Starting our #Take15 series looking at how local businesses have developed over the past 15 years is our own Gildas Jones, tackling the evolution of IT support in the past decade and a half:
Gildas Jones – 15 years of evolving IT support
Q. Dialling your mind back 15 years, what was the IT support scene like in 2006?
Okay, so you’ve got to remember the technology that was common back then. There were still a lot of PCs running Windows 2000 or XP back in 2006. A small business server was the normal set-up. ADSL or Telewest, NTL or Virgin Broadband wasn’t uncommon.
Twitter hadn’t even been imagined yet. Facebook only had about 20 million users (compared with today’s 2.8 billion). The iPhone! That didn’t exist. Most people had a Nokia, or a Blackberry as the standard corporate phone.
Slow computers were probably the biggest complaint at the time, followed by viruses. The latter often causing the former, of course.
But people were still looking for reliable and trusted help when they needed it. Same as today really.
Q. How did Dial A Geek fit into the scene?
Back in 2006, it was all about ownership. Services were performed on an ad-hoc basis – we didn’t have any contracts. The appetite for monthly payments was really low back then.
At the start, I pitched Dial A Geek as the 5th emergency service (the AA or RAC being the 4th). Let me tell you, a lot of companies were very happy to be rescued.
There was some competition, but not a huge amount. I was there in under two hours most of the time and covered the whole of Bristol. I got very used to the road layout!
Q. What were the challenges IT support companies faced in 2006? Are any of them still relevant?
The major challenge back then was probably getting onsite quickly, unless the client had a server and remote backup. This is much less relevant today. In 2006, 95% of issues required a visit. Now, 95% can be resolved remotely.
I have to say that I always liked going to the site, meeting all the people. The social aspect. That’s why we’ve always tried to retain that “part of your team” feeling for our clients with Dial A Geek even as we’ve transitioned towards services that are often delivered remotely.
Another thing that – thankfully – is no longer a problem was the 2006 Windows Vista release. Possibly the worst OS ever created! The problems it had on its own could have kept several IT support companies in work. These days, Windows 10 is actually pretty good.
Challenges like keeping everything running smoothly and everyone nice and productive are age-old and are still as relevant today as they were 15 years ago.
Q. What was the biggest challenge for Dial A Geek when you first started the company?
Handling every aspect of being a small business on my own was the biggest challenge right at the start. Doing all the calls. All the billing. All the marketing. All the bookkeeping. All the call answering whether I was on the move or it was out of hours.
It’s exhausting even thinking about it. Honestly, looking back, I’m not quite sure how I survived the first few years! It was pretty intense. Especially seeing as at the same time I had a young family that included a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old baby!
Q. How has the industry changed?
Windows may have got more reliable, but the Cyber Security compliance requirements for businesses are have gotten huge.
This makes sense because threats like today’s scammers are far more sophisticated than they used to be. Old-school scammers used to be incredibly obvious. Laughable, really.
You’ve also got far more standardisation of platforms. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace give all kinds of companies exactly what they need, so they’ve become the go-to choices.
But the biggest change in the IT support industry has been the shift towards MSPs – Managed Service Providers. Today, it’s about leveraging a client’s entire use of tech and being a real partner through consultancy, knowledge and planning as well as providing what used to be called plain old “IT support”.
Want to see what modern IT support looks like, in the form of our managed services?
Join the more than 900 businesses in and around Bristol that rely on Dial A Geek.
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