Tech support teams are often taken for granted: When something is broken it's all their fault and they must fix it, but when everything works as it should, they go without praise. Despite this, many of these IT professionals understand their importance in the corporate, completely digital world that has become so readily apparent in the past decade. In fact, tech support is probably one of the most critical aspects of IT infrastructure, because without those experts and individuals, businesses would have to rely on original equipment manufacturers to troubleshoot and repair systems – and who wants to deal with OEMs?
However, the IT help desk sector – much like the rest of enterprise IT – is going through some changes. While not earth-shatteringly drastic, business leaders, IT professionals and tech support teams should acknowledge this evolution and consider how it will affect their roles and jobs in the years to come.
"Tech support doesn't have to focus on the device itself anymore."
Less device, more network and apps
Between bring-your-own-device policies and cloud services, IT departments and tech support teams have a lot of computers and endpoints to worry about, but nowadays, they don't have to specifically manage each and every PC, smartphone and tablet. Enterprise mobility management systems and other mobile device support platforms help IT pros disseminate security updates, restrict unauthorized apps and remotely wipe lost or stolen computers. This means that tech support doesn't have to focus on the device itself anymore.
Now, help desks no longer provide assistance on personal devices used in the office, and completely securing them is borderline impossible. As a result, tech support must pay more attention to keeping networks and applications up and running, not tinkering with installs and updates.
Cloud service dissolves roles
The cloud has also impacted tech support. Help desk teams don't need to update software, upgrade hardware or even integrate systems. Today's cloud providers take care of all the maintenance and offer end-user support hotlines and chat windows if anyone is experiencing any difficulties.
The reliance on cloud services could cause help desk teams to shrink in size, but with that could come more specialization or a necessity to know everything. As the cloud matures, so too will tech support roles, and it wouldn't be surprising to see more help desk roles outsourced in the near future.
The need for desktop support
Help desk support and desktop support have been the same thing for a long time, but as new technologies invaded the workplace, these teams had to repair, update, install and secure a wide variety of computer types. Furthermore, while BYOD is very popular, desktop computers are still corporately owned. That said, Apple's Macs could change the game.
AppleInsider reported on the JAMF Nation User Conference in Minneapolis where IBM Vice President of Workplace-as-a-Service Fletcher Previn explained that only 24 people support all of the company's 130,000 iOS and Mac devices. Previn went on, noting that while 40 percent of PC users need in-house help desk support, only 5 percent of those using Macs reach out for technical assistance. Perhaps, as end-user machines become easier to use, help desk teams won't be called into action as frequently, leaving room for them to focus on supporting other technologies.
The Internet of Things
Many businesses have yet to adopt Internet of Things-connected devices, but help desk teams will soon have to support a wide variety of machines and computers. In fact, Gartner researchers predict that by 2018, there will be 6 billion IoT devices that require technical assistance around the clock. If that sounds intimidating to tech support teams, they can rest easy: The source said that organizations provide systems that allow IT pros to leverage specific tools to handle all of these support requests.
Additionally, the Gartner report explained that IoT support needs could inspire the creation of a whole new service sector that would be dedicated to keeping IoT devices functioning and business processes running smoothly. Eager tech support professionals could eye this probable industry as a potential area of employment, especially if they have skills related to engineering, networking and security.
Help desk teams might not get the praise that they always deserve, but they aren't going anywhere soon in a digital business world. Whatever roles they fill in the future, they will continue to be a mission-critical aspect of any enterprise IT environment.