ITS offers 24-hour technology services

by Harrison Aronoff | 10/19/17 2:00am

Dartmouth Information Technology Services has partnered with Vitalyst, a technology support company, to offer students, faculty and staff 24-hour support, starting this past Monday, according to Ellen Young, assistant director of campus IT support. According to Vitalyst senior account manager Daniel McLaughlin, the company received 14 calls as a result of this partnership on the first day of the program.

McLaughlin attributed the low volume of callers to the program’s “soft launch,” meaning that not many knew about the program when it first started.

Vice president of ITS and chief information officer Mitchel Davis, who spearheaded the partnership, said students, faculty and staff were not officially notified about the expansion because he plans to “ramp [the program] up slowly.” Young said that the slower launch was to address a few “minor issues.”

Davis said he interviewed multiple community members and found there was high demand for not only more technology support in general, but specifically 24-hour support.

The change came in part due to the needs of Dartmouth-affiliates at odd hours of the day, Young said.

“The reason we went 24/7 is because things come up,” she said. “There isn’t a huge demand for 24/7 support, but when someone is working on something and needs help, they need help … if you have a grant that’s due at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, and you can’t get a file saved in a PDF, [Vitalyst] will be able to help you with that.”

Davis will receive periodic reports from Vitalyst about when and why students, faculty and staff call the company. With that information, Davis hopes to re-evaluate and perhaps offer more support opportunities for technology support, potentially by opening a student-run technology help desk during the hours when students are most likely to call Vitalyst.

According to McLaughlin, the firm has 200-plus analysts on standby at any given moment. These analysts each specialize in over 120 applications. McLaughlin added that these analysts also serve over 400 companies, including 25 colleges.

Davis had a relationship with the company back when he was chief information officer of Bowdoin College, which also has a partnership with Vitalyst.

The partnership with the company “really worked well” at Bowdoin because there was a demand for technology support among students, faculty and staff at night when Bowdoin’s regular analysts were not available, Davis said.

“2 a.m. in the morning is not an abnormal time for a student to need help in Word or Excel,” Davis said.

Vitalyst also has a lot of technical expertise in which Bowdoin’s analysts weren’t necessarily trained, such as certain applications like Apple iCloud, Google Docs and IBM Notes, Davis said.

In addition to the increased expertise, Davis said partnering with Vitalyst was also more economical than hiring five new employees to offer 24-hour support.

While Vitalyst cannot fix a hardware or connection problem, McLaughlin said the company has worked “extensively with ITS, so it has [access to] all of your knowledge bases to provide the same level of support as the ITS Help Desk.”

ITS’s support schedule has not changed. Between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., students can seek technology support by walking into the ITS Help Center, sending an email, chatting with an ITS support analyst online or calling the ITS hotline, according to Young. However, after 5:30 p.m. all questions will be routed to Vitalyst.