'Can I Turn on the Coffee Pot With My Computer?' Unusual Support Requests
Can you help me fix my toilet?" Believe it or not, the person who asked this question was calling his company's IT help desk, not the plumber. It's just one of the unusual requests chief information officers (CIOs) said they or their support staff have received, according to a new Robert Half Technology survey. These types of inquiries aren't all that bizarre for help desk professionals, and they demonstrate it often takes patience, as well as technical know-how, to assist colleagues at work.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.
CIOs were asked, "What is the strangest or most unusual request you or a member of your help desk or technical support team has ever received?" Their responses included:
"How do I clean cat hair out of my computer fan?"
"How do I remove a sesame seed from the keyboard?"
"I need help drilling holes in the wall."
"Can you come over and plug in this cord for me?"
"I need you to install a video monitoring system."
"Can I turn on the coffee pot with my computer?"
"I dropped my phone in the toilet. What should I do?"
"I want to download software to change an audio file to video."
"How do I pirate software?"
Help desk professionals are known for lending a hand even if a request falls outside their job description, but these employees took the concept too far:
"We need you to fix the microwave in the lunchroom."
"Can you recommend a good dry cleaner?"
"Can you help me fix my chair?"
"Can you help us get money out of the vending machine?"
"I can't find my packages online! Can you help me?"
"Can you help me fix my toilet?"
"My car's cup holder is broken. Can you fix it?"
"Can you help me repair a washing machine?"
"Where can I find a video of Elvis Presley online?"
Help desk professionals are willing to answer just about any technical question, but some end users may want to enroll in a "Computer 101" course:
"I'd like to download the entire Internet so I can take it with me."
"How do I start the Internet?"
"Will you show me how to use the mouse?"
"My computer won't turn on or off." (The computer was unplugged.)
US Tech Market will Grow by 7.5% in 2012, 8.3% in 2013
With the US economy showing signs of improvement, the US tech market has been rejuvenated, according to a new US tech market forecast from Forrester, which is forecasting US tech market growth of 7.5% in 2012. This is up from the 6.6% growth projected in November 2011. For 2013, Forrester is forecasting 8.3% growth. Including telecom services, business and government spending on information and communications technology (ICT) will increase by 7.1% in 2012 and 7.4% in 2013.
The lead tech growth category will shift from computer equipment in 2011 to software in 2012 and 2013. Software growth will occur across all categories, but software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, general business intelligence products, and specialized analytical tools will have the strongest growth. These products will help push total software sales growth up to 11.4% in 2012 and 12% in 2013.
Consumers' Love/Hate Relationship with Contact Centers
ForeSee released its February Contact Center Benchmark, which allows companies to determine how the contact center experience they provide compares to industry averages and customer expectations.
Nearly 11,000 customers expressed their opinions about contact centers to ForeSee in the month of February. ForeSee’s satisfaction benchmark for contact centers is at 70 on the company’s 100-point scale. This is an average score that contact centers can use as a yardstick against which to measure their own performance. Companies scoring significantly higher than 70 are outperforming the industry average. Companies scoring significantly below 70 have a lot of work to do, because their customers’ satisfaction has a direct impact on future actions, such as the likelihood to purchase from the company in the future.
Scores for individual companies included in the benchmark range from a low of 53 to a high of 86 – a fairly large range that has implications for the future of their customer relationships. Some companies are well-loved for the contact center experiences they provide, while others are strongly disliked. One clue to the disparity in satisfaction comes in the primary objective of the call center. When ForeSee isolated scores for service-focused call centers only, there was a benchmark of 67. This comes as no surprise since customers contacting a service-oriented center are likely calling with a problem and may already be frustrated.
As part of its benchmark research, ForeSee compared the likely future behaviors of highly-satisfied customers with a satisfaction score of 80 or higher on ForeSee’s 100-point scale to those of less-satisfied customers (with satisfaction below 70). This comparison demonstrates the impact customer satisfaction with contact center experiences can have on a company’s future success. Based on likelihood scores, highly satisfied customers report being:
174% more likely than less satisfied customers to make contact again, which means higher frequency of interaction, improved engagement, and increased share of mind and wallet.
154% more likely to purchase next time, which means increased sales.
238% more likely to recommend the company to a friend, family member or colleague, which means more business and increased loyalty.
Software and PCs will Lead the Way in Record-Breaking Year for U.S. Small and Midsize Business IT Spending
Spending on information technology by the 8 million small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the United States will account for approximately one-quarter of overall global SMB IT spending and more than 10% of all IT spending worldwide in 2012. Although U.S. SMB IT spending has more than made up the ground lost during the especially weak years of 2008 and 2009 – and is expected to exceed $138 billion in 2012 -- future levels of investment and spending growth will not be uniform across technology categories. A new study from International Data Corporation (IDC) explores the size and growth of the five major technology sectors in the small (<100 employees) and midsize (100-999) segments – and the critical differences in IT investment between SMBs and large businesses (1000+).
Key findings of this study include the following:
The small business segment will spend nearly twice as much as the midsize segment – and more than the entire large enterprise segment – on PCs and peripherals in 2012. The client business is expected to be particularly strong, as small and midsize businesses look to invest in a variety of PC form factors, with particularly high levels of interest in notebooks and media tablets.
Small and midsize businesses will spend nearly $50 billion on packaged software in 2012, accounting for more than one-third of total U.S. SMB IT spending; this category will also have the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) throughout the forecast period (6.0%).
More than one-quarter of total SMB IT spending in 2012 will be allocated to IT services, totaling more than $38 billion. While this level of spending is significant, it also represents a critical departure from the conventions of the large enterprise segment, where IT services account for nearly half of all IT spending. In keeping with the growing importance of IT services as company size increases, the midsize business market for IT services will be more than triple the size of that for small firms throughout the forecast period.
Systems and storage will continue to be the slowest-growing IT category in the SMB space. While small and midsize business interest in servers and storage is expected to remain strong, the appeal of virtualization is expected to slow the growth of the server installed base, particularly in the midsize segment.
The networking equipment category will account for the smallest share of total SMB IT spending throughout the forecast period. This represents another key difference between the SMB and enterprise segments — while large businesses continue to make significant investments in next-generation datacenters and networking infrastructure, more than one-third of SMBs have not yet deployed networks. Despite increasing interest in networking and network-enabled technologies such as software as a service, cloud resources, and unified communications, SMB spending will remain relatively modest throughout the forecast period.
Worldwide IT Spending Figures Show Mixed Results for 2012
Worldwide IT spending is forecast to total $3.7 trillion in 2012, a 2.5 percent increase from 2011, according to the latest outlook by Gartner, Inc. This is down from Gartner's previous forecast of 3.7 percent growth for 2012.
Gartner analysts said the lower growth rate has more to do with the U.S. currency than an actual decline in spending. The recent strengthening in the value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies has resulted in the reduced growth rate. However, when looking at spending in constant U.S. dollars, Gartner analysts said IT spending is on pace to increase 5.2 percent in 2012, up from its previous projection of 4.6 percent.
Gartner analysts said IT spending in the government sector is expected to contract moderately on a global basis in 2012 and 2013, driven by austerity measures in the eurozone. While there has been much commentary about the need for government cuts since the sovereign debt crisis emerged in Europe, it is only now that the impact of government budget cutbacks is being felt on IT spending in the region. Similarly, we expect U.S. government spending to be essentially flat in 2012 before contracting in 2013.
In the small and midsize business market, which represents approximately a quarter of all enterprise IT spending, spending is forecast to reach $874 billion in 2012 and will grow to $1 trillion by 2016. Throughout the forecast period, midsized business IT spending outperforms other sectors in each of the next five years, driven by growth in spending on enterprise software.
The worldwide telecom equipment market is forecast to show the strongest growth with spending reaching $472 billion in 2012, a 6.9 percent increase from 2011. Gartner attributes this growth to the continued health of the mobile devices market as well as a more positive outlook for enterprise network equipment, which is being driven by spending on application acceleration equipment, network security, WLAN and Ethernet switches.