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“Reactive Uplifts are a Force for Good…” – Discuss

by Rob Addy  |  March 24, 2012  |  2 Comments

Last time we looked at a support premium uplift that I currently consider to be wrong on a variety of levels. This time I will explain why I believe that the introduction of a reactive uplift would be a very good thing.

If a provider has truly proactive or predictive services (in accordance with the definitions laid down within the Gartner Product Support Maturity Scale v2) within their support portfolio, it is IMHO fair and indeed appropriate for them to charge an uplift for their reactive services to help promote the benefits of their proactive portfolio and increase its adoption within their user base.  Below is a 60,000ft view of the V2 maturity scale to help those of you unable to access the full document see where I am coming from. For details of what’s included in the full model please read my previous post.

Note: My acceptance of, and support for, reactive uplifts is conditional on there being a proven proactive alternative available at a price point comparable to the traditional base line service offering. Some providers offer proactive services that are proactive in name only. These don’t count.

What do I mean by a “reactive uplift”?

Support customers that:

  • are unwilling to give their providers sufficient access to enable them deliver proactive or predictive services, or;
  • who fail to follow up on provider recommendations to mitigate and eradicate product related risk in a timely manner,

are required to pay their provider a premium for remaining on a reactive support contract. Reactive support becomes more expensive than the proactive service alternative. How much should the difference be? It should be sufficient to make customers consider the options and reward those that decide to play their part. I’m not saying that implementing such a model should be done overnight. Sufficient time must be given to allow customers to plan for such a transition.

So why is a reactive uplift right and justifiable?

Reactive support should cost more because it is more costly for the provider to deliver and delivers lower business value to customers. Proactive support is cheaper to deliver and delivers higher customer value. For once the needs of the industry and its customers are in perfect alignment. Proactive services are good for customers, good for providers and good for the industry.

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”

Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

The vast majority of end-user customers that I speak to would much rather have a provider that is quite good at preventing issues rather than one that is very good at remediation after the fact. By the time the incident occurs, the damage has been done. Far better to try and avoid the pain in the first place.

Aren’t you trying to encourage a nanny state approach to IT?

Positive discrimination in favour of policies and approaches that promote the greater good are often decried by anti-interventionists. This does not mean that such policies are necessarily wrong. Prevention-based approaches SHOULD be the norm. If IT is to mature as a business discipline it must move beyond its reactive roots and embrace proactive and predictive methodologies.

The precedents are out there…

There are numerous examples where positive customer behaviours are rewarded. In the worlds of motor insurance and private health care for instance, customers benefit from their own lower than average incident histories and their willingness to adopt behaviours that make future incidents less probable.

There are also some support providers that are already charging more for support scenarios where they are not permitted to deploy monitoring and remote access… This tends to be specific to high end product lines and is seldom publicized or admitted to. But it is happening nevertheless.

Will the reactive uplift come to pass? Will it become commonplace in the industry?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. It may be possible to cajole customers into using proactive services over reactive ones without it. The challenges to adoption are very real. The “System Administrator Roadblock” is real. It’s not the only obstacle that must be overcome but it IS a significant challenge. A challenge that few are actively seeking to address at this time. But that is for another time!


Disclaimer: It’s become apparent that the audience for this blog has extended beyond its original demographic intent – for those of you reading this stuff and wondering why on earth I am taking the stance that I am then I urge you to read the original terms of reference for the blog here so that things become a little clearer (maybe). Your patronage is of course welcomed irrespective of your background, beliefs or perspective.

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