Infrastructure POD
Erin Geiger, Director of Content at Lumos

IT Self-Service: Catalyst of the New Data Culture

From banking to the grocery store, people are already used to self-service. We’re sharing how leveraging self-service in IT can save support teams time – and stress – while delighting end users.

Technology is upping the pace of work and increasing the rate of change – yes, it's making our lives easier, but at the same time it's putting some crazy pressures on IT support teams who are striving to meet customer needs and business demands. IT self-service capabilities exist to help here, and bring the ability to reduce costs, empower customers, and increase staff productivity. With self-service, organizations can begin to ease some of this pressure on IT teams, while still meeting the demands of the business and maintaining (or even increasing) customer satisfaction levels.

Self-service is already a part of most peoples’ routines, in one way or another. We use it to check bank statements, transfer money, checkout at the grocery store, and so much more. Not only that, a majority (81%) of people say they want more self-service options across the board – even at work.

Not only is time and talent better spent doing something else, consider the cost of resetting a password for a large organization – a cool $1 million a year.

While automation and digital transformation have become industry buzzwords, there’s still so much more companies can do to leverage technology to run more efficiently. A recent survey reports that 51% of employees say they spend at least two hours a day on repetitive tasks. There’s perhaps nothing more repetitive or mundane for IT experts than wading through a bunch of password reset tickets. Not only is time and talent better spent doing something else, consider the cost of resetting a password for a large organization – a cool $1 million a year. (Yes, that’s just for password-related issues!)

Finding the right technology that is cost effective and user friendly is one of the major CIO challenges in 2023. Many are leveraging self-service to transform their data cultures. By enabling employees to troubleshoot their technological problems, and access services they need without filing unnecessary tickets, CIOs can operate their IT department much more efficiently. Self-service also enables employees to access data insights in their areas of expertise, helping to expedite and inform business decisions.

What is the purpose of self-service?

We get it. Investing in new technology during a time when many teams are being asked to do more to stretch their budgets may seem counterintuitive. However, making strategic investments in technology to cut inefficiencies is the No. 1 way to reduce IT costs.

Think about the most common types of tickets that typically pile up everyday at the help desk. Chances are, with self-service IT, customers and employees can solve many of those problems without needing to speak with a human.

Self-service empowers your end users by giving them the ability to find answers to their inquiries, fix their own incidents, raise their own support tickets, and even help their colleagues by promoting a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Whenever possible, people also prefer to solve problems for themselves instead of talking to a live agent. Many companies are also seeing a major return on their investment. One survey reports self-service can cut costs by as much as 75%.

Self-service as analytics enablement

In the past, companies may have had a few go-to data experts on staff who could access analytics and crunch the numbers. In order to remain competitive in today’s landscape, employees need some level of data literacy, and with that, the ability to access analytics that help them make informed decisions.

Most IT leaders (97%) say they are looking for tools to accelerate the data transformation process at their companies to make it easier for employees to access data and uncover the insights they need.

Less than one-third of IT leaders say all departments at their company have access to the data they need in order to mine for business intelligence insights. Just 13% say access is limited to the IT and analytics teams.Companies with a data-driven culture enable employees to access the data they need, and provide tools that empower them to “play” with the data to gain new insights.

This is an area where many IT leaders are exploring how to make improvements. Most IT leaders (97%) say they are looking for tools to accelerate the data transformation process at their companies to make it easier for employees to access data and uncover the insights they need.

Without these tools, companies are wasting valuable resources. The same group of IT leaders surveyed say it takes nearly a week to prepare data before it can be used for analysis. Of the group, 45% say their teams are spending more time on data analytics preparation that could be better spent on more strategic tasks.

Self-service analytics enablement tools can help cut the time-consuming work of pulling and aggregating data. Getting value from these tools requires an approach that empowers employees to use them.

There are several ways IT professionals can support the rollout of self-service tools at their organization to help drive a data-driven culture. First, giving people access to only the information that is relevant to their role can empower them to dig into data that is now just a few clicks away. With this democratization of data, employees should also have a channel for asking questions, and sharing data across teams in the spirit of collaboration. Ultimately, building a supportive culture where people feel empowered to ask questions, share ideas, and raise new ideas is how organizations can tap into the value of data and thrive.

Self-service as access enablement

Managing individual access to applications and systems is a core task for many IT teams. Nearly six-in-ten workers (59%) in the United States say they work from home all or most of the time, up from the 23% who reported they sometimes worked from home before the pandemic.  Managing access for a remote workforce comes with a new set of challenges for IT teams. Not only do they need to manage individual permissions to systems and applications for a distributed workforce, but they also must deal with rapid growth, job changes, and do it all on a budget. It’s the perfect storm for IT teams who want to ensure security, but need to manage permissions at scale.

Provisioning processes can vary greatly depending on the applications. In smaller departments, typically one person manages licenses, approves access, and provisions the license with a set of permissions. As companies get bigger, those functions may be centralized, or they may work with individual times in a hybrid manner, such as routing requests to managers for approval, while handling licensing and account setups.

Self-service enablement relieves the burden on IT teams, and is more convenient for employees on day one. Lifecycle management tools give employees control over their accounts and the enterprise apps where they have permission without sacrificing security. People can log on from anywhere to reset their passwords, create new working groups, request access to data, verify direct reports, and just about anything that would have otherwise piled up in an IT administrator’s workflow. Through automated provisioning, an employee can have access to the apps they need on day one. The time savings from having to call IT, file a ticket, and wait for help is a time savings that directly translates into a cost savings.

The key benefits of self-service

With the current mandate of “do more with less,” IT self-service provides several key benefits that help companies save time and money, while keeping security at the forefront.

24/7 support availability

Customers can access self-service whenever they like. So, if the CEO forgets her password at 8 p.m. she can just reset it herself and carry on with her work. There's no need to hassle anybody after hours and no one is prevented from working until the morning when the service desk opens again.

Faster resolution and provisioning

Technology is enabling us to do some pretty amazing stuff but it's also making us really impatient (as customers) too. Speed is of the essence these days and that's feeding into employee expectations in the workplace – people don't want (or expect) to wait on hold for a service desk analyst to become available if there's an issue they could resolve themselves.

Self-service also enables automation such that tickets can be triaged, accounts can be created, and requests can be actioned all without the need for human intervention. Not only is this much quicker than waiting for someone to pick up the tasks, but the results are also far more accurate as human error (which is common in busy environments) is reduced.

Productivity improvements

Automating manual tasks and empowering end users to deal with their own IT needs removes a lot of jobs from the service desk that add minimal value. Analysts are instead free to deal with complex escalations, aged tickets, or incidents that can't be solved easily.

Making room for employees to work on the stuff that really matters increases productivity, not only because it allows staff to focus on the bigger jobs, but also because staff feel more motivated working on value-adding tasks and feeling like they're contributing to the bigger picture.

And it's not only the productivity of IT staff that benefits, self-service increases the knowledge of customers when enabling them to resolve their own issues. This means that if they've a similar issue in the future they'll be able to fix it quicker, help their colleagues who might experience the same issue, and learn as much as they want about the products and services they're using to get the most out of them for their role.

Reduced IT costs

When organizations pass work down the chain this is known as “shifting left” – customers can resolve basic issues so that service desk staff can focus on resolving more technical incidents and second-line teams can be freed up to concentrate on their specialties. This practice – if done right – reduces IT support costs and ensures that organizations are getting the maximum value out of staff. Automated workflows and resolutions will also add to the cost savings.

Curious how Lumos can help modernize your IT department with self-service? Request a demo.