How to harness AI to build an internal IT portal

Your IT is drowning in tickets. Your employees need solutions. Self-service with AI is the answer.

By Tim Lawes

You’ll know you’ve graduated from a lean startup to a full-fledged enterprise when your IT desk becomes overworked under the pressure of employees who need fast, accurate answers to their tech questions. Leaders will quickly realize that they can’t capitalize on growth until they deal with this pain point. The best will see revamping their IT desk as a chance to boost productivity.

IT departments are typically overstretched. Researchers found that IT professionals across industries were working 52 hours a week on average. Another survey found that 20 percent of IT pros worked 10 hours beyond their contracted time each week to get the job done. More than 60 percent were available on their mobile devices outside of working hours.

The hours are a reaction to numerous pressures. Tech teams field daily calls while also working on projects. Digital minutiae often overwhelm them. The more their companies consume and produce data, the more their services are in demand. Companies are consuming and producing more and more data. IT is racing to scale up to meet demand.

The solution to this dilemma is IT self-help built upon a robust knowledge management system powered by artificial intelligence that, fortunately, is easier than ever to stand up for companies of all sizes.

Self-help is hardly a risky proposition. As far back as 2013, more than 90 percent of customers said they would use an online knowledge base to resolve problems if it met their needs. A recent study found that almost 90 percent of millennials search for answers online before calling customer service.

Companies can treat their employees like customers with this research in mind. They can build on their workforce habits and preferences to direct employees to an IT knowledge portal that provides answers more quickly and easily with, most importantly, the forethought of your organization.

Here are three lessons to keep in mind.

Think in terms of knowledge, not point solutions

New technology entails new perspectives. Rather than think about point solutions, consider how you manage knowledge itself.

Knowledge management refers to the practice of gathering knowledge, documenting it, and making it available to anyone at the company who’s stumbled upon an IT issue. Knowledge management allows employees outside of the IT department to access advice and tips that could help them solve problems. When they find this information on their own – rather than generating an IT desk ticket – it saves organizations time and money.

To optimize best practices, build a vocabulary

Bridging the language gap around IT can be challenging. Start by building a vocabulary around your most common service desk issues so that users can communicate effectively.

Your knowledge management library should include a glossary of important IT terms and internal links within articles to help users find their way to related topics. Technicians should be on the same page when it comes to how they use the terms.

And your service desk software should feature user-facing and technician-facing articles with access dependent on roles. That protects users from falling down an IT rabbit hole while still compiling high-level knowledge for IT pros.

If AI doesn’t power it, it won’t work

Customers and employees have been ready to embrace self-service for years, but the technology could come up short. If answers were in a system, they were hard to find. Keeping databases updated can require a team on its own, too.

That’s why automation and AI-powered tools are essential to self-help. They connect employees across the organization with the information they need, when they need it. And they are constantly learning about new issues and updating or improving advice through tags, document types, relevant systems, and other metadata.

Remember – once you build it, you still have to make sure they come. You can’t simply schedule one-off office hours or a “lunch and learn.” You need to make the knowledge management library part of your tech service workflow. Show users how to find knowledge management support while you work their service tickets. Then reinforce the support’s utility through weekly communications that highlight useful or relevant articles.

AI can’t solve every tech problem. But, done correctly, it can transform how overworked IT teams keep companies moving forward.

Tim Lawes is senior manager for solutions consulting at Symphony SummitAI