STEM newsletter

STEM online desktop

30 April 2007

Have you ever wondered what STEM could do, but never troubled us for an answer? Now you are just a few clicks away from finding out first hand!

To coincide with the launch of STEM version 7.1, we are also launching a series of regular online sales demos which will showcase existing STEM applications and answer client queries on an interactive and immediate basis. The same technical capability will also provide an online support desktop which will enable our support staff to help you solve problems first hand and demonstrate bespoke solutions.

Modern communications networks have raised expectations of the pace with which business can be conducted. Indeed, the Internet has made it simpler and quicker to arrange travel for conventional meetings; but cars and planes do not move any faster, and airports only get slower as security checks become more frequent and thorough. Why wait two weeks to spend one day travelling for a two-hour meeting, when we could meet online in two minutes?

We have invested in a third-party online meeting tool to enable multi-way desktop sharing, most commonly broadcasting an online sales demo from one of our machines. The system allows for selected attendees to take control of the STEM demonstration software (at our discretion), and optionally to switch to the desktop of any one of the attendees (subject to their consent). The system includes a shared pointer and on-screen annotation, as well as an integrated chat window.

As well as the obvious one-to-many sales application, we also plan to offer this facility on a one-on-one basis to overcome occasional limitations of email to describe user problems, or our solutions to them.

Regular online sales demos

Robin Bailey will run the first session, which will commence with an introduction in PowerPoint to confirm the agenda and set the scene for the demonstration. Then the online desktop will switch to the STEM application directly, where Robin will talk though through an initial model structure, look at some of the outputs and see how various changes impact the results. He will then demonstrate in real time how new elements or scenarios can be added to the model, with immediate impact on the results.

The session will be interactive, allowing straightforward interruptions. An online chat window can be used to flag issues for the Q&A session at the end.

Pre-registration of attendees and interests enables us to control numbers and tailor a demo to the particular audience. Closed meetings for groups of attendees from the same company may be arranged on demand.

STEM online support desktop

Most of our technical support is provided via email, as it is much easier to write down the sometimes complex details of a problem, or even to attach the relevant model files, than to explain over the phone (especially if English is not the native language). An overnight, if not immediate, response is a reliable service for our many users in different time zones.

In the majority of cases, we may be able to answer a question directly, or to recognise a set of described symptoms, or to reproduce an error with files emailed by a user. However, just occasionally a problem will come along which only occurs on the client’s machine, and may remain a mystery until a face-to-face meeting can be arranged. The online desktop will change all that.

Subject to availability of this shared resource, support meetings via the online desktop may be initiated on demand from email, IM or voice conversation.

Example: a client emails to say that he is having trouble with a formula in his model, but is reluctant to email us the files for reasons of confidentiality.

Response: we call back to check what the client is trying to do. Seems OK.

New: we suggest using the online desktop to see directly what is going wrong.

Action: we initiate the online desktop and email an access code to the client.

Connection: the client clicks a link in the email to access the desktop there and then. With his consent, we switch the conference to the client’s desktop and watch as he repeats the troublesome process on an isolated fragment of the model.

Insight: quickly we observe a trivial syntactical error being made and explain the correct approach. In passing, we observe that the model is more complicated than it needs to be, and suggest a simpler approach as a tip. Problem solved with additional value-add!

Outcome: happy client and enriched support relationship.

This service is offered free of charge to up-to-date commercial users as an extension and enhancement of our well regarded technical support services and will enable us to gain deeper insights into any problems our users may face in the field.

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