I took my relatively new truck to a dealership this week to diagnose, and hopefully fix, a rubbing noise that occurs at random times. After a day at the shop, the truck came back with “no problem found.” And, of course, I heard the noise again on the way home.
The end of the story is that with a few Google searches I found the likely cause of the problem. It’s now corrected with a $4.50 part off of Amazon. I’m not an ASE-certified mechanic, in case you were wondering.
I suspect many of you have similar stories, whether it was a problem with a vehicle, or an appliance, or something else that you depended on. It seems pretty clear that support systems across the board haven’t kept up with all the new technology that has flooded the marketplace in the last several years. Most of the time, getting help is an unproductive experience, and many of us end up solving the problem on our own or we learn to live with it.
Enterprises now find themselves in the same boat when it comes to issues with cloud technology. I don’t need to pick on any one technology provider; it seems to be a systemic problem. Support is hard to come by in the emerging cloud computing universe.
As a result, cloud-consuming enterprises are becoming self-sufficient, depending more upon staff and consultants than the technology providers themselves. Even after paying extra for “tier-one support,” many enterprises have cancelled those agreements and instead turned to in-house expertise.
So, what has happened to good old customer service in the cloud computing era? Why are so many of the emerging cloud technology providers lacking in this respect? I’m speculating here, but it seems to come down to the higher cost of talent and the much lower margins.
It’s easy to justify a six-figure salary for a good cloud developer or architect. In most cases, cloud technology providers are unwilling to pay the same for people who answer phones or emails. Yes, there are many exceptional support engineers out there—I meet them every week. But that does not mean I’m wrong.
The larger issue is that we don’t pay as much for technology these days. Cloud has made technology a cheaper commodity, through a new on-demand model that puts pressure on margins and profitability. The lower margins in the cloud mean there is a vast difference from the millions we paid a few enterprise hardware and software providers each year. But while we pay less, we have to suffer through a few missing extras, such as support quality.
I hate to sound like “Debbie Downer,” but I’m not sure things will change in the short term. My advice to enterprises is to splurge on training and hiring, and rely on an internal team of technology domain experts for support. At the end of the day, DIY is likely the cheapest path.