What Is the Role of It Support and How It Improves Business Performance?
Every business that uses IT needs support from time to time. Smaller companies that do not need or can’t afford a dedicated support department tend to outsource support to a managed service provider. Larger organizations set up in-house IT Support departments, but recently more and more are outsourcing some or all functions to save costs.
Larger multi-national organizations may have local support centres in each country in which they operate, for example, IT Support London.
The support organization’s role, in-house or outsourced is critical to the organization’s ongoing success. The pandemic has forced many organizations to critically review their use of IT, particularly where a survival strategy is dependent on a sustained move to e-commerce.
The support organization’s role was mutating in any case from simply that of providing maintenance and support to a higher level relationship of providing strategic advice and direction. It is now focused on guiding the business to the e-commerce environment as quickly as possible.
Having a strategic partner helps in other ways. Change in IT is happening at an increasingly faster rate, as is the overall global business market. The need to support Social Media, provide Customer Interfaces, and block malware drives many agendas. New Government regulations requiring IT systems to demonstrate compliance with security, processing, and reporting requirements have come into play. Financial Services has been particularly hard hit.
Unless you are an IT business, your onsite support service is the first place to look for advice and guidance, coping with frequent adjustment of your long-term business plan, perhaps now a survival plan.
An inhouse IT Support department now has two main functions, that of routine systems support, and that of higher-level strategic support. The role of the IT leader has now also changed. The IT leader now should be an integral part of the business development function, at a strategic level, able to influence and react to changes in the business environment. Gartner recommends that the head of IT sits at the top table in the business, probably as a CIO or CTO.
Competition in the online retail sector is fierce, and customer acquisition and retention is the key to success. Retention is particularly important since IBM thinks it costs eight times as much to acquire a new customer as it is to retain one. How customers perceive their interaction with it influences your business. In an online environment, the perception is reinforced by how the customer experiences the Help Desk, the online ordering process, or the company website itself.
The IT support function, in-house or outsourced can be a major driver of beneficial change by being proactive and responsive to technology trends, advising on which ones to embrace and those to ignore.
If you are not in IT, IT systems tend to be out of sight and out of mind until they fail. In the 24/7/365 environment, losing your systems for whatever reason can be a disaster. If customers cannot reach you, you don’t make sales and suffer reputational damage.
Every business needs to have a disaster recovery plan to respond to an unexpected loss of service. It’s not just malware, it can be something as simple as a power cut. A further complication is that it might be nothing to do with you since many of your internet services are in the hands of third parties.
This is where your IT support provides benefits. They must prepare a plan to deal with outages and check and implement them when necessary. One key area is having up to date and usable backups of all systems and data. The backups need to be checked regularly. It isn’t the first time that backups are faulty. As an example, often the quickest and surest recovery from a ransomware attack is to go back to bare metal and reload all systems and data from a known good backup.
One way to do this is to set out a Service Level Agreement, informally in the case of internal IT Support and formally in an outsourced service supplier. The agreement will include accepted response times, fault logging, response and escalation procedures. A formal SLA may also have penalties for non-compliance.
It is critical for a business to have a close and mutually beneficial relationship with IT Support. It is especially critical for a business that relies on 24/7/365 availability of its IT services, and continuing integration of its IT strategy with its business strategy.