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How vendor support can help improve ongoing IT operations

Guest Author

Author:
Elaina Stergiades, Research Manager, Software and Hardware Support Services, IDC

The previous discussions (Part 1 & Part 2) focused on how to manage IT problems: either solving IT problems when they occur (reactive support), or preventing IT issues from affecting critical business processes (predictive/preventive support).  There’s no question that reactive support and preventive/predictive support for critical IT systems will remain an important function of hardware and software support going forward.  However, vendor-driven support now typically includes an additional IT service capability that can provide key insight and guidance to CIOs and IT managers.  As business leaders look for more advanced technology solutions that can help improve the customer experience and drive revenue, flexibility and agility in IT service delivery are no longer optional.  As a result, IT organizations are looking to support providers for assurance in helping improve IT operations across their integrated, heterogeneous environments.

As more enterprises look to modernize their IT systems by implementing mobile, social and cloud solutions, IT processes are shifting away from supporting specific technologies to directly supporting business processes.  This is a complex shift for most IT organizations, with far-reaching implications for how support is purchased, delivered and consumed.  Hardware and software support providers are increasingly asked to go beyond reactive support and preventive/predictive support for specific technologies.  CIOs and IT managers are looking for help optimizing operations across the IT landscape, and delivering on the original promise of these systems.  Increasingly, that means considering support providers that can assure a seamless and comprehensive experience across their IT stack.

At IDC, our research shows that hardware and software support providers now include non-traditional support capabilities as part of support offerings.  These services are largely intended to help optimize IT operations, but many are even structured to help with software adoption and utilization across the business.  IDC believes the rapid adoption of cloud technologies is fueling this transformation, as CIOs look to “get what they paid for” from the IT providers – regardless of the deployment. 

With a deeper understanding of the technology itself, and direct visibility into the customer environment, the original hardware and software vendors can offer a comprehensive mix of these non-traditional support capabilities for resource-strapped IT organizations.  Some of these tools require direct access to the underlying technologies, which may only be available from the original technology vendor. IDC recommends considering support providers with a portfolio of services tailored for optimizing IT operations, including:

Planning for migrations and new technology deployments, with deep understanding of the technology under consideration, the current IT landscape and proposed customer roadmap

Fast and efficient contract management, especially when IT assets must be scaled up, scaled down or reallocated quickly to accommodate changing business requirements

Expanded training capabilities to help speed software adoption and utilization

Peer-to-peer best practice sharing, including industry benchmarking

Replacing day to day mundane IT operations with automated solutions, so CIOs and IT managers can focus on innovations that directly affect the bottom line

IDC recommends considering support from hardware and software vendors with these support capabilities, going beyond break-fix and problem avoidance to assuring a full range of comprehensive services that can help optimize ongoing IT operations.

Elaina Stergiades is the Research Manager for IDC's Software Support Services program. In this position, she provides insight and analysis of industry trends and market strategies for software vendors supporting applications, development environment and systems software. Elaina is also responsible for research, writing and program development of the software support services market.

Prior to joining IDC, Elaina spent 10 years in the software and web design industries. As a quality assurance engineer at Parametric Technology and Weather Services International (WSI), she led testing efforts for new applications and worked closely with customers to design and implement new functionality. Elaina also worked in product marketing at WSI, directing an initiative to launch a new weather crawl system. More recently, she was a project manager at Catalyst online. At Catalyst, Elaina was responsible for managing client search marketing campaigns targeting increased website traffic, revenue and top search engine rankings.

Elaina has a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from Babson College.

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