Workplace Support Services Go Cognitive

By: Nicola McKenna - Leave a comment


Digital technology is changing the way enterprises build and manage their workplace support services environment. Knowledge workers expect their employers to provide a consumer-level IT support experience, leading enterprises of all sizes to rethink how they build, deliver and navigate through data resources and services.

Naturally, this transition involves a number of advanced technologies, such as self-service provisioning, cognitive computing and advanced automation, but it also requires broad integration among underlying physical and virtual aspects of IT with the service and support processes themselves. It comes as no surprise that IBM is at the forefront of efforts to rebuild the workspace around cutting-edge technologies and collaborating with service providers to create a highly optimized — even personalized — experience.

IBM’s Roadmap for Reinventing the IT Service Desk

IBM’s workspace roadmap rests on three key elements:

  1. Actionable Insights Through Analytics: By delving deep into structured and unstructured data, the new IT service desk can proactively drive the user experience and provide a better understanding of employee persona, needs and work habits. It will also identify the root cause of issues to resolve problems before they impact performance.
  2. Cognitive Interaction: Getting the user to the right place for help quickly is a key aspect of driving greater productivity. Using cognitive technologies, the enterprise can deliver the appropriate content to nontechnical users through natural language driven long-tail and symptom-based search methods, while providing a hands-free dispatching mechanism to steer users to the appropriate support channel.
  3. Automation: By empowering end users to take action through automated processes, the workspace environment will be able to resolve complex issues that occur frequently. When triggered by a user question, the new service environment will generate a robotics process automation (RPA) response to intuitively take action and solve the problem at hand.

Together, these capabilities support an environment that continuously learns how users work, determines what is important to them individually and understands the critical technical issues that impact their day-to-day productivity. This frees technical support staff from mundane, repetitive functions and allows them to focus on broader, strategic development and optimization issues.

Workplace Support Services with Watson

To fulfill these objectives, IBM has embarked on a multifaceted program that unites state-of-the-art technology with the latest in service delivery and process automation. IBM’s Watson cognitive computing platform anchors this effort by addressing three key areas: workplace support services, ticket analysis and IT management services.

IBM Workplace Support Services with Watson personalizes the IT user environment through an intelligent and highly secure interface. With tools like live chat, self-service management and a “walk-up” storefront design, the platform offers always-on support for any device and application anywhere in the data environment. The system links to a global, cloud-based knowledge source that draws on data from 41 service delivery centers supporting more than 5 million seats worldwide.

Another powerful tool is Watson Explorer, which leverages semantic analytics, natural language processing and other capabilities to interpret unstructured data in both written and spoken form. Not only does this allow users to converse with the IT service environment as if they were interacting with a live help desk, it also provides the ability to quickly digest millions of diverse pieces of information to produce the most accurate, thorough answers to the most pressing problems. Explorer provides crucial support to periodic ticket analysis, which allows the system to continually improve its performance as part of normal operations.

Both of these modules are linked to the IBM Services Platform with Watson, which provides the foundation for autonomous IT management. By leveraging more than 30 years of IT experience, IBM Services offers a wealth of experience to identify and circumvent the myriad challenges surrounding the development and operation of scale-out hybrid infrastructure. As input from users is fed into the system from the workplace module, the platform continuously adapts to the latest operational mandates, effectively becoming a thinking member of the IT team.

These Watson-augmented systems work hand in hand with two service-level functions designed to help enterprises implement an intelligent workspace architecture with little to no disruption of ongoing processes. The first is IBM Systems Client Centers which offers technical expertise and infrastructure support to inform technology decisions and other factors in the transition. The second and more far-reaching program, however, is the partnership of IBM and ServiceNow, the world’s leading service management platform provider.

IBM and ServiceNow Join Forces

ServiceNow offers a wealth of service management capabilities, such as asset and knowledge management, but also provides a unique ability to integrate systems of engagement and record under a single platform. This allows the enterprise to implement end-to-end service management across multiple disciplines like human resources, customer service and supply chain management — and it provides service-level brokerage and orchestration across on-premises and cloud architectures.

Working together, IBM and ServiceNow offer a highly integrated and truly revolutionary approach to workplace support services automation in which Watson’s cognitive capabilities fundamentally change the service desk from a cost center to a core business asset. By shifting technical support to a user-centric approach, IBM and ServiceNow allow IT to shed its reputation as a productivity roadblock and become a crucial partner in helping to navigate an increasingly complex and dynamic data environment. Since their combined solutions are pretested and prevalidated, even well-established enterprises will be able to manage the transition to a new operational paradigm quickly and easily.

Traditional IT service capabilities cannot handle the scale and complexity of the emerging digital economy. The future pace of business all but demands an integrated platform that effectively leverages AI, advanced analytics and automation.

With IBM as a partner, enterprises can manage this transition in a strategic, coordinated fashion and ultimately find themselves better able to focus on the core processes that support a successful business model. Talk to one of our experts about your needs.

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About The Author

Nicola McKenna

Workplace Support Services Strategy and Offering Manager, IBM GTS, Infrastructure Services