ITSM Collaboration Tools Compliance

By Pat Calhoun, Chief Executive Officer
May 21, 2022

In today’s world of Slack and Microsoft Teams, many organizations are rethinking the concept of the “service desk”. Their employees, who have lost the ability to shoulder tap colleagues to ask for help, have shifted to asking for IT help in collaboration tools. In response, some organizations have created public channels for IT help with live agents assigned to monitor the channels – thinking this is a modern way of building an IT function. But is it?

One can admittedly argue that the days of “getting a ticket and waiting your turn” are behind us. I mean it feels so… DMV-like, right? No organization would want to replicate that. However, that does not change the fact that from a compliance standpoint, organizations must adhere to ITIL best practices. It’s not that a “ticket number” is required to be compliant – but it is that organizations need to be able to track all IT incidents and requests in the (hopefully unlikely) event that an issue leads to a security incident.

Sure, security incidents are infrequent, so why burden an already overloaded service desk team with the complexity of tracking their work in an ITSM system of record? Unfortunately, this is required. However, just because tracking work is required in an ITSM system does not mean that a company should not be rethinking how a service desk should operate.

How To Ensure Your Public Channels Are ITIL Compliant

The right approach is to let the service desk agents do their work in the ITSM system of record, while continuing to let employees engage via tools such as Slack and Teams for ticket creation. The figure below shows an example of employees creating tickets from Slack – but this is not what I would call “modern”.

Another alternative is to leverage a virtual support agent (VSA), enabling employees to simply express their questions or issues using their natural language within the collaboration tool. Meanwhile, the VSA uses machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to attempt to automate the resolution of the employee’s issue.

This concept sometimes raises fear that this would degrade the overall support experience. Research has shown that employees do not necessarily want to talk to a human – they just want their problems solved as quickly as possible…with little friction. Keep in mind, these are the same employees that rely on consumer virtual agents, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, in their personal lives.VSAs can live in a public channel and respond to all your employees – or employees can interact with them in private channels. In either case, when they automate the resolution of issues, they create tickets for compliance and reporting purposes without employees ever knowing this has been done. When they are unable to automate the resolution of an issue, they create a ticket and connect the employee to a service desk agent, who works in the ITSM system of record. This ensures that all interactions are captured.

The Role of Conversational AI In Employee Adoption

Do virtual support agents really work? Well, it is important to understand why employees call the service desk to begin with. In many cases, they are not sure they know what their problem is. They want to talk to a human because that person will engage with them, ask them questions, and eventually come up with a diagnosis so resolution can be provided.For a VSA to be successful, it needs to engage with your employees to understand the true nature of their problems. This is called conversational AI. Once a VSA with conversational AI has been able to narrow down the issue to understand the problem, it can then either provide a response, or launch an automation to fix the issue.And all of this can happen in seconds – which means not only do VSAs enable organizations to be compliant, they also significantly reduce mean time to resolution (MTTR).

Through the past 5 years, we have seen the market define expectations of a virtual support agent – and these expectations have shifted as the market has matured. When done right, a VSA can help an organization rethink the service desk support process and maintain compliance while delivering an exceptional employee experience.

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