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Author  Mauricio Corona – CTO, Service Desk Institute

September 30, 2022 |

 8 min read

  • Blog
  • M_o_R
  • P3O
  • RESILIA
  • PRINCE2 Agile
  • MSP
  • ITIL
  • PRINCE2
  • AgileSHIFT
  • MoV
  • MoP
  • P3M3
  • Axelos ProPath
  • ITIL MM
  • ITSM
  • PPM
  • ITIL4
  • soft skills

This is a very exciting time for service desks, shifting from a technical function to developing the ability to provide strategic insights useful across an organization.

And, by using ITIL 4 practices in conjunction with hyper-automation, this means delivering additional value.

While the traditional service desk was, effectively, a helpdesk focused on users’ technical issues, ITIL helped it evolve into a single point of contact and knowledge for user requests.

Now, by deploying ITIL 4 concepts, the service desk should be considered part of the strategy for an organization; this is because the service desk knows exactly what is happening with customers, the customer journey and whether a new service deployment has worked well or not.

And ITIL 4’s appreciation of new technologies and methods – including artificial intelligence (AI) – presents another opportunity for the service desk.

AI and the service desk

Though leaders are beginning to recognize that data generated through AI across organizations is the “new oil”, they often struggle to know where and how to start with it.

But I believe the answer is right in front of them, in the form of the service desk. This department collects gigabytes of information daily and could be the starting point for new AI projects.

With increased automation – specifically chatbots and virtual assistants – the modern service desk tends to have fewer people, but with greater maturity and ability to provide strategic input. And this includes the abundance of interesting and valuable data processed across the department.

However, it’s also true that service desk professionals must understand how to handle the data, which is the main issue in every AI project across the world. In practice, that means spending 50% of their time speaking with people who own the data, which requires cross-departmental communication. Then, 30% of the time is spent understanding multi-structured data presented by different platforms.

From there, the service desk can begin developing capabilities and skills to create new machine learning models and embedding them into organizational strategy.

From skills to strategy

To take the next step from gathering and understanding data to making it strategically valuable requires two main things:

  1. A customer/user perspective
  2. Working with internal departments to know what they need and how it fits with the organization’s strategy.

Service desk professionals with ITIL 4 knowledge should already have those capabilities. ITIL 4’s service desk practice provides guidance to:

  • Understand internal customers’ requirements and challenges
  • See the customer journey from end to end
  • Provide predictions for what will happen to services, for example, in terms of interruptions.

Thereafter, in tandem with a data science team, the service desk can develop new AI skills to contribute to AI projects across the organization; in effect, making these initiatives more strategic than tactical and siloed.

As the service desk matures over time, it will evolve from being able to work with diagnostic analytics (i.e., why did something happen?), to predictive analytics (what will happen?) and – at the most sophisticated level – prescriptive analytics (how can we make something happen?).

As ITIL 4 focuses on the end-to-end perspective of moving – though a service value system – from demand to value, a service desk organized with this best practice makes it much easier to access the necessary data and bring greater wisdom to the overall strategy.

And what about service desk career development?

The most knowledgeable staff on the service desk – who have combined data science and ITIL 4 skills – can work with data and translate it to strategy.

This opportunity to grow professionally means that the best service desk professionals will be promoted beyond the department. However, because their skills are valuable to the wider organization, they are more likely to move to new roles within their existing employer than seek employment elsewhere.