Top five innovations transforming technical support

By: Jens Rathgeber

Technical support organizations are facing a challenge: The traditional break and fix support model no longer meets today’s business requirements.

Why? Because IT is woven into our business and private lives and IT consumers don’t tolerate service disruptions. So, waiting for an outage and reacting to it doesn’t work any longer. Technical support teams need to embrace a smarter, more proactive approach.

Here’s my list of top innovations that tech support providers should embrace:

1) Analytics combined with service data

There’s a lot of value in unstructured service data like textual error descriptions and action plans, photos or videos of failure situations, or in some cases, audio files capturing strange noises. Companies embracing those data sources and combining them with the analysis of traditional, structured machine data can get far better results. Broadly applied analytics technology can reduce problem determination time as well as the quality of problem resolutions. Analytics also enables proactive support and predictive maintenance. Pattern recognition or anomaly detection, for example, can be used to build early warning systems.

2) Augmented and virtual reality boost expertise

With Augmented Reality (AR) it’s possible to decouple the expertise of remote competence centers from locations where tasks are performed. During an online audio and video session, a remote expert can enhance a field technician’s field of sight with information like text, shapes or drawings to guide tasks. Also, Virtual Reality (VR) can revolutionize service personnel education. VR provides realistic training scenarios and enables cost-efficient, agile remote education.

3)    Process efficiency through the blockchain

The technology to create a shared-ledger might be a bit overhyped these days but technology support has interesting applications. There is a wide range of use cases from streamlined billing to tracking spare parts usage. In addition, the concept of smart contracts can help increase efficiency for involved parties.

4)    Chatbots enhance technical support self-help

Self-help is something that many support customers are looking for. Chatbots especially have gained a lot of popularity as problem descriptions are often vague. Having a tool that initiates a conversation to narrow down the problem can be a powerful thing. However, the most successful implementations make smart decisions then engage human agents.

5)    Cognitive solutions support service professionals

In today’s complex world it’s getting harder to support professionals to keep their knowledge current. Cognitive systems that crawl all electronically available structured and unstructured information, evaluate and rank the results, and adapt over time based on users’ feedback are a solution. Organizations using these learning systems have a good chance of outperforming their competition.

Through all of these innovations, technology support organizations can change how they provide services — enterprises can provide superior services, regardless of the complexity we see in modern multivendor IT environments.

What is your experience with innovation in technology support? And what are the service innovations you need from your support partner?

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About The Author

Jens Rathgeber

IBM Distinguished Engineer & CTO, IBM Multi-Vendor Support Services

Jens drives innovation initiatives for the IBM Multi-Vendor Services portfolio and leads the IBM global community of technology support experts. As a recognized technical leader, he works with clients to streamline their IT support and transform after-sales-service organizations. In addition he leads the Editorial Board of the Zero Outage Industry Standard Association. With 20 years... Read more