I have been getting a number of questions asking me to explain the point of the system I have been calling “Magic Box”. I thought I would take a moment to address this.

In my years dealing with technical support matters from the infrequent home user to the enterprise desktop one thing is clear – the computer skills vary as widely as the people themselves. As a result IT and management personnel can never assume a particular level of computer literacy, whatever that really means, on the part of any given user. As a result one of the best values an IT provider can give a client is education and tutoring. While these fishing lessons may seem to run counter to the goals of the fish salesman they open up opportunities for providers who are interested in improved user experience and productivity to focus on that rather than rack up hours adding users and emails or troubleshooting printer problems or even updating a WordPress blog. As a result I needed a platform that could make the complex into 1 click and remote desktop help transparent and instant while being able to provide other services like email, backup, supplies, etc. all from a central location – hence, Magic Box.

Who is this for? There are 5 basic use cases:

  1. The average home user.
  2. The “I only know what I have to for X” user.
  3. The SOHO/Small Office user.
  4. The Medium Enterprise.
  5. The Road Warrior

The average home user often has an IT provider of some sort. More than likely it is the local computer shop. In order to grow that shop needs to increase clients and sales to those clients. I am adding  a way for that local shop to do just that. A customer is much more likely to seek your advice if it is easy, convenient and cheap. Making your advice available by chat or remote with 1 click gives you the opportunity to find out what your customer actually needs and gain the opportunity to provide it. The idea is to make valuable services readily available unbound from the hurdles of the uncompensated phone call, a service call, a bring in or a collection of third party tools that don’t seem to make it a whole lot easier. By including tools to address the particular needs of your client calls become fewer as the user learns to fix his common issues all thanks to you and the “Magic Box”.

The user that considers himself computer illiterate may benefit most from quick links to tasks he needs to do. On occasion or often he now calls trying to remember how to do Y. In this use case there are 2 distinct groups. First are those that will learn if they can get the information in a manner that does not intimidate or condescend. The second just doesn’t like computers for whatever reason. Both can benefit from fixed cost advice and training for the former and advice and remote service for the latter delivered the way that works for the individual user.

The SOHO and small office use case is a universe of its own. The good client is the one that considers you a trusted advisor. If you don’t have a vehicle to effectively deliver that advice instantly then you really are not filling the clients’ needs. This sector is 1-5 computers, my definition. It rarely has an in-house IT person or even a regular contractor beyond break fix. These offices buy hardware and supplies, but rarely get advice from an expert when doing so. They rarely have anyone on staff that is a really advanced user, so they call you over and over about essentially the same problems or issues that could be solved in a few minutes via an easy remote channel and eliminated by good advice in the future. Let’s face it, sending the client to your third party site to enter a code to connect to you is sort of a pain and it detracts from your brand. The solution is quick fixes, quick answers and a quick 1 click remote help system as well as a means to sell your client the products and services you are recommending. This allows the service provider to provide more and make buying, selling and helping a snap. Did I mention the software can sign up users from inside the application? More on that later.

The medium enterprise IT service provider typically relies on a Remote Management and Monitoring (RMM) solution as the mainstay of its practice. While these systems do a good technical job of maintaining the networks of medium enterprise clients the focus, however, is on the servers and for good reason since the servers impact many information workers while the desktop impact is more limited per occurrence. Even the best RMM systems treat client desktops as second class citizens. That ignores the fact that the desktop can cause plenty of trouble in its own right. For instance, the desktop of the dispatcher for a utility company. At the same time any time lost because the end user really doesn’t know how to do a task or fix an issue adds cost and lowers productivity across the enterprise because various business processes forward rely on the job performance of the worker being impacted by a simple lack of a skill or knowledge. The provider that takes a systemic approach to providing IT services recognizes this and offers services to reduce these costs by providing the means to reduce these costs and improve morale and productivity. In addition to providing a platform to deliver all of that the “Magic Box” implements a means to collect supplies orders based on installed printers and some other factors presenting them in aggregated form to a designated purchasing contact that produces a quote. More on that later. The idea really is to solidify your position as a trusted advisor across the desktop users as well as the management. This makes for sticky business.

The Road Warrior is an especially good use case. Whether your client is a salesman or a truck driver he needs a reliable and convenient method to get technical support on the road. The alternative is locating a local shop, hoping it is a competent shop and hoping to get the service quickly. The Magic Box makes this not only possible, it makes the process the same as supporting any office desktop.

The idea of the Magic Box is simple. It is software to truly connect service providers with the desktops of their clients that is in the full control of the user. Providers can leverage this position on the desktop to respond to nearly any issue that might arise. Users are more likely to seek answers when they are easy to get. In the end the Magic Box is meant to make all of the tools and services available to large enterprise IT available and affordable for the smaller enterprise while providing tons of opportunity for motivated service providers to shift their business model from waiting for things to break to one of helping users and business clients be more productive while reducing cost. The 4 hour or next business day response for IT beyond a real hardware failure is a dinosaur in a world where 10 minutes of your advice now will save hundreds or thousands of dollars of lost productivity for your business clients and provide a trouble free experience for others.

So how do I make money giving out all this advice? While you could run a timer on client calls like a taxi (break fix model) the Magic Box gives you a way to provide unlimited technical support at a fixed monthly cost. I even go so far as to recommend that providers offer unlimited on-site support in their fee structure. It is my experience that getting a fixed rate inspires the provider to build a more solid IT program for their clients since they get paid the same for driving out there to fix or working to circumvent the breakdown remotely. That is why I wrote this thing. The trusted advisor in today’s IT world needs to be a lot closer than a phone call away.