As you may have read in this space before, I am a refugee of the music business. If you read the title of this blog, you may also have some idea of where this is going… You see, I view the traditional “break fix” method of IT support as a perfect parallel to the “record business” of the eighties. Back in those halcyon days, the record business could do no wrong. They were busy slappin’ themselves on the back for forcing everyone to toss out their old recordings and replace them with new “perfect sound forever” CD’s. With no end in sight to windfall profits, the music business relied, for the most part, on promoting people straight through the “Peter Principle” to what use to be in the seventies called “God’s way of sayin’ you make too much money”.
These unqualified “business men” spent their days largely congratulating each other on their marketing genius while attending “listening” (read: eating and drinking) parties at the expense of the artist (yep, promotional costs are taken out of the artist royalties). Or, worse yet, selling “advertising”, uncut (new, and returnable), no royalty CD’s under the table for a 50% discount off of the wholesale price to retailers. The discs were intended to offset advertising cost for the retailer to promote a particular artist (the cost of manufacturing charged back to the artist), but were instead sold by the retailers for a higher margin, or returned to the manufacturer for the full wholesale price (unbelievably, DEDUCTING the royalties for the artist against their “sales”). Sadly, I personally witnessed the later on a scale of skids per week. Then came the nineties and the oughts…
Competition from other entertainment options, hubris and new technology alternatives for the artists rendered the music business un-recognizable. Now, clearly, this is an extreme example. Not, in my opinion, too far off the current state of IT support, though.* Now, it turns out, it is more efficient to provide IT support remotely than it is in house (more than 90 percent of IT problems can be found, diagnosed and fixed remotely). Guess who the last people in the world are who are going to tell you this… That’s right, the guys who are profiting from their own inefficiency.
As in the record business, the current break fix model relies on static as opposed to dynamic evolution. While the IT specialists aren’t wasting your money as obviously as the record weasels of the eighties, they are, in fact, wasting your money. Sure, like the music business, there are a couple of advantages to having in house support. There’s a human that you can refer to with a question (kind of like a human “liner note”). Plus you get that, erm, charming IT attitude. Wait. That’s not a positive. The problem is, just like the music business, the fourth dimension is often being ignored: TIME! Sellers/providers often assume the customer has plenty of it, and underestimate the relevance of it’s value. It seems a long way to go, but there you have it: Keep up or stay out of the way IT service providers. And pass that mirror this-a-way please (Ha! Like my heart wouldn’t explode).* A friend of mine suggested that, indeed, it is not such an extreme example… Something about driving a city bus where it clearly doesn’t belong on the person of the IT support customer.