Attachmate Offers Visual Elite Assistance

Despite the numerous advances in computer technology over the years, one thing is certain--there will never be a company without computer problems once in a while. Solving those problems can sometimes prove to be a long and frustrating process.

Trying to provide better solutions for its Elite customers, Attachmate Corp. (Bellevue, Wash.) has developed EliteAssist 1.0, a product that gives customers visual interaction with an Attachmate Elite technician. Elite customers are those who sign up with Attachmate for the company's full suite of Elite products.

Via a standard Web browser, Elite customers can interact with a technician who can actually view the customer's problem and help solve it online.

"We were looking at ways we could solve our customers' problems faster," says Bob Flynn, VP of planning and support for Attachmate. "So we combined technology with things we had been doing with our customers to create EliteAssist." Attachmate developed EliteAssist after entering into a licensing agreement with Active Touch (Santa Clara, Calif.) to use Web X. "We licensed Web X from Active Touch, and used it as our basis for developing EliteAssist," Flynn adds.

Each Elite customer is assigned a technician who is available if problems occur. In the past, the customer--usually a network administrator--would call the technician and describe the problem. The main function of EliteAssist is to avoid this time-consuming process.

Once a problem arises, the customer calls the technician, who sets up a site for the customer to access. After the customer accesses the site, a screen appears asking if they want to download ActiveX, the architecture that enables a program to interact with other programs over the Internet. ActiveX allows the technician to see the same screen the customer sees. During this process, the customer will actually see the technician as well.

From there, customers have several options. They can walk through the problem with the technician and try to solve it themselves, or they can turn over control of their system to the technician.

During the development process of EliteAssist, Attachment asked for feedback from its customers. Flynn says the customers' main concern was security, as many were reluctant to pass sensitive information over the Internet. In response, Attachmate built Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption into EliteAssist.Other tools-such as voice and remote application/desktop sharing-also are also part of the EliteAssist package.

Attachmate currently has no plans to make EliteAssist available as an individual product. "At this point we don't have any specific plans to go beyond including it in our Elite customer package," confirms Jennifer Shettleroe, Attachmate business systems manager.