Productivity/Collaboration Apps

OTRS Announces iPhone, iPad Help Desk App

The free, open-source IT service management and help desk app runs on Windows, Linux and MacOS.
OTRS iPhone app
(click image for larger view)
OTRS iPhone App

One of the most time-sensitive tasks in a company is responding to requests, whether from customers, employees or prospects, for IT and other Help Desk support, sales and pre-sales, billing and other inbound queries.

Often, it's not so much the resolution that matters as the quick response to reports, a.k.a. "trouble tickets," and other questions and concerns. For small-to-midsize businesses, it isn't always possible to have Help Desk staff and management at the desk to see and respond to online support requests.

OTRS has announced its free OTRS iPhone app, which will let Help Desk staff and other employees at organizations who use OTRS to access the server from an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad instead of from a browser on a desktop or notebook computer, and the concomitant scheduling, travelling or provisioning.

OTRS Inc. provides desk and ITIL-compatible IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions using the OTRS service management platform for Help Desk and IT Service Management (ITSM) to do logging, processing, and communicating of incidents and service requests. OTRS can be used for ticket-tracking applications including help desk, issue tracking, and service desk, and has ITSM modules such as configuration and change management.

"Help Desk applications become necessary as soon as an organization can no longer manage their customer interactions using just email but need a true tracking system that multiple agents can use," says Paul Salazar, General Manager, OTRS. "The iPhone app will let your help desk deliver more timely responses by not having to be at their desks, or be carrying notebooks or netbooks. Nine times out of ten, a quick, simple one-sentence response will take care of a problem. And for managers, this app will let them manage remotely, such as redirect a ticket to the queue for the staff."

The OTRS software is available free, distributed under the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL). (The company's revenue comes from professional and managed services, including Enterprise Subscription services.)

Versions are available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS 10.x, AIX, FreeBSD and OpenBSD. According to Salazar, OTRS is also available as a hosted service from a few sites that re-host Open Source applications, and "we have a small number of customers paying for managed OTRS from us."

Organizations using OTRS include support organizations, customer service teams and IT departments. "OTRS is currently being downloaded over 25,000 times per month," says Salazar. "We know there are at least 80,000 deployments of OTRS globally, and we suspect that about 80 to 90 per cent of those are SMBs."

According to Salazar, OTRS users range from a 30 to 40 person IT consultancy in Colorado and a dot-com retailer that is expecting to ramp up from its current size of a dozen people, and a small medical clinic in Europe using OTRS to manage patient interactions, to a group within NASA, a large university that has consolidated from five Help Desks to one. and small townships using OTRS to interact with residents, visitors and other constituents.

"I believe OTRS's new iPhone app resonates with SMBs in terms of their Help Desk needs and in dealing with devices their employees are bringing into these organizations," comments Jay Lyman, analyst at The 451 Group. "SMBs are increasingly looking at Open Source for the same cost and flexibility reasons that enterprises have been. Smartphones and the need for Help Desk productivity and responsiveness serve to increase their interest as well."

The OTRS iPhone app will be available from the iTunes App Store July 26, 2010. The company does not currently have any disclosed plans for versions for other smartphone platforms.