One of the biggest growth areas of the next few years will be remote support.
It seems that all the sign posts are pointing in the right direction for this relatively small and diffuse sector, which includes the Geek Squad and others. Home networks are getting more complex. This is fueling growth in the consumer part of the business. On the corporate side, companies for which telecommuters work are losing IT staff. This makes it logical to allow-or encourage-home-based employees to simply call in what in essence is the de facto IT department.
Companies that supply these services see these tea leaves forming. PC World reports, for instance, that remote consumer and small business support company iYogi has increased its staff by more than 200 people in anticipation of the release of Windows 7. The story says that just over half of 1,000 XP and Vista users the company surveyed think that they will have trouble moving to the new operating system and that almost half think that a call to tech support will be necessary. The piece points out that the move from XP will be a bit tricky for those with no computer skills.
SmallBiz Resource says that AT&T earlier this month expanded the target customers for TechSupport 360 from very small business upward to those with 15 to 50 employees. The AT&T press release announcing the move says that the service, which is about one year old, passed the 100,000 customer mark in July. The SmallBiz Resource says that the company is now using VPro technology from Intel to allow work to be done remotely even if the computer can't launch a browser. LogMeIn is employing VPro technology as well and, according to this story at CNET, is using it to read hard drives of PCs that actually are turned off.
There is no better sign that third party help has hit the mainstream than AT&T's ConnecTech will be available in 4,400 Radio Shack stores.Indeed, these are great days for companies in this sector, as both the growth of complex home networks and the decentralization of business continues. Look for this lively industry segment to grow and consolidate as these trends continue.