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Emirati company aims to soothe away computer frustrations

Jan 25th, 2012
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Staring at your computer and seething with frustration because it refuses to cooperate is a common dilemma worldwide.

But but one company in the Emirates intends to build its business making that a thing of the past.

The first-of-its-kind remote access IT service has been launched for consumers and small businesses across the UAE.

Techserve, the servicing arm of Al-Futtaim Electronics, has partnered a support services firm from the US to offer consumers IT help on any electronics product.

iYogi runs a hotline, offering customers advice on a host of tech issues, including installing software, clearing viruses and simply finding a lost folder, and support services staff can remotely log on to a computer to help solve an issue. "What we are introducing here in the UAE and GCC for the first time ever is to give consumers peace of mind.

"Buy a device for your home, if you have a problem, you simply have to call an 800 number and you will be given service," said Vishesh Bhatia, the group director of electronics, engineering and technologies at Al-Futtaim.

"You do not have to call anyone to your house and worry about people intruding in your private space."

The service costs Dh599.99 (US$163.34) per year for individual users for all of their electronics products.

For small businesses, iYogi will offer packages based on the number of devices and the number of users.

The company, which offers its services in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, employs 6,000 support staff, predominantly in India, and plans to open an Arabic-speaking call centre in the Gulf in the coming months, with 300 to 400 employees.

Currently, about 75 per cent of iYogi's customers are individuals and the remainder are small businesses.

"The rapidly growing UAE consumer electronics market stands at $ 2.4 billion in sales," said Mr Bhatia.

"We expect nearly 24,000 subscribers in the first year of operation and will roll this service out to other parts of the GCC."

The Al-Futtaim group company currently services a number of electronics brands in-store, including Panasonic, Toshiba, Sanyo, Nokia, Bose and Sony Vaio, but iYogi's remote service will cover all types of hardware and software.

"Once a consumer uses our service, he gets hooked on it," said Uday Challu, the chief executive and co-founder of iYogi.

"The more they use, the more the like us and the more dependent they are on us."

Mr Challu said about 40 per cent of calls related to viruses or malicious software and about 20 per cent were from customers asking advice on what electronics products to buy next, with the remainder of problems more complex.