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‘A Lizard Crawled Into My Server’: Help Desks Field Unending Stream of Oddball Requests, CIO Survey Shows

September 24, 2008

MENLO PARK, Calif., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ — “How do I get my computer’s coffee-cup holder to come out again?” That may sound like a baffling request, but for seasoned help desk professionals, it’s not out of the ordinary. In a new survey, CIOs identified the most unusual requests they or their support staff have fielded. The survey shows that it takes more than technical expertise to interact with end users — especially those who confuse CD-ROM drives with coffee trays.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. It was based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.

CIOs were asked, “What is the strangest or most unusual request you or a member of your help desk or technical support team has ever received?” Their responses included:

   -- "Why isn't my wireless mouse connected to the computer?"   -- "My laptop was run over by a truck. What should I do?"   -- "Can you rearrange the keyboard alphabetically?"   -- "How do I read my e-mail?"   -- "My computer is telling me to press any key to continue. Where is the      'any' key?"   -- "Can you reset the Internet for me?"   -- "There are animal crackers in my CD-ROM drive."   -- "Can you build me a robot?"

Some end users called to report problems with mice – not the electronic kind – and other pests. To wit:

   -- "Can you get the mice out of the ceiling?"   -- "A server went down, and I found a lizard had crawled into it and      died."   -- "A skunk ate my cable."

Other requests signal more trouble than just a technical glitch. Here are some examples:

   -- "How can I block e-mail from my manager?"   -- "Can I open the bank safe using my computer?"   -- "Can you install cable TV on my PC?"   -- "Can you order joysticks so that we can play video games?"   -- "I'd like to stop receiving e-mail on Fridays."

Help desk professionals are known for lending a hand, but these end users took the concept too far:

   -- "Can you come and install my car stereo?"   -- "Where can I locate dry ice?"   -- "I'd like wireless computer access in my motor home."   -- "Can you fix my typewriter?"   -- "How long does it take to bake a potato in a microwave?"   -- "My daughter is locked in the bathroom, can you pick the lock?"   -- "Can you tell me the weather forecast for next year?"   -- "The elevator is broken."   -- "How do I wire a robotic turkey?"   -- "Where can I get software to track UFOs?"   -- "Can you repair my motorbike?"

Beyond the comic relief these out-of-the-blue requests can provide, they also serve as a test of essential help desk and technical support skills, according to Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “These unusual requests highlight the need for technical support personnel to also demonstrate patience, empathy and a sense of humor,” she said.

About the Survey

The national survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. In order for the survey to be statistically representative and ensure that companies from all segments were represented, the sample was stratified by geographic region, industry and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportions of the number of employees within each region.

About Robert Half Technology

With more than 100 locations worldwide, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of technology professionals for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network security and technical support. Robert Half Technology offers online job search services at http://www.rht.com/.

Robert Half Technology

CONTACT: Christine Pardi of Robert Half Technology, +1-650-234-6435,christine.pardi@rhi.com

Web site: http://www.rht.com/




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