Support application gives providers revenue opportunities

SupportSoft has overhauled and renamed its automated support application for service providers and enterprises, adding the ability to suggest revenue-generating offers to end users.

Now called Dynamic Agent, it includes a number of new capabilities that the company says can help differentiate providers from their competition.

The previous version was called Subscriber Manager for carriers and service providers and Repair Manager for enterprises, automatically found and fixed problems with little communication between support staff and Windows-based PC users.

But Bodgan Odulinski, director of product management for the Redwood City, Calif., software company, said that because not all solutions can be automated some contact with end users may be necessary. “Rather than have the user hunt around for things to do, you present them with three or four things that will get them out of their bind,” he said.

Dynamic Agent does that through what Odulinski calls a micro-portal on the desktop. Either called up when a user clicks on an icon or when the application senses an impending problem through set policies, the portal is a screen created by the organization that includes details of the user’s computer, a warning message identifying the problem, links to sites where a solution can be downloaded and support help phone numbers.

If the organization has the capability, it can also include an instant message link for real-time support chats. The warnings, for example, can alert a user that the antivirus definitions are out of date and point to an AV link as a remedy. Dynamic Agent comes with a library of fixes, which can be added to by the IT department through Visual Basic.

For carriers or service providers, it also gives the opportunity to offer services that can bring in extra revenue, Odulinski said, such as suggesting the purchase of online backup, faster connectivity or an extra warranty.

“You can’t always solve all problems with an automated fix,” he said. “Sometimes you have to position an enhanced service to really complete the entire [user] experience.”

The back end of Dynamic Agent runs on Windows Server 2003. The number of servers depends on number of Dynamic Agents deployed, client content, synchronization frequency and failover compliance requirements. SupportSoft says the largest deployment services 30 million end points with 12 dual-core CPU servers, each with 4GB of memory, plus two quad-core servers running SQL Server.

The desktop agent, which can only be installed on Windows Vista or XP PCs, is small, Odulinski said – about a couple of megabytes. However, that expands depending on the size of the support screen created by the provider. He wouldn’t give pricing details other than to say it is priced by seat.

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