IBM has developed an automated helpdesk for its Global Services customers, allowing them to access web pages for the most common problems.
HelpNow links users to problem-solving web pages so that users can also be routed to the appropriate pages by typing in a description of the problem. Big Blue has not decided whether the service will be offered to other customers.
George Welyczkowsky, director of technology at IBM's Global Services, said the helpdesk solves simple situations such as printer failure or forgotten passwords, but will also help with difficult ones, including network delays or outages.
HelpNow can also be used for functions such as cancelling network privileges for ex-employees or posting anti-virus updates, he added.
"We've based HelpNow on the concept that what customers want is a straight line between them and the answer to their questions. The straightest line is an electronic interface and ours is designed to be faster and more convenient than a phone call."
HelpNow features proprietary software called e-Classifier, a Java based data mining tool that can be used to dig into text files and trouble ticket packages sitting on IBM mainframes. The software gathers information categorises helpdesk problems and matches them with possible solutions. IBM is considering selling the technology to third parties.
Mark MacGillivray, managing director of H and M Consulting, said automated helpdesks are here to stay. "They are a huge filter that saves a lot of time and money on simple glitches that a simple diagnostic program can figure out," he said. "Companies don't have to have as many people doing the grunt work, and users benefit because they don't have to wait a long time for their answer."
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