Innovation is a slippery thing. Take some of the well-known quotes about innovation. When asked about the idea behind the Model T car, Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. Ralph Waldo Emerson is also attributed with the aphorism, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”
Attribution for both these quotes is currently sketchy, but they demonstrate the wide range of opinion that exists around what innovation is. One man’s new and innovative approach to solving a problem is another’s evolution of an existing process.
For the service desk, the ability to innovate captures the opportunity to improve service quality and delivery. This can involve replacing a current IT service management (ITSM) platform with a new one that can help deliver on those aims. But, how can you grab the opportunity that comes with choosing a new service desk tool to become more innovative in your approach?
Should you look at Ford’s approach to innovation and selectively ignore what customers are asking for? Can services be designed so they meet customer needs better than what they can imagine for themselves? Or should you look at iterating and building on what already exists?
Thinking around innovation and what you want to achieve is a great reason to revisit what is currently in place in terms of process, people and technology. The role of the ITIL® framework and best practice within ITSM means that many help desk software tools tick most, if not all, of the boxes for most organisations. However, there are differences between helpdesk solutions that can create more efficiency and better results.
Creating genuine innovation around ITSM relies on data. Data provides greater insight into what problems are developing and how they can be traced back to root causes. It can also be used to rethink approaches to customer service. As an example, the location of an individual request for assistance can be bundled with other reported issues in the same vicinity, so that a number of issues can be dealt with at the same time.
Just like retail and logistics companies use data to plot the most efficient route to deliver goods, so too can IT use data to continuously improve the quality of its department. This ability to interpret and apply data can create opportunities to surprise customers with outstanding service. Providing proactive help with problems is one of the best ways to increase customer satisfaction and help to improve the perception of IT services in general.
Finding new opportunities to be innovative relies primarily on keeping your thinking cap on, planning ahead and speaking with others outside of IT. For example, creating and updating a service catalogue offers a much greater opportunity to spot where resources can be put to the greatest use and to support upcoming IT requirements in an innovative way.
It’s worth knowing that Ford’s approach to building a product was based on making use of rolling construction, where the car moves along the manufacturing facility and is put together, or built, by experts along each section. Specialisation here enabled greater productivity and efficiency. In the same way, look at each member of your service desk team and identify their skills and expertise. Use this to foster their approach to innovative thinking for problem solving and creativity.
Implementing a new service desk or helpdesk tool can provide initial, and sometimes dramatic, benefits. However, the greatest opportunity for true innovation will come from how the help desk team uses its tools in new ways to meet business requirements. This could be using the tool in a completely new way such as ‘outside IT’ or using it to improve what’s already in existence. The aim here is to turn what’s currently OK up to good, and what’s good to great.