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Start-up to outsource help services

The knowledge management software provider says it will launch a new Web-based computer help desk service in an effort to iron out user tech woes.

Knowledge management software provider ServiceWare said it will launch its new Web-based computer help desk service next Wednesday in an effort to iron out user tech woes.

Oakmont, Pennsylvania-based ServiceWare said rightanswers.com, its new Internet site, can handle technical support queries using its own automated customer support software along with direct support from key technology players, such as Microsoft, Novell, and Apple.

Employees of large businesses will be able to get responses to their computer-related and technological problems within seconds after entering a natural language search on the site, said ServiceWare CEO Rajiv Enand.

The company said that because other hardware and software companies are participating in this new offering, users will be able to get the most accurate answers to their problems either via the Internet, an intranet, or the phone.

"I think they [ServiceWare] have a very interesting and compelling story to tell," said Chris Pavlic, analyst at the Aberdeen Group. For quite some time ServiceWare has owned more of the content side when it comes to customer support, especially with its Microsoft partnership, and this new site is a natural extension of the firm's business, Pavlic added.

When a user has problems with a Microsoft application or a Novell system, rather than searching on each company's technical support site for problem solving, the user could search for an answer through a single site that already offers support from these participating companies, cutting time and costs, ServiceWare executives said.

Pavlic said that although there are Web sites that have a similar offering with the customer support capabilities, ServiceWare's new site is the "first one of its kind," emphasizing the participation involved from other major hardware and software companies.

In one way, it's another delivery channel for technical support via the Web, said Tom Gormley, an analyst at Forrester Research. Still, Gormley emphasized the uniqueness of the new site in that it offers near real-time customer and technical support without additional costs and that the company is integrating and merging with outside sources.

"This area is a niche market and the number of vendors are fairly small," added Gormley. Although he admits this isn't ultimately difficult to pull off, he did say that he wasn't aware of anything similar.

Rightanswers.com also includes the company's Knowledge Viewer software for quick response time and storage and its Knowledge Architect software for management and customization.

In addition, the company said it's partnering with customer relationship management, or CRM, software providers, such as Remedy, Tivoli, and Clarify, to ensure that their customers can access ServiceWare's new site from their help desk and call center systems without integration problems.

ServiceWare, which was founded in 1991 and has more than 3,500 existing clients, including Dell, Texas Instruments, and Compaq, said that pricing for rightanswers.com starts at around $1,000 for a 1-year subscription, plus $1 per employee. The company, which is holding a Webcast for rightanswers.com next Wednesday, also said it expects to have the site available later this year.

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