IT specialists help businesses use technology to manage information. That can mean anything from installing and servicing a server to making sure the voicemail system operates to fixing the sticky letter R on a keyboard.
Let's look at some of the challenges that these teams face in order to keep information flowing in an industry with rapidly changing technology.
Making it mobile
The new workplace isn't a small room with a desk, a trashcan and a rotary phone. The workplace of today can be a coffee shop, an airport lounge or a master bedroom. Businesses must be mobile and IT professionals have to make it happen.
"The big trend is decentralization," says Kirill Bensonoff, a partner with ComputerSupport.com, a company that offers IT support and consulting for small and medium-sized businesses. "People are getting rid of offices and office space and going virtual."
With mobility comes the challenge of linking devices and systems and users so that the information continues to flow, even when no one is getting together at the office.
Operating in the cloud
The cloud offers solutions that IT services companies have to be able to offer businesses.
Cloud computing systems offer businesses the opportunity to use a Web-based service that hosts the programs that employees need to do their jobs. It allows people to store data, share it and access it over the Web. Remote machines do the heavy lifting.
Bensonoff says computing in the cloud is a cost-effective solution for many small businesses because it reduces the need for expensive hardware and infrastructure, so it streamlines what IT has to manage. It is also flexible and expandable, and it is a pay-as-you-go proposition.
IT professionals have to help businesses move to the cloud. IT helps to set up applications and security measures, and works with employees as they learn to manage a new way to control information.
Bringing your own device
The security issues are multiplied now by a workplace trend known as bring your own device, or BYOD.
Employees buy gadgets like tablets and smartphones and want to use them at work. Bensonoff says more employers are permitting them to do that.
That means the IT specialists have to be well-versed in handling a workforce that uses many different devices running on different platforms.
Bensonoff's company handles mobile-device management. "We manage iPads and iPhones and keep track of where they are geographically. We are able to remotely shut them down and remotely wipe them, if necessary."
Being open 24 hours
Businesses that have grown accustomed to a mobile and global workforce expect IT assistance around the clock. IT services companies have to be prepared to meet a company's technology needs at any given moment.
"People are very mobile and work at all hours," said Bensonoff. "No one keeps a 9-to-5 schedule anymore, so we offer everyone 24/7 assistance."
IT services companies have to keep pace with constantly changing technology and an ever-evolving workplace. Businesses rely on their IT professionals to help them select the best ways to manage information and to be there whenever assistance is needed.
The challenge for IT specialists is to know what all the options are and be able to customize technology solutions that keep a business moving forward.
Carla Turchetti is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who likes to break a topic down and keep her copy tight. That's why this bio is brief. Carla blogs for Contently.
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