RealTime IT News

More IT Pros Turning To Web For Tech Help

Understaffed and overtaxed IT departments don't have time to sit on the line with a vendor's tech support center and are increasingly turning to online information to make them more self-reliant, according to a new study.

"You need to be more efficient and work faster when you have fewer people in your IT department," says Lindy Lesperance, research director at Business Technology Research in Hampton, N.H. "Getting help has always been more weighted toward vendor technical support. Now there's more of an incentive for IT managers to try to fix it themselves before they get left on hold with tech support."

The analyst firm recently conducted a survey of about 70 IT managers from various industries, polling them on what they do and who they turn to when they run into a technical problem.

And the study shows that almost half -- 43% -- turn to online resources, whether they be news groups, message boards, Web sites, or online help desks. And 38% look to co-workers, 17% call a vendor's tech support line, 1% reads books or manuals and 1% asks a supervisor for help.

"Typically, if you make that call to a vendor help desk, you have to decide if the person you get on the other end of the line has the knowledge to really help you," notes Lesperance. "Often you're forwarded to someone else and maybe even then to someone else. It definitely takes up time."

And time is just not a plentiful resource for many IT departments, especially with a weak economy and tightening budgets thinning out the ranks. Lesperance says Technology Business Research did a study last November showing that when budget cuts come down, it largely means people will be laid off. That means there will be fewer IT people to deal with whatever high-tech emergencies come down the pike.

But despite the IT department cuts, 79% of those surveyed said when trouble arises, they usually are able to solve the problems in house. Only 12% were confidant enough to say they solve their IT problems themselves all the time. None of those surveyed indicated that they can never solve their own problems.

And if IT managers could request one more problem-solving resource, what would it be? Simply enough, more IT workers. The survey shows that 49% would ask for more personnel over and above any other resource.