How human-centric automation adds value to IT service desks

How human-centric automation adds value to IT service desks

Presented by TOPdesk

Artificial intelligence and automation can future-proof your service desk. In this VB Spotlight you will learn how to automate crucial IT tasks that will reduce end user downtime and improve customer experience, reduce IT service desk calls by 40% and more.

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With the growing maturity of AI and automation, there is a huge opportunity for IT service desks to take much of the repetitive, time-consuming and error-prone work out of human hands. From approvals to software deployments, automation can help you serve end users faster and more efficiently. But it’s not about automating everything that can be automated — there are key factors every business should consider when first assessing the health of its service desks and operations, says Barclay Rae, consultant, author and podcast co-host Enterprise Digital.

“We also need to make sure we understand who our customers are, if they’re ready for it, and what the impact will be on them,” Rae says. “I can’t suddenly insert something that might make it more efficient for me, but it might annoy my customers. Context is everything. I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to slow it down. But we need to be clear about what we expect to get out of this and how we’re going to go about implementing it.”

It’s also crucial to not only have clear and manageable goals that directly improve the customer experience, but to make sure that you already have actionable and accurate data and robust processes, or else the automation will fail, which again isn’t a great thing for an organization. agency.

The smaller fruits that offer an immediate impact are the higher volume standard requests or processes: repetitive requests for passwords, processes such as approving and installing new computers or new software, says Jeffrey Jacoby, US services at TOPdesk. You might also consider routine cross-departmental processes like onboarding, offboarding, or transfers that happen often, sometimes daily, for larger organizations.

“Leveraging automation for these standard processes can streamline the workflow for technicians and streamline the workflow process in general,” Jacoby explains. “Some benchmarks, which you might think of later, might be chatbots to make the interface a little easier for those end users to add inputs, maybe even vendor integrations or third-party systems, like an email management system. resources”.

Creating an automation roadmap

Of course, like any other technology implementation, automation requires a plan and expected results. IT automation must be managed carefully because so many processes touch the end consumer directly. Automation of back-end processes, such as queue and backlog review, can be handled in the background and very quickly. But most of the processes involved will require some interaction with the business or customers, such as incidents and requests, which you want to make as simple as possible.

“The simpler we can make it, and the less burden we put on the customer to make a decision about it, the better,” says Rae. “We want to have a nice, easy portal to interact with. I want this, I’m already approved. This is where the whole behind-the-scenes approval system needs to be agreed upfront with your company, rather than just saying you’ll plug it in and it’ll work. It won’t work if all it does is automate a backlog and queue for some manager to approve things.

This involves roadmap tasks like sitting down with users, internal, external or both, to clarify where they need to be involved, how they will interact with those processes once established, and how they will test any implementation. Natural language systems, and especially bots, generally take longer. The more questions a user can ask, the greater the multiplication of results and potential outcomes.

“You have to be realistic about these things,” Rae explains. “People get on planes and read in-flight magazines that say, oh, yeah, you can automate that and that’s great. But there is a lot of work to be done to make sure it works properly. And yes, they are easy to use. Yes, they are cheaper and easier to implement. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that you need to consult with people and factor this into your planning.

“We want to know and make sure everyone is on the same page, knowing which processes are automated and which still require that manual input,” adds Jacoby. “After testing and deployment, monitoring and data insights will help with optimizations that can be made further down the road.”

The human element of automation

The technical benefits of automation are clear, but the people in the equation are the most important element and planning must take them into account. The anatomy of a typical service desk call includes a number of components: technical, business, people and emotional, says Rae. So no matter where you are in a system, the human using it needs to be able to go back and get back to the human service agent behind the system, because sometimes that connection can’t be replaced.

“In a way, when we talk about automation, it forces us to reevaluate our worth to some extent,” he explains. “What are we good at? What do we have to do? What do we still have to keep and not lose, just by doing this? There’s no point in doing it just for the fun of it.

There’s also the fact that older demographics tend not to want to interact with automated systems at all, and it’s important to be aware of that as a service provider, he adds. And it has nothing to do with that stereotype that seniors are baffled by new technology: It’s one that should be discarded.

“It’s whether I’m going to trust,” Rae explains. “The point is whether the interface works in a way that I can use it, understand it, appreciate it and derive value from it, with trust being an important part of it. I know a few vendors I deal with that I simply won’t trust or use their system. I will do anything to get around it and talk to one person. And then there are others where I would never have considered them particularly technical, but they have a very simple but effective automated interface”.

The human element of ROI

The most important metrics of automation boil down to the human side of things, again, to determine if a solution provides adequate ROI. This includes the actual time and cost savings of the business, along with the productivity and efficiency of the staff concerned.

For example, an activity that can improve incident or ticket routing and reduce the number of escalations, or that reduces the number of incidents experienced by users, rather than just rolling them from week to week.

There’s also feedback from the end-user base, Jacoby says.

“Are they happy with the automations we’ve implemented?” he says. “It’s not just looking at repetitive tasks and how many we’re automating, but are people happy with the automations we’ve given them to use as well?”

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  • Key factors in assessing the current state of your business and service desk
  • Transform and streamline your IT processes with automation
  • Accelerate the delivery of internal processes and services


  • Barclay Rae, Consultant; Author; Co-host of the Enterprise Digital Podcast
  • Jeffrey JacobyUS Service Team Lead, TOPdesk
  • Art ColeModerator, VentureBeat