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The trading system is down.  It’s up.  Is it up?  What happened?  Who fixed it?  Who didn’t?

 

The necessity for real time visibility (who is working issues) and historic visibility (audit trail) in IT is often touted and just as often overlooked.  Each system and application within IT uses its own reporting tools, leaving no clear way to track everything that has taken place to resolve an incident. The Operations Center will make call outs and send notifications.  Seemingly doing the right thing.  But how do we know who touched an event, what they did and when it was restored?

 

The engineer will take an action in BMC Remedy, then move on to another system, all to address a single problem.  Everything makes sense at the time, but looking back it’s nearly impossible to understand who did what when.

 

Lacking a comprehensive audit trail and real-time visibility into the process can cause other problems, as well.  For example, one customer I work with is among the largest grocery chains in the United States, with over 3,500 stores nationwide.  Whenever a product recall occurred, each store had to be manually contacted to remove the defective product from its shelves.  This manual process was agonizingly slow, but more importantly, it left no audit trail.  If the company was sued because someone purchased dangerous food, they would have no way to prove that they had been in the process of removing the tainted products.  Bad yogurt is a big deal.  It’s an incident and it has to be efficiently managed.  Our customer was able to save $8 million by automating this process. 

 

Also, don’t forget to register for next week’s webinar: Four Best Practices to Increase the Relevance of IT Across the Business.  In today’s market, IT organizations are struggling with how to automate repeatable tasks, measure and optimize processes, enable accountability and increase their contribution to the overall business. In this webinar, you'll find out how to implement four best practices to enable your IT organization to be viewed as a key contributor to the success of the core business as well as your customer's customer.

Wednesday, February 24th, 8:00am PDT: Register Now

Troy McAlpin

Relevance Rocks

Posted by Troy McAlpin Feb 8, 2010
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Who doesn’t want to be “Relevant”?  That is what we all strive for.  Relevance and recognition.  We are hosting a series of webinars, as previously advertised, but these are really more like town hall discussions.  We will be discussing how you can increase your Relevance in the eyes of your customer.  These webinars take place every other Wednesday at 8AM pacific for the next six weeks, the first being February 10th.  We will be sharing some creative ideas, tested best practices and methods to increase your “Relevance Ratio”…you have to tune in to find out what that actually means.

 

So why does recognition rock, you ask?  Well, coincidentally Gartner released their MarketScope for Emergency and Mass Notification Services where the authors cite the following recognition of AlarmPoint within IT Service Management:  “The Telalert product, now owned by MIR3, used to be the leader, but AlarmPoint has definitely usurped that position…”  Thank you very much!   It’s not often that hard work is recognized, but if you focus on raising your Relevance Ratio…good things happen.  We’d like to share ideas on how IT Service Management, IT Operations and other leading firms are raising their Relevance Ratios!

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In an earlier post I discussed how sending proactive notifications to business users and customers can cut down help desk calls and generally improve customer satisfaction. The idea is that automatically notifying a few thousand users about a service outage costs very little, whereas fervently hoping they won’t notice or won’t care can result in a massive influx of angry customer calls (and those aren’t free).

 

An Alert Management Platform can contact service customers before they contact you.  For example, typically when a critical application is sending out an alert that it’s overloaded and may go down at any second, the only people who know about it are IT. But while they’re trying to fix the problem, your customers are out in the cold and about to heat up.

 

At the same second that the IT guy gets an alert that the application is failing, personnel can choose to let a business level message go out to the service users.   A simple email, IM, voice call, BlackBerry alert, or iPhone notification from a friendly customer service representative informing customers that their service may be briefly interrupted can go a long way in soothing ruffled feathers. Simply upload the contact info of your most important business users or all affected customers into an Alert Management Platform, and set up the system to send out a polite heads-up message BEFORE anything big goes down.

 

To avoid spamming users, you can even let the user decide what they “want” to know about.  Customers will feel they know what’s going on, and, more importantly, that you care about their needs. One company we worked with reduced help desk costs by almost $2M per year after implementing proactive notification to customers. Their customers were also universally happier with their service, which is pretty impressive, as their main customer was the government. Those people can’t agree on anything.

 

On a related note, don’t miss our upcoming Webinar: Amplify the Relevance of IT Service Management on February 10 to learn how to increase the effectiveness and relevance of IT Service Management.  Register now and you are automatically entered in the drawing to win a Garmin Nuvi 260W portable GPS navigator – a $230 value!

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AlarmPoint is beginning a new webinar series exclusively for IT Service Management and IT Help Desk professionals next week.  The first of them is for ITSM:

 

Amplify the Relevance of IT Service Management

Many service support organizations struggle with how to automate mundane tasks, increase ticket closure rates and prevent escalations. Find out how organizations can implement five leading best practices to increase the relevance of the support function and ultimately reduce costs and increase satisfaction. This complimentary webinar will cover how increasing the relevance of Service Management also leads to additional funding, achievement and contribution to the goals of your organization.

 

Join to hear how:

  • Targeted, role-specific alerts eliminate mundane tasks & minimize the number of people required to resolve an incident by up to 80%
  • Self-service capabilities allow each team to manage assignments and schedules, improving response times by 85%
  • Real-time mobile access to BMC and other systems from a variety of mobile devices including BlackBerry, iPhone and Droid, reducing resolution time by up to 50%

 

Register today to learn how Alert Management enables you to increase the effectiveness and relevance of IT Service Management across the enterprise.

 

Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Time: 8:00am PDT (11:00am EDT, 4:00pm GMT)

 

>> Register Now

 

Check back for updates on the next in the series.

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AlarmPoint was featured in a recent publication, IT Today, talking about best practices and 5 logical steps to effective Alert Management – below is a quick excerpt as well as a link to the full article:

 

Five Ways to Increase Operational Efficiency with Alert Management

The current state of IT systems management across the enterprise is a combination of automated and manual processes. Companies are doing their best with this arrangement, but they realize that they could be doing better. When events occur that can impact the business, many companies rely on manual procedures and mass notifications to identify and notify employees who can resolve the issues.  If the appropriate employee is found but isn't on site, he or she needs the systems and tools to work effectively from a remote location. Without them, time is lost, critical events may remain unresolved, and companies risk failing to fulfill their service-level agreements, including the provision of satisfactory service back to the business. There is a way to improve IT systems management without disrupting existing processes.
An alert management platform empowers companies to target actionable information from IT applications and systems automatically to the employee who can resolve the issue - escalating as necessary. Effective alert management provides the tools to access internal systems and address events from a mobile workbench as well as resolve issues from any web-enabled mobile device such as the BlackBerry or iPhone. Process acceleration and service improvements can help resolve incidents an average of 40 percent faster, saving up to millions of dollars annually.
There are five ways that implementing alert management can immediately increase operational effectiveness across the enterprise, including process and efficiency improvements in incident, service, and change management, while significantly reducing costs…

 

Check out the rest of the IT Today article for more information on filling the gap in how organizations pass information and communicate with their customers at http://www.ittoday.info/Articles/Alert_Management.htm

It's amazing what I.T. was meant to be.