Boost IT Operations in 2023 with Self-Service Automation: 4 Compelling Benefits

Transitioning to self-service automation can profoundly improve IT service management. By enabling users to independently resolve common issues, IT teams realize major gains in efficiency, costs, experience, and focus.

Specifically, a well-executed self-service automation strategy delivers the following 4 advantages:

  • Dramatically reduces repetitive support tickets
  • Enables faster response to IT incidents
  • Lowers IT operations costs
  • Improves employee satisfaction and productivity

Below we will explore these benefits and their underlying value drivers in more detail. We‘ll also discuss key considerations for implementation.

The Promise and Potential of Self-Service Automation

But first, what exactly is self-service automation?

Self-service automation refers to tools and portals that empower end users to resolve routine IT requests on their own. Instead of submitting tickets and waiting for IT, employees can self-serve for services like:

  • Password resets
  • Software installation/updates
  • Hardware provisioning (laptops, mobiles)
  • User access management
  • Basic troubleshooting

By automating the fulfillment of these high-volume tasks, IT teams eliminate the need for manual intervention. This is achieved via integration with user directories, pre-defined workflows, AI-enabled chatbots, and other capabilities.

The origins of self-service automation trace back to the rise of enterprise portals in the 1990s and early 2000s. Over the past decade, adoption has dramatically accelerated thanks to cloud delivery, better interfaces, and maturing automation technology.

Leading IT service management (ITSM) platforms like ServiceNow, BMC Helix, Cherwell, and ManageEngine either provide integrated self-service tools or partner with specialized vendors. Standalone players like Axonify and Petrium also offer solutions tailored for IT departments.

With growing demand for consumer-like digital experiences from employees, self-service represents the future of IT support. Now let‘s examine the 4 major benefits driving adoption.

1. Reduce IT Support Tickets

One of the most immediate, tangible benefits of self-service automation is a significant decrease in repetitive IT support tickets. Password reset requests alone account for an estimated 40% of help desk volume based on figures from Duo Security.

Handling these recurring issues like password resets, software installs, access requests, and how-to questions consumes huge chunks of IT resources. A typical enterprise IT department may receive hundreds of such routine tickets per week.

By implementing user-friendly self-service portals, IT can completely eliminate this ticket volume. Employees simply access the automated tools to resolve many common issues themselves.

For example, when Adobe rolled out self-service password resets, they reduced related help desk calls by 62%. Other published use cases highlight similar reductions upwards of 50-90% for frequent problem types.

The impact is game-changing for IT teams accustomed to perpetual ticket queues and backlogs. Forrester Research indicates that even average performing help desks have 30-50 tickets open per agent. Self-service dramatically shrinks queue lengths, as shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Impact of self-service automation on help desk tickets

Impact of self-service automation on help desk tickets

With fewer interruptions from repetitive issues, IT support staff can finally focus on delivering more strategic value via:

  • Improved responsiveness – Prioritize and accelerate response times for business-critical requests
  • Deeper technical support – Spend more time on complex support needs leveraging staff expertise
  • More proactive operations – Allocate staff time towards technology improvements and automation
  • Higher value projects – Free up capacity for special cross-departmental initiatives and innovation

The downstream benefits of balancing help desk loads are immense in terms of IT productivity and alignment to business objectives.

2. Enable Faster Incident Response

In addition to reducing ticket burdens, self-service automation also powers faster detection and resolution of IT incidents. Automated monitoring and notification capabilities built into tools like ServiceNow identify problems proactively vs. relying on human reports.

For example, automated health checks and alerts can detect high CPU usage on a critical server. Pre-defined workflows immediately trigger remediation actions like an automated reboot to prevent performance degradation or downtime.

This real-time monitoring and response orchestration prevents issues from accumulating and enables rapid problem resolution. Instead of it taking hours or days to detect and fix incidents, automation enables continuous correction of technical faults and anomalies.

Gartner research indicates that the median time to resolve infrastructure incidents is 43 hours for modern IT departments. Best-in-class incident response time, driven heavily by automation, is 2 hours.

By closing this massive gap, IT teams prevent problems from accumulating and minimize associated damage. Staff also avoid perpetually working in reactive mode and playing catch up.

Ultimately, reducing theLost Edward of system and service incidents also improves employee productivity and protects revenue streams for the business.

3. Reduce IT Operations Costs

In addition to the operational benefits highlighted so far, self-service automation also significantly reduces IT spending. According to Forrester Research, the average enterprise help desk labor cost per call is $70. For departments handling tens of thousands of tickets annually, these expenses add up.

By deflecting routine ticket volume to automated self-service systems, substantial cost savings on help desk staffing and management can be achieved. McKinsey estimates that 25-50% of help desk workloads can be automated using currently available technologies.

Automating repetitive, manual workflows beyond help desk functions offers additional efficiency gains. Bot-driven automation eliminates costs associated with traditional manual process execution. Mundane tasks that previously required IT administrators can be fully automated.

Forrester finds that IT process automation reduces the equivalent of 4.5 full-time operational headcount on average. The released capacity can enable further staff optimizations over time.

Reduced IT headcount expense along with the multiplier effect of more efficient human staff enables substantial budget savings. Leading research firms estimate 30-50% total cost of operations reductions are achievable.

4. Improve User Experience

The final compelling benefit of self-service automation is dramatically improved user experience. Empowering staff to quickly self-resolve common issues promotes satisfaction and productivity across the organization.

Employees no longer have to waste time lodging and following up on tickets for things like password resets which take an average of 24 hours to fulfill manually. Instant self-service access provides consumers with the experience they expect in the digital age.

McKinsey research on IT experience shows that high-satisfaction technical support improves end user productivity by 4-11%. Dissatisfaction with IT support causes even higher productivity losses.

Offering user-friendly tools can also reduce frustration with IT dependencies overall. Self-service portals make it easy for staff to get the basic services they need when they need them to perform their jobs.

Around-the-clock availability further facilitates anywhere, anytime access for modern remote and mobile workforces across time zones. Unlike traditional help desk support, automated services offer reliable, consistent experiences independent of holidays, after-hours or geography.

Overcoming Deployment Challenges

To reap the transformative benefits outlined above, IT organizations must first overcome inherent challenges with deploying self-service automation tools. Here are best practices to drive success:

  • Start small then scale – Launch with high-value use cases like password resets. Add more services over time once adoption and ROI are proven.
  • Drive adoption through training and incentives – Ensure employees are aware of the tools and actively encouraged to use them via policies, communications, and rewards.
  • Closely monitor usage and satisfaction – Leverage reporting to identify issues impacting adoption. Regularly survey users and enhance services accordingly.
  • Evaluate both ITSM integrated and standalone tools – The optimal solution depends on existing environment and use case complexity.
  • Plan for integration needs – Factor in connectors to directories, ticketing systems, and automation workflows during tool selection.

Realizing the Potential of Self-Service IT

Forward-looking IT organizations recognize that self-service automation represents the future of IT support. Employee expectations for consumer-grade digital experiences continue to rise. Manual support models simply cannot scale to deliver the experience users demand.

By transitioning appropriate volumes of support workload to automated self-service systems, IT departments can thrive in the digital workplace while managing costs. Leaders who leverage the technology will accelerate their transformations from cost center to business enabler.

  1. McKinsey, Improving the end user experience: Nine best practices for IT
  2. Forrester, The Total Economic ImpactTM Of Automation For Enterprise Service Management
  3. Duo Security, Resetting Passwords and Saving Time and Money at the IT Help Desk
  4. Gartner, 6 Best Practices in Implementing IT Self-Service Portals

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