A digital transformation strategy for elevating end-user experiences and business outcomes.
Ask many CIOs and IT directors, and they’ll agree that the traditional help desk approach to IT support no longer reflects today’s business realities, with increasingly tech-savvy and vocal end users.
Not convinced? Try the following thought experiment.
Imagine you walk into your favorite big-box store. They stop you at the door and give you a ticket number. They verify that you have enough cash to shop in their store. They ask you which single item you want to buy. They allow you to go only to the aisle where that particular item is sold. If you want another item, they make you go through the entire process all over again.
“How happy would you be with that customer experience?” asks Sam Gross, CompuCom® chief technology officer. “Yet this ticket-based process is exactly what we expect end users to go through when they consume IT support.”
The solution, Gross says, is Advanced Intelligent Automation (AIA). AIA is a digital transformation strategy for elevating end-user experiences and business outcomes.
“The goal,” Gross explains, “is to enable organizations to modernize and extend their investment in IT and position the business to achieve its strategic objectives. And in the majority of cases, those strategic objectives are better accomplished when your end users are productive, focused and happy.”
Crossing the Support Chasm
The traditional IT life cycle fails to accommodate three key trends, Gross believes:
- End users increasingly demand an enriching and empowering consumer experience, and they aren’t happy when IT doesn’t deliver it.
- Business needs IT to become more expedient, predictive and cost-efficient in support of digital agendas.
- Rising technical complexity and product diversity require both broader and deeper skills across the IT life cycle.
As a consequence, “there remains a wide gulf between where IT support exists today and where it needs to be to serve the organization going forward,” Gross insists. (See Figure 1.) From a technology perspective, IT support needs to evolve from purely manual processes toward automated tools and processes augmented by support technicians.
From a business perspective, IT needs to transform from a technology-centric approach based on slow, manual processes to an end-user-centric model built on rapid, automated processes. It must replace rigid, one-size-fits-all support with a highly personalized end-user experience. Ultimately, IT must address what Gross calls the “5 Es” of elevated experiences: empowerment, enrichment, expedience, efficiency and effectiveness. (See Figure 2.)
AIA isn’t a product you can buy, Gross emphasizes. Instead, “it’s a journey based on technologies, processes and best practices, some of which you probably already have in place,” he says.
The journey to AIA involves seven distinct steps. (See Infographic.) “And you need to follow these steps in order, because each step builds on the one before it,” Gross says. The good news is that you don’t have to wait until the end of the journey to see results. You should achieve incremental gains at each stage. These steps are:
- Identities and personas — In order for you to automate IT support, every end user, device and “thing” needs to have an identity. You can then establish personas for devices and services, so that your automation knows which rules apply.
- Digital services integration — Digital services integration provides a mechanism for macro orchestration, which is all about business process. It connects your systems through web services or application programming interfaces (APIs).
- Converged device automation — Converged device automation creates a link between your devices and a management engine that provides instructions to your automation.
- Data 101 and predictive analytics — Automation of IT support requires good data. To achieve AIA, you need to get Data 101 right. “There are probably between 50 and 150 data elements that affect IT support,” Gross advises. “You need to move them from relational databases to a graph database” to create a platform for self-assembling knowledge and allow natural-language search.
- Robotic process automation (RPA) — RPA captures the first four steps in a console view. It delivers digital assistance to technicians to make them more efficient.
- Persona portal — A persona portal is the mechanism that lets end users interact digitally with your support platform. It leverages policies and rules to deliver personalized support based on predictive analytics.
- Device app and agent — You now have the components you need to implement localized engagement through an app that sits on all devices. This will enable user-centric support options such as fast call for help, ticketless IT service management (ITSM), click to call, video chat and persona-based help.
Ultimately, “AIA enables you to progressively add digital assistance to your manual IT support processes, steadily achieving greater automation,” Gross says. The outcome will be more efficient IT support, along with enhanced end-user experiences that drive higher productivity and better business outcomes.
From AIA to Outcomes
AIA’s purpose isn’t simply to revamp IT support. The goal is to achieve results that benefit the business:
- Better agility — AIA gives IT greater agility to adapt to changing business requirements. By automating support processes, AIA makes IT more flexible and responsive to the business.
- Better experience — AIA drives significantly better end-user experiences and satisfaction by delivering support in a much more personalized and responsive manner.
- Better productivity — AIA allows end users to be more productive and to leverage IT to do more than they thought possible. Employees get back to work faster and use IT more effectively to do their jobs better.