Video remote support tool can be worth a thousand texts

TechWatch: Video may have killed the radio star, but it gives new life to next generation remote support tools such as LogMeIn's Rescue Lens.

Since the age-old axiom still holds true that IT shops won't buy any software or hardware they can't support, it's no surprise the rapidly rising wave of Internet-of-Things offerings would be followed by a wave of support-of-things products.

That's exactly the market LogMeIn, Inc., a long-time provider of remote support tools, is pursuing. The company has introduced Rescue Lens, an application that allows IT support professionals to use a secured live camera feed from a user's phone to remotely solve product issues.

The free Rescue Lens application works with Apple's iOS and Android devices. It gives IT pros video at 30 frames per second quality as well as a white boarding capability so they can illustrate to users on-screen using a pen, where the problem exists and how to fix it. The product can also log session support details and record video sessions associated with each session.

What is different about Rescue Lens, compared to offerings such as Apple's FaceTime or Google Hangouts, is that Rescue Lens is built into an existing help desk application, called Rescue, where it is auditable, can be monitored by system administrators and takes advantage of the existing features in Rescue.

"This idea has been done in the past -- back when things like Web RTC wasn't around and the technology at hand wasn't easy to use," said Peter Zeinoun, director of LogMeIn's Rescue line of products.  "But [WEB RTC] has become the de facto standard now for mobile video streaming which makes things a lot easier."

Some analysts believe the real value of support products such as Rescue Lens is its video capabilities. They believe it is video that will be the catalyst for ratcheting up corporate interest in enterprise-level support products.

"Video support will gain more traction for customer service as things like connectivity and the quality of phone cameras improve, as is the case with this (Rescue Lens) product," said Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst for Customer Engagement with Ovum, Ltd. market researchers in London. "However, businesses will need to present relevant use cases and benefits to their customers to ensure they download and use the Lens app correctly."

Another analyst believes adding video to remote support tools significantly changes the experience for both the IT support professional and users, both.

"On the direct support end, it personalizes the experience and speeds up the resolution as a picture is worth more than a thousand words, chats and IMs," said R "Ray" Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research, Inc. "On the device side, the ability to have video monitoring changes how agents can deliver proactive support through monitoring," he added.

The value of the product could extend beyond just reducing IT support costs by also improving the quality assurance of products before they are shipped, according to one analyst.

"I like the fact Rescue Lens is not about seeing the tech support agent, it's about seeing the problem," said Stephen Loynd, a global director with Frost and Sullivan, a consulting firm in San Antonio, Texas. "This could be a solution that obviates the need for shipping many faulty products, as well as cutting down the need for so much on-site support."

With the explosion of IoT devices and the overall continued growth of IT consumerization, market researchers see a rich opportunity for vendors with new-age remote support products. In a recent research report, IDC predicts the market for clientless remote support software tools will grow from $544 million in 2014 to $1.2 billion in 2019 at an annual compound growth rate of 17.4%.

The report states that the remote support of edge devices is "the next significant battleground," and for vendors hoping to snatch a piece of this pie, it is "imperative" to pull together a strategy now.

The Rescue Lens offering will be available in April as an update for all users with any LogMeIn Rescue license. Pricing for LogMeIn Rescue starts at $1,299 per user per year.

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