Parks Associates Blog

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Remote technical support services news: Support.com and Comcast and CyberDefender joins ranks of ISVs offering

A couple of news items from last week highlight how the consumer and SMB-oriented remote technical support services are growing. In Support.com's (NASQAQ: SPRT) quarterly earnings, they reported 165% growth in revenue from Q3 09, to $12.1 million. The company reported total 2009 revenues of $17.1 million, so their growth trajectory is quite good. Profitability, on the other hand, remains elusive. The company notes that it does not expect to be profitable in 2010, indicating that yet higher revenues will be needed to turn the corner.

One almost hidden announcement in the Q3 earnings report could bear such fruit. Support.com said that they closed a deal on October 25 with Comcast to provide technology support services. This would be among the first major U.S. cable operators to offer such a program, although others have dabbled in it. Comcast's offering, of course, comes significantly later than what major telcos such as AT&T and Verizon are offering, and even smaller operators such as CenturyLink, as well as Tier 1 operators being served by SecurityCoverage. There is no question, however, that consumers are seeking professional tech support, and remote services offer good resolution rates and a much more convenient way of connecting a customer to a support agent. In fact, we anticipate that U.S. revenues for remote tech support - including ad hoc services and subscriptions - will total about $1.7 billion by 2014.

Other companies, including Internet Security Vendors - are paying attention to this demand as well. We had CyberDefender visit our offices last week to discuss their offerings, and they have a service called LiveTech. The service mix is fairly standard for what we're seeing in remote tech support, where LiveTech agents can remotely respond to the following issues:

  • Performance issues;
  • Security and protection;
  • Software;
  • Operating systems;
  • Networking; and
  • Accessories.

There are some significant differences in CyberDefender's offerings, however. First, the services are only available via a $239.99 annual subscription, whereas other providers offer a mix of ad hoc and subscription services. CyberDefender indicates that consumers will find value in an offering where unlimited support is provided, as opposed to having to pay per incident or being restricted to the number of incident calls allowed in a yearly subscription. We are testing this notion in our survey Consumer Demand for Technical Support Services, where we are seeking to better quantify whether there is a distinct shift from ad hoc to subscription-based services, and to better understand the mix of services necessary to create a sense of value for a customer considering a monthly or yearly subscription. I hypothesize that persistent offerings - such as at least a montly "tune-up" service - will help create a higher sense of value for a customer who can see firsthand the performance improvement after an agent has performed things such as registry clean-up, disk defragmentation, and eradicating spyware, viruses, and other malware.

Also, all technicians are U.S. based, and they are all located in a single facility, offering them the ability to collaborate in a manner that may be more difficult with a distributed virtual workforce.

The role of ISVs in providing remote technology support is a significant trend for 2010. CyberDefender joins other ISVs in providing premium remote technical support services, including:

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Technical Outsourcing said...

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could schedule your technical issues to only occur only at times that were convenient for you? Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. Most people would agree that technical issues seem to arise during just the times that we are least ready for them.

3:26 AM  

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