Research finds IT support positively transformed by pandemic

The perception of IT support has dramatically improved thanks to the successful response of service desks to the pandemic, lockdowns and working from home. According to new research from the Service Desk Institute (SDI), sponsored by Sunrise Software, 65 per cent of organisations said that the overall business now has a more positive view of IT support, with just 4 per cent seeing a decline in satisfaction. This rose to 72 per cent in public sector organisations, where only 2 per cent say perceptions had worsened.

Emphasising the importance of keeping organisations operational, 61 per cent of respondents in the research had supported key workers during the crisis, increasing to 83 per cent in the public sector.

The research underlines that the challenges of the pandemic acted as a catalyst for wide-ranging, deep changes in IT support which is expected to be maintained at pace. It led to accelerated digital transformation, greater use of collaboration tools and new, more agile ways of working that provide a platform for continuing change.

The increasingly positive view of IT support extended to users, who now rely on service desks to support them when working from home in a hybrid working environment. Respondents to the survey said that 62 per cent of end-users now have an improved perception of IT support, with a further 22 per cent reporting that satisfaction was already high pre-pandemic and remained so.

Over 9 in 10 (92%) of those surveyed said their organisation had adapted very or reasonably well to home working, underpinned by the assistance delivered by IT support teams. This was down to careful planning – 70 per cent said they were well prepared for the switch to remote working for both users and IT support staff alike, although 32 per cent would have liked to have tested plans more. 91 per cent of respondents said that IT service staff had adapted well to the transition, despite previously being used to working together in the same physical office.

Post-COVID organisations are using the momentum to drive their strategies to meet changing needs. 47 per cent of all organisations (and 59% of the public sector) are focusing on 'shift left', enabling more efficient use of resources as end-users solve basic or common issues themselves through access to knowledge and automated processes. In turn, the service desk team can then reprioritise, focusing on more complex issues or strategic areas. Nearly half (46%) said they will continue to move forward at the same pace and be more agile in how they operate after the pandemic.

The research also found a direct correlation between the flexibility and level of configuration of the IT service management (ITSM) tools respondents used and their success at supporting users during the pandemic. Of those that had significantly tailored their ITSM software to meet their individual needs, 86 per cent said it met their requirements during the transition to homeworking and beyond. In comparison, just 60 per cent of those with difficult to configure tools said they met their ongoing requirements. Given the high possibility of future disruption, ensuring ITSM tools are configured to meet needs and easily adapted is therefore business-critical.

Geoff Rees, Director of Sales & Operations, Sunrise Software said, "as a supplier to service desks across the UK we saw how IT stepped up to the challenge of the pandemic, pushed sometimes untried processes to the fore and effectively enabled every key worker and employee with their own personal digital transformation. Mobile technology, collaboration tools, self-service, automation, and flexibility (not to mention solid Wi-Fi) all became part of day to day working, and it seems a lot of it is here to stay. As an industry, IT support learnt a lot and should be proud of the part teams continue to play in supporting organisations as we move out of lockdowns and into the future."

The Changing Priorities: The Recovery and Regeneration of IT Service Management report are based on an online survey of 190 IT service desk/IT staff. 56 per cent were in the private sector, 35 per cent in the public sector and 9 per cent were within the third sector (charities, social enterprises, and not-for-profit organisations). 

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