by Leslie Lawerence Paul
On a quiet evening whilst holidaying with my family along one of the popular beaches in Malaysia, we came across a throng of children actively whizzing by in their Ninebots back and forth along the children’s play alley. Both my kids of 12 and 9 were pretty thrilled in hopping onto one of those and enjoying the ride with the rest of the kids. They were in seventh heaven when they got on to one of those and had a field day throughout the rest of the evening.
Eventually when they were tired-out, curiosity got the better of them and a series of questions started bombarding my way to discern all about Ninebot and the future of robotics. I started sharing loads of information with examples about robotics and the way forward with artificial intelligence which got them quite engrossed and wanting to explore further.
Quoting the words of the great English theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking when he addressed BBC, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race …. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.’’
It’s been sometime since we have been hearing about artificial intelligence and the likes of it across most businesses today; while many have predicted the decline stating their own notions and fads, a few beg to differ!
My recent experience with a Service Provider in Malaysia whom I had known for years kind of baffled me when a Chatbot from their website could acknowledge my request and furnish me with the required information; and voilà within the next few minutes one of the service desk agents from an out-sourced desk contacted me to fill-in on the availability of stock. While this was a fabulous experience, my mind started racing in comprehending their service desk setup, number of FTE’s, number of support calls vs break/fix jobs, percentage on FCR, CSAT, etc. To be honest, this was the very same organization where I had originally setup the service desk and trained their analysts 20 years ago.
My thoughts were answered when I finally visited the support centre to collect the item that I had ordered. The Service Provider had already out-sourced their service desk to a BPO based in the Philippines as the number of incoming support calls have dwindled considerably in the last few years. Moreover many consumers were comfortable in obtaining ‘self-help’ or using the operating system to revert back to the last working date (wherein the system was in good order). With state-of-the-art operating systems and applications that are predominant today, consumers do not necessarily require support from a service desk unless it’s a break/fix issue involving time-and-materials.
This proves to show that most Level One Analyst jobs in the Service Desk are gradually shrinking and most businesses constantly seek for options in bringing down their cost by outsourcing their desks to neighbouring countries in Asia.
Previously, service desks used to deal with support queries related to defective hardware, application glitches or issues associated with access to data. As information technology has evolved, and the customers’ expectation of office technology has become far superior, such demands are channeled into queries with special attention. For instance, requests such as “I wish to do this’’ or “how can I do this?’’ essentially calls for diverse skillsets and tactics. The Level One Analysts should now make a fervent effort in advancing their support skills and knowledge or even picking-up new skills so that they are not left in the lurch.
The way forward for IT Service Desks is to ensure that it is accessible anywhere, whenever required, and on any domain. Both Service Desk Analysts and customers will hereafter not be limited to a specific locality or technology to provide or obtain prompt and valuable IT support. Virtual Analysts will certainly become a segment of all IT Service Desks going forward and they will complement or in some instances substitute human analysts.
With that being said, AI can further enhance the IT Service Management experience in various ways; a simple approach to start with is to use AI-induced Chatbots to manage lower value IT support calls. According to Gartner, by 2020, 55% of all large corporations would have installed at least One bot or Chatbot in production (Shanbhag A., 2018).
By employing Chatbots, corporations will be able to realise huge benefits within the IT Service Management System; a reduction in the number of tickets created and also the cost per ticket, minimal calls and shorter duration of calls, better response times, greater staff productivity and last but not least overall reduction on operating costs. In due time, human intervention will gradually decrease for lower-level matters and leveraging on AI will certainly generate immense opportunities for businesses to provide outstanding employee and customer experience.