issue.
“We are more geared towards availability of service than anything, and what we find with self-service is that it tends to reduce the availability,” he said.
But for relatively ‘dumb’ enquiries, such as password resets, self-service had become near-ubiquitous – freeing up IT providers to deal with more core and difficult issues, Forster added.
Paul Williamson, service architect at comms integrator 2e2, agreed, and added that it was definitely not about cost control. It did self-service primarily in response to customer demand, and planned further self-service developments also for that reason.
“It is driven by customer requirements, where it offers an ability to actually get additional services,” he said. “And it can reduce time to delivery [of other offerings, and responses to customer demands]. Self-service is not only a support activity but a way of providing new things.”
Whether to deploy self-service must depend on the type of business, and the type of customer. “Anything specific or core, it might be worthwhile for the customer to speak to someone,” Williamson said. “Historically, with service desks, resets and the like were a large percentage of overall calls.”
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