What is IT support?
In its broadest definition, IT support refers to any technical assistance offered to either individuals or companies in support of hardware or software. It typically focuses on helping a user troubleshoot a specific problem. To offer this support, a tech support agent will often require sensitive access to the user’s (or organization’s) network or device. This means it is important to have adequate security controls in place, such as privileged access controls, password management, remote access security, session management, etc. These will enable tech support to securely and productively do their job without creating security exposures, increasing threat vectors, and creating elevated risk.
IT support, also known as tech support, technical assistance, help desk, customer support, or service desk, can come in a variety of different forms. These support aliases can be categorized into three areas:
In-house tech support
In-house tech support involves maintaining your own tech team to support the technical issues that can arise as a result of regular business operations. This can involve helping employees deal with technical problems, maintaining backups and security infrastructures, or helping a workforce to connect remotely. Most often, organizations will have an in-house tech team to support the development of a product, the implementation and maintenance of customized internal systems, or the organization’s handling of sensitive data that can’t be shared with third parties.
Outsourced tech support
Outsourcing tech support involves hiring a third-party company (i.e. a managed services provider) to fulfill your organization’s technical support requirements. This can be done in varying levels, including
- Break-fix support, where the outsourced company remotely fixes issues with your computers or network as they arise
- Proactive support, where the outsourced IT team is monitoring your hardware and software to prevent system outages in your network
- Fully managed support, where all of your IT support and maintenance needs are outsourced to your provider
Most often, organizations outsource their tech support to offer a comprehensive level of support while cutting costs, to free up their resources to focus on the business’s key objectives, or when they need access to 24-7 support.
Professional Services/Customer Service
Professional services (pro services), otherwise known as customer service, is the support that is offered by an organization in service of the technological products or services you provide to your clients. This type of customer support typically offers a combination of technical support and practical customer service.
Pro services are largely designed to help ensure clients achieve a positive experience with your organization. It often forms an important part of a company’s customer service philosophy. Organizations typically offer professional services when they provide products or services that require technically specialized or skilled maintenance. However, support-as a-service has also become an important competitive driver.
What does modern IT support look like?
IT services, whether they are internal- or external-facing, can either be managed by an internal IT team, or by a contracted or outsourced IT support service.
Small companies may only require a small, internal IT team, or even simply one IT generalist on staff. However, small companies increasingly rely on external support for applications or for cloud services. Larger organizations, or companies requiring Tech support-as a-service, may have multiple departments with numerous workers dedicated to their various IT needs.
Tech support can be delivered by phone, email, live chat or video, chatbots, online tutorials, and even via software that enables an IT tech to remotely connect to and control your PC.