It Will Be Different


Technology Hard Trends that Will Shape the Future of Tech Support

by Roy Atkinson
April 11, 2017

The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.Peter Drucker

As support center directors, managers, leads, and analysts, we know that a lot of decisions are made “above our pay grade,” as the saying goes. We probably don’t know what technologies are being discussed or what we might be asked to adopt or support over the next few years.

Back in 2009, futurist Daniel Burrus keynoted at HDI Conference & Expo,  and he explained the difference between hard trends and soft trends and how that difference helps him offer guidance about what’s coming. Smart phones are an example of a hard trend: We are not going back to previous generations of cell phones anytime soon.

For 2017, Burrus’s list of the top technology hard trends includes these five:

  1. Artificial intelligence, advanced machine learning, and cognitive computing applications
  2. Adaptive and predictive cyber security systems
  3. Big Data and the use of high speed data analytics
  4. Advanced cloud computing services
  5. Virtualization of storage, desktops, applications, and networking

We have yet to really start exploring some of the ways AI and its cousins can benefit us. There is certainly a fear of technology related job losses here, but the benefits could be significant, right down into the support center, and out into Level 0 (or Level 0.5) support, as I discuss in a previous post.

Isn’t it about time we were putting some cutting-edge technologies in place to help us in cyber security? The complexities of recent attacks and breaches is just the kind of thing AI, data analysis, and machine learning can help us address.

Big Data analytics has already made lots of inroads, but has not (in most cases) penetrated to the support center as yet. The potential of analytics—especially predictive analytics—for support is enormous, as Andrea Kis points out in her SupportWorld post.

The potential of analytics—especially predictive analytics—for support is enormous.
Tweet: The potential of analytics—especially predictive analytics—for support is enormous. @HDI_Analyst #techsupport

None of us need to be told how deeply cloud technologies have affected IT in general and support in particular. Whatever you think of the word’s inaccuracy or ambiguity, Internet-based software and virtualized hardware are here, and they are changing the way businesses and institutions function. How do off-premises applications fit into the world of support? What is the support staff responsible for when it comes from “the cloud?”

We have gone through the virtualization discussion before, when all the vendors were saying that VDI would replace 90 percent of the traditional computer desktop by, oh, a few years ago. That hasn’t happened as predicted, but the new wave of software defined networks and infrastructure may change everything—again.

Which of these will your organization pursue, if they aren’t already? Which only appear near the top of the list because they are at the top of the hype cycle and are currently in the “buzzword bingo” lexicon? If Drucker was right, it is impossible to say. 


Roy AtkinsonRoy Atkinson is HDI's senior writer/analyst, acting as in-house subject matter expert and chief writer for SupportWorld articles and white papers. In addition to being a member of the HDI International Certification Standards Committee and the HDI Desktop Support Advisory Board, Roy is a popular speaker at HDI conferences and is well known to HDI local chapter audiences. His background is in both service desk and desktop support as well as small-business consulting. Roy is highly rated on social media, especially on the topics of IT service management and customer service. He is a cohost of the very popular #custserv (customer service) chat on Twitter, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on December 9, 2014. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @HDI_Analyst and @RoyAtkinson.


Tag(s): supportworld, support center, technology, future of support, cloud, security management

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