“Hello, IT. Have you tried turning it on and off again?”
The very first scene from the popular Britcom The IT Crowd sums up how both IT support staff and the typical end user seeking help is often perceived, but reality paints both in a better light, according to a new survey conducted by Landesk.
The company just released results of a global study that reveals that, contrary to popular belief, people are generally quite satisfied with the IT support they are receiving, with more than 80 per cent of respondents grading their IT departments with either an “A” or a “B.” And many of them are tech-savvy enough to fix their own problems.
The Landesk study polled more than 2,500 employees at organizations at various sizes worldwide and found that most IT departments fixed problems fairly quickly, with 28 per cent seeing results within an hour of making a help request. And while technology problems are often the cause of lost productivity, fewer than half of those surveyed – 46 per cent – reported losing less than one hour of work per month due to IT problems, and 80 per cent losing than three hours per month. It could be argued employees lose more time stuck in traffic commuting to the office.
Matt Hooper, Landesk’s product evangelist for IT service management and a former CIO himself, said the survey not only shows users are generally happy with the support they receive, but that IT departments may in fact have a self-image problem. “Those of us who live in IT feel we are just not hitting the bar.” The feeling is that we are never deploying technology fast enough or only being brought into the conversation once there is a problem, he added.
The survey is very telling, said Hooper, in that it’s based on actual input from people rather than support ticket data, but it also shows how IT operations is changing in the wake of consumerization, the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) phenomenon and the move to cloud-based platforms. “With cloud and BYOD, it kind of makes some people in operations space wonder what their value is,” he said. “It’s an interesting time for IT people and operations folks.”
Hooper said part of what makes things interesting is that according to Landesk survey, employees are more self-reliant than ever, with 81 per cent of respondents trying to solve their own IT challenges before asking for help; only 16 per cent immediately contacted IT. He said it’s good that users can and want to fix things themselves, but it does contribute to the loss of control IT staff are feeling, especially as they are expected to be innovative and responsive with contracting budgets and resources. A recent forecast report released by Gartner predicts worldwide IT spending will shrink to US$3.66 trillion in 2015, a 1.3 per cent decrease from 2014.
The comfort employees have fixing their own IT problems also speaks to a bigger trend of the overall workforce becoming more comfortable with digital information and technology, said Hooper, and in some cases are more technical than the IT teams. “IT is no longer a department, it’s a competency.”
While a knee jerk reaction for IT staff may be to assert control in response to BYOD and more tech-savvy users, he added, “IT is getting out of the control business and into the enabling business.” The survey found when corporate self-help resources are available, 40 per cent of users will use them before reaching out to IT. Only 19 per cent of respondents report they can “rarely” solve their own IT problems.
A report recently released by CompTIA supports these findings, noting that technology has become much more pervasive across the overall business in the last five or 10 years.