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On-Site vs Remote IT Support

Dave Hodgdon and Steve Ripper of PCG discuss the pros and cons of remote IT support vs on-site support.

Mike:    And we’re joined this morning by Dave and Steve, and good to see you both. Welcome to the program, my friends. Good to have you both on the radio today. How are you guys?

Steve Ripper:     Good morning, Mike.

Dave Hodgdon: Awesome. You just sound excited to hear us. Rev us up. The IT Boys are here.

Mike:    So today, we’re going to talk a little bit. These guys, Dave and Steve, they join us every Tuesday morning, at this time, and we’re glad to have them on board, as well. Because, they really know what they’re talking about. I think it’s… I’ve learned a lot of things, over the last couple of years that we’ve done this.

And today, we’re going to talk a little bit about onsite, or remote IT Support. What companies need, and how they can be best met. So let’s talk a little bit, Steve, about… things have changed. There’s no tech support, really, onsite anymore. There’s no engineers onsite. And that’s even with radio stations, and broadcast outlets now. We used to have engineers here every single day. Working on transmitters, and working on equipment and things like that. But now we have somebody contracted once a week, and stuff like that. It’s really changed. The business has changed. I’m sure it’s changed with you guys, as well.

How IT Support Has Changed

Steve:   Yeah. So the funny part of that is that, even with the current pandemic, the COVID and everything else, this was a topic that we would talk about a lot. Even before this happened. Last year. The year before. The year before that. Dave and I, and everybody else at PCG. We would talk about finding that sweet spot of how much do we go onsite, and how much can we do remote?

Because there are some companies that are like… I would like to see my person. I want to see the person who knows me, who knows what we’re up to. And then you have other companies that immediately, Mike, embraced remote access. You see medical companies being like… You’re having… Any IT person going to the exam rooms is a problem. So when remote got easier, they were all in.

So I wanted to talk a little bit today about… How do you find that sweet spot of me going and seeing you and saying, “Hi, how are you doing? And what are the problems today?” Yet, remote access has some great advantages of just immediate support. You’re not waiting for me to get there. You’re not waiting for the tech to come. You can instantly be a part of the users, of issue. So there’s a lot of advantages to both sides of it.

Mike:    Boy, oh boy. If we learned anything over this pandemic thing, I mean the good thing that’s come out of this, we’ve learned so much about remote learning. Remote… accessibility. Remote work.

Dave:    I mean, we have the whole Teams thing. But you know, from a phone from a business standpoint, remote is great. And it’s more cost-effective to put wheels on the road. It costs a lot more money to put an engineer on site. And there’s a lot of businesses driving that. But my focus since day one, Mike, is that person onsite is the personal touch. You need to differentiate yourselves. And there’s a lot of companies that, all they do is remote. And then, they’re a lot cheaper than you, but are they coming onsite? Are they doing a plan for you? Can they do this and that?

And you find out they really can’t get the prices lower, but the value is in overtime. You find that, because you can’t come onsite, and put in a new wireless and, you mentioned, coming here. They come once a week to fix the radio equipment. You can’t put a new PC in remotely. You can’t fix a printer remotely. If there’s an issue, they can’t get on the internet, and you can’t solve remotely. Steve needs to go onsite, and problem solve: Is it the Comcast modem? Is it the firewall? Is something wrong with wiring? You lose power. You have to have that presence on site.

Mike:    You guys know a lot about this because… It’s interesting because when you’re home using your computer, we take it all for granted. We take it all for granted. We’re in automatic pilot and, God forbid, something happens with our computer, or we get the blue screen of death, or something like that. And we say, “Oh no. What are we going to do?” How are we going to do this on our personal level? I can’t even imagine what goes on, on a big, huge company level. A company-wide level, when it comes to problems that need to be solved. In this day and age, people need to log in remotely, whatever it might be. So let’s talk about that. Remote support, is it effective at solving most problems? Let’s talk about that.

Remote Support

Steve:   No. So it’s really useful. One of the nice things is that it really empowers the workers. So when a tech goes onsite, he or she will tend to work with a point of contact. And really that point of contact will direct that tech. “I want you to go do this.” “I’ve got this as a problem.” And maybe there’s a list of priorities, and that’s very valuable, and useful. And accompany will feel like, “All right, I saw that person. So I know what PCG is doing. They were here yesterday.” And so on.

But remote stuff, Mike, really empowers the users. The users feel like, if they can put an email in to help and say, “Hey, I’ve got this problem.” And we can immediately remote in. And sometimes there’s… Now, with COVID, Mike, we’re seeing a lot of cameras, so now there’s a camera one-on-one between the user and the tech, [crosstalk] but a lot of times that solution to their problem… So maybe they have a browser that’s just not opening to the thing they need. It sounds small, but can be really impactful, for that person’s ability to do their job. If that is a website, they have to be on.

Mike:    Oh, agreed.

Steve:   So suddenly the tech is remoted into their machine. They’re talking to them on the phone, and they’re fixing it right at that moment.

So it’s really empowering in a lot of cases. It also, like I said… It goes around that whole, “Do we want the tech walking around here right now? I’ve got patience. Maybe I’ve got a secure facility.” And certainly COVID has said, “Do we want it?”

So we’ve been able to keep supporting companies, when they don’t want anyone around anymore, right? From when we went through a whole period where nobody’s coming on site, at all. We were still able to remote-in, whether… And certainly, Mike, the last thing I’ll add to this is: It’s absolutely essential for when you have remote workers, or a sales force that’s around the country, right? How are you supporting them when you have a company that’s here in Dover, but they have a sales person who’s maybe out in the Midwest or in California, right?

We are remoting in. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to support them, and give them access to what’s here at the company, but help them. So it’s very big for that.

Remote IT Support When Working at Home

Mike:    And with so many people still working at home, Dave, I mean, this is really one of the most viable ways you could do a remote… remote into what needs to be done, or needs to be solved.

Dave:    Oh, absolutely. Especially that the most common request, which is still surprising, is password resets. Imagine you put a request in, cause if you can’t get in with your password, you can’t work.

Imagine having to wait for someone to come on-site for a day or two, that you can’t work. That’s just… it’s inexcusable. So having that ability to have quick support, ‘cause a lot of times, when they call in: “I want Steve to help me. I want Steve to help me.” Well, you can’t rely on just that one person to go on-site all the time. So that’s why you have a help desk. That’s why remote has got so popular, is that the immediate ability to understand the priority. Now, password reset, you have to be done right away. But if they say, “I can’t print.” Well, can you print to another printer? “Yes.” That’s not urgent.

So it’s really about having a service dispatcher, understanding, kind of like the quarterback, “What’s going on around me?” to take care of it.

On-site IT Support

Mike:    Oh yeah… Yeah. So we’ve got onsite, actually being there. And you’re still doing more of that, or less of that, right now?

Steve:   So it’s picking up again, Mike.

And we weren’t even going into our office, as you know. But we’ve seen several companies turned around and said, you know what, we’re bringing some of our employees back, and they’ve set up stations where they have temperature gauges, and sanitizing wipes, and check-in logs, so that they know who came in, and whatever.

But yeah, so I’ve been on site. I’ve been on site last week. I’ve been on site… So we’re seeing more of it. It’s not at the level it was, at the beginning of the year or last year. But we’re seeing more of that, because as we’ve talked about, there’s still value in that. And there’s still… So some of these companies have said, “We’ve wanted to replace this PC, or we want to get the battery to my UPS fixed.” The only way to do that is to go on, and put your hands on it. So they’ve kind of put that stuff off. So we had to get back to it a little bit, Mike, we had to.

Mike:    So there are advantages to both though, right?

Dave:    Oh, absolutely. But I think the biggest thing onsite is, the person has the ability to be engaged in the company. The culture. They can see the facial, the body language. They become a part of the team. And there’s a big partnership, of any I.T. company to work with a company, Mike. And I think, just, all remote. That personal touch is not there. You really need a person, help driving the big picture.

What we want of our techs in a perfect example is Steve. He has the ability to speak… to talk that person. See what they’re doing, and really empower them to get what they want. They might not be able to say it to him verbally, but he can see what they want to do. Our goal, onsite, is to help drive… That’s a big part of why we feel different.

Mike:    Oh, sure. Yeah.

Dave:    PCG is here to help drive a strategy, a roadmap. What are you guys really trying to do now that COVID’s here. How are you willing to get to your customers? How can we get more productive? Because the bottom line, everyone’s looking to cut costs right now. So how can we make technology do that for you?

Steve:   Yeah. When I’m onsite, I’m literally going, “What is their workflow? How does this company work? How does this group of people, the customer service representatives, the salespeople, the marketing, the accountants, how are they doing things?” When I’m onsite, Mike, I can go, “Why are you doing it that way?”

Like I look at something, and I’ll go, what? There’s better… I know that there might be better ways to convert that PDF to do this thing. I can’t see that if it’s all remote. Remote has its place. But the biggest difference is that… and we talk about this in our meetings all the time, Mike.

It’s the difference between being reactive, and proactive. When I’m onsite, I can be proactive. I can say, “Hey, I saw all of your people doing it this way. And there’s a much better way.” Whereas, remote is very reactive. We’re waiting for them to go, “Hey, this is a problem. This is slowing us down.” And then we’ll fix that. But it’s hard to see what’s going on in a company when it’s all just waiting for them to call you.

Dave:    Oh yeah… yeah. He just hit it right on the button, right there. That… it is very reactive. Remote support, something is not working. You fix it. The proactive is a totally different way of helping them get to what they really need.

Mike:    All right. Final words today, Dave.

Dave:    I just feel that every company has to think about what’s going on right now, Mike. As far as their IT, in that now is a good time to be thinking about… I think a lot of us are going to be staying home for the next three to six months. Look at your technology plan. Give PCG a call. We would be happy to speak to you, [look at] your roadmap, and find a better way to use your technology. But on-site’s the key, and have Steve come by and visit you.

Mike:    All right. Steve Ripper, Dave Hodgdon, always good to talk to you guys.

Dave:    Always good to see you.

Steve:   Mike. I’ll throw one more thing in there.

Mike:    Yeah.

Steve:   If you’re out there, and you run a company? Check your air conditioning today. Check the air conditioning, where the servers are. I’m serious, Mike.

Mike:    That’s a good point.

Steve:   Servers hate heat. They hate heat. So just… so you’d be surprised. Just open that door. Take a look in the room. Is it getting hot in there? It’s really… Just be proactive in that regard.

Mike:    That’s the same thing with radio broadcast equipment. That’s why I have the temperature below zero here today.

Steve:   Mike, when the gauge gets to 98 degrees out there, you’ve got to check your stuff. You’ve got to check it.

Mike:    Oh, no doubt about it. Be well friends, be well. All right, Tech Tuesday here, with Dave and Steve. They join us every Tuesday morning.