Data between the lines: IT will design the future of work

When we shifted completely to remote work, the first thing I thought was, “crap, what does a help desk look like now?” I worried that the lack of a physical help desk would return us to a reactionary state long term, one where we jump when someone cries “P1!” without vetting reason or value. What would this mean for IT? Is this the event that returns us to the dark ages of response without recourse?

I was also curious to understand the effect of the transition on IT’s ability to respond, and what we would be responding to. How many of us had “Pandemic Level Disease Spreading” built into our risk assessments and hazard plans? How could we predict the types of service spikes we’d see while scrambling to prioritize a smooth transition for employees amidst trying to make sense of this unprecedented time?

Fortunately, these are questions that can be answered with atSpoke data. We analyzed millions of anonymized service desk data for trends and insights to help our customers and the community ease the pain of the remote work transition. (If you haven’t read our first two data pieces, you should check them out.)

atSpoke is also in a unique position to look as a snapshot of what the future of work and the future of IT will be. Secretly, I was hoping that this data would also assuage my fears that this was the end of Modern IT as we knew it (melodramatic, much?). As we started democratizing the data, I started reading between the data-trend lines.

The emergence of the self-sufficient

Yes, the total amount of asks has gone up and IT is seeing a 20% spike in ticketing intake, but what it’s about is all the difference. Beyond the immediate access requests and hardware parity to snap our Best Instagram Ready remote workstations (yours truly representing), employee asks are becoming more complex. The stress of leveraging new technological stack additions (or subtractions, in some cases) and navigating challenges within those platforms as our primary methods of communication and collaboration has forced tech proficiency. Our coworkers are becoming capable of solving many tier 1 associated issues on their own. Furthermore, they are more confident and educated in using distributed tools for their work. 

We should expect that our employees are no longer in Technology 101. Basic response questions and action triggers should be documented and self-service, if not in their hands to initiate themselves.

The swim lanes are clearer

Our transition away from the office means it’s harder to spotlight process and resource ownership. Determining infrastructure responsibility came with an immediate rise in request types for ops and support teams to establish coverage procedures and incident response. The criticality of uptime and immediate triage has never been higher. Successful reaction to these events starts with incident response ownership: defining administrative control, which teams initiate the first touch, and who makes final calls on implementation and remediation. 

IT should expect that we will continue to work collaboratively on infrastructure-related response and projects, but will not always play the leading role in decisions. Teams should expect that the RACI rules of engagement will define where project rollouts and evaluations happen. While this is a reduction in burden, it may also become a challenge for deadline alignment, project prioritization, and availability of team resources. It stands to be a boon for security, compliance, and cooperative solution evaluation. The greatest opportunity is in adopting shared language around why certain initiatives should take precedent.

IT is bedrock for business

Physical proximity has changed without hindering the ability of IT teams to build equivalent (if not in many cases, more innovative) solutions and experiences for all employees. IT facilitated an increase in “introductions” to services already in place as functional for multi-team use. They further showcased that they are the thread of connection binding entire companies through rapid implementation or expansion of remote conferencing and collaboration solutions.

While the labor market is undoubtedly unstable, there is reason to be optimistic about the future. We are at an inflection point of reimagining the way we want to work and with that comes a burgeoning need of IT as a fundamental foundation when starting new and growing enterprises.

Looking with a nearer lens

Longterm indicators show some of the landmarks we’ll hit along the way. For better or worse, the probability of IT’s workload contracting by 15-20% is low. I  expect ticketing will drop at most 10%, but in likelihood, it will remain the same or continue to trend upward as a responsive indicator of boosted hiring and budget thawing.

With that comes some opportunity for preparation: you should prioritize projects and set specific parameters around triage response. Now is the time to clear your backlog and tech debt so you can focus on comprehensive solutions that formalize distributed and equalized accessibility. Furthermore, it is the time to engage in what full saturation of tool and service usage looks like at your company and create principle around web-based cloud services as your new epicenter of digital culture and collaboration. 

Good news for IT

Where I started concerned that dynamic work of modern IT teams may not have a current place to thrive, I have come away reinvigorated that this is the time for new perspectives to shine. We are not going to return to the same physical spaces we once knew (if many of us return at all) and while it may lead to RIP of the help desk, it opens the opportunity to shift what it means to be more than a rapid response team. We have proven merit in our unique approach to business support through this crisis and the only thing standing in the way of future expansion is backlog. 

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