Research Brief

Pearls of Wisdom: HDI Research Brief Compilation 2013-2014

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Desktop Support Technology Written by Michael Hanson Data analysis by Jenny Rains DECEMBER 2013 L ooking back on how desktop support has evolved, it's interesting to see how tools have changed. Many years ago, when we spoke of tools, we literally meant tools; in the early days, desktop support technicians were actual technicians. They had a detailed understanding of the guts of the hardware they support. They used specialized tools that were designed for repairing computers, and any good support team had all of them. In those DESKTOP SUPPORT EDITION days, getting the various pieces of hardware to work together was a real challenge, and even when they were successful, it often involved making physical changes to jumpers or DIPP switches on system boards or components. And their software knowledge was intimately tied to the hardware knowledge: configuration files for the operating system needed to be tweaked, drivers had to be loaded, and testing had to be done to make sure everything was loading in the correct sequence. At this point in time, dedicated desktop support was rare, and the role often fell to those who enjoyed tinkering with hardware; it wasn't an official part of their jobs. Over time, technology evolved and we saw the intro- duction of what we used to call "plug and pray." Hardware and software manufacturers meant well, and they were moving in the right direction, but the initial implementation of the "plug and play" concept often failed, and then we were right back to physical interaction. Eventually, they did get it right and, as operating systems matured, we really could just plug new components into the hardware and start playing. Operating systems still needed special care, though, and so our tools evolved from those that enabled us to physically manipulate components to software-based tools we could use to diagnose software and network problems. These early tools were crude, often homegrown or adapted from other types of software. It was during this period that the business began to recognize the importance of technology and the desktop support role began to gain formal recognition. Fast-forward a couple of decades. Today, hardware is much more robust and reliable. Operating systems and software update and repair themselves automatically, requiring less intervention from technicians. The tools we use now are far more complex than in the past (even though they have been designed for ease of use), and they are critical technologies in their own right, with amazing feature sets that have turned technicians into technical support analysts that are highly valued by the business. The Survey Desktop support teams have many different roles and responsibilities, which are usually governed by the size of the business, the type of industry, and the technologies they support. However, these differences aside, there are common technologies that have been adopted by most, if not all, organizations and are now part of their standard toolsets. For the past few years, the HDI Desktop Support Practices & Salary Survey has collected data from organizations of various sizes in a wide range of industries. The purpose of this annual survey is to gather information that allows business and IT leaders to make informed decisions based on the current state of the desktop support industry. This brief is based on survey responses from 978 global organizations, collected between November 2012 and January 2013. The survey asks a series of questions about desktop support tools and the technologies organizations are currently using, and the resulting data has much to tell us about the state of the industry. of desktop support organizations are planning technology implementations in the next twelve months. 82% 20

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