To be sure, help desks have been refining their missions over the last few years, automating solutions to the most frequent inquiries from users -- such as how to change a password or fix a printer -- so help technicians can provide higher-level care for more pressing issues, such as network problems or malware on users' computers.
That's a great start, says Greene, because it allows workers with simple, common tech problems to fix things themselves.
For more complex but still common questions -- creating Word documents, setting up spreadsheet macros, sending group emails, for example -- crowdsourcing can play a part, he says. "The role of IT here is in the community management function, which [will] become critical to the next-generation help desk. If you know there's a specific problem with a certain application or process, why not share it?"
Such crowdsourced help can be facilitated -- by IT and other channels -- through in-house wikis, enterprise social networks, internal portals or even through intranets. A key benefit to such options is that a frazzled user can post a help question to colleagues in real time and get an almost immediate answer, says Greene.
"What will change is the mentality of the help desk, which has always been 'detect and fix,' " he says. "With social media, mobility and BYOD [Bring Your Own Device], that's changing."
Employees using personal devices now have more options to seek help outside the confines of the enterprise, he says. "The traditional help desk is dying or dead in some organizations. That 'log it and flog it, detect and fix' model is dying."
Changing, perhaps, but dying? Not so fast, say a sampling of executives Computerworld spoke with about Greene's assertion.
People still need people
True, mobility, BYOD and enterprise social networking are affecting help desks, but those emerging trends are not going to morph tech support into a crowdsourced-or-nothing future, says Fruewald of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, which has a help desk staff of nine who serve some 3,000 users in 125 locations.
To reduce help calls, upgrade tech
Forces like cloud computing, mobility and social media may be changing the corporate help desk from the outside, but at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the biggest impacts instead have been coming from internal changes.