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SupportSoft

Every tech support person has had a moment of wishing that computers could grow up enough to solve their own problems. That time may be coming, thanks to SupportSoft.

Every tech support person has had a moment of wishing that computers could grow up enough to solve their own problems. Looks like tech has hit its teens, with Redwood City-based SupportSoft. Co-founders Scott Dale and Cadir Lee chat about self-healing software, hating customer support, and avoiding the doctor.

How did the company get started?

We co-founded SupportSoft not from a love of technology, but from a hatred of customer support. We were frustrated with the technology available to solve problems. There were a lot of call-tracking and problem-tracking applications, but who cares how many problems you track if they don’t get solved? This is when we began to focus on creating technology for computers to find and solve problems on their own.

What kind of technology did you invent?

We designed a patented answer for computer self-diagnosis and repair called “The DNA Probe” that created a new category termed by industry analysts as “self-healing” software, which automatically allows ailing computers to restore themselves to good health. Our technology looks at the registry settings on a computer and figures out which ones aren’t right, even the ones that users have personalized.

How exactly does your software assist IT departments?

They use the software platform to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their service or support operations. The software eliminates the manual steps associated with solving computing problems through automation. It allows for faster, more precise resolution of difficulties,whether associated with the use of operating systems, networks, software applications, business processes, or broadband connectivity.

What type of difficulties can the software tackle?

The range of technology problems we can solve is virtually infinite and shaped by the context of the customer’s needs and the environment in which they operate. Within an enterprise, it could be a highly complex technical issue relating to the rollout of Windows XP across multiple geographies, or a recovery from a security attack.

What were some of the challenges you encountered in creating your products?

Our main obstacle was that everyone told us we couldn’t do it. A typical computer might have as many as 50,000 different settings. If one setting doesn’t work correctly, the PC can cause a real headache for its user. In fact, there are so many things that can go wrong with a personal computer and its applications that it’s amazing computers work at all. Everyone told us we’d have to develop a database of each default setting for each type of software, hardware, operating system, PC model, and on and on.

How is the company faring in the current economic climate?

Only five years after starting the company, we can now count 25 percent of the Fortune 50, and six out of the top eight broadband service providers among our 160 customers. Our technology touches millions of computing users, worldwide. We heard somewhere that it’s good karma to solve more problems than you create. And we like to think that that’s a good thing for us to focus on, and maybe that’s why SupportSoft has faired well in this unsavory economic climate.

What are you working on right now?

We’re developing technology to prevent problems from happening in the first place–pre-emptive and proactive healing, similar to preventive medicine but more intelligent. After all, as we all know, it’s more expensive to go to a doctor for a pain than to avoid it in the first place.

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