Technology Support Services: Five Emerging Trends
Technology support has grown quickly in recent years to keep up with disruptive service technologies. Meanwhile, technological advancements have resulted in significant changes in the delivery of support services. In the next three to five years, we predict the following five technology trends will drive the growth of the technology support services business and establish new support service paradigms.
Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Agents
Chatbots have received a lot of attention and have had some success in the consumer market. In the sphere of customer assistance in enterprise environments, it has yet to deliver on its promise. We will be able to create more sophisticated virtual agents with deep knowledge about supported products thanks to new breakthroughs like AI-powered conversation platforms that address critical challenges in natural language understanding, context resolution, and knowledge graph-guided question answering. We can now offer end users a new option to communicate with support services outside of the help desk. This also allows a support organisation to scale to new product areas without needing to proportionally scale its manpower.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Expertise and information exchange are at the heart of tech assistance. As AR/VR technologies mature, we anticipate to see them used increasingly in tech support scenarios, particularly for hardware support. For example, after interacting with a virtual agent, a remote expert can visually guide a field agent who uses a mobile device or AR glasses to fix a problem, a novice agent can be trained on complex procedures in a VR-based, game-like setting, and a customer can be guided to a specific AR-enabled procedure to fix a problem himself. The development and curation of AR/VR capabilities will allow support knowledge to be scaled beyond geographic, time, and even corporate limitations.
Intelligent Devices Support
Sensors and monitoring capabilities are increasingly built in the devices being supported, allowing them to collect data about themselves and the environment around them. Technology support engineers will rely more heavily on predictive analytics and perform maintenance, repair, and replacement jobs proactively using sensor and monitoring data. Future intelligent ATM machines, for example, could be integrated with sensors that monitor cash levels, user access, temperature, noise, and other factors in addition to collecting system data and logs. Anomaly or other support-critical events can be discovered using predictive analytics before they become problems, allowing support engineers to prevent problems from occurring. Collecting and analysing data in real time, as well as intelligently conducting support activities, are all part of implementing an intelligent support paradigm. The industry will push for further standardisation of data formats, data gathering platforms, and APIs for providing data and analytics as a service in order to facilitate intelligent assistance.
Many archetypal blockchain applications, such as parts and logistics, supply chain, transaction and billing, and so on, are supported by blockchain technology. Blockchain provides a shared, distributed, and decentralised ledger that can be used to build trust among various stakeholders during the tech support process. The next wave of developments will focus on standardising blockchain solutions that can be effortlessly connected with enterprises' IT systems to jointly drive the tech support ecosystem as industry practitioners get more familiarity with the technology.
Cloud computing, storage, and network infrastructure are all critical components of the future tech support paradigm. The cloud has given birth to AI and conversational platforms; content generated by AR/VR support applications will be saved, managed, and provided via the cloud; and the platform for supporting intelligent devices will be constructed on the cloud, utilising big data and machine learning technology. The different blockchain solutions emerging in the tech support industry will be supported by cloud-based, managed blockchain networks (such as the IBM Blockchain Platform). The fundamental benefit of the cloud – scalability – is also critical in tackling the scaling challenge in tech support.
Traditional "break-fix" support approaches are no longer viable in today's digital age, when cloud and AI are dictating the way technology is created, managed, and delivered. IBM's technology support services professionals are working hard to transform their own practises to align with ongoing hardware and software innovations, aware that support services would fail to keep up with the evolution of technologies if they did not have a modern approach and support structure in place. The technology trends listed above will play a critical role in driving the transformation of technology support services in the future, given the present rate of innovation.