Artificial Intelligence And Service Desk

artificial intelligence service desk bright horse

Artificial Intelligence (AI) became the buzzword for 2017 and everywhere you look industry visionaries and specifically ITSM tool vendors are predicting the uptake of AI tools to supplement automation of the services provided to the business by IT. The technology is already here. NLP, machine intelligence, etc and the predicted usage ranges from knowledge management, request fulfillment (common FAQ), intelligent search and chatbots, and supplementing self-service capabilities. Here’s everything you must know about the relationship between Artificial Intelligence and Service Desk.

There is a range of definitions for AI which are based on machine-based intelligence and learning. The fields of study and development stem from a wide range of expert fields including computer science, mathematics, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, neuroscience, artificial psychology and many others.

Articulated by Gartner as “technology that can learn, adapt and improve itself without humans programming it (and) promises to help you accomplish more with humans and machines than either can do on their own.”

As one of the leading vendors in the space, Cherwell is helping to promote understanding of both the concept and potential capabilities for Artificial Intelligence and Service Desk and ITSM. They have an online AI readiness assessment and their blog on the subject included references to Service Automation and some insights from the HDI. One of the key concerns is how automation and specifically AI might replace service desk roles, however from the research to date it would appear more likely that the benefit will be in replacing the mundane, repetitive tasks and freeing up the skilled resources for higher value tasks.

I suspect for many organisations that AI is a step too far to even envisage. If you buy into the premise that goals should be SMART or any derivative of this – then for many considering how AI will practically enable service improvement might be too far away from current reality – (let alone virtual reality!).

If you take the approach of Stephen Covey in his 7 Steps, the first step is to begin with the end in mind. If the ‘end game’ is to introduce AI – one approach is to work backward from that point to figure out what will need to happen for each subsequent step to be successful moving forward.

Many organisations, even at the enterprise level, are still struggling to implement effective practices that underpin delivery of great services to the business using real intelligent humans.

There may be a number of reasons for this – experience tells me the most common are:

  1. Inadequate/unsupported/badly configured/configured to death/unfit for purpose tools
  2. No self-service capabilities and difficulty integrating 3rd party tools or apps
  3. Lack of or no clearly defined IT processes supporting required activities, roles & responsibilities, inputs & outputs
  4. Siloed working/lack of knowledge capture & sharing/no or inappropriate communication across teams/departments/business units
  5. Lack of leadership/vision/direction and strategy for how to move the organisation forwardToo many contractors/no retained
  6. knowledge/staff churn rates/stressful blame led environment
  7. No understanding of business impact/urgency/priorities/objectives
  8. Lack of budget/cuts to funding/increase demand for services with reduction in resourcing – delivering more for less
  9. Many customers will tell us ‘we know the service (desk) is under-performing, we don’t need to know how badly’ – usually evidenced by low levels of customer satisfaction, feedback, interaction and/or relationship.

Nobody wants to pay to be told they are underperforming, however, if you cannot acknowledge where you REALLY are it is difficult to make measured and quantifiable improvements. Internal self-assessment is often subjective and based upon a single perspective which often aligns to the specific silo! An independent objective review is exactly that – driven by intelligent questioning from multiple perspectives to get as close to the truth as possible.

The level of clarity provided by this review enables measurement of progress towards achieving future goals and allows you to communicate why things need to change.