Enterprise service management (ESM) has progressed from service management to helpdesk and then enterprise helpdesks.
To discuss its next evolution, IT professionals from a range of industries came together at a TechCentral C-Suite Perspective virtual roundtable sponsored by Micro Focus. The topics of where helpdesks sit, how they integrate with business and how new technology is implemented were all under discussion.
The question as to who owns the helpdesk is a tricky one, as Matevhu Davhana, group IT domain owner at Allan Gray points out. He explains that not much thought and discussion go into the question of who really owns the space.
There is often a crossover, for example, when customer relations management comes into the picture because ownership of customer relations is not an IT aspect, Davhana says. However, support for this unit does require IT involvement, he adds. “There is no one person that owns this. It’s the collective responsibility, depending on what it is that we’re talking about, or which process it is.”
Department of rural development deputy director Themba Mnguni, who also audits the department’s information systems, says he’s dealing with two merging departments, which has resulted in a situation where one helpdesk is outsourced, while the other is internal.
Ericsson’s customer security director, Ian Keller, says the network infrastructure company doesn’t fit into a neat mould because it has two businesses — telco provision, where it provides service management, and the internal corporate aspect, which has its own services management tools.
Ericsson has bespoke service desks for all its clients as it is dealing with different subscriber bases and customers, notes Keller.
Annalyn Rejji, Ernst & Young’s Africa digital technology infrastructure leader, adds that it matters whether an organisation has multiple desks versus one desk with multiple channels coming in to be serviced. This is because there are several elements that need to be taken into account, including different time zones, and multiple factors affecting the business needs.
Despite this, she says, it is important that reporting comes from one area because “as much as it’s driven by IT, business has to see that all kinds of problems are hitting the service desk”. This information needs to be translated into something tangible, such as, “How do we make changes and how do you make things better?”
To ensure alignment between business and ESM, Ernst & Young has weekly catch-up sessions to discuss what Rejji calls “hotspots” so that business is aware of what is happening.
Although artificial intelligence is the buzzword when it comes to providing better service, George Leonard, BankservAfrica’s infrastructure, platform, database and technology architect, says “people throw the word term around a lot”.
Where intelligence and analytics come in is when calls get routed and managed correctly, says Leonard. “It’s just another technology that we need to take advantage of, to improve a service.” Taking advantage will allow calls to jump escalation levels if needed, to get it in front of the correct person with the least number of transfers, he says.
Avbob chief enterprise architect Megaree Naraidoo says automation needs to be about understanding your client base. “It’s important to look at which types of queries you can produce automated answers to, and which types are complex situations, where you need a bit more detail.”
This allows intelligence to be built in on certain questions; to determine types of problems, put ratings to those problems, and then articulate in terms of which department or which system can answer those queries, Naraidoo says. This results in technology being used where it will benefit.
However, when it comes to legacy systems, the latest technology cannot be used. Automation manager at Nedbank Michael Maseko explains that it is difficult to integrate new systems with legacy ones, and a company also needs to be at a certain stage of maturity before adopting new technology.
Orizur’s director of specialist data privacy and cybersecurity governance, Lufuno Khorommbi, adds that when robots are used, they need to be intuitive and understand what people’s needs are, otherwise they are useless and just infuriate customers. “The person who is developing and rolling out the technology for me, as a customer, must make sure that I get better service than what I was getting from a human.”
Bongani Rainmaker chief technology officer Maciek Granicki says there is a place for the human element and it can be augmented by customer relationship management and maybe a bit of AI in the back end. This will help and empower a service desk agent, so that they know what they’re talking about. “I need to empower that first-line support to be effective, because I think nobody wants to be called back. Nobody wants to get an e-mail back.”
Davhana adds it is key to ensure that people picking up a phone to get help are comfortable in helping themselves. “We need to continue to work on getting people to be more comfortable with self-service and upskilling, in terms of technology.”
Resolution, says Granicki, is key, even if all problems cannot be fixed at once.
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