Small firms offered remote IT support

PC World has enlisted Computer Associates to offer remote IT support to small businesses

Computer store PC World this week launched an IT support service for small businesses that don't have their own full-time IT manager.

The product, called Remote IT Management (RITM), has been tested over the past year in partnership with Computer Associates. PC World says it is capable of solving "almost all" IT problems without an engineer having to visit the site.

"Many organisations cannot justify employing an IT manager, and so the task of IT support is handed to another member of staff, distracting them from their day to day work," said Richard Millman, marketing director of PC World Business. "The aim of RITM is to bridge this gap -- offering businesses peace of mind that their IT network is being looked after by experts, while not costing unreasonable or uncontrolled amounts of money. This leaves business people free to get on with running their business."

Firms signing up for RITM will be charged £200 a month for each server on their network, and £12.50 for each desktop PC. In return, their IT network will be linked to the central RITM centre either by a dedicated ISDN line, or via the Web. The customer's network will then be monitored and managed remotely, with the aim that many potential issues will be addressed before they are obvious to the end users.

PC World said many of the problems that will be fixed by RITM are likely to be relatively simple ones -- such as printer glitches and badly managed storage. The company said it will be able to help with major networking problems.

During the year-long beta-testing, 95 percent of problems were solved within one hour of a call from a customer, and 30 percent in less than five minutes.