The tech support market for small and midsize businesses will exceed $20 billion by 2015, according to Parks Associates, which notes that the 2008 launch of AT&T's Tech Support 360 is a significant milestone in this market because this service was the first to integrate communications, data services and technical support on a nationwide level.
Written in cooperation with PlumChoice, a provider of remote technical services in the next-generation Service 2.0 model, the white paper, "The Opportunity for National Brands in SMB Technical Support Services," draws on data from "SMB Demand for Technical Support Services," which is based on a survey of owners, managers and IT support decision makers from U.S. SMBs.
"SMBs' technological needs are getting increasingly complex, with mobile devices creating new challenges and the cost-benefit ratio tilting toward professional technical support," said Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst with Parks Associates. "The cloud, virtualization and greater flexibility via remote access are all key trends driving this market. National service providers, with their existing footprint, are in a prime position to seize this market opportunity."
Parks Associates' research found that more than 35 percent of SMBs have used professional technical support for server issues, the most problematic area for SMBs. However, new mobile technologies are starting to command more support attention. SMBs lose approximately 3.2 hours per month troubleshooting mobile phone issues, while they lose 3.4 hours to server issues. As a result, more than 30 percent of SMBs desire remote technical support for their companies' mobile phones.
"Mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets are becoming part of the SMB technology landscape in an irreversible way. As a result, SMB support requirements have changed remarkably from just a few years ago, as Parks Associates research indicates," said Josh Clifford, vice president and general manager of business services for PlumChoice.
The report noted that among SMBs that have used professional technical support services previously, they are highly satisfied with the courtesy and professionalism of the tech support agents who provided the assistance. Where SMB technical support services can improve are areas such as the initial response time, complete resolution of the problem and the time it took to resolve the issue. Leveraging remote-access solutions will allow SMB support providers to raise customer satisfaction with faster response times and more convenience to the business, which will not have to wait for a technician to arrive on-site or have to ship its IT equipment to a depot or repair center, the report said.