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Consortium for Service Innovation


Intelligent Swarming replaces the linear escalation model with a dynamic collaboration model; it is a better way to align resources with work.

“We have eliminated the word ‘escalation’ from our vocabulary,” says Marco Bill-Peter, VP Global Support Services, Red Hat. Steve Young, formally Service Business Transformation at Cisco, talks about “playing catch, not ping pong,” and a goal of “the first person to work on a customer issue (case or incident) engages the best resources needed to solve the issue and manages it to resolution.” 

Intelligent Swarming challenges 30 years of accepted practice and structure in support, and is most effective in solving new, complex problems. The early adopters of this model are seeing improvements in all key operational measures of support, including time to resolve and employee skills development, as well as employee and customer loyalty.

The goal is to get the issue to the best resource (or resources) who can resolve the issue on the first touch. And then, if the person who owns the issue needs help, swarming facilitates finding the best resource to assist. The right people work on new issues, together, as quickly as possible.  Collaboration between the right knowledge workers leads to faster and more creative resolutions, as well as rapid skills development.  In contrast to the escalation model, where the person who first works the issue never learns the resolution if the issue is escalated, Intelligent Swarming proposes the owner of the issue retain ownership until the issue is resolved - even if they need help in resolving it. In this way, they learn the resolution for every issue they work.

You Know You're Doing Intelligent Swarming When...

  • People feel they are part of a team and have easy access to help
  • Incident/case/request ownership is clear
  • It's designed by the people using the processes and workflows
  • People have visibility to relevant work
  • People Profiles and reputations are rich and multifaceted
  • People opt-in to take ownership of wok or to help others
  • There is an increase in the depth of skills and competencies
  • There are no handoffs with the support organization
  • The same classification model is used for work, people, and knowledge (content)
  • Exception detection and management is clear
  • Performance assessment shifts from activity to value and from primarily individual to primarily team
  • Collaboration happens based on relevance not organizational boundaries
  • Continuous improvement is built in (expect to iterate)
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