Help Desk in the DoD: It’s More Strategic Than You Think

18 October 2012 | Dana Barnes, Director, Microsoft Joint & Defense Agencies

​Somewhere along the line, help desk got a bad rap.  Maybe it’s because we only call the help desk when we have a problem.  Whatever the reason, it’s a fact that organizations have traditionally viewed IT support as a necessary operating cost rather than a strategic function.  But in DoD, this is all starting to change.   

DoD CIOs are realizing that help desks, or more accurately, service desks, can provide a holistic view of their organization’s IT performance.  When managed effectively, a service desk becomes more than the guys who manage password reset requests.  It becomes a treasure trove of data on the most pressing issues facing the IT infrastructure. A well-managed service desk becomes an essential business intelligence function. 

In order to extract this valuable information in a useful format, Commands need the right tools.  Modern service desk software applications provide dashboard views of current needs and threats – actionable intelligence leaders can use to make mission-critical IT decisions.  If a service desk is flooded with calls on slow system response times, personnel can analyze data to quickly determine if the organization is under cyber attack.  This data can help leaders identify cyber vulnerabilities, manage asset provisioning, and make better IT decisions to support mission critical requirements.

One of the DoD’s top Joint Task Forces (JTF) recently transformed its service desk operations through Microsoft Service Manager, a component of Microsoft Systems Center 2012.  Not only does Service Manager automate their processes related to ticket, workflow and configuration management, but it connects the dots within the ticket data, identifying the most pressing IT needs to enable fast, informed decision-making.  Service Manager also helps DoD organizations attain Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) process structure – the gold standard of IT service management and a requirement within many DoD organizations.  

The JTF’s leadership realized what many other DoD organizations are also realizing – that service desk operations and the information gathered by the service has strategic value.  For the Defense Department, IT infrastructures are in essence combat systems – if they are degraded, then the supported force will be disadvantaged.  With Systems Center 2012, they will be able to streamline service desk operations, reducing IT costs, and position themselves to maintain their tactical edge. 

Dana Barnes
Director, Microsoft Joint & Defense Agencies

About the Author

Dana Barnes | Director, Microsoft Joint & Defense Agencies

Dana oversees Microsoft’s Joint DoD business and previously managed Microsoft’s accounts in the Naval District of Washington. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served for seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Read more