Scott Dodds, CEO of Ultima, explains how managed services providers are using automation to cut costs and boost the productivity of IT service desks
As modern workplaces are transformed by digitisation, advances in mobile technology and flexible working patterns, it is essential for technology and IT departments to keep up with the pace of change. One way to do this is to upskill or re-skill existing IT teams and to invest heavily in technology. However, this has a big impact on capex. The other option is to outsource and automate, which will save costs and time and give organisations access to the latest technology and best practices.
For managed services providers, it’s no longer acceptable to provide a basic managed service. Organisations want to use MSPs that save them money, add value and help improve their business innovation. One area in which they can do this is service desk automation. By leveraging service orchestration, intelligent automation and machine learning for service desk services, MSPs can offer a far richer user experience with substantial efficiency savings.
‘Business as usual’ automation
Automation tools work within the service desk to source information and complete tasks that a human would normally do. Using AI and machine learning, the service desk can be ‘programmed’ to complete a task when specific information is requested.
Initially, the MSP would work with a customer to develop a comprehensive catalogue of service requests, which could include new starters, email changes, application-specific requests or any other ‘business as usual’ task that would normally be sent to the service desk for fulfilment. Instead of sending an email to the service desk, which would be fulfilled based on agreed SLAs, users select service requests via a service desk portal. They will be asked to put in their details and other relevant information and then click to ‘order’ that catalogue item, much like an Amazon shopping cart experience.
Making service desks more productive
Taking ‘business as usual’ tasks away from service desk teams and automating them dramatically improves productivity for agents and end users alike – reducing the time it takes to perform tasks from several days to minutes and liberating agents to focus on more complex customer issues.
Automation also has benefits where service desk tickets are still required. Software robots are available 24/7, 365 days a year; they eliminate human error; and where once there would have been between six and ten touch points for staff logging and dealing with each ticket, with automation there are only two. The reduction in the number of times a member of support staff must handle each ticket enables service desks to respond to customer needs faster and more accurately, leading to enormous productivity gains for end users and agents.
Advancing the customer experience
Another benefit of an intelligent service desk portal is richer engagement with end users, including a live chat function that allows users to interact with an agent 24/7. Extending this to mobile platforms provides enhanced service levels to a mobile generation that increasingly doesn’t see the need for a laptop or permanent workstation.
With Millennials and Generation Z each predicted to make up 35% of the UK workforce by 20201, all businesses will need to adopt new ways of working. MSPs are no exception and as they adapt to the requirements of the workspace of the future, managed services are evolving from delivering ‘traditional’ solutions to ‘alwayson’ real world solutions.
By blending automation with customer service, MSPs can provide service desks with a much higher first contact resolution and deliver a far richer customer service experience to users who still require assistance. Service desk tasks can be performed quicker, with engineers involved only when they need to be, creating the kind of productivity gains that encourage momentum and innovation.
Ultima is an automation and infrastructure service provider that aims to become a longterm IT partner to its clients by providing robust and flexible solutions that bring real business benefits. Founded in 1990 and with offices in Reading and London, it has a turnover of £123m and employs nearly 450 staff, including over 200 technical staff and 75 senior consultants with over 28 years of implementation experience in end user computing, mobility, cloud, data centre, networking & security, and messaging & collaboration.
NHS Foundation Trust slashes onboarding time
Each year, Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust (RBFT) has a fresh intake of around 200 doctors/nurses. To set up each new starter with their own email, password and login, the trust used to submit one large request to the service desk, which would typically take up to two weeks to process. By working with Ultima to define these processes and create catalogue items available to the trust via an intelligent automation service desk portal, RBFT has been able to reduce the time it takes to perform these tasks to a matter of hours. In one week alone, the RBFT service desk was able to save an estimated 112 hours of employee time through the automation of ‘business as usual’ tasks, including new starter processes.