Information Technology, IT for short, has revolutionized the way the world works. Software tools have replaced manual methods in most walks of life, across the globe.
Software programs need hardware to function. Software and hardware intertwine to enable IT.
Downtime in software and hardware can lead to enormous losses in productivity resulting in schedule slippages and loss of face. As a result, IT Support has become an essential function for businesses.
What is IT Support?
IT Support teams keep software applications and the hardware infrastructure that host them up and running for the users, both businesses and individuals.
IT Support teams set up and configure software and hardware, troubleshoot issues faced during usage, carry out regular health checks, assist users with their questions, and promote best practices for using software and hardware.
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Some Stats for IT Support
- The global managed IT services market is expected to grow beyond 400 billion USD in 2026.
- IT and business services held the third largest market share in the global IT industry at 21% in 2021.
IT Support at Work - Examples
Here are a few examples of the tasks carried out by IT Support teams.
Troubleshooting issues with hardware and software
IT Support teams are responsible for troubleshooting and resolving all issues related to hardware and software malfunction like slow computer speeds, issues with the e-mail client, and network outages.
Installation of licensed software
IT Support technicians are typically entrusted with the task of installing, configuring, and updating licensed software for all users. This helps prevent legal issues that may result from installation of unlicensed software and ensures that the software functions optimally and is protected against security risks.
IT Support teams are required to back up critical data at regular intervals. Data backup is essential to ensure business continuity and recovery in the event of security breaches and system failure.
Multiple data backups are taken at varying intervals for high preparedness. Data can be backed up in the cloud, on-site servers, off-site servers, and tape/disk storage.
Remote or hybrid enablement
IT Support teams enable remote workers by setting up tools for reliable and secure communication and data access. IT Support also provides remote assistance in case of issues.
Set-up and maintenance of printers and scanners
Another responsibility of IT Support is to set up, configure, and support users of printers and scanners.
IT Support Models
Companies can choose between three main options to build out their IT Support function.
In-house IT Support
They can hire IT Support technicians on regular payroll for their company's needs. An in-house team will be familiar with the company's processes and infrastructure.
In-house teams show fast response times and can be utilized with flexibility. On the other hand, they are a costlier option and a burden to set up and maintain.
Outsourced IT Support
Companies can also outsource a part or whole of their IT Support needs to reliable third-party service providers.
It is a popular option as it is cost-effective, allows access to a wide talent pool, and spares businesses the hassles of building and maintaining a dedicated team.
Yet another option is to utilize the customer service provided by hardware and software vendors to their clients. Such technical support is typically complimentary for a limited period from the date of product purchase. Most vendors allow extensions to the support period for a fee.
It can be an attractive option for small businesses and individuals. It is not a good option for companies as they can't expect the response times they need. They also need to deal with numerous support service providers. But, it may be indispensable for servicing some products that require specialized skill sets.
Tools for IT Support
IT Support teams use a combination of modern tools to provide quick, efficient, and effective support to users. The following are a few key categories.
IT Support teams assist users using all the latest means of communication - phone, e-mail, chat, audio/video conferencing - apart from in-person.
IT Service Management (ITSM)
ITSM software is used for managing IT Support activities. It has built-in features for raising issues and tracking their resolution, managing IT assets, and generating service level metrics.
Remote Access Tools
Remote access tools like TeamViewer and Remote Desktop allow IT Support technicians to remotely access and control computers and devices, just the way they would if they were physically present. These are extremely handy for companies with remote work practices and for big companies with large office spaces.
IT Support is an essential function for businesses to minimize productivity losses and ensure business continuity. Understanding IT Support, its models, and the tools it uses establishes a good base for businesses to start building out IT Support.
Andy Lipnitski, IT Director
Andy started his career in IT in 2005. He has taken part in more than 30 projects as a solution architect, team lead, and project manager. Since 2017, Andrei supervises the effective delivery of managed IT infrastructure, cloud enablement and DevOps services at ScienceSoft.