Digital Transformation Should Start with Your IT Help Desk. Here’s Why.

By Leah Lindblom • May 20, 2021

The 2020 pandemic brought seismic shifts to organizations, the economy, and the world, impacting both employees and employers. While work from home mandates struck in March of 2020, they are expected to extend throughout 2021. In addition, a recent Gartner survey revealed that 90% of enterprises will allow work from home at least part of the time post vaccine—creating a new hybrid workforce.

While the economy is recovering, budgets are not. A CIO survey at a recent Gartner conference revealed that IT budgets are only growing 2% in 2021. That means cost containment is still paramount, which is why digital transformation initiatives are now prioritized.

All of this is impacting the IT help desk, as they have to: (1) support a remote workforce 24/7; (2) handle a 35% increase in inquiries; and (3) support the launch of digital technologies. The traditional help desk no longer works—the negative impact to your budget, workforce productivity, and employee satisfaction are too great.

In order for digital transformation to be successful, it should start with your help desk first. Here are four reasons why:

  1. Work from home is not going away.
  2. According to McKinsey & Company, 62% of employed Americans are working from home as a result of the pandemic. And that’s not likely to go away. A recent Gartner study found that 53% of employees would like to work remotely some or all of the time after the pandemic. In the future, work from home will morph into work from anywhere.

    While 41% of employees are more productive from home, one in three are struggling. For some, it’s the difficulty of working in a virtual world. For others, it’s dealing with distractions from children, pets, chores, and even packages being dropped on their doorsteps. As a result, the time employees have available for work is fragmented by interruptions. When an employee needs help from the help desk, they need it immediately.

  3. Cost containment is driving digital transformation.
  4. While CIO budgets are virtually flat, the pandemic spurred digital transformation forward by at least five years. A CIO Dive study revealed that CIOs reprioritized their top initiatives resulting in a 79% increase in the amount of budget allocated for digital transformation. Why? Because when you need to contain costs, the best way to do that is through automation.

    It’s one thing to select and deploy the right digital transformation technology. It’s another thing to support the rollout in a way that makes it frictionless within your enterprise. Change management is a key ingredient to success.

    Employees turn to the help desk when they have questions or issues. Can your help desk support new digital technologies by delivering immediate answers 24/7? If not, your initiatives will fail, and your planned cost containment initiatives will inadvertently increase costs.

  5. Traditional help desks are manual, inefficient, and expensive, causing employee frustration and productivity loss.
  6. What happens when your employees need IT help today? For self-help, their primary option is rummaging through the IT knowledge base portal. Most of the time that results in opening a ticket, and inevitably the fields will be filled out incorrectly. If employees call the help desk, they usually experience a long wait. With email inquiries, employees don’t have the benefit of a form, so the chance that agents will have enough information to address the request is slim.

    30% of the time tickets go through ticket ping pong looking for the right agent. Every time a ticket is reassigned, two things happen. First, employee happiness drops 10 points; and second, 1.5 hours of productivity is lost. Finally, the agent sends an email to the employee—and that can turn into a long exchange of emails over multiple days.

  7. Automation reduces costs, improves employee satisfaction, and supports digital technology.
  8. With a manual process, it’s no surprise that 92% of IT help desk budgets is spent on agents. Your agents are being monopolized with repetitive questions like password reset, guest Wi-Fi access, software updates, and VPN information, instead of solving problems that are critical to your business.

    The irony? Gartner research shows that 76% of tickets going to the help desk are handled on the first contact. Logic tells us that most things that can be handled in one contact can be automated.

Bottom line, if you’re rolling out new digital technologies to reduce costs without first automating your help desk, your agents will be overwhelmed, and your employees won’t get the support they need. When that occurs, your efforts to save money might end up costing you more.

An increasingly common way to bring automation to a help desk is by implementing a virtual agent. To learn more and find out what to look for in a virtual agent, see our eBook: Digital Transformation Should Start With Your Help Desk. Here’s Why.

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