‘Smart IT’ will allow helpdesks to become part time, offering a service akin to the AA wherein people ring when they need help. That’s the view of Denise Plumpton of 360 IT, writing in Computer Weekly. It’s an interesting idea, but flawed on two counts. James West explains why IT support is far too important to make a part time function.
Phrases such as ‘Smart IT’ are useful labels for trying to invoke an idea. Unfortunately, like many attempts at business shorthand – Customer Relationship Management and Cloud – the words are meaningless without substance.
Firstly, there is no such thing as an IT utopia. Even if it were possible to create a perfect IT infrastructure – which as anyone with a technical background knows is virtually impossible – technology requirements and the needs of users create anomalies and the need for constant change. Creating an absolute IT function that requires no input or maintenance is exactly what it sounds – a pipedream – and is largely useless to a progressive IT department.
Secondly, while the AA analogy is nice, it essentially describes helpdesks as they have always been – users don’t ring the helpdesk unless there is a problem.
So is there any merit to the case for ‘Smart IT’? Absolutely; the idea of creating a well managed, ordered, effective IT function is one that everyone should aim for. Yet even if a business can approach ‘perfection’, the notion of dispensing with the helpdesk still makes little sense. Many businesses have had great success employing technologies such as self-logging and web service to reduce the mundane work carried out by support staff. But rather than close the helpdesk, staff are redeployed to work on forward looking projects which previously were put on the backburner because of the strain on resources.
This is essentially the difference between a reactionary helpdesk and a service desk which has the time to understand the business and deliver a service that contributes. So in one respect, the prediction is correct – the use of the stereotypical helpdesk will subside, but rather than being ditched, it will evolve into something far more useful.