The Help Desk Evolution: 3 Trends Affecting IT Support

By Robert Half on January 16, 2014 at 1:33pm

According to research from Robert Half Technology and HDI, the IT help desk is evolving rapidly. Find out the top three changes affecting the help desk and which skills you'll need to stay ahead of the curve.

Thanks to trends like cloud computing, mobility and BYOD (bring your own device), IT support services are tasked to be even quicker on their feet. To compensate for these new technologies, help desk professionals must find new ways to manage privacy, security, storage and simply keep up with the constant influx of new devices.

Below is a closer look at the three workforce trends that are disrupting the IT help desk, as outlined in Robert Half Technology's joint research with HDI, The Technical Support Center of the Future, and what it means for help desk and IT support professionals.

1. Mobility

Thanks to the proliferation of both mobile devices and Wi-Fi networks (many of which are public or unsecured) that allow employees to work beyond the confines of traditional offices, the help desk has been experiencing more challenges when controlling assets. For many organizations, like OfficeMax in Naperville, Illinois, mobility has essentially tripled the number of physical assets under IT service management's control.

One way to control this rapid influx of mobile devices? Deploy a specialized technical support team like AIG has done. The global insurance firm has set up a mobility organization within the company to centralize mobile device administration to ensure secure integration.


In the same vein as mobility, BYOD continues to raise concerns for IT support professionals. Not only do enterprise users want the option to work from anywhere, they also want to choose which device they use. However, organizations have been hesitant to follow the BYOD trend dues to security concerns. In fact, according to our research, only one-third of organizations allow employees to access corporate networks using their personal devices.

But is that the best plan of action? Chances are, employees will work on their own devices whether companies like it or not. BYOD is here to stay, and if the enterprise doesn’t adapt, then users will leave IT behind. The job of enterprise IT is to allow users to connect, share and collaborate in a secure environment without limiting their freedom.

3. Real-time support

Long gone are the days of week-long wait times for incident remediation. Even the day-long wait time seems excessive in many cases. Today, users demand anytime, anywhere access to IT support. If there's an issue, they expect instant resolution.

Today’s user is constantly exposed to Internet services that give them instant results (think social media, text messages and real-time status feeds). They now expect the same quality experience from IT. In order to satisfy this demand, IT must be highly accessible, available and secure. And to be accessible, available and secure, IT support teams must collaborate and innovate – not just "catch and dispatch."

What does this mean for IT support professionals?

As more businesses embrace virtualization and cloud services, many current help desk and tech support roles will change. IT should no longer consider itself, nor operate as, a cost-center; technical support teams will be instrumental in helping organizations find new ways to use technology to streamline operations, reduce costs and better meet the needs of end users. But to do this, technical support professionals need to stay up to date on mobile device and application trends.

Additionally, collaboration is key: Demands around mobility, BYOD and anytime access will require more tech support team collaboration, which means more efficient problem management. Being able to identify past trends to avoid future problems creates advantages for both IT support centers and the business.

Stay sharp: most in-demand tech support skills

As the help desk evolves into the technical support center of the future, shift your focus around the skills that will lead your business to success. Customer service, problem solving, troubleshooting and communication skills are more relevant than ever in today's support landscape.

Below are the top five support skills according to Robert Half and HDI's survey of 403 technical support professionals:

  1. Customer-service mindset; passion for supporting customers (88 percent)
  2. Desire to continue learning about technologies and trends (80 percent)
  3. Social intelligence; understanding human connection in a digital world (75 percent)
  4. Proactive approach to solving problems; creating efficiencies (71 percent)
  5. Greater collaboration with staff inside and outside the technical support center (71 percent)

Note that the majority of skills needed to be successful in the technical support center of the future are not technical skills, they're interpersonal ones. This goes to show that, more than ever, the focus is on the support in technical support center.

Hiring? Interview help desk candidates right away

If you're hiring an administrative assistant, we can help make the process easier. You can see profiles of skilled help desk candidates in your area using our online database. Tell us who catches your eye, and we can arrange an interview or placement ASAP.


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