Universal Service Desk: Too Much Focus On Infrastructure, Not Enough On Information

Universal Service Desk - Bright Horse

Bright Horse recently hosted an event for customers interested in the concept of a Universal Service Desk – providing more than just an IT service. This was in contrast to many service desks, founded on ITIL4 or ITIL4-like principles which, largely, ignore or forget that the original intention of ITIL was to professionalise IT, for the benefit of activities relating to people working in ‘the business’.

Business people tend to have issues relating to information. Such business people tend not to have any interest in IT or raising ‘incidents’, beyond making certain they can SnapTube, YouChat, and find out what’s up (or down) or call someone when they can’t get something to work as it should; such as access to information.

Go back a step, before the service desk – business people would have the ability to walk to a specific location in their office (or call them on a dedicated phone line) and ask for something.  This ‘request’ was ‘processed’ and depending on the request, the requestor was often handed the item (maybe not a desk) and they made off with their new acquisition and got on with their daily work. This location was the home of the Facilities Management (FM) component of the organisation.

The need to improve FM functions was to replace it/them with a service desk. Except of course where FM activities were clearly still needed, as they still are, and now the ITSM providers offer tools to accommodate.  In the FM world IT took a different route; FMIS services and service desks were being built and used.

Unexpectedly however, they took no notice of ITIL.

Or IT, except where its use as an enabler was obvious for example, automated business activities along the lines of old ‘front office/back office’ ‘request/fulfilment’ principles. Which ironically is the basis of the ITIL service desk concept but what is of interest now, is that those ‘old timers’ that provide FM services that range from reconfiguring and furnishing entire offices down to issuing ID badges and everything in between, and the many, many IT service desks that are increasingly finding synergies and providers of technology that offer integration.

A number of those attending the Universal Service Desk event were either thinking about such integration, or in some cases were in the midst of carrying out integrations. It was recognised that the ‘infrastructure’ focus of ITIL is way too narrow and it is also very widely recognised that no one ‘outside’ the ITIL ecosystem either cares what is in the best practice or will even care to discover ‘what ITIL says about (for example) TOGAF, or PRINCE2’.

The issue really is that a Universal Service Desk needs to operate with best practices from many sources and that means employing highly trained professional staff, comfortable with IT but also comfortable with the concept that services are not all IT services.

Brian Johnson wrote this blog after speaking about Universal Service Desk during a Bright Horses event. He is also speaking at our next event on Thursday 25th October where the theme, ‘Service Improvement and ITIL: Too much focus on infrastructure, not enough focus on information’ will be discussed.

Brian Johnson has authored over 30 ITIL publications including the ITIL and the Information Lifecycle, available from IT Governance Press.