Category: Technology

Technology content from Leo Nelson

Knowledge Centered Support

Over the last year I’ve taken a much more avid interest in knowledge base solutions. During my internship at Unisys, I started working on the framework for a knowledge sharing platform. Infact, my internship timing was perfect, because Unisys was in the middle of a large roll out for the blue print marketing campaign. In essence, Unisys designed various solutions for industries and called each solution a blue print. For example, a frequent flyer program for the aviation industry was a blue print. So if Air New Airlinesio wanted a frequent flyer program, Unisys could deliver a solution based on the blue print. Common sense?

But factor in multiple languages, diverse needs, cultural restrictions, financial constraints and you see why many software consulting companies end up developing multiple solutions for a single problem.

In essence, knowledge has to be captured because you never know how valuable the knowledge is until it’s lost. Building on this concept, it seems logical therefore to assume that in various support scenarios a knowledge base of support issues can help radically reduce the time taken to solve a problem.

At a recent Help Desk Institute meeting, Judy Benda summarized a methodology for Knowledge Centered Support as:

– Create content as a by product of solving problems

– Evolve content based on demand and usage

– Develop a knowledge base of our collective experience to-date

– Reward learning, collaboration and contribution

The final goal, is to move from being reactive to proactive. In the case of a support center, the reactive center knows the answer and responds only when the customer requires help, whereas a proactive center moves the answer closer to and more accessible to the customer.

The Battle of Spyware

Have you had enough of spyware? If not, perhaps you are one of the few users who’ve had a chance to secure your system or have managed to avoid having to deal with the constant war with spyware.

More than 25% of my time during the work week is spent handling support issues for a fairly large network (40,000 + users). On the average, a machine loses network connectivity or starts ‘acting’ up solely as a result of spyware. After running Ad-Aware, Spybot, Spysweeper or other such tools, you’re left with a machine that is assumed to be safe.

Personally, I can not tell you how much I look forward to Windows XP Service Pack 2. If anything, the pop up blocker and the new firewall implementation will probably cut down the number of support issues by a large percentage. It would be nice to see a Microsoft report that offers statistical evidence as to how support issues are reduced as a result of installing the forthcoming service pack.

The Google Portal

This may be just speculation, but I strongly believe that Google is paving the way for a new portal. Currently, the building blocks that help lead me to this conclusion are:

1) Search Engine
The search foundation for a portal goes without saying. Every single online portal has invested heavily in search technology to ensure that the end user finds value in the portal. Google has become synonymous with search consolidating its position for any future technology deliveries.

2) News
Google News offers one of the fastest and easiest ways for a user to connect with events.

3) Shopping
Froogle offers consumers a one stop location to search for good deals on various products. Furthermore Google also offers online scanned catalogs for a wide variety of stores.

4) Community
Orkut, Blogger and Google Groups are only some of the ways that Google has extended the community beyond the standard community sites. Imagine all of the above sites combined into a single sign on portal offering users the ability to grow their personal communities.

5) Communication and Messaging
Although Google is being slammed left and right for their new GMail site, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up buying a messaging company such as Trilian.

7) Inventor
Google is the online inventor. Take a moment to survey the inventions coming out from the Google Labs. To name just a few:

– Google toolbar
– Search Engine improvements (e.g. UPS shipment tracking, calculator, dictionary, website statistics)
– Voice Capabilities
– Wireless Capabilities (Has your company even started looking at the millions of wireless users who are going to be comparison shopping over their mobile devices?)
– Local searches
– Google sets (Driving improvement through statistical results)
– Web Alerts

8) Advertising
Have you tried AdWords or AdSense? Google owns the advertising bandwagon from end to end. With partnerships with AOL, Earthlink, Alexa, A9 and a host of other content providers, Google has a steady revenue stream to power the rest of the company’s new initiatives. Furthermore, recent introductions of rich-media banner advertising will reach out to customers who once turned down text advertising.

Aside from the fact that it has most of the above building blocks in place and is ready for the IPO, I feel that Google is a company driven by a culture that is always ready for one more challenge.

Battle of the Handhelds

Brighthand is talking about a possible two horse race in the handheld market. Apparently HP and Dell may soon be the only prominent players in the marketplace. The printer scene also seems likely to head this way with HP and Dell turning out to be prominent players as well. Although, Lexmark, Cannon, Xerox and Minolta seem to be putting up a good fight.

The last time I went shopping for an inkjet, I decided to settle for the cheapest printer solely because of the high costs of the cartridges. Infact, I could buy a Cannon printer for the cost of an HP inkjet cartridge.

Talk about customer lock-ins.