Sollertis Service Desk Survey Results

Why did we undertake this survey?

This study was designed to provide insight into the relationship between service desks and the businesses in which they operate. With the advances in convergence between IT and business, we wanted to provide research into how IT service desks are positioned to enable business capability and deliver strategic assistance to business colleagues. We trust you find this survey and the associated analysis useful. Should you wish to discuss your service desk objectives and business relationships with us, please use the contact us form below.


Please select your type of service desk?

We ask this question to gather insight into the types of service desk that attend the SDI conference and as a leader to question 2.


What terminology do you use to describe service desk callers?

We asked this question to determine the types of language barriers used within service desks. Our use of language can set the tone of the relationship, and how we refer to people that use our service desk can reveal those nuances.


How does your service desk demonstrate Business value?

Business Value is a term used without much thought into how we actually demonstrate business value. Given the potential strategic value of IT, we are interested in how service desks actualise and show business value.


Which of the following areas will your service desk be focused on in the next 12 months?

By asking where service desks are focusing their energy in the forthcoming 12 months, we gain insight into the trending maturity of the service desk industry. We are interested in finding out what matters to the service desk and if that matches the needs of the business?

What will you get from reading this?


Our extensive experience in the service desk, ITSM and BRM domain, provides in-depth knowledge and expertise that can help you with your service desk objectives.


We hope that the findings of this survey provide you with deeper insight into the service desk industry and uncovers trends within service desk business relationships.


As we undertake the analysis of the results, we will provide guidance and direction where appropriate. Please note, that while we may offer an opinion, we respect that each organisation and service desk is unique.


We respect and acknowledge that each organisation and service desk is unique, so within this context, we offer some generic recommendations that you can think about and adopt. If you would like a tailored set of recommendations, then please contact us below.

Question 1: What type of Service Desk do you run?

This question was asked to gain an understanding of the variety of service desk across the Service Desk industry. The clear dominant service desk type for this survey is the IT Service Desk with 88% of respondents.

IT Service Desk


Internal Facing


Customer Service Desk


Shared Service Desk


External Facing

Question 2: What terminology do you use to describe your service desk callers?

Question options

Colleagues: a person with whom one works in a profession or business.
Customer: someone who buys goods or services from a business.
User: someone who uses or operates something

With the ITIL framework prevailing for the past 15 years in IT Service Management, we have adopted some terminology that could be hindering our business relationships. In the majority of cases, you will find that the terminology of “customer” has created a barrier to business value that could easily be changed. Service desks that refer to their callers as colleagues or partners typically enjoy a stronger relationship built on shared outcomes and business priorities.

82% use 'Customer' to describe their Service Desk callers.

82% of respondents state that the use the term ‘customer’ to describe their service desk callers. This seems to be in contrast to the dominant type of service desk (IT Service Desk). If we conclude that the majority of IT Service Desks are operating in the same business structure as their businesses, why do service desks refer to their callers as customers?

Research the Business Relationship Management Institute

Take a look at research from the Business Relationship Management Institute and some of the leading companies in the world; you will see that the term customer is rarely used (if ever) to describe business colleagues. We would warn that changing the terminology alone is not going to dramatically enhance the relationship, but when combined with some other business convergence initiatives, the resultant change will be positive.

Consider the use of customer in your service desk operation. Is it appropriate?

Ask you business colleagues their opinion. What is the best terminology for your organisation and does it accurately reflect your relationship? Calling your service desk callers customers creates a “them” and “us” scenario which is not healthy for fostering positive relationships.

Question 3: How does your service desk demonstrate Business value?


KPI Reporting


Service Catalogue


Business Context


Get Better

Question options

KPI Reporting aligned to Business Strategy and Business Outcomes: This is one of the strongest mechanisms that can be used to demonstrate business value. Defining the KPI’s that support the strategy of the business and then measuring them is a major undertaking and one that requires complete awareness of the business priorities, outcomes and core business capabilities.
Use an IT Service Catalogue that encapsulates Business Outcomes: A well designed IT Service Catalogue describes business capabilities that connect to and support business outcomes and objectives. Unfortunately, in many cases, the IT Service Catalogue is simply a list of things that can be requested from IT and therefore, do not describe or connect with business capabilities at all.
Capture Business context on all our Service Desk calls: Many IT Service Desk systems collect data from the IT perspective and are not enabled to capture the true business context associated with the service desk call. In advanced service desks, the understanding of business context is presented to the service desk so that business context can be captured and reported. Having such context facilitates prioritisation and focus on the business impact or disruption and therefore enables far greater business value.
We would like to get better at showing Business Value: Admitting that you need help in demonstrating Business Value is a great thing and show that you care about the relationship between the service desk and your business colleagues.

In our experience service desk reporting is very quality and performance focused, which is critical to the operational excellence of the IT service and business capability at hand. However, we need to ensure that the IT Service and business outcome is connected and we need to ensure we have a reliable mechanism to capture the true business context and impact.

Do you have a mature Service Desk?

An impressive 55% of respondents stated their Service Desk demonstrated Business Value through KPI reporting aligned to business strategy, and 20% indicated that they use an IT Service Catalogue that encapsulated business outcomes. This implies a relatively mature service desk reporting capability which is good to see, but with just 20% of respondents having an IT Service Catalogue with encapsulated business outcomes, this means that service desks may be reporting on what they think their business needs, rather than what their businesses actually need. Also, given that only 11% of respondents can capture actual business context, that means that a significant 89% do not appreciate the business impact of their service desk calls.

Capture affected business process on all service desk calls

Take a look at this blog on where one of the original ITIL authors talks about how the University of Lincoln now capture affected business process on all service desk calls with the use of Sollertis Convergence and Cherwell Software. By using this ground-breaking approach, it is now possible to produce KPI reports for the service desk quality and performance in the context of business objectives, business outcomes, business capability and business partners (affected/supported business area).

Consider how your KPI reporting links to business strategy and business priorities.

Review your IT Service Catalogue - does it connect to business capabilities and does it support a best practice taxonomy that relates to a business awareness structure. Finally, look at examples (e.g. the University of Lincoln) where business context is fully embedded into service management and service desk processes. Taking these approaches will fast-track your ability to demonstrate business value.

Question 4: Which of the following areas will your service desk be focused on in the next 12 months?


Business Alignment


Software Tools


People & Skills


Process Improvement


Industry Certification

Question options

Business Alignment: Although we do not like the term alignment we mean the service desks connection to business strategy.
Software Tools: Technology on the service desk is often recycled, and new software tools are necessary to support the maturity of the service operation and service desk.
People and Skills: The Service Desk is extremely reliant on great people with talent and skills. This is often an ongoing area of focus.
Process Improvement: Process Improvement is continuous and is focused on reducing waste and increasing productivity and throughput of work.
Industry Certification: Certification can drive overall improvement across the whole service desk and in many cases can result in strategic business partnering.

Getting our house in order

With the highest percentage of service desks (54%) focusing on process improvement, and people and skills (39%), it looks like many service desks are looking to get their house in order in the coming 12 months. Industry Certification is a clear priority for many service desks (34%), along with Software Tools (30%), but what is most surprising is the lack of focus on business alignment (20%). It is an interesting insight that requires further investigation, but on first impressions, one could deduce that 80% of service desk are either already fully converged with their businesses, but the previous question implies the opposite, or service desks are not as concerned with business alignment as they should be. This is a rather concerning situation and suggests that the service desk industry needs to do much more in recognising and promoting the strategic value of the service desk.

Connect your service desk with your business strategy

Business Convergence is where service desk should be focusing equal attention. Process Improvement is important, yes, but the most important thing is the business outcome and business strategy, i.e. your business growth, competitive position, customer experience and retention, access to new markets, etc. Think about how your service desk connects with your business strategies and outcomes.

How is this initiative adding business value?

As you undertake your initiatives over the coming 12 months, always think, how is this initiative going to add business value? How does it connect with the overall business strategy and business outcomes? How can we measure that and demonstrate that?

Conclusion and thanks

We would like to thank everyone who came to our stand at the SDI Conference and completed a survey. Your responses provide a barometer of service desk thoughts and trends which we are delighted to share with the wider community and industry.

The overall conclusion we draw from this survey is that the service desk has the capability to transition and mature into a high-value strategic business partner, to achieve this aim it must always remain vigilant on how it and the IT services it supports and fulfils connect to business strategy and business outcomes.

For help, guidance and strategic service desk solutions please contact us, request a product demo or take advantage of our free mentoring and coaching

Thank you!

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