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IT support is dead

IT support is dead

April 11, 2012 by Francesca Geens

Headstone – IT support is deadDo you pay for IT support? Does your business regularly suffer downtime? Need help sorting out unreliable email or computers that just don’t work? Been sold white-labeled products just because your IT support company gets a generous referral fee?

It that’s your idea of IT support then let me tell you why I think you are wasting time and money.

There’s no reason to pay for IT support

IT support is based around the premise of fixing problems when they occur and then charging for this. It should come as no surprise that most IT companies make more money through billable hours when disaster strikes than when your network is running smoothly.

In that sense, your objectives and those of your IT company are not aligned when it comes to taking care of your computer systems.

In 2012 there really is no reason to pay for IT support. Technology is at a stage where it just should not fail. Some IT companies make a lot of money adding complexity and then charging an arm and a leg to install and support it.

Ultimately it’s the complexity that leads to downtime. Simplifying your systems and doing things the right way to start with will help you avoid this expense. If you’re like most businesses, technology is your third largest expense after wages and rent. Make your IT budget work for you.

IT support is about maintenance and advice

These days, you should be paying your IT supplier for maintenance (yes, there is still a fee) and best-practice advice. You should be paying for their help to set up systems that are going to work and not let you down.

This means that instead of calling for help when things go wrong you, can call and get help to be even more productive. Find out how to get the most out of Outlook or Word, do more with your tablet computer (such as your iPad or Samsung Galaxy Note) and get to grips with the latest features of Windows 7.

Here’s your best IT investment

In my opinion, the best IT investment any business can make is an IT audit to bring your systems out of the Dark Ages and into 2012. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What IT problems recur again and again and why haven’t they been fixed?
  • How old are your computers?
  • What version of Windows are you on?
  • What version of Microsoft Office are you using?
  • Are your staff properly trained in the software they use everyday?
  • Is your email reliable?
  • Is your data backed up? Do you know how to access and check your backups?
  • Are you managing shared documents effectively?
  • Are you and your team able to work productively on the go?
  • Are you making the most of technologies like cloud and mobile computing?

Discuss these points with your current IT provider. Make sure you’re happy with the answers – and if not, shop around. There are lots of IT support companies out there and it’s important to find one that’s going to work with you and think proactively about your business.

Anyone selling you ‘IT support’ without considering these things is not being honest with you about what’s really possible.

IT support is dead. Long live small business IT consultancy! Ok, it’s not so catchy but it’s going to make your working day a whole lot better.

Francesca Geens runs an IT consultancy called Digital Dragonfly, which specialises in one-person businesses. She is especially interested in productivity and the use of information technology to improve people’s day-to-day business lives. She is setting up a new kind of IT company for small businesses to firmly challenge traditional notions of IT support. Are you ready to Be Nimble with your IT?

Find out more from these IT suppliers:

Dell
Acer
Apple
Samsung
Microsoft

Comments

Hi Francesca,

A good article and especially for miro amd small business.  Upgrading to a current software version is always important.  One point I think has been overload and that is training.

 

What is obvious to you and I is often not so to the business user.  Have just posted a column on end user training on TechRepublic at http://tek.io/HPjDPL and will not repeat the content.  However would stress again the importance and especially when upgrading. Nothing is worse than wasting time trying to find functions and master a new interface.  The bottom line is that one hours training is worth an extra five hours productivity .

It seems that ‘IT Support’ is becoming known within the industry as the dirty job that no-one wants to do.  It’s not very cool or glamorous.  Change the job title to IT Consultant though, and that’s fine.  This is the same as window cleaners now being known as Visual Technicians, or binmen as Waste Removal Engineers.  ‘Support’ is the right word.  You are there to support the IT aspect of the business and its users. 

But I completely agree that the support section of the industry needs a kick up the backside to adopt a more proactive approach.  Personally I think it’s because there are too many stereotypical IT geeks out there that place little or no emphasis on customer service, and prefer to flex their IT brain muscles coming up with ‘clever’ ways to achieve something that can done in a much simpler way.

Completely agree with most of this. One of our key aims at [un-named IT support company] is to eliminate reactive or sticking-plaster support altogether. It's a waste of money, time and resource from both sides of the fence.

Proper investment in hardware, and straight-forward systems that work properly is absolutely the way forward. But "IT Support" is still the mot-du-jour and "consultant" is still very much one of the Top-C-Words ;)

Partner with an IT company that looks at improving your business, not just creaming cash from fixing the same old rubbish!

If you take the narrow view that support is just repairing faults then it is true that things go wrong less often, however things do go wrong – hard drives usually spin at 7200 rpm but not forever. Electronics fails, fans fail, people drop things, spill coffee.

But support really means helping clients understand what can be done to improve their business with the latest technology, helping them choose the right products, then setting it up for them and teaching their employees how not to break it.

This message is from Francesca, the blog post's author. An issue with her username is preventing her posting comments at the moment (I think we need some IT support!):

Hi Tim- thanks for your comment- yes absolutely that's exactly how it should be but its not normally the case and I don't think the term support is really the right one for a new approach to helping businesses work better through the good use of technology.

Support is the wrong word but that's the industry and what is being pushed by current IT services companies - ongoing consultancy is better. Perhaps a better way of putting it is: 'IT downtime is dead'. Yes hardware fails - but your productivity shouldn't, yes keyboards have coffee spilt on them but in 2012 data should be separated from hardware so downtime should only be the time taken to swap in an old machine while your one is being fixed. This can be done by the end user and does not need an IT support company (or their fees).

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