Jan 8, 2024

AI's role in redefining IT support

  • Connect and support people
  • Days filled with dull, repetitive tasks are not what your average IT support professional signs up for. In fact, a recent study by InformationWeek revealed that dealing with mundane tasks not only fails to inspire IT support agents, it drains their morale, pushing them towards seeking brighter opportunities elsewhere. Read on for a look at how artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing IT support and freeing up agents to focus on more meaningful work.

    It’s a Wednesday mid-morning and Susie is drowning in a sea of routine support inquiries. There are other bigger, brighter things she should be working on but for now, it’s just her, a lukewarm cup of coffee, and what seems like a never-ending stream of requests. Unsure where to begin, she opens the first ticket, ‘there’s a knowledge base article on this somewhere’ she thinks as she begrudgingly starts her search for answers.

    How could AI swoop in to rescue Susie? Let’s look at three areas where AI technology is revolutionizing IT support.

    Virtual agents — your routine inquiry hero

    In short, an intelligent virtual agent (IVA) is an AI-enabled software designed to engage users in a human-like interaction. They work 24/7, handle multiple requests simultaneously, and, as luck would have it, they excel at dealing with tedious routine tasks.

    Before delving further into the capabilities of modern IVAs, it’s important to dispel any lingering associations readers may have with the frustration-inducing chatbots of yesteryear. In contrast to their easily confused ancestors, modern IVAs offer a significantly enhanced user experience. The key to this notable improvement lies in the incorporation of natural language processing (NLP) — a branch of AI concerned with giving computers the ability to understand text and spoken words.

    What does this mean exactly? Well, put simply, it means that NLP-powered virtual agents understand natural language and can confidently interpret the intent behind user requests. Unlike old-school chatbots, these clever cyber helpers aren’t phased by variations in expression or the odd spelling mistake. The result is user interactions that flow in a manner remarkably akin to genuine human conversations.

    IVAs can also integrate with company CRMs and knowledge bases, meaning that, after they have established the intent of a request, they can go about finding an answer. Machine learning (ML), an application of AI, allows IVAs to scan knowledge bases seeking out and then autonomously delivering the information needed to drive a resolution.

    But it doesn’t end there — the AI also draws on data from previous interactions to optimize how information is delivered to the user. So not only does the IVA find and deliver necessary information to solve a request, but it also delivers the information in a manner that best facilitates understanding.

    Where the solution to an inquiry is more complicated, AI can still be of assistance by providing the right support agent with the information they need (more on this later).

    For IT support professionals like Susie, AI-powered virtual agents not only alleviate the burden of repetitive tasks but, thanks to NLP, they can handle inquiries with human-like skill.

    AI-powered knowledge bases — your ultra-efficient librarian

    Another benefit of AI for IT support is that it can help curate and maintain a quality knowledge base — the all-important asset library for dealing with IT issues.

    A well-organized and up-to-date knowledge base helps support staff, employees, and customers find the information they need, speeding up resolution time and reducing the number of tickets.

    What exactly does AI do here? To begin with, it can help by categorizing articles in a user-friendly way. An AI-enabled knowledge management software acts like an ultra-efficient librarian, sifting through articles, tagging, sorting, and getting rid of duplicate information.

    Secondly, it can optimize content. By tracking article usage and user feedback, AI pinpoints knowledge gaps and suggests areas for improvement.

    Thirdly, and most impressively, AI doesn’t just help manage a knowledge base, it can also help create it. Thanks to generative AI, existing information and data derived from user interactions can be combined to create shiny new articles. Let’s say Susie works a support inquiry through to a successful resolution, generative AI can extract the gems from her chat logs and create a knowledge base article based on the topic in question.

    For the likes of Susie, faster access to better quality information means time saved, stress avoided, and more job satisfaction.

    Request prioritization and routing — your smart and speedy manager

    Prioritizing and categorizing tickets according to their urgency, impact, and type is an important aspect of support operations. Important, but also time-consuming and error-prone.

    Using NLP and ML, AI takes the leg work out of this process by analyzing and understanding the content and context of support tickets. Based on this understanding it then automatically assigns each ticket an appropriate category and priority level. It can even draw on historical data to predict the resolution timeframe for a given inquiry.

    Where a ticket needs the special touch of a human agent, AI-powered ticket routing optimizes distribution. In this instance, sophisticated algorithms are used to match a ticket with a support agent based on a range of data points, including skillset, level of experience, and availability.

    AI solutions combining NLP and ML alleviate the burden of categorizing and prioritizing support tickets, empowering Susie and her team by allowing them to focus on big-picture tasks. Using intelligent algorithms for optimal routing, these solutions also ensure that support staff are channeled queries that align with their strengths and account for existing workloads. This sophisticated approach not only enhances efficiency but also contributes to a more targeted and personalized support experience.

    Last word

    In the world of IT support, the daily grind of dealing with routine tasks can be a drain on the spirits of agents. However, AI is emerging as a force for better times:

    Virtual agents, powered by natural language processing, liberate professionals from the monotony of repetitive inquiries by handling them with human-like proficiency.

    AI-driven knowledge bases act as efficient librarians, not only organizing information but also generating new insights and content.

    The smart orchestration of ticket prioritization and routing, infused with AI’s analytical prowess, allows support teams to focus on strategic endeavors.

    Embracing AI tools for IT support isn’t just a technological leap, it’s a strategic move for businesses seeking to elevate the job satisfaction of their support teams and retain talent.

    Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of machines or software to think, learn, and execute tasks that typically require human intelligence. These tasks include recognizing faces and physical surroundings, identifying patterns in data, and adapting response behavior based on past experiences.

    In a business setting, AI-based tools help employees make faster data-based decisions, generate ideas, and automate repetitive work. They also unlock a world of possibilities when it comes to bringing digital technology into the non-digital world. TeamViewer’s augmented reality (AR) solutions, for instance, use AI to analyze and enhance complex industrial processes. The underlying AI technology enables these solutions to display digital information as part of the physical world to guide frontline employees in performing manual tasks.

    The above article illustrates that AI already plays a central role in daily business operations. And as leading organizations continue to invest in AI, the potential of what they can achieve becomes limitless.