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May 23, 2023

Tackling the Service Desk Backlog: A Conversation for Executives

Kevin Foisy

CEO and Founder

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Your service desk is a critical component of your organization. However, many organizations I speak with face the same issue: an overwhelming number of tickets and a continuous backlog. In fact, HDI’s 2020 Support Center Practices & Salary Report indicates that the average ticket volume for organizations is 13,100 per month! It’s accepted as a necessary evil and while everyone I speak with acknowledges the problem, few know what to do about it.

In this message, I’d like to discuss the following questions and offer some potential solutions:

1. What’s causing the ticket backlog?

2. How does this impact the business?

3. Whose responsibility is it to address this issue?

4. How can we resolve it?

Causes of the Ticket Backlog

Tickets often come from various sources, making it challenging to pinpoint a single cause. However, common contributors include:

IAM operations:

A 2019 study by One Identity found that 66% of organizations experienced manual IAM processes resulting in human errors. This often leads to many tickets at the service desk, with IGA products focusing on governance rather than automation.

The SOC:

Gartner estimated that by 2022, 50% of organizations with a Security Operations Center will include SOAR technologies. However, CISO’s I talk with report that thousands of tickets still end up at the service desk. The service desk staff cannot resolve and close them, so they remain waiting for an analyst to investigate.

End-user requests:

HDI’s report reveals that 49% of tickets are related to end-user requests, making it a significant source of ticket volume. Although some can be resolved by the service desk, most require expertise and privileged access, resulting in significant backlogs.

The Problem

The service desk is a hub of operational activity, providing a central audit source. However, service desk staff lack the skills and privileges to resolve issues, resulting in ticket escalation and backlog. Since tickets are originating from multiple teams, and span many scenarios, it’s difficult to chart a path forward.

The Impact

The impact to the organization is significant yet seldom addressed. Industry data shows that backlogs affect multiple areas of the business including security, operations, and staffing:

Security: ­

Ponemon Institute’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report states that the average time to identify and contain a breach is 280 days. Slow responses can lead to financial and data loss. The cost of breaches that expand due to delayed detection and remediation can be significant.

Operations:

Consider that for each ticket that remains backlogged, an employee may be blocked from progressing with a task. A 2017 MetricNet study found that each unresolved ticket costs an average of $22. The cumulative productivity cost of thousands of requests per month can negatively affect company performance.

Staffing:

Gallup reports that 23% of employees feel burned out at work  very often or always. Engineers processing tickets may experience burnout, leading to turnover, lost productivity, and reduced innovation. This can compromise industry competitiveness and hinder the adoption of game-changing technologies like AI.

The Path to Automation

Many organizations have implemented automation in various areas, but IT operations often lag behind. While companies that I speak with estimate as high as 75% of tasks can be fully automated, McKinsey estimates 45%. Whichever number you feel is realistic, it’s still significant and provides an opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness, yet IT teams are generally ill equipped beyond crude scripting capabilities and point solutions that fail the test enterprise governance and management. They are reduced to using tools born out of necessity rather than strategy.

A Potential Solution: Readibots

Readibots is an automation platform designed for IT operations. It interfaces with your infrastructure systems including security, identity, and service desk. It features a distributed architecture that empowers staff to create and consume automations across all IT disciplines. The platform is secure, governed, distributed, and highly capable, allowing IT operational staff to build out solutions and delegate tasks to the service desk. It empowers an organization with sophisticated, well-managed automation and at the same time puts them on a path towards zero-trust administration.

Embracing Change

Overcoming skepticism and reluctance to change is crucial for addressing the service desk backlog. Vision and executive leadership can drive this change, leading to lasting improvements in efficiency and effectiveness.

I invite you to have a conversation with us on how to tackle this issue in your organization. Let’s work together to find a solution that empowers your service desk, reduces backlog, and improves overall operations.

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