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BMC makes the help desk more social

BMC Software wants to bring some social networking magic to the formal world of the IT help desk.

“We want to eliminate employees from having to fill out forms,” said Jason Frye, BMC senior director in the office of the chief technology officer. An update of the company’s BMC MyIT software seeks to “virtually eliminate level-one service tickets generated by users,” Frye said.

Most employees lose an average of 18 hours each month to computer problems, according to a survey from Forrester Research. The IT analyst company estimated that this lost time can cost organizations US$3,700 per employee per year.

BMC is banking that a bit of embedded social networking can reduce this cost.

Introduced last year, BMC MyIT allows an organization’s users to report issues with their computers to the help desk through a portable device such as a tablet or smartphone. MyIT 2.0 adds a number of social networking tools to further ease the process.

Typically, in many organizations, a user needs to fill out an online form, or compose an email, in order to get help from an IT department. The form usually requires information about the user, as well as information about the IT equipment or software.

With MyIT 2.0, a user can fill out a service request through a Facebook-like status update interface. The user’s information is already populated on the form. The software or IT equipment requiring attention can be designated by typing the “@” symbol, such as “@SharePoint” to designate an issue around Microsoft SharePoint software. This annotation allows the software to parse the message and route it to the correct IT personnel.

The software will also provide forums for users to set up their own virtual communities to answer each other’s questions. A group of Apple Macintosh users can offer tips and answer questions within their own dedicated forum, for instance. IT support personnel can then review the forums and highlight any particularly helpful explanations. Users can get badges for contributing to the forum.

“With these support forums, people solve problems faster than the companies providing the technology do,” Frye said. A bank of user-generated advice also could reduce the calls placed to the help desk.

BMC will release MyIT 2.0 in April; a beta version of the product is currently available. MyIT will work with any back-end ticketing software, though it has additional features that make it most useful when used in conjunction with BMC Remedy, which is IT Service Management (ITSM) software that handles the back-end process of managing help desk tickets.

The company has also integrated MyIT with other BMC products. It now includes a connection to BMC AppZone, the company’s hosted private app store for enterprises.

BMC AppZone has also been updated with some social networking capabilities itself: It now includes a timeline that allows the user to see when an installed application needs to be updated, or when a laptop needs to be traded in for a new model.

BMC has also integrated MyIT with Remedyforce, a hosted version of Remedy that runs on salesforce.com.

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