Information technology (IT) support has in past years been known as the center of all technological innovations in a company. Given that the world of business today is highly dependent on technology, the IT department has no doubt become an integral part of any organization.
Now, technology is no longer limited or solely driven by the IT department. With the emergence of cloud and mobile technologies, almost anyone in an organization has access to high-quality tech that would have been limited or at least mostly been found in the IT department.
It looks like IT support is being overtaken by the very technologies that brought them into existence. But is that what’s happening? What’s the future of IT support if there’s any to speak of?
To get a better idea of what will become of IT support in the future, it’s important to understand what the term refers to and look into the journey it has taken to get to where it currently is.
What is Information Technology?
In today’s world, ‘IT’ is frequently used to define computer networks in a business setting. It alludes to their uses in the following areas: producing, modifying, storage, recovering, transferring, processing, sharing, analyzing, and protecting all information and data in a digital form. IT can also refer to mainstream TV, telecommunications equipment, operating systems, e-commerce, and the web as a whole.
Dealing with such matters by yourself can be quite a tall task, so you may need the help of an experienced IT support company to handle the technical side of things for you. Fortunately, a quick online search will show you a wide range of companies you can choose to work with.
Just make sure to select among more established businesses such as terminal.com that are guaranteed to know what they’re doing rather than trying to learn on the job. This way, you’ll get excellent results every time and get your money’s worth.
A Look at Information Technology Support Over Time
Tech support has changed a lot in the past decades. This section will focus on the periods that were integral to the growth and advancement of IT support.
Around this time, data storage and computing began to gain prominence. Tech support in this period involved mostly developing and maintaining hardware. Remember mainframes and IBM? This is the period they belong to.
A computer wasn’t as ‘simple’ as it is now. It could fill a room and needed someone with high specialization to function, yet it was most likely to make errors. Needless to say, the technology was limited to a few due to the many accessibility barriers.
By now, a lot had been done to make computers more accessible to the general public, but even this accessibility was limited. The technology was still too expensive for most people. You had to part with about $1,500 to get a single five-megabyte Seagate hard disk.
Although the technology had gained more users, that brought along complications in how to connect the users’ desktops to a single mainframe. What might be a simple task today, such as running a report, had to go through so many complicated protocols. Despite all this, the period marked great improvements in information technology and how tech support was conducted.
In this decade, things began to take shape for IT. Significant developments had been and were still being done to computer technologies. A lot of office workers now owned a computer and had internet access and an email account. This brought along an unprecedented surge in the demand for IT support. Many companies unable to handle the demand internally began to build call centers and outsource their tech support to external technicians.
Since the technology had been dispersed far and wide, almost everyone had a question that required tech support at some point. It didn’t require a large team to handle the data itself or service the hardware.
Most of what was needed to solve a particular issue was already in the software being dealt with anyway, but the challenge was mostly how to provide tech support on a much larger scale without being overwhelmed.
Customer retention as little as 5% can increase a business’ profitability by over 120%. Bad customer experience also typically leads to drastic losses. Tech support became even more important in this period especially because it was during this time that communication technologies and technology in general became accessible to nearly everyone.
What Has Changed: The Present
Software companies are continually working hard to improve their efficiency and speed in providing support to clients. Here’s a list of some of the things that have changed in IT support over the past decades:
One of the oldest ways to provide IT support to clients is the break-fix model. As the name suggests, the IT team has to wait for something to break down then analyze all competing hypotheses and determine the problem.
The analysis is usually done by listing all the possible causes for the breakdown and testing each one to determine whether it’s the cause. It’s a diagnosis by elimination.
You find the causes by knowing everything that has the potential to go wrong and the tests that can check if each component is working. You conduct tests until you find what isn’t working.
This method would be great if not for the fact that when it comes to the realm of information technology, the possibilities are endless. This makes everything far more complex than it already is.
Another technique that makes IT support easier is the use of what’s referred to as ‘verbose logging.’ When applied to software, verbose logging will provide an IT technician with a line-by-line view of how the software or system is performing. Any behavioral divergences from the norm can help indicate the problem.
In most cases, to the surprise of most users, the problem has very little or nothing to do with a problem in the program itself.
Splitting the Incident from the Problem
Consider this analogy: if a person becomes unconscious because of sudden heart failure, the immediate focus should be to restore the function of the heart. Once it’s pumping blood again, you can then investigate what had caused the failure in the first place to prevent the situation from happening again.
With this method, the focus is to avoid downtime as much as possible. Deep analysis of the problem doesn’t have to be done concurrently when getting the systems back up. Wherever possible, the fastest route to resuscitating the system should be taken before making better informed and more long-term repairs.
People make mistakes, especially when big orders or large amounts of data are involved. If not handled well, those mistakes can cause a lot of headaches when it’s time for an audit.
Defensive programming anticipates the types of mistakes that people are most likely to make in a given context and involves building measures in the software that guard against those mistakes. For instance, if a person is about to enter into the system the same product for a second time and such an entry seems abnormal, they may be asked to confirm that this is the action they wish to take.
Defensive programming is an advancement in the IT world that improves workflow and efficiency in the workplace.
This one can be either good or bad depending on the context. It works in some industries and is ill-advised in others.
In less technical sectors, it can help to have a forum where one can post a query and be answered by another customer who might be knowledgeable on the issue. This reduces the stress and pressure on the staff to attend to certain questions that someone else might’ve already covered within the forum.
The same can be risky if a customer’s querying about a technical issue. A fellow customer might give hazardous advice without knowing that it’s dangerous. Just because it worked for them and their device or circumstances, it doesn’t mean it’ll work across the board. In such instances, it’s always best for clients to get assistance from professionals.
A good way to do this is to employ software that helps queue up and distribute queries to staff in a balanced and efficient manner for maximum speed and quality support.
Virtual Knowledge Bases
An online knowledge base works much like Google. A customer who has a query keys it into the resource and gets quick answers. There’s no queue and no hassles.
These knowledge bases aren’t designed as a replacement for actual live support but as an aid. All noncritical issues don’t have to compete on the queue for IT support with less critical issues. To help with clarity, such a resource may make use of explanatory videos.
The Future of IT Support
Asking about the future of IT support if you’re a business owner is asking about the future of the business itself! IT support is that central.
What can be projected to change in the coming years in how people receive support in IT? Here are some of the ways that technology’s expected to change the IT landscape in the near future:
With the developments in the field of machine learning, one can anticipate that there’ll be corresponding advancements in automation.
It can be expected that as machines begin to learn better about IT support processes, systems will become better automated to implement certain actions in response to specific learned problems. There has already been some movement in this direction, but over time, this technology should improve.
Increased Focus on Cybersecurity
As the world moves more and more onto the digital space, risks and platforms of attack move with it onto the same space. Cybercrime is becoming rampant and can be expected to grow even more and become more sophisticated as well. This necessitates extremely developed cybersecurity technologies to anticipate and curb this increasing risk.
Remember how earlier this article mentioned the break-fix method where one has to wait for something to happen and then fix it? The future of cybersecurity is somehow the direct opposite of that. It’s preemptive and as such can provide support for problems that have yet to happen but have either significant odds of happening or equally significant potential for impact should they happen. Now that’s the future!
Online Face-to-Face Support
This is already present in some places but can be expected to eventually become the norm. IT support at present and in the past hasn’t included much face time, but that’s about to change. The virtual space is about to become more ‘human,’ so to speak. A client can get a closer look at a company’s products through a face-to-face virtual call or a more comprehensive explanation of any technical assistance contribution from the support team.
As network provisions improve, the practicality of these technologies is beginning to get more solid and will soon come to the center stage.
Just like with everything else, in tech support, clients want options.
There have already been improvements in how a client can contact IT staff for support. It’s expected that those ways will improve in the foreseeable future. The number of options available to a customer when trying to reach IT support improves the chances that clients will have actual and quick access to the company.
Usually, such access improves user experience and customer satisfaction drastically. This mostly has a positive bearing on the performance of the company as a whole.
When it comes to information technology support, perfection is a moving target. It’s dynamic and ever-changing to suit varying and moving contexts.
This constant movement has changed what has been termed ‘best performance’ in the IT field over the years and guarantees that that definition will continue to change over time. The continuous change makes up-to-date innovations that go with the ever-advancing technologies of the 21st century necessary in how IT experts offer support.