Saturday, January 07, 2006

Interesting old article on support.

This is an old article that's dated back to '97 (whew that's eons in the tech world)
It shows however how the industry was growing at that time. Now it's just have become huge. I'll have more to say on that. Here's the article.
I've got to give credit - I didn't write it.
It's from

Reach-out and Touch That PC via Phone, LAN Or Internet

Printer August 1997 Computer News

Good technical customer service is finding the right solution in the shortest amount of time. Both of these factors aim at the getting the customer, whether it is a co-worker or an external customer, back to work with the least disruption. Two factors have made this more difficult as the desktop has replaced the glass house environment of the mainframe. The first component is the flexibility of the graphical user interface (GUI), which allows each person to customize his or her desktop while still using the same application as everyone else. The second is a more mobile work force. Customer service staff have been dealing with the GUI problem for several years, but supporting a mobile work force is just now becoming a reality as more members of the staff use computers away from the office.

To cope with the GUI, the help desk has found that some problems cannot be diagnosed over the phone. These problems must be solved by a visit to the caller's office, or the caller’s PC must be shipped in for problem diagnosis and repair. As the number of mobile users increases, a visit to the caller’s office is impossible and shipping the PC to solve the problems just does not make sense.

At the same time that these problems are becoming more critical, businesses are continuing to look for ways to reduce the cost of desktop support. (The Gartner group estimates $3000 - $4,800 per PC per year.) Happily, some new tools are entering the market place and some old tools getting a second look to help with these problems. All of these tools provide remote-control access to the customer’s PC.

A remote-control application allows a support person to

view the customer’s screen,
take over the customer’s desktop, or
modify files on the customer’s PC.
I can already see the security folks shaking their heads and saying, "Too big a risk." There is some truth to what they are saying, the customer can control that risk by limiting the access to his or her PC by a help desk analyst. The remote control packages can require both log-on names and passwords. Some other options include limits to sessions and the retiring of log-on names and passwords after a specified amount of time.

Remote-control applications can quickly improve the productivity of both the help desk analyst and the customer. When the help desk analyst can view the customer’s desktop, communication improves. Better communication between the two parties with the same goal and the same vision results in a shorter resolution time. This often eliminates visits by technical staff to the customer’s office to troubleshoot a problem.

When the help desk analyst can take control of the customer’s desktop, then the analyst can demonstrate exactly how to execute a function within an application. If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then a demonstration must be worth 10,000. With remote-control, the idea of just-in-time training has real meaning. Just-in-time training will improve the customer’s productivity and possibly eliminate future calls to the help desk, which, in turn, will help increase the productivity of the help desk.

If the help desk analyst is allowed to modify files on the customer's desktop, then many problems that presently require visits to customer’s office can be eliminated. This saves time for both the customer and the help desk analyst, increasing the productivity for both.

Several PC vendors, including Compaq, IBM, NEC, and Dell, are including remote-control client software with their hardware products. (I'll comment on some of this stuff since since then alot has changed) These remote-control applications perform by using either the LAN, a modem, or by Internet. Several of the remote-control packages that work under Windows 95 are Microcom’s Carbon Copy for Windows, Artisoft's InSync CoSession Remote, Traveling Software's LapLink for Windows 95, Danware Data A/S's NetOp for Windows, Symantec's Norton pcAnywhere32, Stac's ReachOut, and Avalan's Remotely Possible/32. Three of these--pcAnywhere32, LapLink, and Remotely Possible/32 for Windows 95--have 32-bit architectures.

Since all of these products support TCP/IP, remote-control via the Internet is now a viable possibility. Help desk analysts can access their customer’s desktop from anywhere in the world, saving on long distance charges.

Remote control over the Internet does have its stumbling blocks. For example, in order to connect to another PC over the Internet, you must know it's TCP/IP address. Unfortunately, if the customer’s PC normally accesses the Internet via an on-line service or a modem connection to an Internet service provider, the PC may be allocated a different TCP/IP address with each session.

Remote-control is another tool that the customer service industry has begun to implement to reduce the cost of providing support for each desktop within the company.


I have to add this now and more later.

Since that time when that artilce was written a whole new catagory of software has become most prevelent and at the tip of all support type peoples tounges, and that is remote support software. Also commonly referred to as online PC remote support software.
Now the term online pc remote support software is not a new idea or concept but it's a catagory that says this software or service is design to support computers remotely not just for the sake of remote controling even though at the core of all such packages or serfvices is a remote controling feature (software). A nice package name for the old remote access tool. Remote support software has another twist in that the different packages out there have one things in common or at least a common motivation. Since LAN remote control is now-adays to most of us a no brainer or a peice of cake to implement, remote support software aim or goal is to work over the internet. In a previous post I started to explain some of the differnces amoung the techniques used. Yes, I know - I didn't finish but I will.

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