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10 Service Desk Metrics Shift-Left, and AI Nuggets from HDI 2017

05/17/2017 by: Stephen Mann


The annual HDI Conference is done and dusted for another year, although I’m unsure what the Washington equivalent of Las Vegas’ “Elvis has left the building” is. As per usual, there was a lot of great service desk and IT service management (ITSM) learning (let’s call it “nuggets”) to be had – either in-person or remotely via the Twittersphere.

This blog takes two areas – two things that IT departments generally struggle with, metrics and self-service/shifting left – and makes the nuggets easier to consume. And adds in a dash of artificial intelligence (AI).

What’s not to like about having this ITSM knowledge, experience, and advice on tap?

5 Nuggets for Better Outcomes Through Better Metrics

Jeff Rumburg of MetricNet offered up the service desk metric equivalent of “Everything you ever wanted to know about metrics but were afraid to ask” – with so much content that this blog could be filled by his nuggets alone. For instance, nugget 1, the key service desk metrics out of the hundreds available:

80/20 Rule for Desktop Support KPI's

Source: MetricNet

However, one of the key takeaways from Jeff’s “Turbocharge Your Metrics with Benchmarking!” session – and something that should get anyone who’s responsible for an IT service desk thinking – is that, nugget 2, only 10% of organizations use their metrics to drive improvement:

The Dilemma with Service and Support KPIs

Source: MetricNet

The top half of the above slide also provides some additional (scary) insights into the use, or lack of use, of service desk key performance indicators (KPIs) to drive value. For instance, nugget 3, that “20% of desktop support tickets could have and should have been resolved at Level 1.” This “shifting left” of support is returned to below.

And what we do or don’t do with metrics, to improve operations, service, and services leads nicely into one of the most-Tweeted nuggets of the event (nugget 4):

“If we want to get people on the same page, we need to make that page easier to read

@justinmrobbins (tweeted by Nate Brown)

It’s a timely reminder of how we can become “snow blind” with metrics – not seeing the forest for the trees – it’s another contributor to the inaction related to the improvement opportunities offered up by fit-for-purpose metrics.

Nugget 5, which is again from Jeff, is to remember the importance of the service desk to the overall level of customer satisfaction with IT. With MetricNet data showing that 84% of customers cite the service desk as being a very important factor in their overall satisfaction with corporate IT (desktop support was second at 47%).

We shouldn’t forget the importance of the service desk in this capacity, and consequently how we invest in it, nor that satisfaction can be a strange beast to understand. With Jenny Rains quoting this insightful equation in her customer satisfaction session:

“Satisfaction = Reality* - Expectations

(*or Perceptions)

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5 Nuggets for Better Self-Service and Left Shifting (and The Role AI Will Play)

Roy Atkinson spoke on “Level 0.5: AI and Automation in the Support Center,” offering a timely reminder of the (potential) benefits of shifting left (nugget 6):

HDI Conference Stats

This reduction is costs, as we shift left, was backed by Jeff Rumburg’s stats on the costs of different service desk access and communication channels (nugget 7), showing the financial power of self-service if done right, i.e. with sufficient end-user adoption:

  • Self-help – $2
  • Service desk – $22
  • Desktop support – $69
  • IT support – $104
  • Vendor support – $599

Why did I type “potential” in the text before the image? In his session, Roy asked attendees if they had a good self-service/self-help capability and no hands went up – the benefits are there to be had but, for a number of reasons, we are still struggling to reap them. My tweet is a good start in highlighting the issues (the data is also used in this blog on the growing importance of end user engagement):

Stephen Mann Tweet


It’s all perhaps, summed up best by Roy’s great quote (nugget 8):

“It's easy to find stuff on Google, the same should be true for IT self-service.

But the real purpose of Roy’s presentation was to promote the opportunities of AI and machine learning for the service desk. And in doing this, Roy offered up the following nugget (nugget 9):

Data-driven decisions are more frequent and more complex. Bots and AI provide ways to move forward, faster.

But “For AI to work, you need to have good data and be able to integrate it.

Roy’s session was indicative of the overall AI interest, with sightings and citings of AI, machine learning, and bots scattered throughout the conference. From the sponsor giveaways – Google Homes and Amazon Echoes – to the many mentions of the role AI will play in IT support, and in the support of shifting left in particular. For instance:

“Routine IT support tasks will be taken over by bots, supplementing not replacing service desk agents

John Clark 

The final nugget, well nuggets, came from Chuck Darst’s Gartner prediction (planning assumption) slide:

“By 2019, 40% of enterprises will be actively using chatbots to facilitate business processes using natural-language interactions

“Through 2020, 99% of AI initiatives in ITSM will fail due to the lack of an established knowledge management foundation.

Mt tweet shows the source:

Stephen Mann Tweet

The latter is a bold statement but, as per Roy’s earlier point on the data needed to support AI, you can understand Gartner’s concern over knowledge management. And I guess it’s up to us to ensure that Gartner isn’t correct – it’s what they would want, with the 99% statement a challenge to global IT organizations to get things right with the use of AI in ITSM.

So, what will you do differently armed with these HDI conference nuggets?

| IT Service Management / Help Desk

Stephen Mann

Stephen Mann

Stephen Mann is Principal and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm Also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals.

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