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					Customer Support Service (CSS) Show Report

By Richard Freitas IT-TS-IR

Date 6 June 2001

Richard Freitas IT-TS-IR

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Contents Page

Page Number
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Content
Introduction Visit Details Companies Visited at the Show Tertio BroadBase ServiceWare Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) Peregrine Systems Epicor Software Applix UK Primus Knowledge Solutions UK Richmond KANA Communications Europe Companies that offer Interesting Prospects BroadBase Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) ServiceWare Peregrine Systems Companies Suggested for further Research Secondary Visit Objective Remedy Final Comments Appendix (Definitions for questions)

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Customer Support Service (CSS) Show Report
Introduction
On Wednesday 25th April Richard Freitas and Alan Lovell attended the Customer Support Service Show in London Olympia near Earls Court. There were a mixture of software products and services available, including Help Desks, Agencies (support, recruitment etc), Knowledge Management and other Customer Support Tools. Our two main topics of interest were: - Knowledge Management Systems - Remedy Corporation future developments Our Primary goal of attending the show was to find out more about Knowledge Management Systems. We went with a prepared set of questions, which were prepared in advance with the help of the User Support Group. If you wish to know definition for each question, please view Appendix A. We wanted to know what Knowledge Management Systems are currently available. In particular which applications can be easily integrated into our Remedy application. The Secondary task of our visit was to ask Remedy about their proposed Remedy Personalization, which was mentioned about in their RXPRESS magazine. In addition to this we wanted to find out about any other future developments in their web interfaces field. This report will include the findings of our day at the CSS Show. It will include the companies we visited and all of the findings of the day, the details of these companies and recommendations made. Our perceptions and views of each company regarding there approach and there attitude. We will mention which companies we feel have a high potential and which we would recommend monitoring for the future. The report will also include our conclusions on the day.

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Visit Details
Show Name: Location: Address: Customer Support Service Show Olympia 2 Hammersmith Road, London (Near Earls Court) 24-26 April 2001. We attended on the 25th April 2001 Research

Date: Visit Reason: CERN Representatives:

Alan Lovell (IT-TS-IR) Richard Freitas (IT-TS-IR)

Primary Research Area: Knowledge Management Systems Secondary Research Area: Remedy Corporation future developments

Companies Visited at the Show
Tertio This company offered an interface for a knowledge base system, which integrated with their Help Desk application. Their knowledge base system was based on the software supplied by BroadBase. They were unable to answer all of our questions, as the staff available, were not 100% clear on how exactly the knowledge management system worked. Because of this they recommended that we visit the BroadBase stand, to get more information on the software. They commented that BroadBase might be able to provide a more ideal type of solution that is closer to our requirements. Is it possible for a person to ask a human question and receive an answer? It may be capable of performing this functionality, however it will require a very large amount of work. Mainly predefining the links to enable this function. Have a search that will find a possible answer in a 100 page document and take the maintainer directly to the page that is referenced? No it cannot perform this action. Could the system be installed and up and running within a week? No it would not be possible to do this. The estimated configuration and set-up period is estimated at 3 months.
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Would it be possible for the system to avoid a maintainer from making entry into the solution database? When a solution is found then it would be better to make the entry Possible for the search engine to look for references which obey ANDS & OR criteria set in the search. Yes it would be able to. Can the system integrate with multiple data sources? Not known, they assume it will be but are not 100% sure. Can the system handle multiple languages? Yes the system would be capable of this, if set up correctly. Is it possible to search for a document when the title is known and retrieve the document with the set title? A search could be performed to do this but a lot of parameters would have to be set up in order to do this. Can the system handle multiple platforms? The system would have to be run on a Microsoft Windows Operating system, but it would be capable of connecting with multiple Operating systems. Would the web software created be browser independent? Yes it should be able to work on different Browsers

BroadBase BroadBase based and built their technology on the search engine. The initial impressions of the application demonstrated, was impressive. The system has an impressive development interface, making it easy to set-up the appropriate links. BroadBase offer most of the functionality that we require however, searches across multiple documents is under development. It is possible for the system to be integrated and to be working in a short period of time. The system is capable of learning. The way this works is the more the user makes a request and confirms the answer given was correct or incorrect, the more accurate the
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search will be for future users asking a similar question. Further more if the user is not able to find a solution to their question, the system would be capable of issuing a ticket to the helpdesk with the details of the questions and the answers that the user had given. This would help the maintainer, as the maintainer would know what answers the user has given. The maintainer would know what the answer isn’t, and so focus on other possibilities. This could help reduce the amount of time required to find a solution to the problem. Is it possible for a person to ask a human question and receive an answer? Yes it is. To a degree as it can only retrieve what is actually in a document. Have a search that will find a possible answer in a 100 page document and take the user directly to the page that is referenced? This particular function is currently being developed. Could the system be installed and up and running within a week? Yes it can. The system could be set up in a matter of days. Once the system is set up, it immediately starts learning and try’s to find an appropriate answer to give to users. Would it be possible for the system to avoid a maintainer from making an entry into the solution database? The maintainer would not necessarily have to make an entry into a solution database, as it may be possible for the application to work off its own back. The system could be set up so that once a solution has been entered for a case, by a maintainer, the solution would then be entered into the solution database. Then on an occasion a user may perform a search and if the solution proposed to the user is successful or not, then the user would press solution successful or unsuccessful. The system will then remember the user’s response, to know if the proposed solution is appropriate or inappropriate, for future reference. Summarising the paragraph, the more a user interacts with the system, the better the system will work. Possible for the search engine to look for references which obey ANDS & OR criteria set in the search? Yes it can perform this operation. Can the system integrate with multiple data sources? Yes the system can integrate with multiple databases the databases just need to be specified so that it can reference from it.

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Can the system handle multiple languages? It can handle multiple languages but may need more development work. Is it possible to search for a document when the title is known and retrieve the document with the set title? Yes it is possible as the system can see I need this document and immediately look to it. Can the system handle multiple platforms? Yes it can. Would the web software created be browser independent? Yes the pages created would be able to work on different browsers on any operating system.

ServiceWare This company has a helpdesk that is based on Remedy. The knowledge Management part of the software is a reduced version of the Verity Search Engine and they recommended that we go and visit the KMS stand. They stated that the software at the moment might not be robust enough for us. This is due to the fact that it requires a high amount of configuration time. A time scale that we could be looking at, could be a period between 2-3 months. Then there is the organisation of the data. The attitude of this company was good and they did look promising. Is it possible for a person to ask a human question and receive an answer? Yes but the system would have to be set up before hand. The links would have to be set up. Have a search that will find a possible answer in a 100 page document and take the user directly to the page that is referenced? It could do so but every document would have to be set up accordingly. Without doing this it would not be capable of performing the operation. Could the system be installed and up and running within a week? No, for two reasons. - It would take time to install and configure, before we can think about starting to set up the system to our needs.

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- For the system to operate the way that we would like it, it would take between 2-3 months before it came close to the set-up that we would like. It has been suggested that it may even take longer. Would it be possible for the system to avoid a user from making an entry into the solution database? No it would not. Each solution would have to be entered appropriately in order for the system to remember the question and then give the answer. Possible for the search engine to look for references which obey ANDS & OR criteria set in the search. Yes it would be. Can the system integrate with multiple data sources? The system would be able to integrate with multiple data sources. Can the system handle multiple languages? It cannot handle multiple languages concurrently. Is it possible to search for a document when the title is known and retrieve the document with the set title? Yes but only if the link to the particular document has been predefined. Can the system handle multiple platforms? It should be able to but they were not 100% sure regarding this issue. Would the web software created be browser independent? Yes it would be able to work on different Browsers.

Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) After spending some time on this stand we finally got to talk to one of their senior consultants. This was extremely useful. Currently they are developing software, which can meet the type of functions, and searches that we want and the way that we want.

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Is it possible for a person to ask a human question and receive an answer? Yes it would similar to the BroadBase answer Have a search that will find a possible answer in a 100 page document and take the user directly to the page that is referenced? This particular aspect is currently being developed. Could the system be installed and up and running within a week? Yes it could be installed, configured and set up in a matter of 2-3 days with the further week to set up some predefined possible cases. Would it be possible for the system to avoid a maintainer from making an entry into the solution database? Yes it is possible. Although it would be better for the maintainer to make the entry. Possible for the search engine to look for references which obey ANDS & OR criteria set in the search. Yes it is possible to perform such a search. Can the system integrate with multiple data sources? Yes it can, combine with multiple systems. Can the system handle multiple languages? Yes it can but the new system that is being developed still requires further testing. Is it possible to search for a document when the title is known and retrieve the document with the set title? Yes it would be possible to perform this type of search. Can the system handle multiple platforms? Yes the system can handle multiple platforms. Would the web software created be browser independent? Yes pages created would be able to work on different Browsers regardless of Platform.

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Knowledge Product Deskartes. Features of the Product: - The Product links up with multiple Knowledge Bases. - The Product requires a server on a Windows Platform for it to Host On. - The Product has an Administrator tool, which is used to alter and update the knowledge base. - The Product has a Client tool to access and query the Knowledge Base. - The Product is also capable of hosting a web client.

Peregrine Systems Peregine Systems are a company that supply a complete package for a help desk system. Including the Knowledge management tool. Their knowledge management system uses a tool called Knowlix. This tool was developed by the Knowlix company who specialise in knowledge management tools. Knowlix was recently purchased by Peregrine Systems. It should be noted that it is unclear from their stand (or from the replies given by the staff available) that this tool can still be purchased separately. Unfortunately they did not have either a demo system or anyone who could talk to us about Knowlix at this exhibition. Most of the information gathered for this company is what is available on the web. Knowledge Product There are Range of Knowlix Products available. The products that are ideal Knowledge Management tools. These include Knowlix Web – This would provide the web interface, for the Knowledge Management Tool. Knowlix Author – This would provide the tool to arrange and set up the knowledge Database. Knowlix have been contacted for further information on their product. However we are waiting at the moment for additional Information.

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Epicor Software This company off a fully integrated helpdesk system and can not supply the knowledge management system separately.

Applix UK We approached the company explained our situation and they replied that they do not have the product that we are looking for.

Primus Knowledge Solutions UK This company does not have a system that would meet our particular situation and that they do not specialise in Knowledge management tools as a stand-alone application.

Richmond This company does not have the software that we would be ideal for our situation. The knowledge management software is built into their application and would only come as an all in one deal. Further more the Knowledge management tool would not be sophisticated enough for our needs.

KANA Communications Europe We approached this company and explained the features of the system that we are looking for. They replied that the type of software that we are looking for is built into their application. They were unable to supply the Knowledge Management software as a separate application.

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Companies that offer Interesting Prospects
From the show we then realised that there was definitive list of companies who we should consider for further investigation. These companies are: BroadBase Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) ServiceWare & Peregine Systems.

BroadBase This company has a very good foundation to there system. In addition to this, both the client and the development interfaces of their system, appeared to be easy to use. The staff at the show was very helpful and knew the application well. The software shown at the demo was impressive and appeared easy to use for the support staff. Currently their product is still being developed. BroadBase has been contacted for further information on their product. Based on the initial impressions this company has a very good potential of meeting our criterion of tasks that a Knowledge Management Tool should achieve. Their application is also based on interacting with the Remedy software, which could be an advantage.

Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) KMS should be followed closely as their software is useful as it has the potential of meeting our criteria. They are a Certified Remedy Partner company (Highly recommended by Remedy) and their software can be easily integrated into an existing Remedy Application. They would be interested in working with those interested in their product, in order to develop it to the organisation’s needs. KMS also offer hands on experience with their product. However this could prove to be very expensive for us. The details mentioned at the show are as follows: - Demo License 15,000 British (UK) Pounds. - Software Development Kit (SDK) course, where by people would be able to work with their consultants on the application for two days 2,000 British (UK) Pounds. ServiceWare This company did not have what we are looking for. However they are still developing further and the attitude from the people at the show was good. Although it was clear that their product was not suitable, they provided useful information on which stands could be beneficial for us. Possibly contact them again in the future.
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Peregrine Systems Peregine Systems have bought out Knowlix, who specialise in Knowledge Based Systems. They have also been contacted for further information on their product. However the company have been in the market for quite some time. Their product should also be researched further to find out more of its capabilities.

Companies suggested for further Research
There were two other companies who offer knowledge Management Tools who were suggested by a number of companies, although neither of these companies was present at the show. The two companies that were mentioned are Autonomy & Verity. Currently both companies are still being researched further. Autonomy Autonomy has been contacted and we are currently waiting for further information. Verity Mail Sent of to its Main Office in Germany. Requesting for further information regarding its products and possibly what shows they are attending and where. Mail Sent 7/5/2001

Secondary Visit Objective
The secondary objective of the visit was to visit the remedy stand to find out about their new up and coming software Remedy Personalisation. Also to see if they have any further information that they can give to help us with Knowledge Management Tools. Remedy They did not have much information to offer. They recommended that we see one of their partnering companies KMS for issues regarding Knowledge Management Tools. Remedy did no have any information on their newly announced software Remedy Personalisation. So the visit was kept very short. We have however received the concepts guide from CSC (formerly known as CSC Ploenzke), our Remedy Agent. The concepts guide is currently being researched into, to gather more general information about the software. It should be mentioned that Remedy Personalisation is not yet a fully-fledged product and will not be available for some time yet.

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Final Comments
One of our major findings from this research and visit to the show is that the Knowledge base system isn’t necessarily the back-end of the system. But could possibly be more of the front end, as a user can try to find a solution to their problem as opposed to contacting the support services for assistance with any problem they may have. The way it work’s is you attempt to find a solution to a problem that you have using the web interface. If you can’t discover the information that you are trying to find or a solution to the problem which you have. Then you would issue a ticket to Remedy using the normal conventional means. Either by a web interface or by e-mail. The web interface would be a better solution. Although some knowledge based systems are actually capable of issuing a ticket if the solution cannot be found. If this was the case then it could save the helpdesk a large amount of time performing some of the calls they receive. For example if the user has a problem, they could search through the knowledge base using a web interface. If a solution can be found using the web interface, the user would benefit from a much faster response. Some systems allow for a feedback from the user/maintainer whereby the validity of the solution can be checked. For example, the system may have proposed several solutions and if the user is asked to acknowledge the solution that worked, then the solution would be suggested first in future solutions for the same problem. On the other hand incorrect solutions would fall down the list. In this way the system will learn the best solution for a given problem/question. If users can be encouraged to use the tool in this way, the load on the helpdesk and maintenance staff would be greatly reduced. Providing more time to work on cases that can't be solved with the Knowledge based tool.

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Appendix
This section explains and defines each question that we asked at the CSS Show.

1

Is it possible for a person to ask a human question and receive an answer?

What this question means that if we ask the search tool, a human question such as “How do I convert a word document to a pdf document?” Would the search recognise the type of question that is being asked and retrieve the appropriate information, or an answer. We would like it to be possible to ask the search a question in the same manner as asking a human being.

2

Have a search that will find a possible answer in a 100 page document and take the maintainer directly to the page that is referenced?

When a search is performed you always receive a list of hits from the search. Sometimes the hits are complete word-processed documents that can be up to and over 100 pages in size. If a maintainer believes that he/she has to search through the entire document to find the answer, then they may not be very willing to do so. What is even more tedious is if you perform a search, which has 20 retrieved documents and each document is 100 pages long. What we are looking for is to be able to perform a search that will look through the whole document and retrieve the piece of information that is relevant to the search that was specified. For example maintainer performs a search and receives the list of possible solutions. The maintainer then clicks on one of the solutions. The link then takes the user to relevant section of the document, which meets the search criteria, which happens to be on page 59 of a 100 page document.

3

Could the system be up and running within a week?

This question is used to find out the estimated time period to implement their Knowledge Management System. The less time it takes to implement the better. The maximum time limit that we would accept is a month.

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4

Would it be possible for the system to avoid a maintainer from making an entry into the solution database?

A maintainer would not always like to make entries into a solution database for each problem that they resolve. Unfortunately this means that a system may not be very well maintained, storing all of the solutions to problems, given by users. If it would be possible to perform, automatic logging of solutions from a problem report issued. Then this would help keep a log of possible solutions, to problems that are submitted to the help desk.

5

Possible for the search engine to look for references which obey ANDS & OR criteria set in the search?

When a person performs a search, it is sometimes the case that they do not wish to receive a long list of hits, which contains one of the words that they were searching for. For example You set a search where the Keywords are Arsenal Football club 1979. The person making the search would not like to receive all documents that reference to 1979. Therefore it should be possible to perform a search which will obey logic criteria. As an example I only want documents that meet this criteria Search 1 Arsenal AND Football AND Club AND 1979 Search 2 Arsenal AND Football AND Club AND (1979 OR 1980). If the search was to obey the logic criteria set, then this could reduce the amount of hits that are retrieved from a document.

6

Can the system integrate with multiple data sources?

Due to the fact that CERN has multiple data sources which are stored on different servers around the site. It should be possible to perform searches, which will look to these data sources for information.

7

Can the system handle multiple languages?

CERN has two main languages French and English. Because of this it should be possible for a maintainer/user to perform searches in both languages. Therefore the system should be capable of performing search’s which uses both languages. For example a question for a search is submitted in French and the system should be capable of retrieving the appropriate answer to the question.

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8

Is it possible to search for a document when the title is known and retrieve the document with the set title?

If a maintainer/user wishes to search for a particular document, which they know the name of, then they should be able to find the document easily. This is not always the case as you type in the document title in the keyword search and retrieve multiple documents. The search tool should be capable of finding a particular document that the maintainer/user are looking for.

9

Can the system handle multiple platforms?

It should be possible for the system to work with different platforms, as CERN currently has a mixture of operating systems: Microsoft (95, 98, NT, 2000), UNIX, LINUX. The system should be capable of communicating with machines using these different operating systems to access the data sources available at CERN.

10

Would the web software created be browser independent?

It is normally good practice to have software which does not depend on one particular web browser but not another as this could cause problems. For example you would like a browser that could work on both a Netscape browser and a Microsoft browser. That way the user/maintainer would not have to worry about any terminal that they use to access a web knowledge Management tool or any other type of web site. As an additional Note some platforms do not support particular browsers. For example Microsoft Internet Explorer is not built to work on a UNIX or LINUX platform.

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