It sounds easy enough to an IT pro: is it an applications ticket or a hardware ticket?

 

Simple enough. Why is this one question so important? For starters, it’s how you track the performance and success of the teams who provide internal support. In addition, collecting simple data points like “category” and “subcategory” can drive a better, faster experience for all the employees in your organization.

 

The problem is, the sales manager (or accountant, or creative designer) doesn’t know the difference between an application support issue and hardware breakdown, and they’re not familiar with IT’s processes that rely on such information.

 

That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) can help. SolarWinds® Service Desk uses AI in a few different ways– suggested data points for tickets was the first AI-powered functionality we introduced. Suggested categories and subcategories provide users some direction based on keywords within the subject or description of their ticket and the composite history of ticket data in the system. The goal is for requesters, regardless of their tech understanding, to enter complete and accurate ticket data thanks to those suggestions.

 

This data can drive automated ticket routing and priority. It can empower your teams to carve out unique SLAs for specific types of tickets (and trust the tickets are categorized correctly). It can make the difference between granular, accurate performance data and, well, this:

 

This might look familiar: the dreaded “other” category. When users (or agents, for that matter) don’t know how to identify the category, your reports will look something like this. It’s time to say goodbye to this useless chart. AI will see it to the door by suggesting the correct data points up front.

 

Let’s look at some use cases for AI in action.

 

Powering Ticket Automations

One of the most important sections in the configuration of a SolarWinds Service Desk environment is the automations engine. This where you’ll identify types of tickets you can route directly to a certain group, keywords indicating high priority, or breaches requiring specific escalation processes.

 

Those automated actions depend on data collection when a ticket is entered. The information the user enters will correspond directly with an action, so it needs to be correct for an automation rule to work.

 

This is where AI can help. As you can see from the next example, there are suggested categories and subcategories as soon as they click those required drop-downs. The suggestions are based on the information they’ve already entered combined with historical data from the service desk environment. When they choose “hardware” and “laptop” with the help of those AI-powered suggestions, the custom fields appear for “battery type” and “type of laptop.”

 

 


 

 

Why is this important?

 

You can create an automation rule to route these tickets directly to the appropriate support group. The AI-powered suggestion unlocks those custom fields to help you pinpoint the exact nature of the issue.

 

In the example below, you’ll see an automation rule to route Mac device issues directly to the “Mac Device Technical Support” group.

 

 

 

 

 

With the help of AI-powered suggestions, you’ll receive the crucial piece of information driving the automation rule. Now these tickets will skip the general queue and arrive instantly with the “Mac Device Technical Support” group. You’ve saved the requester time waiting for a resolution and your IT team time parsing through a general ticket queue.

 

Self-Service and Suggested Request Forms

 

Requesters may not realize the benefit of the suggested categories because they’re unfamiliar with how your teams use the data. But in this next example of AI in the service desk, the benefits will be plainly evident.

 

This is where your service catalog and knowledge base reach their maximum potential. For a long time, it was very difficult for IT to encourage users to leverage self-service articles or request forms driving workflows. Simply put, some users will always default to creating a ticket, no matter what resources might be available through the portal.

 

When IT replies to the ticket with a link to a request form, the user now needs to complete the form after already submitting a ticket. That’s a poor experience, and it’s time wasted on both ends.

 

To simplify the experience, you can meet them with suggested resources wherever they are in the portal. If they like to use the search bar, suggested service catalog forms and self-service articles will appear. If a requester is the “always submit a ticket” type, AI-powered suggestions will pop up with request forms or knowledge articles as they fill out the subject line of the ticket.

 

Not only are you anticipating the service they need, but you’re giving them every single opportunity to leverage the resources your team has made available.

 

 

 

 

 

So, for now, there are three major benefits AI has brought to the service desk:

1) Complete and accurate data collection to drive automation and reporting

2) Access to appropriate request forms, driving automated workflows

3) Opportunities to self-resolve

 

As this technology grows, so will the possibilities for proactive measures to save time and avoid disruption to employees who depend on the technology you support.

In the past, the importance of access rights management had to wait in line behind trending topics like hybrid infrastructures, digitalization, cloud, and the latest new tools the C-level wants to have and implement. As a result, access rights management in companies often lacks transparency, is organically grown, and doesn’t follow best practices like the principle of least privilege.

Even though managing user access rights is an essential part of every administrator’s work, there are different ways of doing it. However, looking at all the systems, tools, and scripts out there, most admins share the same big pain points.

Earlier this year, we asked our THWACK® community about their biggest pain points when it comes to access rights management and auditing. Turn out the biggest factors are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Moving, adding, or changing permissions
  2. Running an audit/proving compliance
  3. Understanding recursive group memberships

 

1.      Moving, Adding, or Changing Permissions

 

The flexibility of today’s working world requires a well thought-out user provisioning process. Whether for a new user, a short-term assignment, department changes, or temporary projects, the expectations of an IT group are to accurately and quickly provision users while helping to maintain data security.

IT departments are typically responsible for securing a network, managing access to resources, and keeping an overview of permissions and access rights policies. Therefore, they should use a provisioning framework. SolarWinds® Access Rights Manager (ARM) is designed to help address the user provisioning process across three phases—joiners, movers, and leavers.

 

SolarWinds Access Rights Manager not only helps automate the joiner or initial provisioning phase, it also allows admins to quickly perform changes and remediate access rights while enabling data owners.

 

Creating and Moving User Access Permissions

 

With ARM, you can control the creation of new user accounts, rights management, and account details editing.

Its user provisioning tool allows you to set up new users typically within seconds. Users are generated in a standardized manner and in conformity with the roles in your company. The access rights to file servers, SharePoint sites, and Exchange as defined in the AD groups are issued at the same time. ARM generates a suitable email account so the new colleague can start work immediately. You can schedule the activation to prepare for the event in the future or to limit the access period for project work. Whether help desk or data owner, participants work with a reduced, simple interface in both cases.

All access rights are set up in a few steps.

 

On the start screen under “User Provisioning,” you can choose from the most important quick links for:

 

  • Creating a user or a group
  • Editing group memberships
  • Editing access rights for resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By choosing “Create new user or group,” ARM allows you to create a user or group based on preset templates. These user and group templates have to be created individually one time after installing ARM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further information please download our whitepaper: Joiner, Mover, Leaver: User Provisioning With SolarWinds Access Rights Manager

 

2.      Running an Audit/Proving Compliance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With ARM, you can either create reports on users/groups or resources along with further filters.

Just looking at reports for Active Directory, you could create views for:

 

  • Where user and groups have access
  • Employees of manager
  • Display user account details
  • Find inactive accounts
  • OU members and group memberships
  • User and group report
  • Identify local accounts
  • And many more

 

While creating a report, you can set different selections such as the users or groups you’d like to report on and the resources you would like details about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, you can set up scheduled reports, which you can send directly as email to yourself, your auditor, or direct line if needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To gain more insight on the reporting capabilities of ARM, please see our whitepaper: Top 7 Audit-Prep Reports

 

3.      Understanding Recursive Group Memberships

 

Groups can be members of other groups. Active Directory allows "children" to become "parents" within their own family tree. If the nested group structure loops in a circular way, group membership assignments become ineffective and nonsensical. Through these recursions or circular nested groups, every user who is a member of any of the recursive groups is granted all the access rights of all the groups. The consequence is a confusing mess of excessive access rights.

ARM automatically identifies all recursions in your system. We highly recommend removing the recursion by breaking the chain of circular group memberships.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARM not only allows you to see circular or recursive groups, but directly correct group memberships and dissolve recursions.

To keep an eye on the most common access-based risk levels, ARM provides a risk assessment dashboard with the eight biggest risk factors and lets you correct your individual risk levels right away.

 

Get your free ARM trial and do your risk assessment here.

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