The most important IT function of any help desk is that it shapes users' opinion of the IT department. And yet, it's the least important in terms of business value in that it doesn't directly increase profits.
As IT organizations prepare for Windows 7 while considering the merits of various approaches to desktop virtualization, the value of the help desk within the IT organization is coming under review, especially when you consider the fact that most IT organizations have not gone through a wide-scale operating system upgrade in seven years.
The concept of help desks as a service is not especially new. Any number of companies -- Citrix, LogMeIn, Kaseya, ManageEngine, Intel and a host of smaller IT services companies -- have deployed help desk-as-a-service offerings. But now companies such as CA and BMC that traditionally focused on selling on-premise help desk software also have jumped into the market.
As part of their push into the segment, Kelly McMahon, senior director of product management, and Kathy Shoop, vice president of product marketing for CA, are emphasizing the need for a blended approach to help desks that will allow IT organizations to deploy different levels of service. For example, they may opt to use the CA service for routine inquires, while continuing to rely on their own internal people to handle more complex challenges. To accomplish that, companies need an integrated approach that allows requests coming in from around the globe to be seamlessly integrated with existing internal help desks.
Most IT organizations don't have the capital budget available to support a major help desk upgrade at a time when activity surrounding the client is about to increase dramatically. But as that activity increases; it's only a matter of time before calls to already understaffed help desks increase as well.