If you’re not sure what an information technology (IT) technician does, it’s certainly understandable. IT support technicians played an important role in business in the 1980s and 1990s when most people didn’t have the basic computer skills that are commonplace today. They handled jobs like installing software, connecting computers to networks and general computer maintenance.
The Role of IT Support
Viruses weren’t much of a problem until the late 1990s when network access became common, but IT staff made sure PCs ran smoothly and didn’t compromise financial or proprietary business information. During the 2000s, the general public became familiar with routine computer maintenance tasks like installing Windows and updating anti-virus software, and companies had less of a need for IT employees on their payrolls.
The IT industry is still active today, but it plays a much smaller role. The biggest role IT teams play in today’s business world is in help desk support and other outsourced customer support services. Service is typically provided by external teams for businesses that outsource these jobs as they’re needed, and the industry is much smaller overall than it was 20 years ago.
Companies that employ full-time IT staff usually do so as Web or mobile software developers, database administrators or network technicians. Many people may not associate these jobs with an information technology technician, but they’re services that have evolved from the original role of an IT department. Whether the job title is Web administrator or IT support technician, the job is the same, and the type of company hiring the service determines the title.
What IT Technicians Do Today
A large corporation with an active website, such as Comcast, Verizon or Cisco, has a full-time staff of Web personnel to keep the site content updated and have live chats with site visitors. This support staff may work directly for the owner of the website or for a contractor who provides IT staff. For many small businesses, this level of support is being replaced by cloud-based help desk software, and the IT industry will continue shrinking as more of these jobs can be done by computers.
For the foreseeable future, at least, software development will be performed by humans, but basic Web and mobile apps can be generated from a template with preset values. Website content will have to be written by humans, at least until computers are able to pass the Turing test. However, content publishing doesn’t require IT staff, and most Web hosting services offer managed hosting and content management systems that make Web administration relatively easy.
Most basic IT needs can be performed by the existing staff of small businesses, with the aid of help desk support and customer relationship management software. Only very large companies need full-time IT staff, and few businesses need full-time employees to perform traditional IT services such as Windows installation, PC repair and virus removal. IT support contractors usually offer these services to businesses and individuals with immediate PC repair needs, and they perform emergency services such as data recovery and PC troubleshooting when walk-in customers hire them to fix a specific problem.
Computers are becoming increasingly important as more people have mobile devices and rely on the Internet for shopping, entertainment and business. While this trend increases demand for software developers and Web designers, it reduces the need for an information technology technician as people become more computer literate in general.