State and local governments are working through digital modernization roadmaps and turning to technology to improve the user experience. But with IT team resource constraints, budget issues, and ever-changing technology, working through modernization roadmaps while keeping the business of government running smoothly can be a challenge. MeriTalk sat down with Andrew Graf, chief product officer and co-founder of TeamDynamix, to discuss how improving IT service management practices can help government IT teams accelerate their modernization roadmaps while providing a better constituent and employee experience.
MeriTalk: State and local government IT teams are being pulled into several directions as they work through modernization roadmaps. Why should leaders focus on IT service management modernization as they work through their overall modernization plans?
Graf: In order to accomplish digital transformation and modernization goals, state and local government IT leaders need resources. One way to free up resources is to modernize IT service management processes and technologies. In a recent InformationWeek study, 58 percent of organizations reported that individual IT team members spend more than five hours per week fulfilling repetitive requests and manual, mundane tasks. Some organizations reported that their staff members spend 10 or more hours per week on this type of rote work. That adds up to three months per year spent on tasks that could be automated with modern IT service management tools. When you multiply that across a team, that time becomes significant. Modernizing IT service management allows IT teams to focus on more high-value work that can speed digital transformation.
Another key reason to modernize IT service management is to improve customer service. When constituents interact with state and local government, they expect the same type of experience they enjoy with private sector organizations – they want immediate customer service. Investing in self-service and service management tools with automation provides a better customer experience, as issues can be quickly identified and addressed, and customer questions can be researched and answered in near real-time.
MeriTalk: It appears that remote and hybrid work environments are here to stay. How is this shift, along with the increased demands of computing at the edge, impacting IT service management needs?
Graf: Gone are the days when an employee could just walk into the IT department when they have computer problems. The ability to serve remote teams has become paramount. Self-service tools are the primary – and most effective – way to do that. Self-service helps employees get answers to questions in the moment, which can be done through conversational AI chatbots or searchable knowledge bases on a portal. Simple things like name changes or checking paid time off balances can be automated. Through self-service and ITSM automation, IT teams can effectively serve remote employees without having to lift a finger. This frees up IT resources so they can interact quicker with employees who have more significant IT issues.
MeriTalk: Looking ahead, what are the key challenges facing public sector IT leaders around IT service management? How can those challenges be overcome?
Graf: The number one challenge that technology leaders face is rapid technological change, which makes designing and planning a service management support structure difficult. IT leaders should focus on establishing an adaptable service management framework with a set of tools that can adjust and scale to agency changes and new technologies. The framework starts with a great knowledge base and a process to feed that knowledge base as technology changes or new technologies are introduced. Technology teams should also adopt an automation-first philosophy. Every time a new service is added, they should first ask if it can be automated and if it should be automated.
MeriTalk: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that IT jobs growth will continue to outpace other professions. That – along with competition from the private sector – puts state and local governments at a disadvantage when hiring IT professionals. When you think about resource constraints in the public sector, what can be done to help leadership support IT professionals and reduce IT team burnout?
Graf: There is definitely no shortage of IT job opportunities. But people want to enjoy what they do. We talked earlier about IT staff spending up to three months per year on tasks that are mundane and repeatable. The questions are the same, the actions are the same. Those tasks, most of which involve system administration, are equivalent to stapling paper over and over again. They don’t require a lot of thought, but they do require time. These tasks lead to low employee morale and burnout. Ninety percent of respondents in that same InformationWeek survey reported that those mundane tasks – that IT toil – contributed to an organization’s attrition. People left for jobs that offered more high-value, interesting, and enjoyable work.
Reducing that IT system administration toil through automation and self-service allows IT professionals to focus on work that engages their minds and allows them to interact with other people in a meaningful way, raising their job satisfaction. It also elevates the IT team within the agency because the team has more time to focus on work that supports the mission. Also, adopting automation and tools like conversational AI offers IT professionals the opportunity to learn new skills. This can help the public sector attract people who are looking to advance their careers.
MeriTalk: What are some of the top areas where automation can reduce resource drain?
Graf: IT service management is full of opportunities to automate tasks and reduce burnout. Automating password resets is one of the lowest-hanging fruits. Other tasks include name changes, permission changes, and onboarding and offboarding employees. Agencies can also use automation to clean up service management data because a lot of tickets are misclassified. Adding or removing people from groups in Active Directory can be automated. When these tasks are automated, IT resources have more time to focus on high-value requests. Customer satisfaction improves because problems get resolved much faster.
MeriTalk: AI is now the talk of the technology world. What impact will AI have on the IT service desk?
Graf: One of the primary areas will be improving the user experience through the use of a conversational AI platform to make self-service more effective and user-friendly. Another big impact will be using AI as a virtual assistant to service desk technicians, which will make their jobs easier. AI can automatically classify tickets, summarize tickets, and suggest responses. AI can also be used to predict and solve problems before tickets even get created, saving time and user frustration.
MeriTalk: How can the TeamDynamix IT Service Management platform alleviate pressure on the IT team and support government modernization efforts? What makes the TeamDynamix solution different than other IT service management solutions?
Graf: Because of our experience working with the public sector, we know that government IT teams are constrained and need a framework to adapt to the evolving technology landscape quickly. The TeamDynamix platform is built to do this. It offers content for self-service that extends to a conversational AI platform that isn’t just chatbots. It includes chat, Teams, Slack, email, social media – really anywhere citizens and staff are interacting with technology – to provide better service and a better user experience. These capabilities are paired tightly with our industry-leading automation platform, which requires no coding to build out workflows, offers a low cost of ownership, and is easy to use for technical admins. TeamDynamix provides the best mix of enterprise capabilities, giving agencies the ability to evolve without taxing their resources, making constituents and agency employees happy while also making government IT a better place to work.