By Christoph Goldenstern, Kepner-Tregoe

If you work on the frontline of IT support, then you are likely to be concerned about the possibility that a “robot” will take your job during the future. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) as a support tool is increasing rapidly, with every major IT Service Management (ITSM) tool vendor rushing to release their AI capability to the marketplace. Just where does this leave the traditional service desk operator? Is the frontline of IT soon to be the realm of technological rather than human interaction?

Don’t underestimate the inevitable attrition of humans’ jobs as the use of AI increases, and it will increase rapidly during the next few years. There is no point in sugar-coating the facts; some jobs will disappear, and for many good reasons.

AI allows for a much faster turnaround of information. In a large organization, the cumulative cost of human-thinking time can be huge, whereas an AI-powered bot will respond instantly to common queries.

Another reason often overlooked when considering the value of AI is the simple fact the new workforce, Millennials and gen-z, don’t immediately want to interact with a human to resolve problems when it comes to fundamental issues and questions. They would much rather chat with a bot for the answers they require.

Recent research predicts that, by 2020, 85% of current customer interactions will occur without a human contributor. Furthermore, Forrester research suggests more than 22 million jobs will be replaced by AI, robots and machine learning by 2025.

Those with jobs that AI is likely to replace should not necessarily regard this as a bad outcome. In reality, the jobs that will become redundant, from a human point of view, are often times repetitive, mundane and, consequently, boring. Requisitioning hardware and software, setting up new users and answering common queries are all tasks that require too much time and don’t provide much job satisfaction.

Remember when a service desk agent had to reset every password? It’s certainly not a job many will miss. The same will be true of the next jobs AI is targeting.

There are many reasons we should embrace the expanding use of AI in IT support. Here are five to consider:

  1. Making better use of your existing human resources – Ending repetitive service desk work not only frees staff to address more complex and challenging issues, but also provides faster response times for customers. The “good news” for us people is: the remaining incidents tend to be much more complex because the complexity of technology itself is increasing as well. There is also a lot evidence suggesting that the volume of these incidents will in fact increase.

  2. Making better IT decisions – As well as providing intelligence to help with current IT issues, AI can power decision-making on future IT service requirements and the need for new IT services.

  3. Supercharge your IT self-service – This is the immediate future. ITSM tool vendors are incorporating AI into self-service portals at a rapid rate. This has the power to improve your customer experience at the “level 0” support-tier and business productivity,

  4. Proactive improvement of IT services – Predictive analytics will give you better information that can identify future IT issues that have not yet impacted your business.

  5. Improved customer experience – Quicker delivery of fixes and workarounds via AI intervention, improved self-help capabilities, and faster more accurate provisioning will all enhance the customer experience.

During the long term, or even the short term, the enhanced capabilities of automation and AI will free up your IT support staff from the mundane manual tasks that impede their ability to innovate and handle more complex incident and problems, which ultimately present the greater threat to IT stability. In return, your staff will need to develop new skills to elevate their capabilities to handle complexity and to optimize the human-machine interface while also creating a knowledgebase that the AI engine can leverage.

Read more about the Skills for the Future of Work

About Kepner-Tregoe

Kepner-Tregoe has been the industry leader in problem-solving and service-excellence processes for more than 60 years. The experts at KT have helped companies raise their level of incident- and problem-management performance through tools, training and consulting – leading to highly effective service-management teams ready to respond to your company’s most critical issues.