Although flattening out, the product support services market is still in substantial growth mode in Australia with Dataquest figures estimating a 7 per cent growth rate between 1997 and 2002, turning it into a $US2.2 billion market.
Blaming the Asian financial crisis for the slowdown, Dataquest's industry analyst, Michele Caminos, speaking at Dataquest Predicts 99, nonetheless expects hardware support services to pick up beyond 2002, with software support services sure to follow with the highest growth rate in the market segment. "This crisis has in fact been good for product support providers because companies are turning to external service providers so that they can focus on their own core competencies," claims Caminos.
However, in order for product support services to meet these forecasts, providers need to recognise that the end user ranks support services as the second most serious issue facing them in the new millennium. Caminos suggests that to meet this expectation service providers need to become business integrators, not just technology providers.
Value-added resellers are expanding services to include desktops through to the enterprise, and by 2003 service providers will acquire a broad spectrum of skills through acquisitions and mergers. This is a move away from simple technology strategies to business strategies where the service provider devises total solutions.