DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – As technology continues its emergence from backroom tactic to frontline strategy help desk professionals are taking on new responsibilities and adding new skills, according to a survey by CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry and workforce.
The need for high quality, high availability technical support is heightened as the importance of technology in daily operations and long-term strategic planning is elevated, according to Seth Robinson, senior director for technology analysis at CompTIA.
“As organizations rely on technology to a greater degree to stay connected to their customers and keep their workforce productive the help desk must function at a very high level and to do so while tackling a wider array of support issues,” Robinson said.
The CompTIA survey reveals that demand for tech support has increased for issues related to cybersecurity (70% of respondents), securing networks (67%), remote work and work from home (67%), mobile device issues (60%) and software-as-a service and cloud (57%).
As the help desk takes on more sophisticated responsibilities the skills organizations expect their personnel to have are evolving, as well. When asked about the technology skills that are critically or very important, 76% of respondents cited cybersecurity followed by software (71%), network support (70%), operating systems (70%), hardware (69%), cloud/SaaS (67%) and mobile devices (67%).
“This shift is good news for help desk workers because expanding their skills readies them up for more career advancement options,” Robinson noted. “The typical pathway has been to move from a support role to networking and infrastructure. Now opportunities are available in cybersecurity, software, data, project management and other areas.”
More emphasis on customer experience
Companies are placing a greater emphasis on having their help desk staff deliver a positive customer experience. The survey finds that 65% of companies rate customer satisfaction as the primary metric for evaluating the effectiveness of their help desk.
Current satisfaction levels are positive, with 83% of respondents either completely or mostly satisfied with help desk support. Asked what changes could improve performance, 56% said better ways to access user systems, 49% want better self-support resources, 40% better procedures for hardware issues and 39% more options for contacting the help desk.
Artificial intelligence and automation are taking a greater foothold in help desk operations. AI uses include classifying and routing requests (72% of respondents), chatbots (56%), finding patterns in tickets (55%) and curating a knowledge base (50%). Automation is assisting with status updates (66%), single sign on (62%), ticket follow-up (59%), resetting password (57%) and asset upgrade notifications (50%).
“Help desk technicians are not being replaced by AI and automation,” Robinson noted. “By automating these things we are freeing up staff to do more valuable things.”
Similarly, a hybrid help-desk model combining in-house staff with outside assistance is becoming more common so routine tasks can be outsourced to free up the internal staff to focus on more complex issues. While 49% of organizations use internal teams exclusively, 46% rely on a combination of internal and external resources.
Workforce professionals from 402 businesses based in the United States participated in the CompTIA survey on help desk trends.
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a leading voice and advocate for the $5 trillion global information technology ecosystem; and the estimated 75 million industry and tech professionals who design, implement, manage, and safeguard the technology that powers the world’s economy. Through education, training, certifications, advocacy, philanthropy, and market research, CompTIA is the hub for advancing the tech industry and its workforce. Visit www.comptia.org.