SupportWorld

SupportWorld, Jan/Feb 2013

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In the business world, we're often required to decide between products or services we don't know much about; this is especially true when it comes to new, cutting-edge technology and trends. We're much more susceptible to hype when we're in unfamiliar territory and have no prior experience. This makes it relatively easy for people to make predictions that may be tenuous at best, horribly misleading at worst. Remarkably, the future tends to work out somewhere very close to the middle ground between what Gartner calls the Peak of Inflated Expectations and the Trough of Disillusionment. After the dust settles, Gartner says, things wind up progressing along the Plateau of Productivity. Ideally, then, when planning for future support spending and projects, it would be helpful to know where the Plateau of Productivity might be. A powerful tool for pinpointing the plateau is research. Knowing what companies are actually doing—as opposed to making prognostications about what they could do—can be very valuable. HDI has a large and extensive body of research on what support organizations are both doing and planning to do. As I wrote in a recent blog, "the best predictor of what will be in five years is what is being purchased now." Businesses sometimes make radial shifts, but in general, they plan and execute in a three-to-five-year cycle. "Support is going away." On the contrary, our research shows that 26 percent of support organizations will be expanding (creating new positions) in the coming year. An additional 52 percent will be filling positions that come open. Percentage of organizations that are currently hiring 7% What will the support center look like in 2017? Check out my recent blog at www.HDIConnect.com. 24% 22% 48% Expanding: Will create and fill new positions However, technological advances may force businesses to rethink their plans. Take, for example, the whole trend toward the consumerization of IT. Organizations have had to move rapidly to catch up to the breakthroughs in smartphones and tablets over the past few years, and support centers are still playing catchup. In fact, we know that about half of support centers (52%) say that they're struggling to keep up with emerging technology with regard to mobile devices. But think for a moment about the many industry verticals where consumerization doesn't work very well: law, banking, insurance, investment institutions, healthcare, government, military, and so on. Soldiers may have personal smartphones, but they aren't accessing secure military networks from those devices. Also, keep in mind that labor laws and regulations may have a significant effect. Many support analysts and technicians are hourly employees, but hourly employees aren't supposed to be "always on, always connected," and their companies may face financial and legal consequences if they allow that behavior. With all this in mind, how can we sort through the hype and get real? Let's take a look at some examples of recent pronouncements from online pundits. | Filling openings: Will fill positions as they come open Frozen: Will not fill open positions Cutting: Staff will be smaller than it is now Percentage of organizations that will be hiring in the next year 7% 15% 26% 52% Expanding: Will create and fill new positions Filling openings: Will fill positions as they come open Frozen: Will not fill open positions Cutting: Staff will be smaller than it is now (Source: The War for Talent) www.ThinkHDI.com A Professional Journal for the Technical Service and Support Community 7

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