ALBERTSON'S IMPLEMENTS TOOLS FOR REMOTE SYSTEMS SUPPORT

BOISE, Idaho -- Albertson's here is implementing a new Web-based PC support solution that will enable the retailer to perform remote diagnosis and repair of its corporate and store systems."The system is installed in some locations," said Michael Read, vice president of public affairs for Albertson's, adding that the retailer was going to "see how the system works" before rolling it out across the

BOISE, Idaho -- Albertson's here is implementing a new Web-based PC support solution that will enable the retailer to perform remote diagnosis and repair of its corporate and store systems.

"The system is installed in some locations," said Michael Read, vice president of public affairs for Albertson's, adding that the retailer was going to "see how the system works" before rolling it out across the company.

The technology allows the retailer's computer technicians to quickly identify a system's problem via the Internet. The problem can be fixed remotely, or the technical staff can work with the end-user to solve the problem, according to a source familiar with the project.

The Web-based support solution should also reduce the need for lengthy diagnostic sessions between technicians and the end-user and cut the hours spent restoring data and software applications to damaged machines, according to the source.

The system could reduce costs for the retailer by increasing the efficiency of the technical-support staff, reducing service-call costs, shortening system downtime and improving customer service.

The software utilizes an "agent" on the end-user's desktop to transmit data to the system monitoring the status of the end-user's PC. The agent checks for rules on which software it's supposed to monitor on each PC, as well as how often it should check the software's status.

If a problem is detected, a technician is alerted. It is a remote-diagnosis product, said the source, noting that a technician could connect to any end-user's desktop.

The new solution, from Tioga Systems, Palo Alto, Calif., will eventually support about 3,000 corporate end-users and remotely support around 5,000 NT systems spread through about 1,000 stores, the source said.

Over time, the new software, which is leased on a monthly basis by Albertson's, should accomplish several cost savings and time-saving goals.

The solution will eventually provide the retailer with an early-warning device, to detect problems before they can affect the system, according to the source.

The system should also help improve the IT staff's "first-call resolution," the source said, meaning that the problem would be detected early and solved at the first sign of trouble, rather than requiring multiple calls.

As Albertson's end-users become comfortable with the solution, they should be able to correct a system's problems, reducing the repair tasks tackled by the retailer's technicians, the source told SN.

Many retailers are utilizing Web-based support solutions to develop the skills of lower-level technicians so they will become more effective problem solvers, according to the source.