CEO Guide to Technology February 12, 2007, 12:00AM EST Tech Support for the Home Office More workers are being cut loose from the corporate support system when they work from home. Support.com has help
by Arik Hesseldahl
Ah, the dignity of working from home. You pick your own brand of coffee, you set the rules on what constitutes appropriate workplace attire, you can play the background music you like, and best of all, there's no commute.
But what happens when the PC acts up, crashes, gets infected with a virus, or experiences some other productivity-sapping trouble? Worse, what happens if the PC acts up and it belongs to you and not the company you work for?
Your Computer, Your Problem Chances are increasing that in the above scenario, you'll be on your own. A recent report by market researcher Gartner (IT) suggests that by next year, 20% of large companies will require those employees who work from home to buy their own notebook computer. And the more senior your position, the higher the chances�as high as 50% if you're in the C-suite�that you'll be doing as much as 80% of your work on a PC you bought yourself.
And more often than not, what the company doesn't buy and set up, the company doesn't support. That will leave more employees stuck finding their own help when computer trouble strikes. Rather than sending corporate tech staff to an employee's home�a costly proposition�chances are, companies will instead give remote workers an allowance and ask them to seek out their own computer help, Gartner says.
Anthony Rodio would like to be the guy they call. He's a senior vice-president at support.com, a division of SupportSoft (SPRT), a Redwood City (Calif.) concern that for 10 years has helped large companies automate their PC support functions. When the PC acts up, support.com uses the Internet to conduct an automated scan to detect, diagnose, and correct any problems. Support.com recently the new service at the DEMO 2007 conference.
Remote Diagnostics Aimed primarily at frustrated consumers, support.com is catching the eye of home workers, road warriors, and the like, who might otherwise turn to calling Best Buy's (BBY) Geek Squad or go the ever-frustrating route of calling their PC or software vendor for help. The trouble is, most people don't have a clue whether the difficulty they're having is a software or hardware problem. "We've found that on average consumers will spend as much as 12 hours a month struggling to get their computers to work the way they want," Rodio says. "That's like losing half your weekend."