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November 9, 2023

9 minutes read

Boosting Employee Engagement: The Power of Using Automation to Reduce Toil in IT

By

Andrew Graf

In a recent study by Gartner, it was found that only 31% of employees report being engaged at their jobs. This alarming statistic signals a critical need for change in the workplace – especially in IT departments – if businesses and organizations want to retain their most talented employees.

“Despite organizations making investments in engaging their employees, our research shows that almost 70% don’t feel as engaged as they should be and aren’t feeling a meaningful connection to their job,” Keyia Burton, senior principal, advisory in the Gartner HR practice, said in a press release highlighting the findings of the study. “Figuring out how to actually impact employee engagement is a huge priority because it has a significant impact on several key business outcomes.” 

As we delve into the digital age, the role of IT leaders and CIOs in driving this change becomes increasingly significant – especially when you consider the study found that 40 percent of employees would prefer fixes to difficult processes over development opportunities in order to keep them happy at their jobs.

Through the strategic use of automation and integration (through tools like iPaaS), self-service and conversational AI, IT leaders have the potential to boost IT employee engagement and reduce workplace toil significantly.

The Power of Automation and Integration

It’s not surprising that employees stuck working on repetitive or mundane tasks are more likely to be disengaged with their company. In fact, a survey from InformationWeek and TeamDynamix found that tasks like password resets, IT ticket cleanup, onboarding/offboarding employees, managing credentials and software provisioning directly contributed to low morale and attrition within IT departments across industries.

And while these tasks are prime candidates for automation – the reality is that 40 percent of those surveyed report that 25 percent or more of these tasks must be done manually for one reason or another.

A quick calculation shows that an IT worker (or team) who spends 10 hours a week on these manual tasks wastes more than one financial quarter every year on things like resetting passwords for people.

Low-code/no-code automation and integration tools like iPaaS (integration platform as a service) are a great way to automate and integrate systems across an organization and reduce the toil caused by all of these repetitive tasks.

iPaaS centralizes all integrations into one hub with a library of connectors to common systems such as Workday, Oracle, your IT Service Management (ITSM) platform, Salesforce, the Active Directory, Azure, and hundreds more, as well as any APIs.

With all systems connected and data points now secured in one spot, end-users can leverage the platform to move data, transform data, and build out automation and workflows using a visual flow builder that can be triggered from a field change, form fill or any number of actions.

Some service management tools – like TeamDynamix – offer the ability to combine your service management platform with iPaaS and even a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) tool, all on a single platform. When you do this, you can automate tasks, both simple and complex, as well as connect disparate systems throughout your organization – all through a codeless platform, meaning anyone can use it. You no longer need to be bogged down by repetitive or mundane service requests.

Another benefit of iPaaS is that you don’t need to worry about homegrown scripts or automations – while these might seem like a quick fix to solve the issue of repetitive tasks, they often pose several security risks and can be difficult to maintain as an organization continues to grow.

Promoting a Culture of Self-Service IT

One of the first things any organization can do to help lessen the strain on its IT service desk and IT employees is to implement a self-service strategy as part of its service management and delivery.

Investing time in creating a searchable, easy-to-use, robust self-service portal with a knowledge base might be the BEST thing you can do to combat resource drain at your organization. Without a great self-service portal, tickets can stack up and your IT help desk can quickly become overwhelmed by requests for things like password resets, name change requests or requests for software/group access.

Self-service allows you to deflect some of those calls, emails and ticket requests.

While self-service IT can be a great way to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance the overall user experience, it’s important to follow best practices to ensure that your self-service implementation is effective and successful.

Here are some IT self-service best practices to consider:

  1. Keep it simple: The self-service portal should be easy to navigate and use. Avoid creating a cluttered interface with too many options, which can overwhelm users.
  2. Provide clear instructions: Provide clear and concise instructions on how to use the self-service portal, how to submit tickets and how to access other resources. Make sure the instructions are easily accessible and user-friendly.
  3. Leverage automation: Automate as many processes as possible, such as ticket creation and routing, to reduce manual work and errors. This will also help to speed up the resolution process.
  4. Create a comprehensive knowledge base: A knowledge base should contain articles, FAQs, troubleshooting guides and other resources to help users solve their issues. Make sure the knowledge base is updated regularly and covers a wide range of topics.
  5. Integrate self-service with other IT systems: Integrate self-service with other IT systems, such as ticketing systems and inventory management tools, to ensure a seamless user experience.
  6. Encourage user adoption: Encourage users to use self-service by promoting it through email campaigns, training and other communications. Highlight the benefits of self-service, such as faster issue resolution and increased control over the IT experience.
  7. Monitor and measure success: Regularly monitor and measure the success of the self-service portal. Use metrics such as ticket volume, resolution times and user satisfaction to identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes.

By following these best practices, organizations can create a successful self-service IT model that enhances user experience, reduces the workload on IT help desks, and improves efficiency.

Strategically Leveraging Conversational AI

Finally, strategically using conversational AI as part of your self-service portal can not only help increase self-service adoption but also further reduce the drain on IT resources when used in combination with automation.

Conversational AI chatbots are intelligent software applications that can understand and respond to user queries in natural language.

In IT Service Management, conversational AI chatbots can be used to provide quick, efficient support to your users by resolving common issues, answering questions and guiding people through various processes.

When you use conversational AI chatbots on your self-service portal, you can significantly enhance the overall user experience and streamline your IT support operations. You can also deflect tickets, requests and calls/emails from your IT help desk.

It is important to note, however, the distinction between conversational AI chatbots and traditional chatbots because the success rates of using one over the other are drastic.

When talking about traditional chat, we mean a chatbot experience that has a limited conversation path. It can take inputs and guided dialog paths to return answers in a simplified question/answer format – similar to what you’d get if you searched a knowledge base or FAQ – there aren’t many actions a user can take from the conversation with a traditional chatbot.

Traditional chatbots don’t fare as well as those built on conversational AI. In fact, a recent market study from CIO.com found that nearly 76 percent of chatbot customers report user frustration with existing solutions. However, When conversational AI is used, the study shows more than 61 percent of respondents could effectively resolve problems vs just 35 percent when traditional chat is used.

The main benefit of a conversational AI chatbot lies in its ability to provide accurate, personalized responses to customers without any human intervention.

Conversational AI brings many additional benefits to service management teams when paired with enterprise integration and automation (using iPaaS). This combination can elevate chat from a glorified knowledge base search engine into an automated, action-centered channel to field requests through dynamic forms or conversation flows.

No matter how good your knowledge base is, personalized user information can only be uncovered through the inherent ability to connect to business systems via APIs and integrations. This capability is what makes it possible to automatically provide dynamic content and fulfill simple, repetitive requests for action. When you have a conversational AI chatbot with this functionality already baked in, you can better service your users and even improve self-service adoption rates across your organization.

Employee engagement is a crucial aspect of any successful business. As the Gartner study suggests, there is ample room for improvement in many organizations. For CIOs and IT leaders, the challenge lies in leveraging technology to reduce toil and foster a more engaged workforce. By embracing these strategies, not only can you support happier, more productive employees, but you can also drive your businesses toward greater success.

Andrew Graf

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