Saturday, June 25, 2011

Virtual Collaboration Is Easy

There certainly are Many Ways to Learn. One of them is to sit back and observe. That is what I did this week as I watched two tech support people from two different companies troubleshoot a software problem on my laptop. The amazing thing was they did this seamlessly, working virtually, from two different parts of the world.

I recently installed a new software package on my computer. The installation went fine, but I was having difficulty registering it with the company from which I received it. I called their tech support group, based in Cincinnati Ohio to troubleshoot my registration. After attempting to help me register by going through the usual steps (and two alternative methods), the technician determined that something on my computer was blocking communication to my registry. In order to access my registry, I needed to be logged in as a system administrator rather than with my usual user ID. Of course, this was my work laptop and being an employee at a good ole American company that is concerned with data security, I don’t have admin rights for my computer. In order for me to log on as an administrator, I needed to call my company’s tech support team which, being a good ole American company, we have outsourced to another company in India.

So I put the Cincinnati guy on hold while I called India. The India guy helped me get logged on as an administrator, but I still wasn’t sure what I needed to do. Using the conference call feature on my phone, I connected the Cincinnati guy and the India guy at the same time. The Cincinnati guy tried to describe what needed to be done to the India guy and me. Neither one of us was quite getting it, so he suggested setting up a web meeting so I could share my desktop with him and he could perform the required steps for me. It took a minute or two to get the web meeting going, but once it was, he began proceeding through the steps to complete my registration. This was going along fine until he hit a snag. He encountered an unfamiliar setting that was blocking him from completing the registration. The India guy knew what this was, but he had difficulty getting the Cincinnati guy or me to understand what we needed to do to get through this blockage. Fortunately I was able to share my desktop with him to using Office Communicator so he could complete those steps. That freed things up for the Cincinnati guy to complete what he needed to do to get my software registered.

It was fascinating as I sat in my office in Connecticut watching the Cincinnati guy and the India guy take turns manipulating my laptop while the other watched in such a matter-of-fact way. It really brought home the message about how easy it is these days to work collaboratively or to provide just-in-time coaching support at a distance.

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