”As regional businesses seek to insulate themselves from ongoing economic jitters, they are looking for consolidation and expansion.”Prasad Ramakrishnan, CIO of Freshworks
Bent on doing more with less, UAE enterprises are embracing the cloud as never before and reevaluating what it means to be a digital business. Because of the cloud’s fail-fast potential, businesses can assess a range of solutions before finding the one that fits. Now in the midst of yet more economic uncertainty, decision makers have had enough of shelling out top dollar for software that only partially solves a problem. Tedious workarounds accepted in the wake of budget wastage may be a thing of the past as IT heads resolve to pay for what they need and nothing more. Efficiency will reign as the industry witnesses the Great Software Reset.
Companies are moving to a people-first model of technology, wherein they empower the workforce to be faster and achieve better outcomes. The Great Software Reset is what Freshworks named a collection of trends that emerged from our 2023 Freshservice Service Management Benchmark Report. We analysed more than 118 million internal IT service management (ITSM) tickets across some 7,500 organisations. And here is what we found.
1. Automation is a time saver
Unsurprisingly, the drift to AI to address staff burnout and labour shortages is paying dividends. Not only is AI faster and more accurate when applied to mundane yet critical tasks, but employees are more productive because they are challenged by higher-order tasks. By using self-service options in helpdesk systems, processes like a password change can occur without any email exchange. Our report shows automation helping to resolve 80% of tickets in the first interaction and resolution times in such everyday tasks are cut by around 23%.
2. Bots can be heroes
Bots have been around in the UAE for a while now and many of us have used them. DEWA’s Rammas has been in operation since early 2017 and as of the end of last year it had responded to 6.8 million customer queries. That’s more than 3,000 per day. The efficiency gains of chatbots cannot be overstated. Our report shows that bots halve the time taken to give an initial response. And resolution times are cut by 57% as bots supplement the efforts of helpdesk teams. This has positive implications for productivity not just on the helpdesk but across the entire company, as people are able to get back to work more quickly.
3. Virtual agents: the power behind the troubleshooter
While bots support the frontline helpdesk, virtual agents can be advisors that help to fix the problem. Capable of real-time conversational support through commonly used messaging channels, these agents can grant access to resources by applying predetermined policy, and a range of other decision-based tasks. Using these agents, IT teams can refer 46% of raised tickets. Other AI can be used for similar tasks. For example, if an employee finds themselves unable to access a dashboard after having been given permission, human agents can use AI to automatically identify similar incidents. According to the report, such incidents are resolved 23% faster. Issues such as these where an underlying problem leads to multiple tickets might take humans hours, or even days, to resolve.
4. FSI takes the lead on support
We found that financial service companies had the highest customer satisfaction rating. They were able to keep almost all (98.4%) of their end-users happy. FSI organisations stand as a shining example of efficiency. Robust IT service management is founded on the principle that technology plays a central role in the employee experience. The FSI sector has embraced this concept wholeheartedly. With an average first-response time of 9.45 hours, the industry’s IT personnel are assuring their users that they are on top of things. The financial services sector is also not afraid to use automation, including bots, to help minimise friction and accelerate resolution. Three quarters of the industry’s issues are resolved in the first interaction. That means the company eliminates a lot of back and forth, which translates to labour saved on every ticket raised.
5. Fast does not necessarily equate to satisfied
As regional businesses seek to insulate themselves from ongoing economic jitters, they are looking for consolidation and expansion. Last year, the Middle East bucked a global trend in the slowdown of M&A activity. Deals surged in the region, numbering 632, with 89% concentrated in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and many in the billion-dollar range. Where such deals find businesses operating in new markets, they face formidable challenges in IT service management. Expectations, performance, infrastructure, and even regulatory issues can play a part. The end result is a vast range of efficiencies. Our report showed that US users had to wait an average of 28 hours for a resolution to their tickets, and yet satisfaction scores were at their highest. Compare that with the world’s fastest resolution time of 17 hours, found in India, which paradoxically has the lowest customer satisfaction score of 89%.
At least some of this discrepancy can be explained by customer experience, particularly as it relates to individualization of service. What is clear is that each country has its own expectations, strengths, and weaknesses, and therefore poses its own challenges to IT service management. The main lesson is that strategies must be tailored to meet the unique needs of customers and stakeholders.
Ready, get set, reset
When it comes to doing more with less and weathering whatever economic problems come next, businesses can certainly look to the Freshworks Freshservice Service Management Benchmark Report 2023 for inspiration. The full version, available here, tells the story of the Great Software Reset and how it is being shaped by thousands of organisations around the world. And it tells the story of how UAE enterprises can pull the right levers to get optimum value from their ITSM solutions.