Creating the help desk of the future

INDUSTRY INSIGHT

Creating the help desk of the future

Thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices and an abundance of Wi-Fi connectivity, more people than ever are working remotely. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, the number of teleworkers within the U.S. federal government has quadrupled over the past decade, to more than 158,000 in 2014.

Employees experience many benefits from remote work environments, including less commute time, schedule flexibility, increased job satisfaction and a better work/life balance. Agencies benefit from costs savings on office space and utility costs, the ability to recruit from a larger talent pool and more satisfied workers. Teleworking also enables operational continuity in case an agency is faced with an organizational, national or natural disaster.

However, the convenience of a mobile workforce brings many challenges. Today’s mobile revolution has placed a huge burden upon government IT help desk support staff to provide essential services to users who expect to connect securely via multiple devices anywhere and at anytime. IT help desk staff is further challenged by the significant increase in the number of assets under their control.

While IT budgets are shrinking, agencies can support their employees by considering these four characteristics of the IT help desk of the future:

Mobile strategy. CIOs and IT leaders must examine how current trends in the digital workforce will impact the government’s use of technology in the future. Employees will need secure and seamless access to their work environment to provide essential services to citizens, forcing decision makers to allocate dollars to accommodate a more mobile and accessible work environment.

A good place to start when planning for the help desk of the future is the U.S. Digital Services Playbook, the manifestation of the current administration’s desire to use technology to make a difference in people’s lives, including government employees. By following the guidelines listed, CIOs and IT leaders can determine what tools workers need to effectively execute their duties and responsibilities and then design a roadmap for an effective information-driven work environment that meets those requirements.

Customer service. In order to provide exceptional customer service to citizens, government employees must also receive the same level of support from their IT help desk -- and that help includes prompt resolution to mobile problems.  To meet the needs of government employees, the IT help desk must be available to provide support on-demand to ensure satisfactory levels of connectivity.

IT skills. In addition to supporting the wide assortment of mobile devices the government workforce is using, technical support teams must be up to speed on evolving technologies such as cloud computing, and on bring-your-own-device,  privacy, security and storage issues. IT support staff can longer just respond to incidents as they occur; they must also be innovative in identifying new ways to streamline operations, cut costs and better serve their customers as quickly as possible. Agencies must plan for education costs to train their IT staff so that they will be up to date on the latest technological advances.

Dedicated mobile support. IT departments can benefit by having a central group that oversees the administration of mobile devices to more quickly provide specialized assistance to mobile users.  The expanding universe of mobile apps will also require support. According to Statista, the number of mobile app downloads is projected to reach 253.91 billion by 2016. This growth will likely cause an increase in the number of support tickets for IT help desk staff.

There’s no doubt that the government IT help desk of the future is facing new challenges as a result of shifting user expectations and the new technologies that are changing the way the government workers communicate and do their jobs. To keep up with the rising demand for mobile device support, agency IT decision makers must plan ahead so that their organizations are ready for the influx of new mobile devices and the accompanying workload increases.

About the Author

Jose Carlos Linares is president and CEO of the Open Technology Group.

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