The future of IT support is likely to revolve around increasing levels of automation, enabled by continuing improvements in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Your business is likely to operate using a variety of different software platforms, programs and applications. By establishing a single ‘point of truth’, you can ensure any information entered into one application will automatically flow through to all other relevant platforms, in real-time. This reduces any margin for error, and ensures all information is up-to-date, so that every member of the team is on the same page.
Beyond keeping information up-to-date across all platforms, automation has the ability to eliminate many routine and time consuming tasks, freeing your people up to handle more pressing issues. By speeding up processes and creating a more efficient team, customer outcomes are also likely to be significantly improved.
The adoption of AI and automation should also mean potential network issues are identified sooner by your IT support partner, and can therefore be rectified before they have chance to have any negative impact on your business operations. It’s probably important to point out at this stage that support will still need be delivered by actual human beings. There’s no suggestion of an entirely AI-driven service eventuating in the near future, so the reality of dealing with a team of robots regarding all your IT requirements is still a long way off. AI and automation will simply help to improve the processes and operations of both the client and IT support provider.
Access to analytics will also play an increasingly important role in the services provided by your IT support partner. Valuable data exists in all corners of your organisation, much of which you may not be capitalising on. Data is the key to smart decision-making, problem solving and business improvement. The capability to gather, collate, interpret and present your data in an easy-to-understand and meaningful way can add significant value, and help take a business to the next level. Identifying and suggesting the right platforms to give you easy access to the data you need is something your IT support partner should make an increasing priority going forward.
In many ways, 2020 has provided a turning point in the way the IT support of the future will be delivered. More staff are likely to continue working from remote locations. Having the right tools in place to enable collaboration to occur as seamlessly as if everyone was gathered in the same physical space will be vital to ensuring you are equipped to fully embrace this ‘new normal’ way of working.
There are a few obvious questions relating to remote working that your IT support provider can help to answer, like whether Zoom is enough to keep your team connected, or whether a more advanced option such as Microsoft Teams might be more appropriate. The most effective IT outsourcing companies will ensure they have a team of highly-skilled engineers and technicians, with thorough and up-to-the-second knowledge of all the latest products. Not only that, but they will carry the responsibility of managing all relationships with the multiple product vendors involved, ensuring a seamless user experience from the client’s perspective.
Alongside enabling increased remote working, additional considerations must be taken into account, such as security. Obviously by allowing remote workers access to the same critical business information they would normally have at their fingertips in an office environment carries a myriad of additional risks. You need to be confident you have every precaution in place to protect your business from any kind of cyber security breech. Your IT support partner can therefore be expected to take an increasingly active role in helping you make these vital decisions.
At the same time, as a consequence of the increasing number of applications staff are being expected to use, we are anticipating a growing number of requests for advice on secure ways of providing a single set of log-in details for each individual team member to use across their multiple accounts. This will be crucial for saving your staff’s time and reducing any associated frustrations.
We also anticipate the ongoing shift towards the cloud to continue at pace. A virtual cloud-based server can be set-up in seconds, and is fully scalable with storage levels easily increased or reduced to meet the changing needs of your business. These changes can be managed remotely, with zero downtime required. It is this flexibility that is already seen by many cloud users as its primary advantage over more traditional options.
Establishing yourself in the cloud also incurs none of the significant up-front and ongoing costs associated with investing in the physical hardware needed to run a dedicated on-site server. Put quite simply, if your business is not already in the cloud, we predict it soon will be.
Essentially, as technologies continue to evolve at a rapid speed, and the way we live and work continues to change, agility will be the quality that ultimately separates the IT support partners of the future, from the IT support providers of the past.