Revenue for U.S. consumer and small and midsize business technology-support services will jump by nearly a factor of three in the next five years, and U.S. households will account for more than 40 percent of the $30 billion market, according to new data from Parks Associates. Broadband service providers, in particular, are driving this growth, according to Park Associates' research reports, "Consumer Technical Support Services: Overview" and "Opportunities for SMB Technical Support."
Services such as AT&T's ConnectTech and Tech Support 360, Verizon's Expert Care, and Comcast's Xfinity Signature Support have increased awareness and use among consumers and SMBs in the past year. Major retailers (such as Best Buy, Office Depot, Office Max and Staples) and OEMs (such as Dell and HP) are also important in promoting technical-support services to a wider audience.
"The market opportunity for consumer- and SMB-oriented technical-support services is significant because it is currently underutilized," said Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst at Parks Associates. "One-third of consumers and 44 percent of SMBs experienced computer-related problems, but only 13 percent of those people and 28 percent of those businesses used professional-support services."
The reports find long-term growth depends on the ability to add support for new platforms and scale services to provide for multiple channels of support. Expanding to include on-site, remote and depot repair, with proactive maintenance services for multiple devices, is key to growing the market.
"The foundation of technology support services is in time-of-needed repair and troubleshooting elements," Scherf said. "However, as this market matures, offerings will include support of new devices such as smartphones and tablets. Providers will augment their traditional plans with services based on a holistic model of support."
Chip giant Intel recently announced the availability of a new on-site repair service for midmarket companies. Intel On-Site Repair for Servers is offered through resellers to customers with Intel server systems. The company noted SMB customers who do not have their own IT support will be able to secure a three-year contract that provides 24/7 telephone technical support, next-business-day on-site repair or replacement and complete backing from Intel.
On-site repair services are provided by a third party for Intel white-box servers. The contract provides three-year coverage, and Intel helps diagnose the issue, while a technician will replace faulty hardware on-site. The service is available for all current and future generations of Intel server systems and modular server systems. Users also have free access to a host of online services, including the ability to download Intel software, drivers and utilities; view tested third-party compatibility lists; retrieve technical specifications and other documentation; and purchase spare parts online.