smartQED’s AI-powered IT support tool speeds workflow, accelerates resolution

Date Updated: Tuesday, July 14, 2020

There was a time when you called IT support because your printer wasn’t working or your network was down, and they told you to restart your computer. As if by magic, that fixed it.

Well, these days, things aren’t so straightforward—especially when it comes to issues with complex business-critical infrastructure that may be running essential services, such as email, e-commerce sites, video-conference facilities or financial applications. In these cases, your problem may take a tortuous journey through triage, escalation, knowledge-base search and review, specialist intervention, and multiteam collaboration before it’s fixed. And the whole time you, and your support person, may have one eye fixed on that service-level agreement and its perhaps overly optimistic availability guarantee.

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A big piece of the logistics around providing a rapid and successful support response in these circumstances is coordinating all those moving parts: The initial problem report; Information provided and gathered; Teams and their contacts that may be key to any resolution; Internal owners and stakeholders; The expert who would know, but is on vacation. Nobody wants to waste time reinventing wheels. There may be prior resolutions that are relevant, and they may already hold the key to solving the current problem.

The co-founders of smartQED have deep experience in enterprise IT and are familiar with the kinds of support scenarios in which reports of problems with complex IT infrastructure are met with an ad hoc, often chaotic, and sometimes even panic response. They saw lack of clarity and shared understanding, fragmented collaboration, inadequate knowledge reuse, and shortage of skilled staff. They recognized an obvious need for tools that would help coordinate cross-functional collaboration, do deep dives into past investigations and community intelligence, and provide clear visibility into the strategy and status. So, they got together and brought in their own insights to develop a novel process that would help transform problem resolution and speed the route to actionable information on likely causes and recommended solutions.

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They built smartQED, tools and services that combine leading-edge machine learning with innovative visualization of the complete problem investigation space, its history and current status, and specific actions and answers that would help. In their words, “smartQED enables operations and support teams to move from madness to method, from confusion to clarity.”

Implemented and deployed on Microsoft Azure, the smartQED OpsInsights Recommendation Engine uses AI and machine learning to power analysis of prior cases, including internal and community-sourced experience, to rank likely causes and suggest the most productive solutions for a new problem. OpsSpace, featuring innovative smartQED Investigation Maps, then provides a visualization in the form of a dynamic fishbone tree diagram that identifies key potential causes of the problem and enables efficient, collaborative effort toward resolution. OpsSpace tracks symptoms and evidence, notes and references, suggested causes, proposed resolutions, and actions taken by users. Updates from all contributors are merged, and stakeholders are updated in real time, resulting in improved team responsiveness and productivity, faster routes to solutions, and increased customer satisfaction.

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Analysis of real-world incident data shows that smartQED can improve mean time to resolve complex support cases by up to 60%, and reduce manual effort in terms of person-hours by 30% or more.

The smartQED team has been working on their solution since 2016, and they are quick to point out how startups working at the leading edge of the latest technology can benefit from the mentorship and expertise offered by resources such as the Microsoft for Startups program. Along with available technical and logistical advice, they expect their relationship with Microsoft and their investment in the Azure ecosystem will help extend their reach and open doors to a broader community of potential customers.

They also expect to take increased advantage of Azure Marketplace to strengthen their marketing efforts, and have already published a free smartQED app. Priced plans with new and enhanced features are coming soon. And in this period of changed conditions, during which many of us are working from home, smartQED is offering no-cost pilots and targeted consultancy to help customers more easily evaluate smartQED solutions and demonstrate how they can help empower remote and distributed operations and support teams.

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