Autonomous Service Desk Operation

By – Sandip Das

(Solution Architect | Digitate)

When you use a device provided by your organization, its functioning and maintenance is undertaken by the organization’s IT team. Whenever you face any issues, you contact the IT service desk for the necessary solution, and you do not reach out to the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) directly.

Imagine the earlier scenario, multiplied by the number of employees in that organization and the quantum of requests the IT service desk handles daily. On top of that, if the organization faces any IT issue which affects almost all the devices along with support infrastructure such as servers, routers, and so on, it is a nightmare for the entire service desk. To counter this issue, organizations are constantly investing into scaling their service desk, but it is all adding into additional expenses without a permanent solution in sight towards a resilient operation.

Why is this such a big issue? For that let us understand a typical function of a service desk. A service desk employee’s primary responsibility is to attend calls and raise tickets and provide resolutions based on the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Over the years, the service desk’s workload has been eased by automating or by providing a simple interface to resolve the issue quickly with few clicks. But the primary pain of attending calls still exists because of two major reasons:

  • Absence of appropriate monitoring tool for system health (both services and infrastructure).
  • Application/Data/User Education issues which cannot be monitored.

The solution for this is autonomous operations. Service Desk operations can be made autonomous by incorporating the following processes and tool sets into the IT system landscape:

  • Automated monitoring of IT systems and services
  • ChatOps – AI powered conversational chatbot to reduce call volume
  • Automation – Cognitive tool to automate manual SOPs
  • Automated Callout – Cloud based services for call out or paging

Let us understand these points in detail.

Automated Monitoring – Proactive Operation

  • Identify component/services responsible for IT issues
  • Place appropriate monitoring tools and generate alerts
  • Place an event management tool such as, ignio, for duplicate suppression, aggregation, and correlation
  • Place an event management tool to raise incident in the ITSM tool

ChatOps – Self-service Incident Logging

There are cases, especially with applications and data where automation cannot identify issues proactively and user still needs assistance to use the system the way they want. In these cases, a user will call the service desk and request help. This problem can be addressed using conversational AI or Contextual Chatbot.

  • Build your chatbot application with custom commands and scenarios
  • Configure the chatbot to learn the context based on user interaction, or can start with menu based chatbot
  • Configure the chatbot to raise incident in the ITSM tool with all details required to triage an issue

Automated Resolution (Self-healing or Reassign to Manual Queue)

Now, we got a solution to reduce call volumes to a great extent, but issue resolution is still manual or semi-automatic (triggered manually). Though we have provided better alternatives for calls, it will not solve the problem for the service desk, as they still need to work on the resolutions as per the SOP. Also, users may not choose ChatOps, as they still depend on service desk to resolve the issue. Hence, automation tools, the incidents logged into ITSM tools will be assigned to the automation tool such as ignio and it will go for self-healing and ITSM.

The flow of automation tool is as follows:

  • Incident is assigned to automation tool (ignio)
  • Tool implements self-heal for the identified issues and follows the ITSM process
  • Tool assigns or reassigns tickets to the appropriate team for failed automation or for manual intervention

Automated Callout

Sometimes critical incidents need immediate attention for smooth business operations. Service desk plays an important role to callout the IT support team for high priority incidents where immediate attention is required. This is very critical any delay may make worsen the situation. To reduce this workload, there are cloud-based services such as, Everbridge, PagerDuty and others, available to call out and follow the escalation procedures to the support team. These services provide a user interface as well as APIs to initiate a call or text. The automation tool that manages self-healing and ITSM should be capable of invoking APIs to make calls.

The flow of Automated Callout is as follows:

  • Automation tool failed to self-heal or not configured for self-heal
  • Automation tool (ignio) invokes API with relevant incident details to initiate a call out procedure

If these processes and their corresponding tools are incorporated into the service desk operations of an enterprise, the entire operation can run like a well-oiled machine. The issues can be resolved faster, and most of the times without any human intervention. The risk of human errors will be reduced, and the enterprise can save substantially on operations cost and gain efficiency in the operation with reduced Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR).

Leave a Reply