Business IT service portfolios are growing in complexity. Phenomena such as BYOD and the Internet of Things mean that devices and applications are constantly being added to ageing infrastructures. Whilst managing these estates, those responsible for making technology-based decisions within the business are also charged with improving the service they deliver to end-users, despite relying on back-end, silo-based monitoring systems that may no longer be fit for purpose.
End-users are experiencing problems with performance as a result, which then lead to a drop in productivity and a lack of confidence in IT support teams.
A recent report carried out by Forrester on behalf of Nexthink profiled IT decision-makers within UK and US businesses, evaluating the impact that the performance of technology services had on end-users and their wider organisations.
Lack of visibility
According to the report, almost half (43%) of these decision-makers saw the complexity of their IT service portfolio as one of the most significant issues preventing them from delivering better service quality. Also cited as a major issue was the lack of visibility into IT service performance from the perspective of the end-user.
Nearly all (98%) respondents claimed that they regularly encountered situations where end-users experienced a problem which simultaneously concerned several parts of their IT infrastructure. Support staff were reported as spending three quarters of their time (73%) dealing with back-end infrastructure issues, particularly those with multiple aspects.
Such issues meant that 90% reported frequently coming across situations where device-specific problems needed to be ruled out from those relating to infrastructure. A further 83% claimed that this form of silo mentality made it difficult for them to diagnose issues around IT service quality. As a result, IT support is often considered to be largely reactive in nature.
By way of illustration, in more than a third of cases (35%), a support team was made aware of an issue with availability or performance when a ticket was raised by the end-user affected, rather than when alerted by a back-end monitoring tool.
In addition, only 2% of respondents admitted to employing any form of monitoring tools with a focus on end-users which would enable them to detect downtime and gain insight into its effects on employee productivity, customer satisfaction, or revenue.
It's perhaps unsurprising then that end-users have lost a certain amount of faith in their IT support teams.
Forrester's workforce data reveals that 45% of users will attempt to resolve an issue on their own before requesting assistance from the helpdesk. Worryingly perhaps, 17% of workers claimed that they didn't believe their IT support desk could solve their performance issues or answer their technical questions. Another 16% used search engines to find a solution for themselves, while 14% sought assistance from the software or hardware manufacturer's helpline.
Perhaps compounding the perceived loss of confidence in IT support is the fact that almost a third (30%) of end-users will seek assistance from peers and colleagues who aren't employed in any IT-related function.
Investment in analytics
To combat this lack of faith, and to become more proactive in their approach, it's necessary for IT support teams to employ more sophisticated monitoring and analytics tools that will enable them to detect issues experienced by end-users – before the users themselves do.
This is reflected in the fact that more than half of those surveyed (52%) consider the improved use of data and analytics for better business decisions and outcomes as being a priority over the coming year.
A third of these recognise the importance of products and assets being connected so that IT teams are better able to monitor their identity, location and condition. Indeed, the visibility that end-user analytics provides will allow support staff to understand and proactively address issues at the user's level.
By investing in end-user analytics, IT organisations can begin improving the quality of the service they deliver.
Routinely monitoring the IT infrastructure, automatically generating meaningful reports, and identifying and resolving problems the moment that they occur will offer insight into whether the quality and performance of the service meets the end-users' needs.
Ultimately, this insight will enable IT teams to become more effective in delivering the projects and allocating the budget required to improve those issues in service quality that most greatly affect worker productivity, customer satisfaction, and the bottom line.
- Poul Nielsen is director of strategy at Nexthink