10 years of an IT Service Desk

As we reach 10 years of having an IT Service Desk at the University, I thought it would be good to reflect on how things have changed.

So imagine life without wifi, without eduroam, without Google providing us with email and and an array of apps. Imagine not having a dedicated support desk for students (IT CONNECT).

Imagine life without a single point of contact for IT, or an online portal for checking the status of your logged requests and incidents. Oh and, to top it off, imagine only having wired internet in the halls of residence, our iconic but not-much-missed HallsNet, that allowed a massive 500Mb daily allowance. Imagine that today and hitting your limit after a few minutes of Netflix!

Imagine all this and you are then pretty much back in 2007.

I can remember trawling through forums looking for comments about HallsNet and think yes we are meeting student expectations; finding out that students’ were happy with the changes we had made:

“…….have now changed their policies regarding their internet system (Hallsnet). The central change means that if you exceed the 500mb d/l limit your internet access is removed for that day only. Before these changes a person would have been banned for a whole week (for the first offence) and 2 weeks for a second offence.”

We were going some way to meeting their expectations, even if we still had someway to go in terms of usage limits!

So student and staff needs have changed. We are now always connected and I think we would all miss being able to walk across campus checking status updates on social media or emails on the move. Social Media is something we’ve become accustom to using as a Service Desk too; in fact our very own IT Services Graduate spends his time looking at what we can offer you on Twitter or Facebook that will provide you with information that may be helpful one day……..In 2007 all you had was a leaflet telling you the basics. (We didn’t have an IT Graduate in 2007, infact thinking about it none of the staff on the Service Desk were even full time employees).

So from a support point of view do we meet your expectations of what a Service Desk should be achieving?  Well, we answer most enquiries within 4 hours now, and we deal with over 30,000 enquiries a year. A big change from the mere 7,000 back we dealt with back in 2007. If you telephoned the service desk back then, you only had a 75% chance of the phone being answered. These days, we now answer over 95% of our calls. But why call us we even have online chat? Who would have thought that in 2007.

Remember your first weekend: Freshers, and the start of  Welcome Week, where IT would be with their mobile support desk. Well, we did that in 2007 too, but pretty much all we did was sell you a HallsNet set-up CD and a network cable so you could connect to the internet. The Service Desk staff used to get really excited at the end of that weekend when we saw 60% of students in the halls were connected to the internet; that’s about 1900 students in real terms.

In 2017 you connected to WiFi whilst standing in the queue waiting to enrol. Eduroam is like an old friend to you, as you had it at college. But the IT support team was still there to offer advice and Celebrations (other chocolates of course are available). We attempt to calm the nerves of anxious parents by assuring them their now student-children will have sufficient connectivity to check in with home as often as possible.

We continue to fix things in our Laptop Clinic, which was originally set up to install network cards into PCs (actually that was as far back as 2001!!). The problems are pretty much the same today as they were in 2007, virus removal, failing hardware, the usual… but the cost of fixing these things, well it is still £30 so I think we pretty much tick the box for keeping this a value for money service.

And whilst we are talking value for money, do you know that printing today is cheaper than it was in 2007 (double sided black and white 6 pence) a whole penny cheaper. But the number of students printing out stuff must have gone down since 2007, I hear you say, after all we now have online submission. Alas, no. You can still create a decent queue on an essay hand in deadline day.

To end this little reflection of the last 10 years I am sure I have missed something out that would have been worthy of talking about. But I can’t go without mentioning our IT Graduate, IT Advisors and Service Desk Support staff make up a small team of 6; and our team of 8 Student IT Assistants who keep things running when we all go home at night. As a Manager and a University we are  immensely proud of them all and I am sure you are too after all we were voted Top IT Service Desk 2015 (as voted by you) and were finalists in the Best Small IT Service Desk 2017 following a submission of our achievements.

So if I had written this 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, how much would I have predicted would have happened? Probably very little. I hope the next 10 years proves as successful and as eventful in IT Services, and for my wonderful staff and students.