Navy tries its hand at Magic

Along with the automated service, only one help desk person is on the telephone at any
given time to deal with 600 desktop PC users, Larry Freeman said. He is a computer
specialist at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station'Washington, a
fee-for-service organization that provides support to the command.


The technical support ratio is usually far higher for organizations that make moderate
to heavy use of information technology, said Mark Chaves, channel development manager at
Applix Inc. of Westborough, Mass. Most have one full-time help desk person per 300 to 450
employees, he said.


The support staff uses SupportMagic Enterprise Edition 3.1 from Magic Solutions of
Paramus, N.J., along with Oracle Corp. Oracle7 Release 7.3 and Microsoft SQL Server
databases. Freeman said the staff can consult dozens of canned reports. The software was
bought on the open market.


NCTS started using the software in an MS-DOS version and later moved to a Microsoft
Windows 3.1 version for 486 and Pentium desktop systems running Windows NT Workstation
4.0. The command's token-ring network has 13 servers running NT 4.0.


As many as eight users can sign in to the help desk software at once. All command
personnel have log-in rights, but Freeman said the concentric license has worked well.


Through a Statistical Information Retrieval (SIR) search engine bundled with
SupportMagic, officials said they eventually want to resolve 70 percent of trouble calls
over the phone. The goal now is 50 percent. Fifteen support personnel use SIR to describe
the problem, search databases and get an answer.


Help desk staff can access the system through Lotus Development Corp. cc:Mail, and they
can add their own text to the SIR database, Freeman said.


Command personnel in Europe, the Far East and the West Coast also get local help
through SupportMagic. A four-pack license in Chesapeake, Va., serves 70 Navy ships through
one telephone with 24-hour, seven-day service.


Freeman said the command plans to set up a World Wide Web server that will let
customers and technicians supply passwords and access the help system to inquire about
their trouble tickets.


Command officials also would like to use SupportMagic's inventory component, but
another inventory-taking policy has hindered that migration, Freeman said.


Meanwhile, he's setting up a mail server for SupportMagic through which users can
e-mail queries in Lotus cc:Mail. SupportMagic will look up a caller's name and match it
with the corresponding client in the database, then respond with date and time of response
and a call number. After the help desk has resolved the problem, SupportMagic will send an
e-mail with date and time of resolution.


SupportMagic Enterprise Edition 4.0 starts at $5,995, including 90 days of toll-free
support and five days of training for one person.


Other federal users of Magic Solutions include the Air Force, Army Corps of Engineers,
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Customs Service, Environmental Protection Agency,
General Services Administration, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Postal Service and White House.


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