While there has been a dramatic decrease overall in IT travel, remote support issues have, for the most part, remained stable since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a recent TechRepublic survey.
Our recent survey, taken during the first two weeks of November in the Support Republic, drew only 54 respondents, but the results were quite dramatic.
More than 40 percent of those who took our survey indicated that fewer end users were traveling now than before the attacks. Because no one reported more travel by end users, that left nearly 60 percent who said business travel by end users had not changed.
Our numbers seem to be confirmed by a national survey of corporate travel managers by the Business Travel Coalition (BTC). The BTC survey reported that 88 percent of travel managers expect cutbacks in corporate travel due to the Sept. 11 attacks.
One business traveler who is cutting back on travel is TechRepublic columnist Tim Landgrave, who describes this and other reactions to the attack in "Will the Internet's ability to bring people together save the New Economy?"
"Before the tragedy, my normal monthly travel schedule consisted of five or six business round-trips of one to three days each. In addition to the five airplane tickets, that meant an average of five rental cars and 10 nights of hotel time," Landgrave wrote. "I’m already looking for alternative ways to accomplish the same tasks (teleconferences vs. face-to-face meetings, negotiating via e-mail, video conferencing where possible) to avoid getting on an airplane."
Even the biggest computing trade show, COMDEX, felt the pinch of reduced travel, seeing the smallest crowd in a decade at its fall event, according to News.com.
Does this reduced travel for end users translate into reduced travel for support staffs as well?
About a quarter of our survey respondents reported that members of their support staffs were traveling less, and only four percent said their support staffs were traveling more. The majority, however, were seeing no change in the amount of travel required by their support staffs. Comparing this to the slowdown in business travel by other employees, support staffs are traveling more relative to other members of the organization. (See Figure A.)
Surprisingly, while end-user travel has dropped dramatically, travel-related problems with laptops have dropped only about 13 percent. About six percent of shops, however, have noticed an increase in travel-related problems with laptops.
With fewer users taking trips, you might expect a large drop in the number of remote users that would need to be supported, but our numbers don't bear that out.
In fact, only six percent of those who took our survey reported a decreased number of remote users, with about 10 percent reporting an increase in remote user support. If fewer end users are taking trips, the increase in remote users may be because there are more users working from home than before.
For companies who are using remote control software to support their end users, Symantec’s pcAnywhere remains the market leader. (See Figure B.)
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If you didn't get a chance to participate in this survey, you’ll have plenty of future opportunities to voice your opinion in Support Republic. Typically, we have a survey running the first two weeks of every month. If you have an idea for a survey, tell us about it.