Compaq Computer took another step to shed its "just a PC company" image last week when it announced the Asia-Pacific implementation of its Compaq Services Network (CSN), a Web-based virtual community comprising Compaq and its authorised service channel partners.
"If you ask our major customers, they will still say, 'Okay, you're a PC company, excellent in industry-standard PCs'," said Dave Stubbs, Compaq's Asia-Pacific vice president of customer services.
"It's not true anymore, we're very good in both PCs and services, and we want to get that through to our partners as well. That's really the intention - to provide more Compaq services as well as products to our customers."
At the heart of the CSN is a Web-based management system incorporating support tools that enable members of this network to complete various transactions efficiently through the Internet.
These tools are tipped to benefit service channel partners and customers by providing state-of-the-art IT capabilities in one convenient location that is continually enhanced and updated.
"CSN is basically an enabler for our partners worldwide to have access to operational excellence in the form of technical information. We want to create this virtual world which combines our own resources and partners," Stubbs said.
Compaq's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore has around 3000 staff, according to Stubbs, who added that while half of them provide services, the channel continues to be important for support.
"Our structure is to use our partners to [provide more services], so we are trying to build up their skills and capabilities, provide them with tools and access to information. I also have a team of people providing front- and back-end services to support customers and channel partners."
Collectively, Compaq and its partners hope to achieve greater economies of scale through the ability to share resources, transfer knowledge, and streamline logistics.
"If we send a field engineer out, it costs about $S250 [$A235]. If we use a call centre, it would cost about $20. If we use the Internet, it costs $4," said Stubbs. "So you can see immediately that we can become more aggressive in terms of pricing as well."
The objective is to make it cheaper for customers to get support, he emphasised.
Compaq's network is implemented in phases across the countries in the Asia-Pacific. Currently, partners have access to the company's spare parts inventory to order or track spare parts online.