Steve Hammersely, chairman and CEO of helpdesk vendor Utopia, was in London recently. PC Week interviewed him on the future of the helpdesk and his Intel alliance. "All of us in the helpdesk market have plucked the low hanging fruit that is device management and inventory, so now we need to move forward. Our view is that the helpdesk can become the nerve centre of the business and, in some of the forward looking IT shops, that is exactly what's happening. At the moment there's a lot of wasted time and resource at the desktop, but it affects the business on two fronts. "First, we have the CICS type terminals which are usually single application front ends for OLTP systems. By and large, if these go down then it is a hardware or system failure of some kind. We have that well covered, but need to do some more things on the training front to get fully sorted out. What we all miss out on though is the power user. "This person is a lot harder to manage, because you tend to find that each person's requirements are unique to their function. They have a lot of tools but in many cases, IT has done a dismal job of training them up. This is made much more difficult by the GUI, which is complex and often tailored to that user's needs. The traditional method of solving problems for these operators typically involves long phone calls and perhaps a walk around the building to find out what they're up to. "We've taken about 60% to 70% of Intel's LANDesk functionality and integrated it into our helpdesk, so that the agent can take control of the user's machine and see for himself where the difficulty lays. We reckon this might cut out about 25% of the typical calls made to the support centre. You can use this method to do some JIT training. For example, say a person has been on an Office 97 basics course but now wants to do say a mail merge, the support operator can talk them through the process whilst keeping control to demonstrate the procedures. This is much more interactive than trying to imagine what the user might be doing, and saves the problem of communicating blind over the intranet. Gartner reckons between 15% and 22% can be shaved off the helpdesk time. " Utopia is releasing these new features in stages so that in April, for instance, it expects to ship alert technology that will be able to grab DMI generated alerts. In turn these can be turned into trouble tickets based on the information gathered.
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