Walking the talk: IT support’s AI implementation surges

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When a builder is building your house or a plumber fixing your drain, it’s good to know they’ve performed these tasks before. We yield to experience, because we know practical application brings expertise one simply can’t learn by studying.

IT support often exemplifies this kind of contractor-as-user experience, where the IT fraternity is also the biggest employer of new tech to resolve hardware, networking and other business needs. However, another deeper, novel application is rising - most often at the help desk - and it’s IT support’s employment of AI. While IT support often employs the same tools it installs and manages for clients, few have seemed so applicable as AI. Indeed, AI is so apt for help desk employment (and the industry is currently deploying automated solutions extensively to refine services), this is one modern advent that seems set to become a definitive IT support skill.

It’s not just automated routing of requests or help desk chatbots, either. IT support is pushing further into what’s possible by tinkering with what ML tools make of predictive analytics, and how that translates into better work performance overall, specifically breakdown management. Those installing and servicing current AI are also from a business sector with a huge appetite (and application) for it. The typical user notion of AI as beginning to automate some office functions finds its most noteworthy application in IT support, and this is as it should be. If office AI is to impact the world as predicted, who better to run with its ‘beta phase’ than IT support itself? As such, the fraternity is liberally trialling AI solutions for a better service and work experience all round.

IT support and AI are meshing

Many industry voices agree AI will be part of help desk platforms very soon. In operations or support, AI will be an integral part of IT support’s business model. From ‘considerable’ to ‘indispensable’ is how industry experts estimate AI’s impact on IT support, all of which is good news for end users.

When it comes to deft AI application that aids business’ bottom line, technicians implementing such solutions will be far ahead of the curve, and well versed in AI’s potential benefits. Indeed, because of the industry’s current love affair with AI, such solutions may well come to define whether an IT support crew is deemed ‘good’ or not. For those savvy enough to enjoy IT support by Mustard IT or similar firms, AI and its implementation will be a cinch. For businesses shopping around to investigate potential AI implementation by a support company, their UX from the moment the phone is answered may well come to be a perfect indicator of that concern’s AI abilities.

Initial AI abilities are already here in IT support tools, and apart from predictive analytics - itself a hugely enabling application that’s growing in intelligence - demand planning imperatives and workflows that are set to significantly benefit from AI’s growth. Apart from automating the manual overhead typically associated with low-value but high-volume help desk work, AI in IT support will manifest in a few discernible arenas:

Virtual support and chatbots

The most promising help desk for user queries would ideally be available 24/7, and that’s exactly what AI can do for IT support. While current help desk chatbots are often basic, and employ NLP in conversation with a customer to perform a targeted search of available data towards resolution, that’s soon to change. Beyond scripted actions, developers are applying AI to far more complex service needs. A Virtual Support Agent (VSA) is more than a chatbot and can deliver abilities geared specifically to IT support. Such tailored assistance is set to grow and completely redefine IT service management.

Automating request tickets

The categorisation, prioritisation, and notifications around service and incident tickets can be streamlined with AI. Predictive autofill of fields in an average support form or ticket will soon be the norm, while such AI can also suggest an appropriate classification, priority, and technician(s) best equipped to deal with the ticket. Human operators are able to override such AI input where necessary, but are also enabled to work faster and more intuitively with AI assistance.

Business learning

The knowledge curation required of a dynamic field like IT support is vast, often peppered with gaps, and a time-consuming process. AI-assisted knowledge management requires AI to understand context and meaning within an intelligent search function, beyond keywords. Drawing on what has worked and what has failed in the company lexicon, such AI comes close to being like a seasoned builder, laying bricks. Such AI can already recommend solutions as effectively as the average help desk staffer. Seamless and intelligent autoresponders that despatch solutions via mail to end users are rising. Not only that, but such AI application can be geared to identify gaps in the knowledge base of IT support, too.

The ‘future’ of AI in IT support is already happening

Support software is already incorporating more social analytics and process, while adaptive dashboards will include modelling and predictive analytics. This goes towards both end users and technicians being able to better predict outcomes of suggested solutions, making for a more enriching and ultimately successful exchange.

Noise overload from network alerts, apps, security tools and general networking will also be better managed by AI, which is able to interpret such input and deal with it more efficiently and correctly. With so many flags popping up in the average user’s working day, AI can allay fears, keep workflows stable, and correctly prioritise what is or isn’t an issue that needs immediate resolution.

Looking ahead, the most extensive application of AI in IT support remains dealing with the classic user interface – high-volume, low-value tasks that currently consume technician time for minimal reward will be AI’s domain. That is AI’s current extension and drive, but more specific benefits will arise, too. Far greater insight into far larger datasets are looming - something currently constrained by the sheer volume of data and the number of hours demanded to sort it. Better business decisions and higher profitability are coming on the back of AI, and IT support is the fraternity that will make it happen.