IT support refers to the activities that entities offer to customers of particular technology-based products or services, aimed at assisting end-users in using and maximizing the offered product or service. In simple terms, managed IT support simply provides assistance regarding specific technical issues with a certain product or service, instead of offering extensive training, provision of custom software or hardware, or any other technical support services. Support services are often provided by IT support specialists, who may be self-employed, hired through an agency, or otherwise employed by a company to work on IT support issues. While the exact scope of support services varies from one company to the next (some companies focus on repairing systems after they have been compromised, while others provide IT support services to deal with security vulnerabilities) the IT support specialists usually have at least one thing in common.
Most IT support services offer two kinds of expertise:
one is in providing the actual assistance and solution to end-users; and the second is in providing cloud services (aspect equivalent to assistance, but not service delivery). The former is provided by individuals (typically technicians) who work in the IT support department of a specific company, while the latter is provided by service providers, who operate in an online mode and may be either internal or external to a company’s IT support. IT support service providers may include cloud-computing vendors, like Amazon or Microsoft, as well as other third-party IT support firms. The key difference between the two is that cloud computing providers work on a pay-per-use basis, meaning that customers only pay for the amount of resources used, while IT support specialists manage the resources on an annual basis.
For new users, the role of IT technical support is less defined than it is for older users. Often, a new user can acquire IT technical support services without any specific IT experience, as most companies tend to prefer a comprehensive approach when it comes to training new employees. In some cases, however, IT technical support is a far more defined role, as companies prefer to rely on their existing IT expertise in training employees. This allows companies to focus on developing the tools and processes that will allow their employees to effectively use the new technology, rather than having to teach them how to work with the hardware.
A good example of this is Adobe Systems Incorporated (ASIX), which has formalized its own systems for technical support as well as hardware procurement. As part of a commitment to quality, ASIX ensures that any hardware that it ships has been evaluated and approved for use by its employees. For new hires, they receive training on how to work with these systems, including documentation on the specific hardware that each job requires.
For those who work within an organization, support personnel often have the opportunity to be called upon to resolve a particular problem, which occurs during the initial deployment of a new technology or piece of hardware. In many cases, support personnel work side-by-side with the technical team that created the new technology in order to help them understand how it works and what it does. Often, IT support works with the sales and marketing teams to determine whether the benefits of using this new technology are worth the cost. When problems occur, a technician notifies the customer of their status and, if requested, provides them with additional information and options.
Some organizations may prefer to contract with an outside managed support group
to provide IT technical support to its entire IT staff. In these cases, a company would form a technical support group, consisting of employees skilled in different areas of IT, and assigns these individuals to different IT departments (for example, one department would have a technician dedicated solely to email troubleshooting, while another department would have a technician available for all possible IT issues). This arrangement can provide the company with immediate solutions when one of their technicians encounters a technical issue, without having to establish an entire separate department for the purpose.
- On the other hand, some smaller organizations may prefer to maintain their own IT support department.
- In this situation, an IT support manager or department would be appointed to manage the department, hiring, training, and overseeing the technicians who work within it.
- The advantage of this arrangement is that technicians within the department will already know each other.
making it much easier for them to provide assistance to the customers, if asked. In addition, many small companies will choose to maintain their own referral system in which customers can either refer their own technician or they can request assistance from another technician in their own organization, if not available locally.
There are three main types of IT support: tier one (software), tier two (hardware), and tier three (Cisco Certified Systems Engineer (CCSE). A Cisco Certified Systems Engineer (CCSE) is an individual who has successfully completed specific Cisco training in conjunction with specialized Cisco training, and who is able to assist others with problems related to Cisco equipment. A Cisco certified systems engineer is required to have at least a year of experience working with Cisco routers and switches; at the very least, they must possess a passing score on the CCNA Exam. A good Cisco Certified Systems Engineer will be able to properly troubleshoot network problems, and is capable of providing detailed advice regarding various solutions to network issues. Technicians with at least a year of experience are usually preferred to fill a position in a tier three technical support group.