Self-service provisioning in cloud computing is enabled by many public cloud providers so that you can pay as you go to use public resources. Enterprises configure self-service provisioning by setting up a user web portal typically with a catalog of cloud computing resources that have been pre-configured for them to use. The backend complexity and accounting is taken care of by central IT.
The demand is growing for the self-service in cloud environments, which allows knowledge workers to do for themselves what once took weeks, or even months of coordinated activity: provision the IT resources needed to complete their tasks.
Self-service platforms do more than allow end-users to provision their own resources, they also streamline both IT infrastructure and operations. By default, a self-service portal must be backed by highly effective automation and orchestration, which can even be augmented with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Not only does this produce a more fluid user experience, it cuts management overhead and frees administrators to concentrate on high-value processes such as managing the system architecture instead of managing the end-users. By shifting the provisioning platform onto a public, private, or hybrid cloud, organizations can take advantage of lower infrastructure costs by using software-defined architectures built on commodity hardware.
But the benefits don’t end there. Self-service provides end-users with a wealth of opportunities that cannot be supported by traditional IT infrastructure, with ripple effects felt across a wide range of enterprise functions. This not only improves efficiency and performance of today’s digital environment, but unlocks new services and even new markets in the emerging digital economy.
The popularity of self-service provisioning has gained much momentum because of agile delivery of software and services. DevOps engineers need access to infrastructure on a continuous basis so that a self-service option provides a much faster workflow than having to make requests to central IT service.
Demand self-service in cloud computing can be configured in public cloud environments to handle peak usage automatically. When the computing power of resources running in the cloud needs to scale to more capacity, the resources can be provisioned for the extra demand. It is important to monitor any demand self-service capability so that a pay as go service does not end up costing a lot more than expected.
Cloud computing that includes demand self-service can help a business achieve its digital transformation objectives and be more responsive to customer needs. Demand self-service can also be integrated with Internet of Things (IoT) devices so that a 360 view of customer data or environmental data can be fully digital and responsive to any changes in an environment.
The advent of digital self-service
As ecommerce and online communications became a major part of the retail experience, self-service grew into a key component of customer support. Research shows that 90% of consumers now expect a brand or organization to offer a self-service customer support portal. But it’s not just expectations driving the self-service boom; customers love helping themselves. Roughly three-quarters of consumers want the ability to solve product or service issues on their own. From basic order-tracking pages to sophisticated AI-powered chatbots that can guide customers to the information they need, digital self-service is proving a cost-effective way to deliver faster customer support, cheaper.
Where consumers go, employees are sure to follow. Used to always-available, customer-friendly self-service options in their personal lives, workers increasingly expect the same experience from their employers. Whether it’s responding to common HR queries or building libraries of IT support content, more and more organizations see the efficiency, effectiveness, and benefit to employees in building out self-service systems.
A self-service portal is a website with resources that help users resolve service needs and find related information on their own. Self-service portals typically fall into one of two categories: customer self-service or employee self-service. It’s not at all uncommon for a single company to offer both customer and employee self-service portals, and while the content and user experience will obviously vary dramatically between the two, both may be built using the same technology.
At a high level, any self-service portal should offer content and functionality to help users address common needs efficiently and without outside help. The specifics of which common needs are addressable without outside help will, of course, vary greatly from company to company. A software company that caters to engineers might expect a high level of technical aptitude from its users, and so offer fairly complex solutions on its self-service portal. A food delivery service catering to the general public, on the other hand, would likely want to keep its self-service options simple in comparison.
Employee self-service (ESS) is a type of self-service system built specifically for employees. ESS lets employees handle many administrative and HR-related needs on their own. Common employee self-service tasks include updating personal information, accessing employee handbooks, and logging vacation and personal days. Some employee self-service portals also allow individuals to manage their insurance plans and other benefits.
Moving routine administrative tasks to an employee self-service portal can save companies time and money, while also increasing employee satisfaction. Rather than scheduling an appointment with HR to handle a simple chore like updating personal information, employees with access to an ESS portal can quickly take care of the matter from their desktop computer or mobile device. This frees the employee up to be more productive in their work, while also letting HR staffers focus on more complex or creative work of their own.
Customer self-service portals are designed to help consumers request services, find information, and resolve issues related to a company’s products or services. Customer portal software often combines user-searchable knowledge bases with basic administrative functionality.
The knowledge base part of a customer self-service portal might contain one or more FAQs; a browseable and searchable database of topics, articles, and tutorials; and a Q&A section where users pose questions for employees and community experts to address. Sometimes Q&As are set up as part of user forums to facilitate ongoing, in-depth product discussions and knowledge exchange.
On the administrative side, customer self-service functionality can range from simple password resets to software downloads and basic technical configuration processes. Sophisticated self-service systems can leverage a sort of triage system that points basic service requests to self-serve solutions while routing more complex problems to a human service agent.