The rise of the robots – how is automation affecting the world of IT support?

Managing Director

Fav thing about the office

Good banter

As a child I wanted to be a ... when I grew up

Plumber/Electrician

Guilty Pleasure(s)

Strictly come dancing

Favourite Holiday

Crete

If I had a superpower it would be...

Mind Reading

Describe yourself in three words or less

Methodical, Energetic, Reliable

An interesting fact about me

Started “Work” life as an opera singer

Likes

Horse riding, fillet steak and a good curry

Favourite Band

…into Classical Music

Karaoke Jam

Desperado- The Eagles

What I do at Q2Q:

My role is to provide the overall direction and “eye on the compass” as to where we, as a team, are heading.

I’m still very much focused on the customer and will often get involved in customer solution discussions. As a techie at heart, I’m regularly seeking to understand industry developments and directional changes that may affect our customers, so we and our customers can remain on the front foot.

Background and Achievements

I started out in an I.T technical department of what was then British Rail, following which I joined a large construction company to re-organise their I.T infrastructure.

I then spent a couple of years as a business systems analyst at P&O Nedlloyd designing, developing and implementing systems within their Bulk and Tank Carrier companies.

In 1999 I was appointed as I.T Manager of SockShop and subsequently as of Head of I.T. at the Tulchan Group, comprising then of 300 stores. Due to a Year 2000 compliance issue, we were required to seek an alternative system, which we were able to more cost effectively write ourselves. This product subsequently became known as RAWHIDE and we later sold this product into a number of other businesses. At the time it was quite cutting edge as all the warehouse function was undertaken using handheld, wireless scanners, rather than the batch scanners that were dominant at the time.

In 2003 The Tulchan Group was acquired by Harris Watson. We were then asked to take responsibility for the I.T. of Viyella Ladies wear and in 2004 the demands of two MD’s and two FD’s (Tulchan Group + Viyella), resulted in the sensible decision to break out of the group and Q2Q was born. This then enabled us to also get involved with a number of other group companies (Harris Watson owned companies) as well as other non-group parties.  At one stage we were managing the I.T for almost 500 stores across a number of businesses.

Today Q2Q retains some of the group customers that we acquired along the way, as well as a substantial number of new and diverse customers in almost all industries including accounting, business development organisations, legal marketing, medical, retail and wholesale.

Hobbies and Interests

Horse riding, running (Jogging), motorbikes, reading any of the Detective Rebus stories.

As one of the biggest disruptors in the technology landscape, Artificial Intelligence (AI) – specifically automation – is a buzzword on the lips of many IT support professionals at the moment. And given that 76% of IT workers believe it will help eliminate repetitive processes, it’s easy to see why people are talking about it.

As one of the most well-known branches of this futuristic computer science, automation sees machines being programmed to perform decision-making tasks with the same level of cognitive ability as humans.

So, with increased input from machines happening in our day-to-day lives, what impact is this digital transformation having on the IT support sector?

Greater productivity and optimised budgeting

As with any job, admin-intensive processes are aplenty in the IT support sphere. From live-chat services to diagnosing technical issues and updating client data, IT experts can sometimes be weighed down by administrative demands linked with legacy processes and internal policies.

So, one of the major benefits that automation is bringing to the table is that it helps to free IT pros from the more routine, repetitive data-entry tasks – leaving us more time to do what they do best, the ‘IT bit’. This means we are able to focus on the more complex, strategic and value-adding side of IT operations – a productivity and financial bonus for both support teams and the SMEs we’re working with.

Cutting through the AI-related noise in the tech space, it’s also been suggested that if the rise of automation continues at its current velocity, the world of IT job titles could soon be evolving in line with new technologies – perhaps creating more automation-specific roles and new knowledge gaps to be filled.

Increased accuracy

There’s no denying that there are some decisions which only a human mind can make, but although our intellectual capacity still reigns supreme over that of our robotic counterparts, even the best brains are susceptible to committing errors – and that’s where automation really shines.

In reality, when routine processes are computerised and automated, IT experts are now able to worry less about data intricacies and typos, and instead rely on a machine to process this information for them. And it’s in this sense that automation is proving to be a great time saver.

Without AI input, if a human error is made, support experts’ time is swallowed up by troubleshooting and experimenting with various solutions, whereas automation is capable of continually running a sequence of operations – programmed by the IT professional – until the mistake is identified. However, despite its obvious advantage, this precision is heavily reliant upon humans programming the scripts and commands correctly in the first place.

New age of back-ups

A crucial part of an IT support specialist’s role is also to ensure that businesses’ critical data is backed up in a safe, secure and reliable manner. Given its high importance, it’s worrying that only approximately 50% of SMEs are confident that their data is being backed up correctly.

This is another key area where automation is helping tech professionals plug the gap, enabling external support teams to schedule when an SME’s information is saved – leaving less room for error and providing a regular and up-to-date version that is always available for businesses.

Always be there

Everyone needs some downtime, but it’s often the case that IT system issues occur out of office hours, when there’s less or no opportunity for them to be resolved quickly. But with IT forming such an integral part of most modern SMEs’ daily operations, this can be rather inconvenient – or in some cases, detrimental to business activity.

However, a positive effect for IT support firms that are embracing automated customer service – such as chatbots or automated FAQs – is that there’s a greater chance to deal with issues as soon as they arise. Enabling a faster response time and 24/7 communication point, this could arguably help achieve increased customer satisfaction and strengthened business relationships. For IT support businesses with clients scattered across the country, this is particularly beneficial.

Of course, there’s no real substitute to having an actual IT expert on the other end of the phone. But the constant stream of personal assistance afforded by automation can undoubtedly have a positive effect on client trust, also giving brand reliability and reputation a healthy boost.

Championing automation

As with any new technology, there are two sides to the coin, and there’s no hiding that the rise in automation is dividing the IT landscape – between those who believe it will replace workers and those who see as it an efficiency-enhancing tool.

But no matter where you sit on the proverbial fence, it’s inevitable that the robots are coming. And it’s largely up to us whether to run and let automation take over, or accept its impending arrival and develop leadership, coordination and adoption strategies to work together harmoniously.

Ready for smarter IT support? Contact us today to find out how our efficient, proactive assistance could benefit your business!

The rise of the robots – how is automation affecting the world of IT support?