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Desktop tech support.

We know it's not fashionable to talk about "compelling applications" these days, but we've just previewed a really dynamite reason to own a CD-ROM player--a tech support database called Support On Site. Due to be unveiled at Spring Comdex, Support on Site delivers a desktop solution to a very visible, very pervasive category of high-pain problems. We suspect this could be the single title that finally puts CD-ROM players into several hundred thousand corporate offices.

In fact, it's hard to imagine why a product like this took so long to invent. Almost every major software company has built a knowledgebase of tech support notes--answers to common questions, solutions to exotic compatibility problems, workarounds for bugs, explanations of error messages, and the like. The developers of Support On Site assembled some 30,000 of these notes, plus various third-party materials (including Corporate Software's entire tech support database, various books, and newsletter articles) and a collection of downloadable drivers, macros, bug fixes, and patches--and turned it into a monthly CD-ROM subscription service ($1,295/year, or $4,995 for a five-user LAN edition).

Of course, several companies--Lotus and Novell in particular--already offer their own CD-ROM support databases, and microsoft has a Compuserve forum that offers a similar resource. But the unique value of Support On Site is that it offers multi-vendor answers for environments like Windows and LANs. If there's a glitch in moving data from WhizzoSheet to WonderBase, for example, a Support On Site query will display advice from both companies about the problem, along with comments from books and newsletters that have explored similar ground. (The On Site database also gives support groups--and perhaps even product designers--a useful peek at how their competitors are dealing with interoperability issues.)

In a modest way, Support On Site actually makes support a profit center, since Computer Library (which also markets Computer Selects, a CD-ROM-based collection of computer magazines and newsletters) pays royalties to the developers who contribute their tech notes. But the big payoff from moving support to the desktop is simply that users end up making fewer calls. Support technicians may never become as lonely as a Maytag repairman, but if Support On Site captures enough desktops, users may not reach for the phone quite as often as they do now. And if that happens, everybody wins.

Support On Site, Computer Library, One Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016; 212/503-4400.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Support on Site to boost CD-ROM usage; brief article
Publication:Soft-Letter
Article Type:Product Announcement
Date:Mar 23, 1992
Words:400
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