Virtual Tech Support is on the Rise

Because of the Web access, McNeill said the solution can be used by “IT departments supporting 1,000 employees or an IT vendor supporting their customers anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter where (the end user) is.” An average deployment of Bomgar can support up to 20 reps concurrently, he added.

To ensure security and minimize the exposure of sensitive data that may be viewed in the remote sessions, Bomgar’s hardware appliance is placed within the company’s own network and firewall. According to McNeill, the appliance is placed with an outward connection to the Internet, similar to an email server. Plus, he said everything taking place during a session was logged, allowing the administrator to audit and manage the process.

Beringer Associates in Pennsauken, N.J., a provider of managed network services, VoIP phone systems and CRM software to over 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses nationwide, has installed the Bomgar product for about a year to replace traditional phone based tech support.

Although Beringer had experimented with any number of programs that allowed their 12 support reps remote access to customers’ desktops, Beringer Vice President David Buggy said Bomgar’s was the only one they found that allowed them through customer firewalls with sufficient auditing to meet the security needs of their many financial services industry clients.

According to Buggy, Beringer benefits “ … by having our reps as productive as they can be, while the customer benefits by not having to be bothered with connectivity issues. With previous solutions, the rep would first have to uncover how to connect with the customer before they could even begin the troubleshooting process. Additionally, the customer always had to be available to grant the support rep permission for access to the system after a reboot.”

He says the fact that support representatives can connect remotely and perform their job has not only given the existing reps great reliability, but means that Beringer is able to deliver services consistently with locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida. In addition, Buggy says they have integrated Bomgar with their trouble ticket system, so once a ticket is opened, they can immediately connect via Bomgar and have a complete history of the service process once it is complete.

Some of the most significant benefits of remote tech support, according to Buggy, are reduced travel time, shorter time to resolution, and enhanced productivity. Support service levels have also been expanded, he added.

Virtual IT support “ … doesn’t change how our own IT is provided, but it certainly changes how we do business, in general,” added Buggy. Besides serving external customers, support reps use the tools to collaborate on problems via their desktops rather than meeting face to face. “It can certainly make an internal IT department more productive and efficient because (these tools) make providing support more efficient.”

Healey said there are pitfalls to the virtual tech support model, however. The service provided may be handled remotely, but it’s only as good as the tech support provided. Humans still have to actually resolve the tech problems and be able to maintain the technology. The winning product, he added, will be the one that is easiest for the tech professional to use.