Winter 2019 News Archive

Latest News

In this issue….

Dropping temperatures, office parties, excited children and twinkling lights on display around every corner must mean it’s time for the winter edition of the UniDesk newsletter!

In this issue the UniDesk Board bring us up to speed with the latest on the project to upgrade and migrate our service. We also share news on support for the UniDesk service over the holiday period and look back on the year that was 2019.

As the year draws to a close we take a moment to remember our dearly missed friend and colleague Paul Smith and wish all our members and colleagues a happy holiday and a successful 2020.

Dawn Dodd and Catherine Hetherington
Service Owners of UniDesk

UnIDesk Bauble
Digital Assistant Workshop

Digital Assistant Workshop

TOPdesk together with partners GO2THE.CLOUD and IPsoft have developed a ‘Digital Service Desk Employee’ solution integrated with TOPdesk’s ITSM software. The integration serves as an additional channel for users to interact with a Service Desk based on IPsoft’s cognitive agent Amelia.

In October TOPdesk and their partners ran a workshop focused on the UK HE community who have an interest in AI and Chat and extended the invitation to the UniDesk Community. The workshop, hosted at the University of Edinburgh, demonstrated the capabilities of the Amelia chat bot and invited feedback from attendees on the product development roadmap.

Following feedback from members, the UniDesk Board have requested that we work with TOPdesk and partners to review suitability of the solution being offered and assess feasibility for potential inclusion with the UniDesk service in the future.

Further information on the solution is available at

UniDesk... The Year that was 2019

For us 2019 was a year of growth. We celebrated as we welcomed 3 new arrivals and our service expanded from 8 to 11 members. Royal College of Art were the first to go live back in February with The University of the Highlands and Islands following shortly after in June. Our support team had to dig out passports and head off to sunny climes to support our first international member, University of Malta, during their go live in August.  It’s a hard job but somebody has to do it!  

Earlier in the year we embarked on a program of activities to support the promotion of our service. We now have an informational service leaflet, a revamped website and we even turned our hand to video making. Finding out the hard way that being in front of the camera was more natural for some more than others!  Can you spot any faces you recognise in our promotional video?

Our 9th service member the University of the Highlands and Islands gave our UniDesk Family a warm highland welcome to their Inverness Campus for our annual conference in June. We were serenaded by the pipes as we took to the seas for our pre-conference event and were lucky enough to spot Dolphins in the Moray Firth.

To enhance collaboration and further develop our community support network we launched the UniDesk Share space and it’s been great to watch our family members supporting each other and sharing resources.

The initiation of the project to upgrade our service and migrate to SaaS kicked off during the summer. Representatives from our community came together to form a UniDesk Platform Development Group (or PUG for short) complete with their very own avatar! Since then we have agreed requirements for the service moving forward.

And we are proudly displaying a trophy in the UniDesk Office as Catherine was awarded ‘Best Delegate speaker’ at the UCISA Support Services Conference.     Phew…it’s been a busy old year for our service. 

We wanted to say a big thank you to all our members and colleagues for their continued support and commitment to the development of the UniDesk Service.  We’re looking forward to working with you in 2020.

Board Update

At the last board of the year Mark welcomed members both in the room and over video conference link.  There was much interest in the progress of the project to upgrade and migrate the UniDesk platform. The meeting ended with a roundup of service highlights from 2019 which we’ve shared below.
The key items from this meeting included:

  • UniDesk Service Upgrade – UniDesk members will be contacted for their preferred dates and the upgrade schedule will be released shortly
  • Board Membership – We welcomed representatives from University of Malta to their first board meeting and new representatives from both Abertay and Sheffield Hallam. This has been the first year of our reconstituted board and the contribution from members has given renewed vigour to the direction of our service for the future. A special mention to Mike Burns from UHI for his assistance and support with the planning of this year’s conference 
  • Interest in our Service – The Board welcomed an update in our service from prospective new members. The great work carried out this year to enhance our website, collaborate with APUC and promote UniDesk at ucisa SSG has contributed to increased visibility within our sector. 

Mark Ritchie, Chair UniDesk Board


And finally we would like to mention our UniDesk Board Chair who was presented with a long service award recently. Mark has worked within Information Services at the University of Edinburgh for 25 years in a variety of roles. We would like to thank him for his enthusiasm, guidance and commitment to the UniDesk Service. 

Congratulations Mark… here’s to the next 25!


Holiday Arrangements

Holiday Closure Arrangements

The University of Edinburgh will be closed from 1.30pm on Tuesday 24th December 2019 until 9am on Monday 6th January 2020. During this period the UniDesk Team will be taking a break.

Proactive checks to ensure services are operational will be carried out daily on the UniDesk Service throughout the closure period. Should there be any issues during this time members will be informed via email.

Adjusting Service Windows and Email Templates

If our members wish to prevent SLA clocks running unnecessarily and also update your email template content for the holiday period then the Using UniDesk wiki has useful guidance and steps for making the changes.