The help desk is dead; long live the service desk. Major organisations are ditching the helpdesk moniker in place of service desk because it is more upbeat and doesn’t carry the negative undertones of the “unhelpful desk”, according to the Service Desk Institute, which until earlier this week was known as the Help Desk Institute. The Kent based organisation which provides training and consulting for organisations looking to improve their IT Service Desk.

Howard Kendall, founder and chairman of SDI said, “The definition of helpdesk has become increasingly distinct from that of service desk.” He described it as outdated. “They get the blame often,” said Barclay Rae, a consultant with Service Desk Institute (SDI).

Rae said standards such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) were driving the change of focus to a service-oriented approach. “ITIL has set helpdesks in a wider context. ITIL requires skills in problem management and change management. A problem manager is like the people in the TV show CSI, they investigate and solve the problem, help desks are fire fighters.”

“Through the successful uptake of ITIL service desk has become the most common term within the IT service management industry,” Kendall said, “The term rightly reflects a vastly improved quality of service and IT support that is better skilled, more empowered and more cost effective.”

Rae said CIOs play a crucial role in ensuring that help and service desks are well supported by their department and that technology staff release control to the desks. “CIOs are really good at saying it is important, but do not give full support and investment by telling their people to work with the service desk, not against it.”

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SDI is a new name for the Help Desk Institute, which is now 20 years old. Kendall said of the name change, “now is the right time to re-focus to reflect this general industry trend”.