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Outsourcing of desktop support by IT organizations rose at the beginning of the economic recovery along with IT budgets and renewed hiring, but the number of organizations engaging in the strategy has since fallen significantly.
As shown in Figure 2 from our full study, Desktop Support Outsourcing Trends and Customer Experience, only 17% of organizations outsourced at least some of their desktop support work in 2016, which is down from the prior year and represents a continued downward trend.
The question of whether to turn over an organization’s IT desktop support function to a service provider is a critical one. Our research shows there is a strong cost advantage to outsourcing the desktop support function, but when not implemented well, that advantage can come at a price, namely dissatisfaction with the level of service.
“With the economy performing fairly well, it is possible that organizations are less concerned with cost and more concerned with service level,” said David Wagner, vice president, research, Computer Economics, Irvine, Calif. “This might account partially for the downward trend in outsourcing as more companies bring desktop support back in-house.”
While the PC may have lost its luster as a focal point of innovation, the importance of desktop support or, more broadly, user infrastructure support, has not diminished. Desktop support technicians today commonly support local networks, phone systems, and printers, as well as IP networks that carry both voice and data to the desktop, and in some cases mobile devices. The relationships that desktop support technicians form with users also can be instrumental in improving user satisfaction, and the presence of desktop support technicians in the field improves communications between users and the headquarters of the IT organization.
To help IT executives understand their options, the full study examines adoption trends in desktop support outsourcing. We measure desktop support outsourcing activity through outsourcing frequency, outsourcing amount (level), overall volatility, the net growth trend, outsourcing cost experience, and outsourcing service experience. We also compare desktop support outsourcing frequency and level by organization size. Finally, the report examines the sectors that are most likely to outsource the desktop support function.
We define desktop support services as those addressing hardware and software issues mostly related to desktops and laptops. The services encompass what service providers refer to by the acronym IMAC (install, move, add, change). They also include software maintenance and support for standard PC operating systems and applications. Desktop support services sometimes include support for file and print devices and LAN infrastructure in general, as well as enterprise-level functions such as asset management. Desktop support services may involve both hands-on and remote components.