Compaq Quicksource: Providing the Consumer with the Power of AI

  • Trung Nguyen
  • Mary Czerwinski
  • Dan Lee


This article describes Compaq QUICKSOURCE, an electronic problem-solving and information system for Compaq's line of networked printers. A major goal in designing this system was to empower Compaq's customers with expert system technology, allowing them to solve advanced network printer problems entirely on their own. This process minimizes customer down time; reduces the number of telephone calls to the Compaq Customer-Support Center (resulting in monetary savings); improves customer satisfaction; and, perhaps most importantly, differentiates Compaq printers in the market-place by providing the best and most technologically advanced customer-support facility. This approach also represents a reengineering of Compaq's customer-support strategy and implementation. In its first-generation system, SMART, the objective was to provide expert knowledge to Compaq's help-desk operation to better and more quickly answer customer calls and problems. QUICKSOURCE is a second-generation system in that the customer-support function is put directly in the hands of the consumers (an example of knowledge publishing). As a result, its design presented a number of different and challenging issues. Because the product would be used by a diverse and heterogeneous set of users, a significant amount of human factors research and analysis was performed as part of system design and implementation. The analysis also dictated certain decisions about the organization and design of the expert system component. Since September 1992, Compaq has shipped more than 3000 copies of QUICKSOURCE.