If we can build self-healing servers, then why not self-healing desktops?

Summary:San Francisco - Gartner Symposium/ITxpo -- Put another way, SupportSoft vice president of marketing Bruce Mowrey asks this question: "If computers are so smart, then why can't they fix themselves?"  And therein lies the nirvana that Mowrey claims Supportsoft can get its customers closer to than any other solution on the market.

PodcastSan Francisco - Gartner Symposium/ITxpo -- Put another way, SupportSoft vice president of marketing Bruce Mowrey asks this question: "If computers are so smart, then why can't they fix themselves?"  And therein lies the nirvana that Mowrey claims Supportsoft can get its customers closer to than any other solution on the market.  

According to Mowrey, spotting problems, diagnosing them, and repairing them doesn't have to be as difficult as it is.  For example, claims Mowrey, not only should systems be able to spot that users are having a problem with their systems; those systems should also be able to determine the root cause of that problem and then, either effect a solution automatically or give users a choice of next steps to take -- all in relatively plain English.   For example, how familiar does this situation sound:  You launch your browser and try, to no avail, to surf to Yahoo.com.   You try again and it still doesn't work.  Suddenly, a dialog pops up and tells you that your wireless adapter has been disabled and gives you the option of re-enabling it with one click.  Most users would have given up at the point that they couldn't surf the Web and would have called support.   But, when presented with this option, they can engage in a bit of self-help without ever picking up the phone or bothering the IT organization's support personnel.

Now, put yourself in the IT manager's shoes.   If there was an application that enabled this sort of self-help for users -- one where your support staff would never even be aware that there was a problem that the user managed to resolve -- how much would it be worth to you?  Would $70 per seat per year be worth it?  Not sure? How about taking a hint from a company that knows about IT as good as any other: Intel.  In one of the sessions on the Symposium side of Gartner's event here,  Ron Hurle, global contact center manager and acting general manager for Intel's enterprise production services, will talk about how solutions such as SupportSoft's self-healing Repair Plus are helping the semiconductor company drive the cost out of supporting over 80,000 employees.

In an interview conducted at the Gartner event here in San Francisco (available as an MP3 that can be downloaded or, if you’re already subscribed to ZDNet’s IT Matters series of audio podcasts, it will show up on your system or MP3 player automatically. See ZDNet’s podcasts: How to tune in), Mowrey discusses the range of problems that Repair Plus can address, how SupportSoft's portal  can retrieve the sort of local asset information it needs to correctly diagnose and solve technical problems, and how the company is about to ship a unique technology that encapsulates everything there is to know about a user's system into a 16-digit code that the user can either read off to a help desk technician or enter into a telephone-based IVR system when the system is so troubled that it can't connect to a network or heal itself.

Topics: CXO

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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