Ever since the introduction of the first personal computers into the workplace there has been an ongoing dichotomy between the end-user's technology skill set and the need for dedicated professionals to assist them with the use of that technology. Whether it was how to define tab stops in a Word v2 document or connect their Windows Phone to Exchange, there has always been, and will always be, a need for knowledgeable people to solve problems presented by end-users.


In a recent TechRepublic CIO Insights article, Nick Heath challenges those who think the I.T. Help Desk is a thing of the past. I'm in absolute agreement with Nick.


Many of the requests made by end-users are quite mundane, and sometimes inane, such as the classic plant-on-the-monitor problem. Maybe even some of them can be made available via self-help (e.g. password resets), but it still begs the question of whether they should be available via self-help. Convenience is but one aspect of the question; security must also be kept in mind. However, none of those scenarios are the real reason for having a Help Desk. The Help Desk provides dedicated, trained resources, for solving that occasional problem that arises that actually keeps people, sometimes many people, from doing real work that results in revenue for the business.


Anybody who has studied business management has learned about the idea of "core competency". Businesses do what they are good at, and they find others to help with what they are not. But this principle doesn't just apply to the external face of the business, it also applies internally. The "core competency" of the I.T. Help Desk is to quickly and efficiently respond to the needs of an end-user with a technology-related issue, so that those end-users can continue doing what they do best, rather than losing a half-day of work trying to get email working on their new smartphone.


The I.T. Help Desk does need to evolve, however, and ensure their skill sets and operational practices embrace those that involve the extended range of new devices. Implementing help desk software that supports access from mobile interfaces to get work-requests, and being able to administer the network via mobile devices when possible, can have a significant impact on improving the impact of BYOD on the organization.