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5 Ways Service Desk Can Transform IT to Business Strategists

by Arthur Zuckerman

Service desk is often interchanged with IT service management (ITSM). In strict terms, service desk is the primary function of ITSM, which is the strategy of focusing IT on customer or business needs rather than on systems. At the heart of a computer glitch is the user unable to perform his day’s task–ITSM looks at this problem not just a PC-fix issue, but a process problem that may involve changing how the user access his files (example, shifting to cloud).

In fact, ITSM can go further beyond tech concerns and add more value to businesses. We’ll show here how service desk software can help IT transition into a business strategist, a key management partner.

This idea isn’t new. Businesses understand technological disruptions aren’t limited to tech companies, but affect all industries. They turn to IT to chart the future. In a survey of 330 ITSM professionals in the U.S. last year, 77% of respondents said that service desk management now involves departments outside of tech (ComputerWeekly, December 2016).

Conversely, this means IT’s influence is spilling over to the company’s other core units, such as sales, support, finance, and more. This is where service desk software can add more value to the organization. It helps IT to manage its expanding role as a strategist in five major ways, which we’ll explain below.

But while the idea of IT as a business partner is widely accepted, there’s a gap in implementation. Many companies still have their departments working in silos. That’s why in the 2016 global Deloitte CIO survey 78% of CIOs are still planning to align IT with business.

There’s no better time to start adopting the paradigm shift than today. The influx of cloud solutions gives businesses an option to immediately implement an expanded ITSM with low capital investment. These solutions are likewise scalable and customized to fit different scenarios. Bear in mind though, service desk software is just a tool. The success of aligning IT with business still resides on a good strategy and management’s willingness to support it. 

Here are 5 ways in which service desk can transform IT to business strategists:

1. Focus on issues, not on departments

Departments are the main moving parts of a company, so it’s natural for management to lump employees by their mother unit. Sales vs. marketing, accounting vs. purchasing and tech vs. everyone else. The drawback with this task-driven approach is it creates an “us vs. them” culture.

This strategy forfeits technological leaps like big data, cloud computing, predictive analysis and real-time analytics that boost competitiveness in a cutthroat landscape. These technologies require different business units to work together and share data and resources. More than ever, cross-departmental collaboration is essential if a company must enhance its customer response time, boost productivity, improve products or services with market insights and so much more.

By moving away from departmental culture to an organizational-wide affinity, management can string together data from different sources and get insights, pull together resources, or distribute assets where they’re most needed.

One way to create an inclusive culture is to focus on issues, rather than on departments. When observed closely, issues cut across departments. For instance, a failing lead generation strategy done manually isn’t just a sales problem but involves cross-departmental action overseen by management. IT can recommend a slew of salesforce automation solutions that can unearth lead opportunities in existing customer base. Finance can allocate budget for new software.

Management can create an ad hoc team composed of all three units and label the group “lead generation” team. Surprisingly, this simple change in perspective quickly promotes collaboration because it creates a sense of ownership among the three units. Make it a “sales” project and I.T. and finance won’t be as cooperative perhaps since the project isn’t theirs.

An evolutionary management style called teal promotes this “wholeness” approach, where business units cooperate with a deeper sense of purpose. On this note, service desk software consolidates various department knowledge base in one place and accessible to all parties. Service desk software can also be the conduit for service requests from one department to another as teams solve company-wide issues.

2. Push self-service support

Creating self-service support across the organization is important to boost efficiency and, ultimately, the company’s overall competitiveness. Resolving customer issues is faster. Critical inputs from different departments are consolidated for product development. Best practices are accessible for more informed strategic decisions.

The tech team can coordinate the information and service requests to and from various business units, but this approach slows down momentum and bogs down IT. Worse, delays and missed tickets can happen.

With self-service support, processes are enhanced and the tech team can focus on their core tasks. A number of service desk software solutions allow companies to set up self-service portals for both internal and external users. The portals vary in features. They can have a rich knowledge base for common issues collated internally. They can host a community where users share ideas and best practices. For more complex requests, these portals can offer a catalog of available services that specific departments can deliver.

Clearly, it bodes well, not just for tech teams, but for management to set up self-service portals and train teams to use them. The effort is much easier now than before for two things: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) and cloud computing. BYOD means employees can access self-service portals without the company having to invest in hardware. Likewise, cloud computing makes these portals readily available 24/7 to employees at a low capital outlay.

3. Push self-managed platforms

Related to self-service support is empowering teams to manage their tech-enabled content and workspace platforms. For instance, marketing can initiate a community or social page where it engages customers. Sales can create an internal collaboration space to share experiences among agents. Support can build a library of use cases for future reference.

IT can help these teams to set up and manage their own platforms with little or no tech support required. Many cloud B2B solutions are designed for casual users; they need only to be set up properly with a little help from tech or vendor. From microblogging to content tagging, running a community or managing social pages, SaaS solutions allow business units to leverage content to push their agenda.

Service desk software can accommodate such requests for implementing SaaS solution. Service desk will also be a centralized place to onboard new users or resolve day-to-day issues encountered by teams as they manage their respective platforms. It can also host SLAs and contracts that are readily retrievable for reference.

By helping other teams enhance their core capabilities, IT becomes a business strategist and key management partner for knowledge acceleration across the organization, not just the tech team that everybody remembers only when there’s a glitch.

4. Make IT creative and a strategist

Common and recurring service requests prevent IT from doing more essential tasks like testing new system or exploring new projects with other teams. Tech professionals are specialist in project management and are process-driven, skills that can be applied and maximized in almost all business aspects. In short, IT is a specialized and expensive unit that needs to be optimized for special tasks to get the most ROI. So when they’re down to routinely addressing password changes or onboarding new employees, that’s asking the company’s best minds to do clerical work.

Instead, repetitive tasks are best addressed by service desk software. Most solutions feature workflow automation, such as, ticket routing, response to FAQs and even basic chat exchange. Moreover, the best service desk software solutions offer knowledge base management, wherein resolved use cases can be banked and future similar issues can be directed. Reporting can likewise be automated where data is consolidated regularly and alerts sent to relevant parties.

With automation, IT can focus on adding value across the organization, including participating in creative brainstorming outside of tech projects. For example, it can help management to analyze weak spots in other department’s workflows and recommend options. It can also proactively research on how to consolidate disparate best practices into an organizational-wide process.

5. Focus on change more than problem management

Change is the only constant, not just in tech companies but across industries. From team workflows to business models, the entire organizational structure is constantly barraged by tech innovations. No company can sit still and expect to remain profitable no matter how well entrenched they are now. Ask Kodak, Yahoo!, taxi cabs, hotels… it’s open season for disruption.

In these challenging times, IT is the lead team to chart the new direction for the company. It has the knowledge, the skills and especially the appreciation how tech can be disrespectful of the old and traditional.

Indeed, as IT becomes strategists, they’ll be focusing more on change management than on break-fix scenarios. Service desk software solutions allow companies to handle big and small transitions within a risk-calculated, step-by-step environment. Some of the common change management functionalities of service desk include: tracking system; review process; rules on metrics, dependencies, associations; risk management; configurations; and real-time updates.


Service desk software isn’t just a support tool or an IT platform to fix problems. It’s a strategy platform as IT becomes a key business partner to companies. With the help of service desk, IT can look forward and plan for the company’s future, instead of simply looking back to past events to troubleshoot localized problems..

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