Who helps the help desk?

helpdeskwarning” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  jimthompson

Once upon a time we would have asked, “who shaves the barber?” but times have changed. Nobody shaves much anymore – and even if they do there’s an electric razor that will deliver on the heavy depilation. In 2016 a far more pertinent question – and one that goes right to the heart of our contemporary working lives – is: “Who helps the help desk”?

The ubiquity of IT

For those of us who concentrate on producing stuff – whether in the form of articles like this one, or something more tangible – there is invariably an IT aspect to our work. In service industries the relationship is, as likely as not, even more pointed. Modern IT systems are now integral to every aspect of the management and operation of large-scale commercial activity- almost without exception. Even dry stone wallers and artisan bakers need to raise their invoices, check their health and safety certificates and sort out their payrolls.

Help… Duck?” (CC BY 2.0) by  andypuk

And enabling all those functions, often hidden away in a back office, is the IT department and its familiar social interface – the help desk. It is rare to find anyone singing the praises of help desk staff. However much aid they may dispense and however skilled they may be, the sad fact that is that any professional interaction they undertake is set against a wholly unsatisfactory backdrop. Perhaps that’s why the old-fashioned help desk is slowly giving way to the bright new age of the service desk. People only contact a help desk when something’s gone wrong. Inevitably this unhappy context casts the help desk worker into the unenviable position where they can only ever make things OK. It’s not easy to get excited about OK. Artisan bakers and dry-stone wallers look for something better than OK.

Turning negatives into positives

The reality is that modern businesses trade on their IT departments, and that invariably puts the humble help desk at centre stage. Being able to coordinate all the information – all the problems that arise and the solutions that are delivered there – is an essential business function. As the specialist help-desk software providers Sysaid.com point out, the knowledge created, maintained, and stored through this kind of software can directly benefit an organization in multiple ways: by streamlining future resolutions, linking multiple issues to a common cause, and providing an ongoing and continually updated repository of tried and tested solutions – just in case.

The predictable answer

It goes without saying that the answer to the question “who helps the help desk?” turns out to be an IT program. How could it not be? Such is the level of oversight required in today’s margin-squeezed commercial marketplace that each and every data point has its significance. The means to achieve a comprehensive overview of everything that is happening in a business is now delivered by all-encompassing suites of software that allow managers to work at a highly refined, granular level.

IT asset management, mobile device management, security, benchmarking and more – they can now all be administered via a single software package that takes the logic of the automated help desk and extends it right throughout an organisation.

Never mind “who helps the helpdesk?” – With such comprehensive management capabilities now in place, it might be worth asking whether the help desk might be sharing the fate of other old-fashioned ideas – like barbers and razors and dry stone walls. After all, it is changing, more than anything else, that is the constant requirement for business survival.