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How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one but it has to want to change. So runs the old joke, but there is at the heart of this gag a serious point: want trumps need every time.

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As IT organizations face down the challenges of a rapidly digitizing business (and their newly expanded role), it’s clear that the implications are significant and far reaching. Change is needed in terms of how teams organize themselves, the technology they employ, right through to how they how they think and and act.

However, studies indicate that many IT transformation initiatives will fail to deliver on their full potential thanks to cultural issues and other human factors. This is often because most stakeholders don’t understand why the project is happening or how it will be accomplished.

This can be avoided if all parties agree upfront that:

  • The exercise is necessary and will benefit all concerned
  • The project can actually be completed


Simple eh? Hmm…

The chances of an effective and successful delivery increase substantially if you can build on a foundation of broad-based readiness for change. Some of this foundation will be infrastructural and procedural (the easy bits), but the largest part will be cultural and psychological (the not so easy bits).


Want Versus Need

While it’s crucial that all stakeholders believe in the mandate for change, they are more likely to be invested if they want it to happen, hence the unintended profundity of our opening joke.

This is in contrast to feeling that the change needs to happen or ought to happen. Case in point: extensive research done by organizational change experts, John P. Meyer and Lynne Herscovitch (you can find a not too stuffy summary here)

My understanding* is that Meyer and Herscovitch found that when group want a project to succeed, the following factors improve: collaboration, problem solving and teamwork. Further, the number of people actively championing the undertaking, without prompting or coercion, increases dramatically.

(*so you'll definitely want to read it yourself.)

Cultivating a Collective Want

Understandably, the largest part of your organization will not be at the ‘wanting’ stage. Most will be on a spectrum ranging from outright denial through to a strong sense of the need to change, but very few will be actively advocating and championing new ways of working. So - what can you do to engage them?

Idea 1: The practitioner/manager survey

Ask the team to honestly (and anonymously) identify the realities of their working situation. This tends to work better than hosting group or workshop sessions, where participants may not feel comfortable sharing their true feelings and pragmatic analyses.

The following is an example of a simple and effective survey you could use, in this case the focus is on ITSM team, but the principle would be identical for all other groups.

  • How effective are our IT support processes in light of new technologies such as mobile and cloud?
  • Where do we waste the most time in responding to requests?
  • How effective are our processes and supporting software solution?
  • How well do we share information within and between teams?
  • How would you rate the quality of service you are able to provide to our business users?
  • Do we measure and track the right things?
  • How useful is our knowledge base?

 

 

Idea 2: Design your outcomes (and KPIs) together.

Invite all team members to define a shared view of success, and you may be surprised to find that even the most hardened skeptics will temper their objections. Their participation is vital to reinforcing the vision and its credibility.

I recommend that you include team members in designing and constructing your goals and KPIs. You’ll discover that this can quickly unify the team and provide a measureable uplift in commitment to the project.

As you work with the team, you may want to consider some questions that people typically weigh when evaluating the merits of organizational change:

  • Will the change resolve organizational shortcomings and, by extension, make my life better?
  • Does the change further the values and ethics of our team?
  • Is there urgency? Is there a sense that something needs to happen sooner rather than later?
  • Is their clear and consistent support of my leadership for change?
  • Is their support from my peers for change? By developing a shared vision for success, you’re likely already addressing the critical decision factors above.

Chapter

Can We Build It? Yes, We Can!

We’ve all heard the story about the little engine that could. Believing that 
something is possible is just as important as wanting it to happen.

Organizational change experts attribute this to self-efficacy, or one’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in specific situations. This concept directly impacts your ability to build a foundation for successful outcomes. Those who genuinely want change have a much higher sense of their self-efficacy.

If you’re interested in learning more about the significance of believing, try a Google Scholar search on ‘self-efficacy’ or ‘group efficacy’. Google Scholar is better than regular Google in this case, especially if you want to avoid the usual snake oil personal change gurus.

So, how do you convince your team that successful change is possible? You’ll need to reassure them that:

  • A comprehensive, thoughtful plan exists
  • The people involved are capable of successfully planning and implementing the project
  • Sufficient resources and contingencies exist to see the job through to the end
  • There is a sound strategy for communicating and measuring progress
  • Any broader organizational barriers to change can be removed or at least bypassed


The best way to ensure your plan is widely understood and validated is to include the broader team in its construction. This encourages ongoing peer-to-peer collaboration, reinforces support for the plan and helps foster confidence in the project management and methodology.

In my experience, the organizations that built small, yet focused and inclusive, teams were most successful. For example, the following members could comprise a strong core team:

  • Project management professional (some organizations prefer an individual with no ITSM experience)
  • Project sponsor and owner from the IT leadership team
  • Service delivery management representative (if applicable)
  • Business sponsor/s from a supportive and engaged function
  • Two practitioners from each IT process/function (depending on scale)


As you and your core team make progress in formulating a plan, you’ll want communicate your status to a broader group of interested stakeholders at regular intervals. That’s where a strong communications plan comes into play, but more of that in a later blog...

 

Is your organization: wanting, needing, oughting or denying?

So as you think about your IT organization and it’s readiness to change in response to the new demands of digital business, where are you on the spectrum of cultural readiness? I’d love to hear your views on cultivating readiness in teams and organizations.

You can comment below, or chat on twitter with me as @messagemonger

Cheers!

Chris

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I’m really looking forward to what is shaping up to be a lively, irreverent and entertaining discussion with George Spalding of Pink Elephant. We’re going be looking at how the consumers of IT services are playing a major role in shaping strategy and what you should be doing about it. Register to join us for the live webcast on February 5th.

 

We’ll be waxing lyrical on questions such as: Just what do business users expect these days from IT? How reasonable are their demands? And what can you do about it? How far should you go in embracing consumercentricity?   Webinar02.05.jpg

 

OK, I made that last word up, but hopefully you get the point: the more IT becomes THE primary service provider in the workplace, the more attention employees will be focusing on the services your provide and the more they’ll want to have their say. Fun times ahoy!

 

We’ll also be taking the ‘long view’ of this trend and looking at the historical imperative for consumer-driven business transformation: from the supermarket to the information superhighway (what ever happened to that 90s phrase?).

 

Of course, we’ll also have our crystal ball close at hand as we make a few predictions about what might be coming next: What emerging technologies will our customers want to see readily available in the workplace? What might that mean for technology professionals? And will ever stop raining here in the UK?

 

So, go on, register for the webinar and join us live on Wednesday, February 5th at 1pm CT (7pm GMT)

 

I’m looking forward to seeing you (George will be the smartly dressed one and I’ll be the guy in the wetsuit)

 

Cheers

 

Chris

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As I was celebrating Cat Herders Day on Sunday (which coincidentally is eerily similar to any other Sunday), I started thinking about how caring for cats is very analogous to an IT department managing BYOD. Hear me out, because this really isn’t much of a stretch.

 

Ask any cat owner, and they’ll tell you cats are a special breed. The saying “like herding cats” is so fitting because it’s perfectly impossible to accomplish. Similarly, in previous posts we’ve discussed at length the complexity and concerns regarding managing BYOD and public clouds.

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Everyday new devices are introduced, new apps emerge, new cloud solutions arrive and today’s employees are tech savvy enough to find a way to access them. For most IT departments, simply keeping up is a major challenge and, at the worst of times, it can seem like utter chaos – practically impossible. Sound familiar? IT organizations need to be realistic about the level of control they can expect in the modern digital age of self-service. Lock down or complete control versus enablement and support is just not going to fly as an approach to reigning in BYOD or cloud access.

 

Here’s another similarity. Cats are notoriously fickle creatures and will go to great lengths to get what they want. Most cat owners have come to terms with the fact that cats rule the household, dictating terms to the owner as opposed to the other way around. Modern consumers and business users have a similar mind set. Google Drive is forbidden? Time to move on to Dropbox. When Dropbox is blocked, they find whatever file sharing solution was recently launched, sometimes before IT has even realized that it exists or had an opportunity to analyze it.

 

Cats are sneaky. They will hide dark corners and do things behind your back, often after hours or when you are away. While in most cases there is no mal intent, studies have shown that employees frequently ‘sneak’ around company policies, disconnecting from company networks or using personal devices to access blocked sites, apps and tools for business. They see value and increased productivity in having access to these apps and feel hindered by what can seem like arbitrary rules the company put in place to simply forbid everything (e.g. IT’s “Dr. No” reputation) rather than find a way to make it work.

 

From the feline perspective, if you fulfill a need or serve a purpose, you are alright in their book. If cats are incentivized (read: fed & sheltered), they stick around for the long haul. Similarly, enabling and empowering the employee rather than attempting complete control and you just might find happy, cooperative users and a peaceful, productive and happier IT organization.

 

It is worth the time and investment to embrace consumerization and BYOD in a safe and effective manner. The Digital evolution is not going away, but with an effective strategy in place the cats may learn to co-exist peacefully.

 

[Editor’s Note: This post is intended as satire. No cats were harmed during writing. And to anyone offended by being compared to cats, let the record show the author is well aware there are many important traits that separate human behavior from that our furry friends (They can be pretty darn smart though).] 

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While the reticence to fully embrace the BYOD trend is somewhat understandable, is it really still justifiable? One thing is for certain: there’s still plenty of fear, uncertainty and doubt being spread about the integrity and viability of BYOD as a business-computing platform.

 

This article from USA today loosely defines the perceived problems and risks that BYOD could bring to organizations; cold comfort for those already nervous about this accelerating (and inevitable) phenomenon. A large part of an effective answer, the piece suggests, is an exhaustive BYOD policy - especially if it’s backed up with the threat of disciplinary action.

 

byod_happy.jpgA well thought out and broadly communicated ‘acceptable use’ policy is certainly useful and probably a legal requirement in some operating environments. But the underlying philosophy should really be one of enablement, not limitation.

 

By the way I’m not picking on USA Today or the author; it’s not exactly difficult to find similar tales of foreboding when it comes to BYOD. It’s also less the content I object to, some of the guidance makes great sense. No, my issue is more with the tone and outlook – BYOD is not a bad news story for business.

 

 

Reasons to be cheerful

 

BYOD really does offer some significant potential rewards and savings to organizations: “A whole tier of high performance technology infrastructure, at greatly reduced cost? One that we don’t need to procure and upgrade?”

 

“Where do I sign?” might be a better response than handwringing.

 

Not to mention the definite and even documented boost in productivity from a more empowered, engaged and connected workforce.  The potential cost savings and overall increase in corporate effectiveness just doesn’t get enough coverage outside the tech publications.

 

Is BYOD risk free? Of course it isn’t – but name a commercial computing platform that truly is. In reality there are lots of things you can do to mitigate and control the risks associated with BYOD and mobility more generally.

 

 

Just eMail and browser access? (you can do better than that)

 

You really can do so much more than offer email connectivity or browser access and you can do it safely and easily.  Some companies limit BYOD access to these basic services, fearful of exposing more sensitive corporate systems and data. There’s equal (and more understandable) anxiety over allowing unauthorized apps to run riot on corporate networks.

 

However, enterprise app management systems, like BMC AppZone, mean you can give your employees access to apps that you own and manage without compromising security. And it doesn’t make life difficult for employees either, the interface is every bit as slick and accessible as the consumer alternatives.

 

The solution is sophisticated enough to manage the entire app lifecycle too: from procurement to retirement. It also spans all platforms: mobile, cloud and desktop. So again, arguments about the incompleteness of solutions to support BYOD aren’t well founded.

 

 

Stable and secure

 

It’s the same story when it comes to the devices themselves. Some forward thinking organizations have developed comprehensive and well though out BYOD programs for their staff. Individuals are given a great deal of flexibility in what they can choose and operate in the working environment.

 

In return for this freedom, and occasionally financial subsidy too, the employee agrees to some device management capability on their machine. This not only protects the interests of the broader organization, but can also be a source of comfort and security for the employee too.

 

Left your beloved iPad in Starbucks? No problem, the additional security measures can ensure a much higher than standard level of protection for the device (and its contents too). It can even be remotely wiped if it were to be stolen or compromised.

 

There will, of course, be a negotiation between parties as to what an appropriate degree of control is for an employee owned device. However, from what I’ve seen, provided it isn’t invasive, the additional benefits and flexibility that BYOD offers make the installation of some systems management capability a non-issue for many.

 

More good news stories please!

 

Anyway, rant over, I think BYOD is a good news story, and I’d love to read more about organizations where it has been transformational. What’s your BYOD story? What benefits has it brought to your working environment? You can comment below, or you can find me on Twitter as @messagemonger

 

Cheers!

 

Chris

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We’re heading to the Fusion 13 Service Management Conference October 20 – 23, 2013 and if you’re going to be there or are thinking about attending we hope to see you there!  Fusion 13 is a great venue for learning, sharing and collaborating on IT Service Management with your peers and industry experts and we’re excited to be part of your amazing Nashville experience!

 

Start your Fusion experience at the BMC Software booth #306 (we’re right by the entrance, you can’t miss us!) where you’ll learn how BMC can help you optimize your multi-sourced technology environment and increase business agility by automating and industrializing IT all while amazing and delighting your users and the business!

 

In the booth we’ll have live BMC product demonstrations and a theater where you can enjoy a few minutes rest while you learn how the consumerization of IT is shaping new rules for IT service and support.

In addition to the great experience at BMC booth #306, I encourage you to attend the sessions delivered by the BMC team:

 

Power to your people: Transforming the end user experience of IT (Alf Abuhajleh, yes, he of Alf's Zoo!)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 7.30am in the Lincoln C/D/E Room

 

It's not self-service if it actually empowers people (Chris Dancy - the one and only)

Monday, October 21, 2013 at 12.40pm at the Solutions Spotlight Stage in the Expo Hall

 

We hope your travels to Nashville are safe and that you have a fantastic experience at Fusion 13 , the BMC team looks forward to seeing you there!

 

 

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It seems like almost every technology retailer now offers some kind of in-store, in-person support facility. The model is well suited to modern life: customers are able to choose when and where they get support for the products they own. It’s easy, it’s convenient - it’s service on the customer’s terms.ITConcierge.png

 

It’s a win for the retailer too: customers who use in-store support tend to be more loyal and buy more. This all depends, of course, on the experience being a good one. Every time.

 

In a bid to stay relevant and keep pace with modern expectations, many corporate IT departments are starting to invest in similar facilities. Tom Kaneshige of CIO.com recently wrote a very informative analysis of this emerging trend, which I'd thoroughly recommend reading.


The logic of offering a better, more aligned service to your customers seems obvious; but will it work for every organization? How do you know if you’re ready to branch out and build a concierge bar?

 

Read all about it

 

Earlier this year, we produced a free handbook and accompanying SlideShare presentation for those planning to build a concierge bar. Both pieces are very pragmatic and practical in their approach and invite you to think long and hard about your decision to invest in face-to-face support.

 

Like any other project, building a concierge bar has to have a projected return for the organization and must also be built on a foundation of operational readiness. The first half of the handbook guides you through an assessment of your motivations, the prospective return on your investment and an appraisal of your process maturity.

 

In the second half, the handbook turns to the details of planning, staffing, building and operating a concierge bar. For many organizations, this is a fundamentally new operating model and so it’s important to understand the different challenges and best practices at play with in-person support.

 

 

Maturity Issues

 

For most face-to-face facilities the customer’s requests span simple ‘how to’ through to light repairs or component swaps. More complex cases albert_einstein__s_tongue_photograph_by_zuzahin-d5pc5py.jpgare referred to second or third line teams, just as they would be in the more traditional service desk model.

 

This pattern translates as a relatively high volume of simple, repeatable requests that still need to be tracked and measured.The book therefore argues that your core incident and service request process and supporting technology need to be up to scratch.


The moral of the story?  Building a concierge bar won’t fix a flaky process, no matter how flashy you make the seating area!

 

 

 

 

Different strokes

 

Another important concept from the handbook relates to staffing your concierge bar. Perhaps unsurprisingly, getting face to face in IT support requires both technical understanding and well developed social skills.

 

While many helpdesk agents are competent and confident on the phone, quite a few won’t fare so well in-person; especially when the going gets rough with a difficult case or when their first tricky customer shows up.

 

Think about the skills you’d need to a handle a prickly executive who was actually the cause of their own technology problem. Enough said.

 

 

How deep is your love?

 

The concierge bar promises many efficiencies, particularly when it comes to the rapid resolution of the simpler, more common issues and the effective use of time that an appointment approach delivers. But there’s something more interesting going on, something the retailers value Bee Gees.jpggreatly in terms of the deeper relationship that face-to-face support can engender.

 

With the relative anonymity of telephone or online support removed, employees from the business and IT build a very different kind of relationship. This closer integration of a key IT operation into the wider business environment is one of the key benefits the handbook describes.

 

For many IT organizations who have recently adopted this model, transforming their relationship with the business was in fact their primary driver for investment.

 

 

Want to know more?

 

The handbook covers the themes above in much greater detail and gives practical guidance on many more additional themes and concepts too. It’s free to download - no forms and no fuss.

 

How about your organization? Maybe you’re like us here at BMC having recently opened your first concierge bar. How did it go? Any lessons to share?


Or perhaps you’re more skeptical or wary about making the investment?

 

Whatever your story, I’d love to hear more in the comments section below, or you can find me on Twitter as @messagemonger

 

Cheers!

 

Chris

Banking on MyIT

Posted by Chris Rixon Jul 4, 2013
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In this Blog series, I’ll be looking at some of the interesting and inventive ways customers are working with MyIT.  This week, it’s a financial services organization and one of the very first companies to embrace MyIT as part of their broader initiative to modernize the working Dollars.jpgenvironment.

 

In addition to delivering mission critical services across the globe, using physical, virtual and cloud technology, the IT function also has to contend with an extensive office infrastructure spread across a number of large sites.

 

For this company, the decision to invest in MyIT was all about increasing productivity. With a sizeable and complex physical estate, finding and using office technology was creating a lot of additional effort for business users, not to mention the IT teams supporting them.

 

 

Low-complexity, high-effort - the bane of support teams everywhere

 

“Hi, this is Marie, we’re in Building 5 in Conference Room 10, the projector won’t turn on and nobody can connect to the wireless network”. You know the drill: the agent could talk them through it (providing they know Room 10 well enough) but it’s going to be a little faster to send someone down.

 

Most requests the team receive from office staff are very simple, each issue taking just a few minutes to address. But the problem is one of sisyphus.jpgscale: with a workforce this big and with this much stuff to support, a significant amount of time is spent handling very simple requests.

 

Like most organizations these days, they’re not overstaffed in IT!  Every minute spent resolving these requests is lost in a very real and direct way from more strategic work.

 

However, all that is starting to change: MyIT now provides business users with a view of their immediate office surroundings, the location of key technology resources in that environment, together with instructions of how to connect and use the equipment. The result? A substantial reduction in the number of low complexity, high effort calls.

 

 

Find it. Book it.

 

Finding a meeting room and booking it can be complicated enough even in a modestly sized organization.  In a large facility, it can be an extremely time consuming exercise. Again, imagine the amount of wasted effort spent across the entire company on what is a very simple undertaking.

 

Using MyIT, together with an integration to a building management system, makes it easy to locate and then book meeting rooms from a compass.jpgmobile device. The company is now able to drastically reduce the amount of time and resources spent on managing room allocation. Employees unfamiliar with certain locations are able to navigate buildings and locate rooms much more easily (and without distracting other employees.)

 

The fact that MyIT offers location based filtering of services also allows IT to target key updates and services to specific locations. Further streamlining the task of getting information and assistance.

 

 

Have your say

 

What about your organization? Do you routinely get mind-numbingly simple requests that take an inordinate amount of time to address? How much time would you calculate is wasted on low complexity, high effort calls across your company?

 

I’d love to hear your tales of the mundane! Drop me a note in the comments below or find me on Twitter as @messagemonger

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Does your pulse quicken, just a little, as you glimpse your favorite computing device? Do you warm to the gentle and familiar glow of your home screen? Do your favorite apps shine like a cluster of precious jewels? If any of this rings true for you don’t worry, you’re not alone - owning technology is an emotional business.

 

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In fact, organizations are just starting to wake up to the complex emotional and even neurological factors behind trends like BYOD. As this article from Network Computing explains, we’re not only emotionally engaged with our devices and the applications they run, they’re starting to shape the way we think; perhaps even defining the boundaries of where we stop and start as individuals.

 

So what does this process look like? how do we get from our initial flirtations with a novel technology, to a deep and abiding love that will conquer all? And is there anything we can learn from this process that can help us shape the way we engage with consumers of corporate IT?

 

 

Phase 1 The Experiential

 

Ahh, the first flushes of attraction. Oh how you marvel at the balance of straight edges and curves in the design of the casing. The smooth animations are like the oil-damped eject mechanism of a tape deck (listen, I’m over 40, ok?). You’re not entirely sure what it does yet, but you’re pretty certain you need it in your life. At the very least, you feel moved to explore.

 

Design and aesthetics really matter in the snap decisions people make about whether to engage with a technology, be it hardware or software. And it’s not just about pulling people in for a closer look: good design can give a strong sense of usability and familiarity. As humans, we automatically equate pleasing form with ease of use; a phenomenon well documented in the aesthetic usability effect.graphic_design smaller.jpg

 

 

Many a self-service IT initiative has foundered on the rocks of design, aesthetics and usability. Even a well laid out and simple portal will often fail to attract a meaningful percentage of the workforce. Why? Because expectations these days are incredibly high. Just look at the quality of the apps people now use: an exquisite balance of design, usability and utility. This is where the bar has now been set.

 

Phase 1, the initial experience of technology, is the most important phase in getting people on board with a new technology or service; in fact, it’s one of the guiding forces that shaped our own MyIT app. The message is simple: if you want people to move beyond a brief and meaningless encounter with your technology, then make them want to use it. In which case, experience is everything.

 

 

Phase 2 Getting Engaged

 

Having got those awkward first dates out of the way, something tells you you’re into something good. In phase 2 of digital love, you find yourself turning more and more to the object of your new found affection. You start exploring its capabilities more fully, probing beyond the look and feel to see if this thing has genuine utility.

 

This is where trust is built, as you deliberately (and sometimes subconsciously) put the technology to the test. Is this worthy of greater emotional investment? or is it going to let me down badly when I need it most?

 

Remember, getting people this far was a small triumph, so make sure the substance and delivery of your service matches the promise of the interface. Something we explored in an earlier blog.

 

 

Phase 3 Feeling Empowered

 

In phase 3 your relationship with the technology deepens. You like interacting with it, it does something you find useful and you trust it; so now you start to incorporate it into your life. The technology becomes part of how you do things. It has real and tangible benefits: it makes you better at important tasks or perhaps it saves you from having to do those tasks at all. Maybe it tells you something about the world (or about yourself) that you wouldn’t otherwise know.

 

In short the technology has started to empower and enrich you; it has somehow both extended your capabilities and simplified getting things done. You can see some great examples of technologies doing just that for IT in this piece on inc.com. images-2.jpeg

 

Phones, tablets, apps, services, tools - regardless of what the technology is, the things that take people to Phase 3 (and beyond) are always well aligned to the audiences they serve. This sounds obvious, however, these days the trick is not necessarily being relevant, but staying relevant.

 

Like any relationship, you need to work at it. As a provider of IT services, staying in the hearts and minds of your employees in a world that is changing as fast as this one takes constant effort. They will always be comparing and contrasting the technology they experience outside the workplace with the services you deliver.

 

 

Phase 4 Ownership (aka: try to take this away, and I will hurt you, a lot.)

 

I’m not a man given to violent acts, but if someone decided to help themselves to my iPad, trust me, I would take it personally. There would be crying, gnashing of teeth and endless cups of tea to help me through the grieving process. My friends and relatives would be forced to listen to anecdotes that began with “Remember the time when I...”

 

A strong sense of ownership is the ultimate stage of falling in love with digital technology. There’s no longer a clear boundary between it  and you, something that is starting to be borne out in the neuroscience as we saw earlier. Here, we’ve crossed the line between usefulness and are now firmly in the territory of dependency.

 

Unknown.jpegCultivating this degree of attachment is not without risks though; this is where serious resistance to change can set in. The fickleness and relative fragility of phase 3, can be replaced with a kind of defensive zealotry. Things may not reach the almost religious heights of fandom exhibited by the Apple Newton (remember those?) community- but -just try taking away (or radically changing) a technology people feel they own. Not for the faint hearted.

 

So keep the channels of communication with your customers wide open, and make sure any planned improvements or changes are mutually agreeable and build on what got everyone hooked in the first place.

 

How about you?

 

Got any technology crushes you think might go somewhere? How about your true loves? what devices, apps or systems have become a part of what you do and maybe even who you are?

 

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or you can reach me on Twitter as @messagemonger

 

Until next time, be careful out there...

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“I love where our IT consumerization initiative is taking us, the autonomy and flexibility we can afford our employees is amazing, especially for our mobile workforce who feel much better connected and say they waste less time”

 

A fairly typical conversation about the benefits of IT consumerization you might think, and indeed it had been up to that point. I was at the Service Desk and IT Show in London in April and got chatting to a VP of IT from a large technology company with a major presence in the UK.images.jpeg.jpg

 

We chatted about their experiences with BYOD, self-service and their transition to being 80% cloud based in terms of corporate applications. Advanced? perhaps - but not exceptional these days by any means. Then he said…

 

“I asked my team to look at developing guidelines for connecting to our systems outside working hours. We’re keen to make sure people don’t overdo it and stress themselves out.”

 

I must have done a pretty poor job at masking my surprise, because he quickly followed up with “yeah, most people react like that”

 

“We’re thinking about building a course too, to help people put technology and connectivity in perspective”

 

 

 

Managing our relationship to technology

 

It was the first time I could recall human factors playing a role in end-user education - outside of the more usual ethical and legal policies and the ergonomics of sitting correctly and adjusting the height of my monitor.

 

pixel_heart_by_smarticles101-d2y45vs.jpgThis was guidance, in essence, about how to be in relation to the technology and the opportunity that technology presented to be connected everywhere, right around the clock.

 

“The secret, we think, is to have a healthy outlook on the technology and make sure that when people do use it outside of normal working patterns, that they’re looking carefully at why they’re doing it and how it’s making them feel”

 

This was progressive thinking, although not without precedent. This is a pretty hot area in many tech circles right now, with a few key influencers advocating a more considered and mindful approach to the consumption of technology and the relentless stream of information.

 

In a recent episode of Mindful Cyborgs - a show that Chris Dancy co-presents with WIRED’s Klint Finley - there was a great discussion with Nathan Jurgenson about some of the social implications of increased connectivity.

 

 

 

Is always-on more stressful or less stressful?

 

For many, the flexibility and autonomy afforded by a generous and forward thinking consumerization approach has transformed their working lives, with any additional potential stress easily mitigated by the convenience. I’d definitely include myself in that category.

 

I’ve spoken to plenty of people who feel more stressed by not being connected, nervous about what they’re missing, or the perceived build up Unknown.jpeg.jpgof work while they were off the grid and unable to respond. By the way, this viewpoint probably isn’t healthy either.

 

But there are, of course, those who find the degree of connectivity we now have highly stressful. In many cases the real anxiety arises from a perceived expectation (real or imagined) that they should always be available and up to speed.

 

 

Over to you…

 

What do you think? Does greater connectivity and flexibility work for you? Or do you savor every second away from your devices? Perhaps you’ve struck a balance and have some great advice to share?

 

Comments below – or tweets to @messagemonger

 

Cheers!

 

Chris

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I don’t drink, I don’t smoke but I do have a serious book habit – I know, rock ‘n’ roll right? Supporting my book addiction is one of the best consumer experiences there is: Amazon.com. It’s also one of the most overused examples, but with good reason. It just works, and even better, I actually enjoy the process. The question is: is my loyalty driven purely by the online experience? Or is something bigger going on?

 

In this blog series I’ll be exploring the fundamentals of consumer service delivery. Along the way, we’ll identify approaches that could be workable and meaningful for IT. We’ll also start to build a much-needed working definition of IT consumerization, together with some practical steps towards modernization of the IT supplier-consumer relationship.

 

Lots has been written about giving IT consumers an experience in the workplace that matches the levels of service they’ve come to expect in their personal lives. And, quite rightly, a lot of the attention focuses on giving business users choice, flexibility and a great online experience. However, the new and slick presentation of your services needs to be matched with seamless and reliable service delivery.

 

So what can we learn from the giants of customer service when it comes to delivering on the promise of the sexy storefront? How do they use logistics as a secret weapon in a fiercely competitive market? And what might that mean for IT service delivery teams?

 

 

Repeatability

lego.jpgSupply chain experts will tell you that repeatability is extremely important. How would you feel about your favorite online store if they only delivered 8 times out of 10? Or if certain items in the catalog arrived on time and without fuss, while others were always delayed and often resulted in a trip to your local depot? In these days of unprecedented choice, you’d be almost certain to use an alternative next time – regardless of how easy it was to make the order.

 

Repeatability matters. This is as true for IT service delivery as it is for ordering goods online, which is why ‘repeatable’ is a basic measure of IT process maturity. It’s also true that corporate IT consumers now have a great deal of choice – so keeping them loyal and using the services you provide is an increasingly serious business.

 

Before embarking on a major consumerization project, you need to ensure that the processes underpinning the delivery of the services you intend to provide are well defined, enforced and robust. They don’t need to be complex or elaborate (see the next section for more) but they do need to work efficiently, every time.

 

Take a close look at the performance of your core service desk processes, together with change and service request management if you have them. Are you hitting your SLAs reliably enough that you’d be comfortable promoting these services even more widely? Are you even measuring your SLA performance effectively?

 

 

Simplicity


Another hallmark of great logistics is simplicity. If you think about the list of attributes defining a great logistics approach on this blog: i.e. repeatability, scalability, transparency and timeliness – they are all maximized by taking the simplest approach possible.

 

Removing complexity and duplication in process steps, and looking very carefully at the handoff between teams, will be time well spent. Enough said.

 

Scalability


“We built it - they showed up - we weren’t ready” is not a great epitaph for an IT consumerization project. It’s also been the downfall of many Conveyer_Belt_Small.JPG.jpgsupply chain projects, so look out…

 

One thing you can guarantee if you make your IT services more accessible and easier to use, is more customers. More customers, asking for more things, across a broader range of technologies for more of the time. Are you ready? Will your fulfillment processes and accompanying systems cope? Are you staffed at the right levels at the right times?

 

This is why it’s a good idea to introduce your new services to select groups on a trial basis. By taking this approach, you’ll learn about service uptake and patterns of utilization. That will give you a much better feel for the level and kinds of resource you’ll need to keep your service delivery on track.

 

 

Transparency (and communication)


“Your package will arrive between 10-30am and 10-45am, the driver’s name is Holly and she can be reached on” etc. It’s amazing just how much we can now see as consumers of logistics services: from interactive maps to increasing accurate delivery estimates, transparency and communication are becoming competitive differentiators for supply chain providers and their clients.

 

Regardless of whether things are going right, or horribly wrong, transparency and effective communication are critical in service delivery.  Effective communication doesn’t just involve communicating clearly and frequently - it also has to be seen by the right people at the right time. So communication channel and method are just as important.

 

Giving clear indications of exactly what you’re doing with business users’ requests, your overall service health and performance - together with any projected service impacts to key customer groups, are good places to start in building a more consumer-like communication model.

 

 

Timeliness

Delivery.jpgTimeliness in logistics has two components: promptness and predictability.  It’s not just outright speed that wins the day in logistics, although it’s clearly very important - it’s also about doing what you said you'd do, when you said you’d do it. Better predictability has been the holy grail for supply chain firms for many years.

 

The fact that many companies have got the accuracy of their projected delivery time to within an hour (and in many cases less) is no accident. It’s the result of a concerted effort in: optimized process design, the effective use of technology and improved communications.

 

Consumers of modern logistics no longer have to plan their lives to fit around a loose, unpredictable service delivery window. Again, in the age of choice, poor timing in service delivery means you won’t be around for very long.

 

For IT teams, this means prompt but achievable business SLAs that are agreed, measured and enforced. SLAs should also be used in concert with the enhanced communications as we outlined above. Having a comprehensive (but not extensive) set of SLAs and supporting system will take on renewed significance as you embark on your consumerization journey.

 

 

Join me next time as we look a little more closely as we explore more lessons from the giants of consumer service!

 

Until then, Cheers!

 

Chris