IBM launches virtual support desk package

IBM Corp. debuted on Friday its new Virtual Help Desk, a Web-based service intended to aid internal IT support staffs at large organizations.

Targeted at companies with over 10,000 users, Virtual Help Desk routes troubled workers through an internal Web portal which guides them through a multi-stage escalation process. The system points users toward self-help resources, and draws on elements of IBM's Project eLiza to incorporate "self-healing" and other automated diagnostics technologies.

IBM says the Virtual Help Desk can reduce an enterprise's help-desk calls and on-site support needs by up to 30 percent. The system is available worldwide in eight languages, including English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, and Italian.

Pricing varies but averages approximately US$20-$30 per user, said IBM spokesman Clint Roswell. The Virtual Help Desk is offered through IBM's Global Services unit and requires the aid of consultants to implement. A typical implementation would take several months, Roswell said.

The Virtual Help Desk has been in development for more than two years, he said. IBM has done some early testing with clients, but is not yet releasing names of those using the system.

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