Big Blue unveils help desk software

Combining elements of IBM's Project eLiza self-managing systems technology and the vendor's e-sourcing initiative, IBM unveiled last week call center software for Web-enabling IT customer help desks with an emphasis on artificial intelligence.

Big Blue's Virtual Help Desk software will be able to handle 20,000 users simultaneously, using automated diagnosis and repair technology for handling calls via the Internet.

The intent is to help businesses reduce phone inquiries and expenses by directing users to interactive Web screens, answering questions electronically, and/or intelligently routing and escalating calls to a support expert only if necessary.

A Web portal guides users through all stages, reducing the need for help desk calls and on-site support by as much as 30 percent, officials said.

Some features include automated problem diagnostics and support; remote printer configuration and software rollback; and self-healing, in which a system can be reverted back to its operative stance prior to when a problem arose.

An official at call center consulting firm Vanguard Communications Inc., in Morris Plains, N.J., said using the Web for help desk support is a good idea if customers are ready for it.

"It's a really good concept and the more that you can do with the Web in terms of allowing people to self-diagnose, the happier they are. And it is a lot less expensive for the company providing the service," said Lisa Stockberger, a Vanguard vice president.

IBM Global Services intends to sell its Virtual Help Desk to large enterprise customers as a turnkey system of subscription-based hardware and software.

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