IT support is a complex concept that doesn’t lend itself to generalization. It is a blend of two distinctly different roles: support management and service.
Support management has its roots in the communications industry. As a field, it has evolved in response to new business models, for instance, automated customer management systems (ACMS) that allow organizations to follow and track customer activity. To maintain a compliant ACMS, support staff must be capable of understanding technical and business concepts.
Service is a model of IT support that involves technology as well as business operations. Since it is a change management technique, not every IT support service will require service engineers to implement, customize, and maintain a system.
The difference between support services and technical support is important because these two areas often work together. Support services are intended to assist users in understanding and dealing with a problem. Technical support is intended to help users to solve a problem and to give them a clear understanding of the consequences of the problem. Both types of support services have advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to know which roles you need for your organization.
Some support organizations are able to operate on a business-to-business basis. They often specialize in a certain product or service and sell it to their customers.
Service companies are generalists who specialize in one service, such as managing access to certain network components or developing and deploying applications. Their main goal is to maintain an application by upgrading and optimizing it for the end user’s needs.
They may also support business operations by providing support for applications as they are being deployed, including creating configurations for the deployment, tuning or updating servers, troubleshooting problems, and monitoring servers and networks. Some service companies offer support for administration tasks, such as installing or upgrading software. As you can see, both support services and technical support involve the same broad service areas, but service companies tend to specialize in more specialized areas. In many cases, support functions such as upgrading, problem resolution, and maintenance are outsourced to third-party providers.
Service organizations, by contrast, are dedicated to one service. They are able to provide comprehensive support for most businesses.
There are also some products and services that are best suited for support organizations. For example, remote support usually requires special training and certification, and it is difficult to change to a support role if the product becomes outdated or becomes unprofitable.
A good example of a product that is best served by service providers is a support product that runs on the server. It is difficult to upgrade or modify it, and it provides very little value to users if it is unresponsive and does not respond properly.
Finally, service organization is ideal for customers who want to purchase solutions or maintenance services but do not have the technical knowledge needed to use it. While service providers cannot customize an application, they can provide technical support, troubleshooting, and maintenance services.