IBM Brings Next Generation Support To Corporate Help Desk

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Armonk, N.Y - 20 Jul 2001: IBM today announced a new, web-enabled support service that can transform help desks from a costly, labor-intensive corporate headache to an automated, electronic problem-solving enterprise called the Virtual Help Desk.

As companies become increasingly dependent on electronic technology to drive business operations and growth, this next generation computing application provides electronic support to problem inquiries on a 24 x 7 basis via the Web. The leading edge design features of IBM's Virtual Help Desk utilize the latest electronic technology to integrate Web tools into the customer's environment.

Whether it's instant access to chat, how-to videos, support actions or context-driven search, remotely delivered e-business processes increase the effectiveness and help reduce the costs associated with traditional help desk and maintenance services. In addition, information about the user, the system and the problem is automatically collected and analyzed to guide the user to the right tools and sources for quick, efficient resolution.

According to IDC, the market for software support and integration services is expected to reach $71 billion by 2004.

IBM will initially market the Virtual Help Desk service to corporate clients seeking to handle the burgeoning number of customer service requests stemming from computer network related and end user computing issues. Typically handled by a phone-based help desk, these requests can require intensive human interaction, impacting service capabilities and response time. With Virtual Help Desk, businesses can reduce phone inquiries by directing users to interactive web screens, electronically answering questions and intelligently routing and escalating users if necessary to the appropriate support expert over the Internet. Users benefit by access to instant help desk support via the Web --24 hours a day, 7 days a week - in eight languages, one of the many features developed by IBM Research. Businesses benefit by using the Internet to reduce calls to support centers and pinpoint the need for human intervention - thereby increasing customer satisfaction.

Virtual Help Desk builds on self-healing, self-help and assisted service processes to successfully answer user questions. A Web portal guides users through all stages, reducing the need for help desk calls and on-site support by as much as 30%, thereby lowering service costs.

Some of its other features include:

The self healing support can independently identify and correct problems by automatically performing diagnostics to existing software configuration and applications, enabling end users to have better support, higher availability and productivity. Working with (Nasdaq:SPRT), IBM's use of self-healing software to enable e-sourcing combines elements of IBM's Project eLiza ---with its objective of self-managing hardware and software -- with the goals of its e-sourcing initiative to expand the sale and delivery of information technology as a utility-like service over the Internet.

"Virtual Help Desk leverages IBM's experience and best practices for supporting large enterprise customers and's automation platform to provide customers with a rapid return on investment," said Troy Pladson, vice president of business development at

Virtual Help Desk is targeted at large enterprise customers with over 10,000 users and can handle 20,000 calls simultaneously. With Virtual Help Desk, a corporation with 40,000 users may pay less than $20 a year per year per end-user, which is less than the cost of one help desk call per end-user per year.

According to Kris Brittain, a research director of Gartner, "Harnessing and exploiting the power and access of the Internet and Web to provide self-service continues to be one of the 'hottest' topics in IT service and support circles today. The question is no longer whether to exploit the Web and Internet for e-support, it is how to harness its power, what technologies to use, and what their end users really need. A Web portal provides essential user support, reducing the need for help desk calls and on-site support by as much as 30%, thereby lowering service costs."

"Virtual Help Desk is designed for companies that need to drive down the costs associated with providing service and support and uses a context-driven progressive approach to solve problems effectively via the Web, in an easy-to-use, customer-friendly format," said Kent Holcomb , director if Internet Strategy and Development for IBM's Global Services. "Virtual Help Desk meets business requirements to increase workplace efficiencies by providing fast, automated responses to problem inquiries, reducing the number of calls and time required to answer questions and solve problems."

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