IT Careers 2014

The help desk is hot again

If you thought the traditional help desk would be outsourced, automated or altogether shut down, think again. Hiring for the help desk is hot.

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For example, Maricopa's new customer service manager, Steve Szoradi, has a background in telecommunications but has worked in customer service for 22 years -- most recently at a law firm before joining Maricopa County in October.

"I know enough technology to be dangerous, but my skill set is working with people," Szoradi explains. "I think this is where I fit in. I can take and develop people and build teams. I am right where I wanted to be."

Another hire is help desk coordinator Jennifer Asher, who worked on the help desk when she started her IT career 20 years ago, then transitioned to being a network administrator and an engineer before ultimately returning to her help desk roots.

"I enjoy working with people -- feeling their anxiety about wanting to get something done" and being able to solve their problems, she says. "Here you get to be an essential part of making the county run. It feels really good. Not that I don't like technology brethren -- but sometimes being with techies all day long can wear you out."

Todd Fuller has been a network administrator for seven years at produce grower and distributor Allan Brothers in Naches, Wash. About half of his workday is often spent in his dual role as a help desk troubleshooter. He appreciates the chance to leave his computer-hardware-strewn office for a while, and "getting a smile on somebody's face after you've fixed their problem," he says. "I get kudos all the time -- like, 'You're Superman.'"

Plowman says he expects the help desk to become a sought-after destination for IT pros looking to become proficient in hot new technologies.

For the Staunton, Va., IT department, the help desk is "really where the cooler, more exciting stuff is right now," Plowman says. "We just put in a new e-ticketing system for the police. That's something we push at the help desk folks. They have to understand it so they can fix it 24 hours a day. That's pretty new, cool technology that the help desk people got to do, not necessarily the network or server people."

The help desk is evolving into a customer service center. It's being elevated to a more important business role based on the information and feedback that help desk professionals can provide, says Maricopa County deputy CIO Sandip Dholakia, adding, "We're transforming it to a driver of improvements made to our systems and improvements made to resources available to customers."

Next: Opinion: IT for the whole brain and the whole organization

Collett is a Computerworld contributing writer. You can contact her at

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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