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The Service Desk is not dead!

Why I believe they are more important in organisations than ever before

On and off over the last few years I have seen a lot of comments in publications, websites and blogs about how new technologies are doing away with Service Desks or stripping away the blockages that IT are perceived to be putting in place.

This frustrates me as its not only IT departments that read this (and some believe it) but the wider business also hears this stuff.   I believe, however, that the exact opposite is true. Service Desks, or a controlled way of providing your end users with the ability to get in touch with IT, are becoming more and more important.

Supporting your end users

If we look at the mention of ‘new technologies that are doing away with Service Desks’, those of us at the pointy end of IT are often told ‘We want to roll out tablets (usually iPads) to all staff in these roles / this level.’ Not so bad if you are able to undertake this through a formal project where you can then design the infrastructure, endpoint management, resourcing, etc. prior to the first user turning up to use it.   However, what happens more often than not, is that people turn up with a new iPad or a new starter wants to connect their tablet to the corporate network and email and find it unreasonable that they can’t just use it.  We’ve all been there, right?

Take a second to consider this; The service desk receives a request to connect their new tablet to the network and the user is told – usually very nicely – that it’s not allowed (if that is the case).

Who takes the flak? The service desk.

Who makes the decision? CIO? Maybe; Security Manager? Maybe; IT Operations Manager? Maybe.

It should be a governance group! The governance group or team should represent the business and guide IT on what they should be delivering and focussing on. If the wider business want IT to allow BYOD then they should direct IT to put in place everything needed to allow it to happen. COBIT explains it simply in their diagram.


This means that with these new approaches and new technologies that enable staff to work in different ways, the service desk is key – maybe more than ever before – to the support of services to staff.

Service Desk is the door to IT

IT is key to organisations now, and the service desk is key to IT.  Everyone in an organisation will at some point or another, talk to the service desk. Not everyone will talk to a BRM / SDM or application support team, or infrastructure team, or business analyst or deskside support, or countless other IT teams, but they will need to contact the service desk. It may be to get an account unlocked, a new mouse, to complain about the fact that the screen layout on the one thing they use has changed, or to get help changing the password on their iPhone because it doesn’t synchronise with active directory and they have the same problem every month.
If you have a company provided user id, email account, PC, tablet, phone, ERP account needed to claim expenses or submit timesheets then you will need to talk to the Service Desk (physically or virtually) to get something fixed, improved or extended.

Or, if we go back to the BYOD example, the company approved the roll out of BYOD. Great. But to what level?

  • Do you need to provide cloud printing?
  • Do you provide access to email and certain other applications?
  • Who provides the access?
  • Who communicates and explains what can and can’t be done, or how long it takes to get access?
  • Who helps users to connect up when they aren’t sure what to do?
  • Who helps users to use the applications that they want to use?

BYOD doesn’t take away the need for a service desk. It could be seen to increase the interaction.

According to HDI, BYOD popularity is growing, yet so are ticket numbers, and BYOD is a big contributor to that.


Service Desks and the rest of IT

Service desks are critical to all IT departments just like IT is critical to most organisations. So why is the service desk thought to be dead or dying?

Most of the time, I believe the service desk gets bad press because it is what most users equate with IT. So where does this bad rap come from?

Quite often,not always, the service desk gets hit with the big stick because they are the front door to IT.   You blame what you can see. Ask airport check-in staff what type of customer interaction they have when flights are delayed. This happens for the same reason.

Service desk get blamed because a user can’t have a shiny new toy. Therefore, perception is that the service desk are useless. Reality may be that governance is poor.

Service desk get blamed for new applications not working very well. Therefore, perception is that the service desk are useless. Reality may be that a project didn’t test fully before releasing into production.

However, if your customers or users perceive that the service desk provide poor service, that is their reality. That is what you need to change.

I’ll cover ways you can change this in my next post.

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