One objective for people who attended the Customer Relationship Management (CRM)/Support Services Conference in San Francisco was to find new products that will solve current and/or approaching problems back at the office. While some products simply sell themselves, most vendors don’t take chances; they promote their products with a plethora of free trinkets. Unfortunately, this practice has become somewhat mundane and makes it difficult for vendors to stand out among the crowd. However, ServiceWare, which provides Web-based solutions for enterprise service and support, did something new. Not only did the company promote their product (, it offered attendees the chance to compete for a brand-new Volkswagen Beetle. Find out more about ServiceWare’s crowd-pleasing promotion, how can help users retrieve information from several technical knowledge bases, and who drove off in the car.
For more information about the Fall 2000 CRM/Support Services Conference, check out Pat’s rundown of some of the latest technology that was on display and what IT pros in attendance had to say about the conference.
Who wants to solve a million errors?
To promote, ServiceWare gave conference goers the chance to test their IT knowledge by competing on a mock game show called “Who Wants to Solve a Million Errors?” I know many of you may be a bit weary of all the Millionaire spoofs, but this was for real. ServiceWare was giving away actual prizes—22 people won $100, and one lucky IT pro won a 2001 Turbo Volkswagen Beetle.

People in the audience filled out information cards. For their trouble, they got a T-shirt and a chance to go up onstage with “Egregious Philbin,” the host of ServiceWare’s game show. Once on stage, the contestant would be asked up to five questions. The first correct answer was worth $5, the second $10, and so on. If you answered all five questions properly, you won $100 and your card was placed in a drawing to play for the Volkswagen.

Using as a lifeline
The goal of this spectacle was to showcase ServiceWare’s Internet-based knowledge portal If a contestant did not know the answer to one of their questions, they were permitted to search for the solution. ServiceWare has partnered with Microsoft, 3Com, Novell, PC Show and Tell, and BugNet to provide a comprehensive, online technical knowledge base. Subscribers simply use a Web browser (IE 4.x or 5.x and Netscape 4.x) to search different areas of the RightAnswers site called Knowledge Channels. These Knowledge Channels include:

  • The ServiceWare Foundation Channels, which cover a wide variety of desktop applications and networking products from leading vendors such as Microsoft, Netscape, Novell, Corel, and Lotus.
  • Additional ServiceWare Channels (not part of the Foundation Channels), which cover SAP’s R/3 application and ServiceWare’s own software products.
  • The Microsoft Corporation Channels, which contain the technical articles, readme files, reference documents, product information, and developer’s tips that comprise Microsoft’s Knowledge Base.
  • The Novell Channel, which is based on Novell’s Technical Information Documents support library. It consists of technical articles, readme files, and reference material covering the Novell NetWare, Novell BorderManager, GroupWise, and intraNetWare products.
  • The Consumer Products Channel from 3Com, which contains documents relating to 3Com modems and communication software such as RapidComm.
  • The 3Com Enterprise Products Channel, which includes technical articles about routers, switches, hubs, and so on.
  • The KView Channel, which is based on the PC Show and Tell library and contains solutions and videos for nearly 100 software products, search engines, operating systems, and more.
  • The BugNet Channel, which is based on the BugNet database and covers bugs for 1,300 popular off-the-shelf PC hardware and software products.

RightAnswers highlights
Here are some of the strengths of ServiceWare’s new knowledge portal:

  • Fast response: Knowledge Channels are housed on high-performance servers maintained by GTE Internetworking. These servers are connected directly to the Internet backbone to give the fastest possible search response times.
  • No setup required: A Web browser is all that’s required to visit the site and start searching or browsing through the Knowledge Channels.
  • Single point of access: Each query searches all the Knowledge Channels selected and returns a single list of answers in order of relevance. Users don’t need to learn different query languages and user interfaces to search information from different vendors.
  • Tailored searches: End users can target their searches very precisely by restricting queries to particular Channels, by searching only the documents that pertain to particular products, and by focusing on problem descriptions or on solutions.
  • Flexible subscriptions: Subscriptions to Knowledge Channels are flexible, so you don’t pay for solutions that aren’t relevant to your organization.

IT pro leaves with a new Beetle and great respect for ServiceWare
One person who seemed to have a particularly great time was Greg Hopwood of InteQ Software, the new owner of the 2001 Volkswagen Turbo Beetle. Greg beat out 16 others for the grand prize and was still in shock when I spoke to him moments later. “I’ll do anything I can to promote ServiceWare. Any company that will go to these lengths just to generate leads is certainly going to do whatever it takes to keep a customer happy. That’s the most important thing to me.”
Do you think ServiceWare’s promotion was all hype, or a creative demonstration of their product? Would your organization subscribe to an Internet-based knowledge portal such as Let us know what you think. Post a comment below or send Pat Vickers an e-mail.