• October 21, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

The Healing Powers of Technology

IT hiccups are the enemy of a real-time enterprise. Waiting for an IT person to fix a computer problem adds to support costs and jeopardizes employee productivity, as well as customer satisfaction. That's why, SupportSoft yesterday at Gartner ITExpo started shipping its real-time service management (RTSM) software platform, which enables organizations to avoid or resolve technology-related problems by automating technical support, customer service, and IT infrastructure management. Following in IBM's Autonomic Computing footsteps (where computers heal themselves with minimal human intervention), SupportSoft's RTSM software platform is designed to help technology and the business processes they enable remain operational while reducing operating costs, streamlining the flow of information, and improving management decision making. Driving this innovation is SupportSoft Auto Discovery and Metering, which permits IT organizations to discover, inventory, and meter a company's hardware and software assets in real time with one solution. "Auto Discovery ensures the IT infrastructure is up and running. It discovers all the software elements, from server applications to serial numbers, and can use that information to determine what each machine needs for upgrades, such as virus software and more," says Gary Zilk, director of product marketing at SupportSoft. The metering capabilities, Zilk adds, enables organizations to view how many employees use a particular application, which helps companies participating in a subscription-based licensing program to view how many applications are not being used by employees. "The key is understanding usage patterns," Zilk says. If a customer buys 4,000 copies of Adobe Acrobat, he says, but only 2,300 are being used, the customer can cancel those inactive subscriptions. The company's background is in internal IT support; it has shifted gears and is now focusing on external customer support. To that end SupportSoft also announced enhanced customer service solutions in association with the launch of the Real-Time Service Management software platform. SupportSoft Knowledge Center Suite enables self and assisted service designed to automate service and support knowledge creation, publishing management, and access. It provides users with personalized answers on simple how-to questions, or a question that necessitates an automated software fix using SupportSoft's Support Action technology. If customers are having trouble while searching a company's Web site and need to speak with a live agent quickly, SupportSoft's LiveAssist enables call centers and IT help desk organizations service customers and employees with a scaleable, real-time online chat solution. LiveAssist has automatic business rules to optimize efficiency, such as auto routing of chats to the appropriate person. Also, the solution will automatically route a chat session to another agent if the first agent has not engaged in the chat within the first 10 seconds. Support professionals can take control of a user's desktop remotely with SupportSoft RemoteAssist. This application can be used for complex technical PC support or to help a customer navigate through computer screens. It's ideal for real-time management of computing systems using the Microsoft Windows operating environment without requiring complex software installations or rebooting the user's computer, which can be typical with many remote control software solutions. SupportSoft RemoteAssist provides privacy, requiring a user's permission for a service representative to remotely manage their computing system. "Support automation software provides the ability to respond in real-time to their needs," says Kim Sawyer, Lockheed Martin vice president of computing and network services, in a prepared statement. "Whether it's helping to avoid problems with technology altogether, providing knowledge-enabled self-service, or adding automated intelligence when assisted service is needed, Lockheed Martin's goal is to deliver a better user experience and a higher return on our investment in high-quality service and support."
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