IT Support Has Evolved – Has Your Business?
During the early days of information technology, organizations encountered numerous issues implementing a solid IT support system. This process was either costly or inconvenient. Although the current IT sector is not issue free, it has evolved quickly. This has eliminated many problems of sourcing solid IT support, that once plagued businesses.
Unfortunately, it takes a person with considerable knowledge of IT support to determine which tech is useful to a business. Even with the advancement of IT support, systems can become obsolete, insecure or not fit for purpose. Regular updates, maintenance and best practice processes need to be performed routinely, to get the best out of systems within a business. In a rapidly evolving online world, keeping an eye on the latest IT news and developments, plus more advanced solutions, is beneficial. So let’s look deeper into the history of IT support and how it has evolved over time.
Top Reasons To Get IT Support
Technically, IT support refers to any assistance provided through the help of technology, hence the name. However, for businesses, IT support is seen as the process of monitoring or managing computer networks and systems of an organization. Every company that uses computers, (practically every organization nowadays), will require IT support in some form. In other words, a business can’t run without IT support, regardless of the industry it’s in. Some may require smaller scale IT support than others, but still use information technology nonetheless. The list below shows the different benefits IT support can provide to businesses.
Seamless Data Management
Most businesses keep tabs on information such as an employee’s hiring date, salary, position and the like. Naturally, employees wouldn’t want such confidential information to be leaked to the public, and it’s the company’s responsibility to ensure its protection. Hence, data protection can be challenging if there’s no solid system in place. One function of IT support is to manage and store data securely and efficiently. IT support experts also incorporate data backup systems in case of emergencies such as data breaches.
Longer Term IT Security
It’s also the job of managed IT services to protect organizations and private networks from a variety of threats. Examples of these security threats include;
- Trojan horse
- Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks
IT support creates or implements cybersecurity programs or firewalls to protect databases from cyberattacks. Experts make sure these programs are always up-to-date, since security threats are ever evolving. (Even the largest companies have fallen prey to malware and viruses). Depending on the scale of IT support, a team may also monitor the activities of your business regularly to spot anything out of place. So the chances of security threats occurring are significantly lower with IT support.
Smart Use Of Technology
Technologies such as cloud computing, Machine Learning Operations (MLOps), and automation are popular among businesses. However, without the help of an expert who’s knowledgeable about these innovations, you can’t make use of these for management systems. This is another concrete reason to get IT support. IT experts incorporate high-tech tools to make a streamlined workflow for employees. Below are the most common technologies utilized by IT experts;
- Help desk automation tools
- AI self-service
- Automated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools
- Collaborative systems
- Mind-mapping software
- Workflow Automation tools (E.g. Integrations of Slack with Microsoft Teams)
IT support also involve the addition of hardware to increase the memory storage and processing power of organizations, which can prove useful for many situations.
Accurate Market Research
Although IT support specializes in the management of network systems, some services also consist of the use of marketing tools that result in accurate market research. Normally, you’d do market research by looking into public comments, video conferences, industry forums, among others. However, IT support integrates tools such as Google Analytics and CRMs into your hardware, allowing you to track the development of the industry.
Depending on the kind of IT services you have, you can reap many benefits without many risks. Some businesses may also focus more on network management. The bottom line is, you should choose the suitable IT services for your business to reap all the benefits. After learning the benefits of IT support to your business, it’s time to know how it was introduced to the world.
Satisfactory Customer Support
As a business, you have to create at least one channel for customers to reach you. It may be through social media messaging, text, email, or phone. Fortunately, IT services ensure that these channels are equipped with their own management system, allowing employees to have a smoother workflow. Besides, you can always expand your business by hiring or outsourcing the personnel, in case the volume of queries and concerns increases dramatically.
Advent of IT Support Through Break/Fix
A term you’ll often see in getting IT support is break/fix. Break/fix refers to the process of getting IT support only when IT problems occur. For example, if your network suddenly crashes, you’ll call IT support or ISP support to fix the problem. Other instances when break/fix is required include;
- Network repairs
- Implementation of new defense software
- Software upgrades or installation
- Equipment installation
- Training of employees
This kind of service is one of the oldest systems within the IT support industry, and it has been around for a long time due to benefits such as:
- Control: With the break/fix system, businesses can rest assured knowing that they have full control over their system—thus gaining full control over the IT department as well.
- Cost-efficient: You only have to pay the IT Company if they successfully fix an IT problem, making it cheaper than hiring a full-time IT expert.
- Privacy: An IT company doesn’t have to concern itself with confidential information about your business since you only need them to fix certain issues. Although businesses can gain some benefits with this system, it isn’t always smooth sailing. You’ll also encounter issues like the following:
- Uncertainty: If you’re a businessperson, you should know how important it is to keep tabs on your budget. Unfortunately, with the break/fix system, you can’t be sure how much you’ll end up spending, especially since IT problems aren’t predictable.
- Relationship: Most businesses nowadays have IT technicians that work with them full-time. This allows the organization to familiarize themselves with IT, but that’s not possible if you only call on IT experts on an ad hoc basis.
- Risk Prevention: They say that prevention is better than cure, so many businesses try to have an IT tech or someone with IT knowledge on staff. Not only does this prevent issues, but it can also help optimize the network systems of the business. This is not the case for a break/fix system, since IT technicians are always on call. These and many other issues make the break/fix system hard to deal with, and that’s why a different IT support system was developed.
Third-Party Service Providers
Managed IT and network services are the exact opposite of break/fix. Instead of relying on IT support in an event of a problem, organizations will outsource the IT services to a third-party provider. These service providers will then take part in the business’ dealings to optimize network systems and prevent any IT problems from occurring. Most IT companies will have their own team of personnel who are responsible for the following;
- System maintenance
- Software patches and updates
- Hardware arrangements
- Help desk support
- Administrative management
- 24/7 monitoring and security
Businesses can now allocate a budget for IT services, prevent IT problems from happening, and maintain a healthy business relationship with the service provider. IT service providers share the burden of the business, giving you peace of mind knowing that there’s an organization backing you up. Through this, the IT sector came up with a more streamlined process of providing IT support to businesses.
Continuous Improvement of IT Support
After establishing the aforementioned ‘break/fix’ system, the information technology sector didn’t stop developing IT support. One particular technique that has made a difference in the IT sector is verbose logging. Verbose logging refers to the practice of documenting or recording any information regarding the runtime of software into a medium. For instance, when using management software, an IT technician will relay all the logs from software into a medium such as Stack Overflow in the hopes of finding out what’s causing the software to experience issues.
This process is used by IT experts whenever they’re having problems with certain software or systems. Although the chances of actually finding the inconsistency are slim, many experts were able to resolve difficult problems with this technique. However, this is not the most convenient technique, and sometimes you might suffer from the large volume of data required to pull it off. This takes us to the next innovation within the IT support sector.
Introduction To Seamless Storage
In the early days of IT support, experts often use physical storage mediums that take up space in the workplace. Enterprises tend to encounter numerous problems regarding this matter. Maintenance of these storage mediums is just one of these problems. You also have to worry about the limits of physical storage. On that note, when cloud computing was introduced to the IT sector, companies happily integrated cloud computing into their tools and applications. But that’s not the only innovation that made storage convenient and seamless.
Integration of Programming Into IT Support
It can be said that programming and IT support go hand in hand, but that wasn’t the case until recently. Most of the time, IT support relies on network engineering, and programming is seldom involved in such processes. However, defensive programming paved the way for the integration of programming into IT support. Defensive programming is a popular design used by programmers in protecting their software. In its simplest form, defensive programming is when a programmer assumes that a problem will occur within the software, and adds protective codes in advance.
When it comes to IT support, defensive programming is the IT experts’ preparation of countermeasures for potential IT problems, allowing them to eliminate the chances of losing profit due to excessive downtime. Below are some of the most common defensive programming practices programmers use that are now prevalent in the IT support sector:
- SQL injection
- Cross-Site scripting
- Hard-coded secrets
- Input/Data validation
- Information disclosure
The Future of IT Support
Given the various changes happening in the IT sector, it’s not difficult to see the bright future of IT support. Innovations such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are still in development, but it doesn’t take an IT expert to know that these will contribute to the future of IT support.
Internet of Things is an innovation that allows hardware to connect through sensors or software embedded into them.
Hence, it can provide what IT experts have been dreaming of since the dawn of information technology—a seamless connection between different hardware. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is capable of giving machines human intelligence, one that adapts quickly to a situation. In other words, it can automate CRM tasks, which are often time-consuming for IT experts.
Progress within these technologies is bound to help not only the IT sector, but also other industries. And as these innovations get closer to perfection, they will become more in-demand to companies, and IT professionals will have to add these into their skill set. Apart from these innovations, there are hundreds more under development. It’s only a matter of time before another significant evolution within the IT sector occurs.