IT support refers to various services that organizations provide to end users of technical products or services. In the broadest sense, IT support also provides assistance regarding specific issues with a computer product or service, instead of providing customized training, provisioning or modification of the software product, or any other support services. IT support services can also refer to computer hardware and software product maintenance. In business terms, IT support can also refer to support provided by computer networks for activities such as controlling access to the network, data transmissions and maintenance of the network infrastructure. This includes security management activities such as controlling access to protected data from unauthorized parties.
There are several aspects of IT support services
that need to be determined to understand the essence of this field. The first aspect is IT support services infrastructure. This field often covers network infrastructure such as servers, routers, storage arrays, switches, and computers. IT support service providers can either offer their own IT support infrastructure, or they can rent IT support services from third-party providers. The latter form of renting IT services occurs when the customer requests support services and is not satisfied with the services being provided. The client may request the use of specific components, for instance, dedicated email servers, or a specific number of computers per network, for IT support services such as remote control.
Another aspect of IT support services are off-demand or ‘on-demand’ service delivery model. The concept of on-demand service delivery model is similar to the model of offering personal computer support to customers at fixed intervals, for a given charge. For example, a customer can call up Microsoft Support Services and request for a Windows installation CD, after which he/she can install the CD on the computer in question. The support service provider will provide a Windows Installation CD and install the Windows operating system on the computer. The client can then use the computer to conduct the computer setup, run various software programs, run complex diagnostic tools and perform other tasks that require IT support services.
Off-demand support also employs the use of telephonic as well as online technical services, such as web browsing and email support. IT support companies can provide support to Internet clients as well, using their expertise in helping people overcome the technical difficulties that come with using the Internet. For instance, if a person has some technical problems with his website, he can call an IT support service company, who will provide technical assistance by helping him to troubleshoot the issues on his site. The advantage of this method over on-demand technical support is that the company providing off-demand technical assistance has IT professionals who are proficient in handling different types of technical problems.
There are three support channels through which an IT support company can provide its services, namely, the front desk, the back-up support and the personal support. A typical IT support desk offers support to standard users who contact them for help. The IT support desk may have, for example, three or four representatives who communicate with the customer and resolve various technical problems that the customer may encounter. The IT support representatives are paid on an hourly basis, which means that they can choose to work during regular business hours or shift to evenings and weekends. They are not obligated to work all hours of the day.
IT support services, on the other hand, employ professional IT support technicians
who are proficient in different types of technical problems. These technicians are called technical assistants, and they are usually paid hourly. Most IT support service providers have several technicians, each specializing in different types of problems. The technicians assist the customers by solving problems that are unique to the customers’ specific applications. Some service providers also have supervisors who are responsible for overseeing the progress and performance of technicians, and they usually report the progress and achievements to their supervisors.
- Last but not least, there are IT support companies that offer managed services.
- This kind of service provider involves a third party – often a software vendor – offering IT support on behalf of the company.
- For example, a computer systems integrator may hire a network analyst to help them with network management issues.
The third party then provides IT support, by using their expertise and contacts with computer systems integrators, on behalf of the company. This type of managed services provider is more cost-effective than hiring additional staff.
IT support companies use many different IT support headings denoting different levels of responsibility. In addition, they also use different IT support terms and other jargon. As a result, it is very important that a business reads and interprets the IT support headings denoting the different levels of responsibilities that apply to its own IT support staff. In addition, every business should also take a close look at its own internal procedures for training its staff. Effective training helps improve the quality of IT support and increases the businesses’ productivity and efficiency.