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IT Service Management [ARCHIVED]

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Alf's Zoo - In the midst of the 2014 FIFA World Cup hysteria, the Zoo chats with competitive intelligence expert David Johnson about the difference between collecting business information and conducting industrial espionage. David also shares the latest trends in the ITSM market, including renewed focus on the end-user experience, introduction of context-aware services and increased use of advanced mobile tools.

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Familiarity breeds comfort—no matter how dysfunctional the situation. Despite your best efforts to communicate the challenges facing your organization and build an indisputable case for change, you may face an uphill battle. Not everyone will be enthusiastic about the weaknesses you’ve exposed and the prospect of embarking on a project that may radically change the status quo.


In this blog, I'm going to explore a few tips for presenting a good case for change and investment in your ITSM strategy, focusing on the structure of the pitch itself. There's lots of guidance out there about the more formal aspects of building the business case, but not a great deal about how to summarize and present that information during any live pitch you'll inevitable have to make.


Some of the folks you might meet

When it comes to ITSM transformation, people — i.e. your staff, your users and your leadership—pose the greatest challenges and opportunities. Understanding who you need to convince and what they care about will be critical in making your case. I recently wrote about some strategies about cultivating the want for change, so it might be worth you while checking that out too.

Before we get into the construction of the pitch itself, let's briefly consider the three basic groups and behaviors you're likely to encounter, and share some effective approaches for dealing with each of them.

  • The Supporters: They’re vocal, credible and on your side. If they’re employed in departments outside IT, they may be even better allies. Usually, they will support you in meetings, validating your findings and proposed plans.

Your engagement strategy: This one’s simple. Exploit their enthusiasm and support while you have it!

  • The Detractors: Everyone reacts to change differently. Those who object have diverse motives—some are overt and explicit, while others are personal and concealed. Often the detractors are the people who have invested significant resources in the current scenario or are comfortable with what’s now familiar and easy. Opposing points of view can be useful. When they’re vocal, credible and contentious, they become troublesome. Your assignment is to convert as many people from this category to supporters.

Your engagement strategy: Your impulse may be to dismiss or cautiously respond to the detractors’ objections. Be careful. The benefits of a Socratic method are well documented. You may overlook valid concerns and oversights in your own approach if you push back too quickly.    


  • The Bankers: Successful businesses are built and run with dreamers and pragmatists. The dreamers are paid to brainstorm useful and creative approaches to investing capital. The pragmatists, or bankers, are there to safeguard the wealth. Your challenge: to convince them that the investment is worthwhile and will deliver a positive ROI beyond the confines of IT.

Your engagement strategy: Typically the bankers’ concerns stem from a desire to ensure that the right things are done with precious resources. Approach your business case and associated presentations with an investment mindset. Imagine it’s your own money on the table. What would you need to understand and how would you wish to be approached before you were even prepared to entertain the discussion?

Building your pitch presentation

Assuming that you’ve convinced enough of the right people that your ITSM operations need serious reevaluation, you will be asked to present a business case that justifies the project. In my experience, this can be a difficult and nuanced exercise. The following outline provides a structure you can use to build your presentation to key decision makers. It also includes some ideas around constructing the information and key messages, and some illustrative examples of compelling points to make.


Starting with Why: Section 1 - Your introduction

Fans of Simon Sinek and his thinking around the 'golden circle' will recognize the reccomendation to start your pitch with the 'Why':This part of your presentation is where you’ll introduce your audience to the nature and scope of your project and, most importantly, the factors driving investment. It can be useful to assume your proposal is new to your audience and that some of the stakeholders come from departments outside IT.

Remember, this is a presentation—not a project plan! You’ll want to practice restraint. You’ll also want to refrain from including much financial analysis upfront. That’s a surefire way to invite debate and clarification, preventing your from presentation moving forward. Instead, add a full financial section to your backup slides or as your final call to action if this is your investment pitch.

Illustrative examples

     Primary motivations and pain (a summary of 'Why')

      • Increase business user productivity
      • Improve service availability


What we’re proposing

      • Aligning to ITIL best practices in four key support processes
      • Consolidating our 3 ITSM systems to a single cloud-based solution 


Key sources of projected value

      • We think we can save every business user an hourand half every week


Some helpful tips

      • Be selective: Focus on what really matters.
      • Limit yourself to 5-7 key points.
      • Lead with end-user and business-related drivers.
      • Tailor each section to the audience’s interest; make it relevant.
      • If you use acronyms, include explanations.



A test of your mettle: Section 2 - Describing your current situation

Use these slides to provide a brief and honest assessment of your current situation and its impact on the broader organization. Scary eh?But by giving stakeholders context, they will have a better understanding of why ITSM is such an important discipline! Some organizations choose not to include a section like this, particularly if it discloses sub-par performance or capabilities. But, this kind of analysis can be incredibly powerful and some audience will appreciate your candor. Only you really understand your political, so it’s your choice how much you highlight current shortcomings!

Illustrative examples

Process shortfalls

      • First line resolution is 40% lower than benchmark
      • We are unable to automate Service Level Agreements 

Failure examples and estimated impact (for the brave!)

      • Uncorrelated failure resulted in payment processing outage for 3 hours
      • Two-day outage of online transactions through failed change

User satisfaction data summary

      • 20% of users are satisfied with our responsiveness

The bit people really care about: Section 3 - Summarizing business-user productivity gains

In my experience, organizations that introduce business-user productivity gains early in their presentations have the most success. This is especially true when your audience and decision-making committees includes a fair number of non-IT staff. What you discuss here will have the greatest impact on ensuring a green light. Be comprehensive and realistic. Plan on explaining how you intend to accomplish every goal and target.

It’s important to note that user expectations of IT support are at an all-time high, thanks to the online service people are receiving outside the workplace. As a result, a self-service infrastructure is key to being able to deliver the productivity gains you’re promising.

Illustrative example

Our Targets: User Productivity Gains

      • A return of 1.5 productive hours/user/week
      • Reduce wait times for new equipment by 75% 

How: Improving Service Levels

      • Reduce Severity 1 incident response time from 4 hours to 2 hours
      • Reduce Password reset SLA from 8 hours to 5 minutes 

How: Improve access to IT services and information

      • Introduce a self-service portal for end users
      • Introduce mobile access for IT services 

How: Introduce New IT Services

      • Introduce end-user requested hardware and software
      • Provide a new starter IT on-boarding process and template

Some helpful tips

      • Explain that you will address these issue in the rest of the presentation.
      • Correlate the shortfalls to your systems—not your team!
      • Map failure examples to deficits in the tools.


Section 4: Improving service desk agent productivity and satisfaction

There’s no question that your choice of ITSM software can greatly affect productivity, agent satisfaction and overall staff retention. This explains why agent satisfaction is an area receiving more industry attention and research.

Survey the people who spend the most time with your IT support processes and tools, and you’ll uncover new insights into how well your strategy and infrastructure are working. You’ll want to include the results in your evaluation process and document them in your business case.

Example structure


Our Targets: Agent productivity and satisfaction

      • 25% increase in agent productivity (requests/day)
      • 50% increase in first line resolution rate 

How: Improved knowledge sharing and distribution

      • Introduce knowledge management technology
      • Permit knowledge search on self-service portal

Some helpful tips

      • Extend “Our Targets” slides with some staff retention goals.
      • Expand “How” section with social media insights and its impact on team productivity.



Here comes the science part: Section 5: Outlining process improvement gains

Having clearly established the benefits for business users and IT staff, you’ll want to dive deeper into the intrinsic gains accompanying your proposed best practices. Our example reflects ITIL terminology. If you subscribe to another methodology, you should use your own language and process names.

CAUTION: With some audiences, especically those with a higher non-IT bias, you might want to exclude this section unless you like the sound of snoring and enjoy rotten eggs being (or worse) launched at you.

DOUBLE CAUTION: Be realistic, if not a tad conservative with your benchmarks, and you'll come off as a great deal more credible.

Illusutrative examples


Our Targets: Process Improvement Gains

Problem Management

          • 50% increase in root cause identifications
          • 20% reduction mean problem duration

Change Management

          • 20% reduction in change-related incidents
          • 40% increase in first-time change success rate 

How: Problem management process improvements

          • Introduce separate problem management process
          • Relate all associated records across all processes 

How: Change Management process improvements

          • Add a formalized and automated approval chain
          • Introduce mandatory risk analysis investigation

Optional section 6: Clarify Cost Reductions from a New Deployment Model

If your project involves moving to a cloud solution there can be a number of advantages that it might be advantageous to present, including: rapid deployment, greater agility and improved scalability. There can be financial benefits, too. So you could factor in what you’ll save by being able to remove dedicated server, storage and even network hardware. But every environment and starting point is different, so if you do include this section make sure the projected benefits of this move will really apply in your operating environment.

Typically savings are annualized, so many organizations choose to represent them over a three- to five-year period in their financial analyses. Of course, you won’t eliminate all costs. You still need to account for training, internal awareness and testing.

Some helpful tips

      • When entering targets, be realistic about how much you’ll actually be able to remove.
      • If you reuse any hardware, record that as a “deferred purchase.”

Your final call to action (or back-up slides): The financial analysis and asking for the cash!

I've seen too many internal pitches crash, burn and grind to a halt when it got to the financial part, sadly in most cases that analysis was given on slide 2 - and there endeth the presentation! So to diffuse any debate or contention, I recommend including your financial analysis and funding request at the end of your deck. If the pitch isn't really about getting money but buy-in more generally then do yourself a favor and leave it out entirely!!!

You may choose to highlight a few of the key savings in your introduction. However, its placement and format may depend on who’s in your audience and how your internal processes are organized. Be prepared to defend your numbers vehemently! so make sure you understand them, keep their representation simple and don't exaggerate!!!

Over to you


Any tips or horror stories to share about picthing for investment in ITSM or any other IT project for that matter - I'd love to hear them. You can comment below or find me on Twitter as @messagemonger

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As observed by Andy McAfee during the Harvard Business Review (HBR) webinar discussing digital transformation, there’s often a subtle or not-so-subtle conflict between IT and the business.


This tension is longstanding, and affects companies large and small. For success at any company, the business can’t blame IT for non-optimal support nor can IT treat the business with any type of disdain. Both sides contributeandrew_mcafee.jpg, but change starts with the individual. So, start with what you can control and ask the right question: What’s your contribution to the problem?


Beginning with a question directed to yourself brings a human aspect to a business, and not just IT or process perspectives. It’s not always an IT process or piece of technology that drives a business and delivers success. It’s people that deliver success.


Successful companies have a productive dialog amongst IT and the lines of business sides. Both the business and IT require reflection to run properly. And both need honesty and open relations, as well as dialog. As Andy points out, who cares who walks into the other’s office first, the CIO or the CEO, just as long as someone begins the conversation.


Success incorporates ownership of technology. The relationship with the business users and IT needs to be fluid. This symbiotic relationship requires that IT provide services the business needs to run a competitive company, and the business must understand the constraints and pressures placed on any IT division to properly support a company viasecure and compliant means.


When discussing this geek/suit divide, it’s interesting to consider workforce age differences, from next generation hires to retirees. Andy 2nd_machine_age_square.jpgpoints out that demographics may possibly be on our side right now when it comes to the acceptance of workplace technology limitations, but that won’t last long. Millennials will not tolerate weekday technologies that don’t live up to ones they have regular access to outside the office. It is IT’s responsibility to deliver the technology experiences workers expect, but within the risk and security controls required to keep the company optimized. The traditional technology divide must be condensed as newer generations join the workforce—this will promote the symbiotic relationship needed to meet business goals.


Andy suggests that teams “stop pointing fingers and develop some kind of shared goals and shared vocabulary.”


What have you done within your company to create dialog between IT and business?


To see the full HBR video, click here:






Jeff Moloughney


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This week, Pratik Nahata talks to the Zoo from Bangalore, India, where social and mobile are beginning to alter politics and business, entertainment and family life. In the recent elections, for example, parties found new ways to engage young voters through Twitter and Facebook. Instead of straw and exit polls, news outlets watched hashtags and mentions to see who's tracking. In retail, businesses are connecting with customers through mobile apps, even offering steep discounts if you buy from a smartphone. And more people communicate with friends and family through WhatsApp, the $19 billion mobile messaging app Facebook just acquired, because it is free.

How Much ITIL Is Enough?

Posted by Chris Rixon May 29, 2014
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How Much ITIL Is Enough?


ITIL, and ITSM process design in general, remain divisive topics, sparking a number of healthy online debates in recent times. There are those who believe that any amount of best practice is overkill and that a framework will restrain their process design (this is a relatively extreme position fuelled by unique requirements or prejudice.)


At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who think that their organizations should adopt all ITIL processes—exactly as the books recommend. Unless you’re trying to achieve formal ISO accreditation, this approach can be highly constraining. In reality, even accreditation does not depend on adopting every ITIL detail.


It’s unlikely that your organization will need to adopt ITIL in its entirety—or even benefit from doing so. Make sure you’re not ignoring all other factors and focusing solely on ITIL. Instead, try to balance the recommendations made in the standard with the realities of their operational environment and business goals.


Following are some helpful filters to apply when you’re thinking about the degree to which an ITIL process will fit your environment:



1.Does the ITIL recommendation support your business goals?


If, for example, a formal problem management process will address greater service stability for the business, you can move ahead—applying more filters to help you decide how much to use or what to change. On the other hand, if that part of ITIL would actively impair your ability to meet a key goal, it can usually be ignored.


A word of caution: If an ITIL process doesn’t support one of your stated goals, look carefully at the purpose of that process. Have you missed an important capability gap in your process audit? Is the ITIL recommendation actually revealing something critical that you’ve missed?

My colleague Anthony Orr, himself an author of the ITIL standard, offers a much more in depth analysis of this step (and other themes) in his series of free BMC ebooks. And if you're frantically revising for your 'Managing across the lifecycle' exam you can read his latest book designed to get you through!



2. Is the formally specified process really needed in full?

If it looks like the ITIL process would support your business goal or close an important gap in your process requirements, you need to review the recommendation and decide how much of it is workable.

It’s possible that the recommended change management process would generally meet your goal of greater service stability. However, implementing it in full could detract from your adjacent goal of increasing responsiveness to the business. You then need to decide what you can safely discard while maintaining the integrity of the process.

In many cases, the ready-made process will be overkill and engineered to meet the most demanding operational environments. Recognizing this, renowned ITIL expert, Malcolm Fry, developed ITIL Lite. You can find out more about it here.

3. Do you have the resources to support the process?

If a specific part of ITIL will support your objectives and could be highly effective with a little adjustment, you need to consider whether you have the resources to actually make it happen.

Clearly, this filter applies less to the core and critical ITIL processes or those cases where you’ve identified important deficits in your current capabilities. You must find the resources to implement and staff these processes.

Instead, this pertains to the more marginal cases and the nice-to-have processes that could bring value to the organization. In each case, you need to assess the relative return associated with the process and decide whether it deserves priority when resources are constrained.

Do you really need to indulge the finer points of configuration management when you have no critical issues, no dedicated staff and no budget to support the process with an appropriate software tool? Be thorough in evaluating ITIL recommendations, regardless of their apparent logic.


New lenses for The New IT: Balancing the Needs of the Business, Technology and People

Whether it’s apparent or not, most processes revolve around a fundamental philosophy or guiding principal. ITIL is a good example of this, as it has introduced the concept of business alignment to many IT teams. ITIL invites us to consider the eventual business value of our ITSM processes and to think hard about including things that will only benefit IT.

While ITIL doesn’t preclude operational enhancements, it always guides us back to thinking about the broader business to some degree. It has become a major
influence in shaping process design for many ITSM organizations, even if some
have only used it to name their key processes.

Other lenses can and should be applied to process design, especially as IT shifts its fundamental approach in response to the digitization of more and more of the business . These include:

  • Balancing the need to serve the business with the need to preserve the integrity of your supported systems


  • Thinking about the people who will use those processes


  • Ensuring that your theoretically perfect processes aren’t a complete 
nightmare for anyone who has to interact with them


  • Making sure the processes are accessible and people-centric, but don’t compromise the stability of the very systems you’re tasked to manage 
In process design, the whole picture is very important and, sadly, often neglected. In light of these considerations, let’s look at some alternative design philosophies and how they might be combined:

The technology-centric approach

Naturally, there are occasions when you’ll want to be single-minded in your design approach. Not that long ago, IT support processes existed largely to govern the domain of technology and the people who supported it. This technology centered view barely considered how process design impacted the business. Instead, operational integrity and system performance were top priorities.

This approach still has its place. For example, in safety-critical environments or highly secure operations where integrity is the primary driver behind process design. Of course, there is a payoff for the broader business, even if it isn’t the prime consideration. It usually centers on failure mitigation.


The customer-centric approach

Recently, ITSM teams have been more focused on customer-centric operations. This is partly in response to increasing customer expectations around how and where IT services are consumed. It’s also a result of the unlimited access our internal customers have to information and alternative support networks.

This shift in expectations, coupled with the fact that many employees are now free to choose and run their own computing devices, is prompting many IT organizations to focus their efforts on staying relevant to the organization. The phrase “customer experience” is fast becoming standard ITSM terminology, and, for some, the new guiding philosophy for the services they operate.


For best results, mix with care

The secret of working with these different design philosophies lies in understanding how to combine them effectively and when to emphasize one set of objectives over another.

A good process design will consider the integrity of the technology, the business value and the user experience to varying degrees, depending on the context in which the process will be used.

For example, you could easily construct a self-service request process that’s hugely efficient for the business. Perhaps it enhances the stability of the underlying technology but leaves the internal customer in the dark until the process completes.

In this case, you have failed to consider the customer in a process that is customer facing. This a common mistake that highlights the value of thinking more holistically about process design.

Luckily, these factors build on one another. As a result, every process you design should, at a minimum, ensure the operational stability of any
technology involved. As discussed earlier, this technology-centric filter is the
only one you may need to apply to some integrity-critical processes.

Just as you wouldn’t construct a customer-friendly process that was operationally risky, you also can’t neglect the impact and broader value to the business. Therefore, our next level of consideration in process design is making sure that what we’ve designed effectively supports business objectives.

Your final step is to consider the human factors in process design, i.e., what it is like to interact with this process and the supporting systems as a process user.


What do you think?

How do you feel about ITIL? How do you approach best practice adoption in your organization? And how has your process design philosophy shifted as more and more of your organization goes digital?

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below or you can find me on Twitter as @messagemonger



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The last few years in the ITSM toolset market have been somewhat dominated by the subject of cloud delivery. Businesess have, of course, rapidly embraced the cloud as an application consumption option. ITSM has been no exception: new entrants and established brands alike have invested either in fully SaaS offerings, or in diversification of their offering to provide a choice between on-premise and cloud delivery models.


However, for the users of those tools, or their customers in the wider organisation using SaaS software, the delivery method alone does not necessarily change much. This is hugely important to remember. If software is consumed via a URL, it does not particularly matter whether the screens and features are served from the company's own servers, or from a data centre halfway across the country or even the world.  There are often points of benefit for the SaaS end user, of course. But the mechanism alone? It's a big deal for the buyer, or for the people managing the system.  It has transformed ownership of the software, reducing complexity and costs.  But for the users, it might be wholly or predominantly transparent.


It's important, therefore, to look at what the real differences are to those real-life users: the people whose jobs are constantly underpinned by the applications. Now that we have a solid set of SaaS platforms underpinning ITSM, it seems right to focus on where cloud has already created dramatic user benefits outside the ITSM space. These huge trends show us what is possible:


Autonomy: When an employee stores or shares files using a cloud storage provider like Dropbox, they are detaching them from the traditional corporate infrastructure of hard drives, email, and groupware. When they use their own smartphone or tablet at work, as more than 80% of knowledge workers are doing, they are making a conscious decision to augment their toolset with technology of their own choice, rather than their company's.

Collectivisation: Cloud applications have the potential to pull broad user groups together in a manner that no closed corporate system can ever hope to do. In the consumer space, this is the key difference between crowdsourced guidance and point expert advice (a battle in which the momentum is only going one way: as evidenced by numerous examples such as the disruption of the travel guide book market by Yelp and TripAdvisor). Aggregated information and real time interaction are new and powerful disruption to traditional tools and services, and Cloud is a huge enabler of these.

Communication: Facebook's impact on social communication has been to close down distances and seamlessly bring groups of people together in an effortless manner. In a similar manner, Cloud platforms give us new ways to link disparate ITSM actors (whether customers or deliverers) across multiple systems, locations and organizations, without the requirement to build and maintain multiple, expensive ad-hoc paths of communication, and without some of the drawbacks of traditional channels such as email. Service, at least when things get complicated, is a team effort, and slick communication underpins that effort.

Cross-Platformity: Cloud underpinnings have enabled a new generation of applications to work seamlessly across different devices. An employee on a customer visit can use a tool like Evernote to dictate stand-up notes using a smartphone, before editing them on the train home using a tablet, and retrieving them on the laptop in the office the next morning. Nothing needs to be transferred: there is no fiddling with SD Cards or emails.


These are the principles which will change the game for ITSM's front line service providers, and it's customers. Bringing some or all of them together opens up a huge range of possibilities:

  • Integrated service platforms, connecting the customer in new ways to those serving them (think of the "two halves of Uber", for instance: separate applications for passenger and driver, with powerful linkage between the two for geolocation, payment and feedback).
  • Fully mobilised ITSM, delivering a truly cross platform "Evernote" experience with persistent personal data such as field notes.
  • Easy application linkages, driven by easy to use, powerful personal "if... then..." interaction tools, opening up powerful but controllable autonomy and user-driven innovation.
  • Integrated community interaction beyond the bounds of the single company instance, enabling knowledge sharing and greater self-help.
  • Highly contextual and assistive features, underpinned by broad learning of user needs and behaviours across large sets of users, and detailed analysis of individual patterns.
  • Open marketplaces for granular services and quick "plug and play" supplier offerings, rapidly consumed and integrated through open cloud-driven toolsets.
  • New collaboration spaces for disparate teams of stakeholders, bringing the right people together in a more effective way, to get the job done.


Autonomy, collectivisation, communication, cross-platformity: these are four key principles that are truly making a difference to ITSM. Cloud delivery is just the start.  We can now properly harness the real frontline benefits of this technological revolution.

Shopping for Social IT

Posted by Alf Abuhajleh May 21, 2014
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My retail-savvy friend doesn't have time to go shopping.


“You jump in the car, find a spot at the mall, walk for miles, only to find the product is sold out,” he said after a recent shopping outing. “It’s not worth it.”

Instead of wasting time at brick-and-mortars, modern bargain hunters find great deals online. With a click and a swipe, they score 40 percent off the latest Prada shoes or a twofer on Boss

To make shopping even faster and easier, online giant recently introduced #AmazonCart, which allows you to add items to your shopping basket directly from Twitter.  When you find a post with a link to an Amazon product, simply reply to the message and add the hashtag #AmazonCart. The item is then placed in your cart for later purchase.

Beyond driving impulse buying with a social-channel strategy, publicly displaying the items people place in their shopping carts will socialize products with your network. Considering more people rely on peer-assisted selections when purchasing online, it’s a convenient feature.


Connecting social and shopping is an on-going evolution we've written about before. Retailers are beginning to understand how to tie our lives to their offerings in a meaningful way to forge a long-term relationship with the brand.

IT should do the same.

The value social brings to the enterprise – where employees are struggling daily to find, request and receive IT and business services – is immense. Every month, the average business user loses two days, or 18 hours per month, due to IT-related issues, according to Forrester Research.

Now, imagine looking for a fix to a recurring network issue by searching hashtags in the knowledge management database or posting a simple text message that’s automatically converted into a real service request for the ITSM back-office to process.


It's fast and easy.

Now compare that to the current process: You’d have to fire up the VPN, log onto the intranet, find the service catalog, and peruse a myriad of esoteric service categories before you can submit a request through an absurdly long form.

It’s just not worth it.

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Have you read “The Second Machine Age” by MIT’s IDE leaders Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee yet?


MIT’s top digital transformation researchers warn us of the upcoming impact of technology to society and recommend key strategies for the issues we will face as a result of the gap between rapid advancements in technology and the underlying human skills and organizational change needed to sustain them. It is a near-future scenario of the economic aftermath that may result from the combination of our personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and rapidly available data. McAfee and Brynjolfsson prepare technology executives for the necessary advancements that will win in a “transform or die” economy.


Analysts and CIO leaders are in agreement: continuous advancements in data, cloud, and mobile technology mean a swift shift towards digital transformation in people, process, and infrastructure. Charged with leading digital transformation, today’s CIO is also tasked with balancing customer expectations with company priorities and organizational efficiencies.


We’ve partnered with Harvard Business Review and Andrew McAfee to offer an interactive webinar to discuss the rapidly evolving understanding of expertise and leadership in the world of digital transformation.




Leading Digital Transformation

Featuring Information Technology Leader Andy McAfee of MIT’s Sloan School of Management and co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Second Machine Age

Previously recorded May 15th at 9am PT

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This week, the Zoo talks to Heidi Sanzari about the benefits of hosting apps on the platform. We unearth why Marc Benioff is the leading SaaS player today. How the feature gap between on-premise and cloud-based IT solutions, such as Remedyforce, is shrinking. And why SaaS is no longer only for SMBs. An avid biker, Heidi also shares her involvement in riding for charities.

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Part 1: A mobile-first approach


“When the facts change, I change my mind – what do you sir?” this fantastic quote is attributed to the economist Maynard-Keynes, on being confronted about a shift in his thinking. The quote is also attributed to various others (as all good quotes seem to be). No matter who said it, I think it highlights two contradictory expectations we often have: people must be both consistent in their point of view, and at the same time, agile in their thinking. Hmm, tricky...


As IT service management professionals we often get this balance wrong, erring a little too much on the side of consistency, as we have often been schooled to do. Like the proverbial frog in a boiling pot, we generally miss the optimal time to act.

It’s pretty clear we’re at a critical juncture in the evolution of enterprise technology. With the inexorable rise of digitally-driven business, IT has become the primary service provider to the organization. Some IT departments have realized this and have shifted their alignment and philosophy, many have not.



New challenges, new opportunities


A greatly expanded role for technology, coupled with rocketing expectations from the business, is mandating a fresh approach: we’re witnessing a rare (and genuine) paradigm shift known as The New IT.

So what opportunities are you missing? Where are your consistency/agility traps lurking? How do you manage all these emerging technologies? How should you shift your thinking now that you are the primary service provider? What new skills do you and your teams need?

That’s the problem with genuine paradigm shifts, there’s no shortage of questions.

We’ll take on many of these themes in the coming months, but let’s make a start by looking at one of the most critical issues that the New IT raises and explore some effective human and technological responses.



What does it mean to think ‘mobile first’?

The continued adoption of mobile technology is impacting just about every aspect of IT service management and yet for many service management organizations ‘Mobile’ is just another sub-category to be supported, or in some cases a way of giving field technicians access to your key systems on the move.

It is, of course, WAY more significant than that, prompting some of the more far sighted teams to adopt a ‘mobile first’ approach to service management. I realize that for a good number of companies, the mobility and BYOD revolution is still a relatively minor part of the infrastructure, but in many cases tablets and mobile devices have become a highly significant percentage of the end user compute estate. Regardless of where your organization is on the spectrum of mobile uptake, hopefully some of the observations and guidance below will resonate.


Step 1: Understanding what is your mobile service management experience is like!

Do your mobile business users feel empowered or handcuffed by IT?

Put yourself in the shoes of someone that spends a great deal of their working life on the road. How easy are you to do business with vs. the competition? And by the competition, I mean the kind of self-directed support that many people favor in lieu of a good mobile-ready service from IT.

If you’re really serious about this, and you should be, try the experience for yourself:

  • What’s it like to use your web-portal to get support from a moving train?
  • Can you easily find and access the technology resources you need?
  • How do you interact with IT in remote or unfamiliar offices?
  • Do your support staff fully understand the needs of the mobile workforce?

You can also interview a few mobile employees to find out how they use technology on the move and how (if) they access the services you provide. This can be a real eye-opener…



Step 2: Getting some quick wins

Understanding the mobility mindset will allow you to build a shortlist of projects and behavioral shifts that will really help shift the perception of mobile employees. Many organizations find that this initial list is actually pretty short and fairly straightforward, with items such as:

  • Simplify self-service and make it mobile friendly
  • Train support staff in the needs of mobile workers
  • Improve knowledge repositories about mobile devices


For our own part, we’ve been thinking a lot about the needs of the mobile enterprise. Our MyIT solution was designed to make getting access to services easier for everyone, but especially for those on the go. The focus throughout was on simplicity and ease of use, optimized not just for the form factor, but also for the working patterns of modern employees.

Step 3: Mobilizing service management

And what about your own teams? are they empowered with mobile access to your primary service management platform?


There are many roles in service management where effective mobile access can be a real productivity boost. Especially for those who operate remotely from the core service desk team, or those who access your systems less frequently and who don't need (or want) full desktop access.

There are also those on the periphery who find it helpful to get mobile access too, such as key process approvers, or those looking primarily for updates and information.

In some smaller organizations, there's a growing trend to have an entirely mobile service desk. Armed with iPads, they respond directly to issues as they emerge or start to schedule their visits by appointment when the workload starts to mount. No more rows of swivel chairs and lanes of desktop computers, these cutting edge service desks are the very definition of a mobile workforce!

Salesforce's decision to adopt a mobile first development approach with 'Salesforce 1' has paid real dividends for us too, with our Remedyforce solution taking full advantage of the advances made in the platform. Optimized mobile access is now a given with Remedyforce, meaning you no longer have to think about where and when you access the system and the device you choose. It will just work - and that's the way it should be. 



Step 4: Getting app ready

How well adapted are you to support apps as opposed to more traditional enterprise applications?

Do you have a solid grasp of exactly which mobile apps your business has come to depend on? Or even an inkling? And of those apps how many are visible and under your control? And if they’re not managed by you, what is the minimum level of support you provide?

A quiet revolution has taken in enterprise computing. In many organizations, apps have stealthily become a business productivity enabler, in some cases the primary productivity enabler. I am still haunted by a conversation I had with a CIO from the corporate insurance industry last year. He didn’t know they even had a mobile sales management solution, until the first support calls started to come in from disgruntled sales people trying to access quotes, with minutes to go before a critical customer meeting. I’ve since heard many other permutations of this story and similar ‘Shadow IT’ nightmares.



Step 5: Getting app centric

Episodes like this often act as the wake up call to take a more focused and deliberate approach to mobility in ITSM. Maybe not going as far as adopting ‘mobile first’ approach but at the very least being ‘mobile ready’.

It’s also worth noting that you will never have full control over the app phenomenon. They’re ridiculously easy to find, install and use. The pragmatic approach seems to work best and involves striking a balance between enabling the business, while protecting the integrity of core systems and data.

The following is representative of how some organizations are taking this on:

  • Provide viable and highly usable apps for key business tasks
  • Make them as simple to access as commercial app stores
  • Promote your app capabilities heavily at all levels of the organization
  • Consider running internal education for non-IT managers on IT risk
  • Make sure you have sufficient governance and control over the apps and their data
  • Regularly review the uptake and relevance of what you provide


It’s equally important to be pragmatic about the outcome, you will never be the sole provider of this computing tier, but you should make yourselves the easiest to business with.

So how mobile ready are you? If you’re a long way down the road, please share your tips and tricks. If you’re hitting some roadblocks, I’d love to hear about that too. You can respond in the comments below or you can find me on Twitter as @messagemonger

See you next time

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This week, we talk DevOps in the Zoo with Christopher Little. What once started as a niche player now sits at the heart of enterprise IT: proper development and operations of business applications and processes is invaluable in today's IT-intense companies. We also bandy about the Internet of Things and the coming of spring.

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I love watching TV shows that depict life in past decades because it’s fun trying to remember when a piece of technology was launched and how we ever got along without it. In a recent episode of TV’s “Mad Men” (Season 7), the 1969-era ad agency’s media department laments that they can’t continue to rely exclusively on creative talent as a competitive advantage. Their solution? Buy a computer. The episode caused me to pause and recall the office environment prior to computing, and I wondered how anyone made it through the day or why they bothered to go to work at all because how could anyone possibly be even a tiny bit productive without a computer?


Then I recall that I actually did work in an environment that was (shudder) devoid of computers. Fresh out of college, in 1987, I worked for a PR agency that had a single computer serving more than 20 people. Back then, its computing power was essentially untapped, as it was used mostly for word processing. Still, that computer was a huge and exciting boost to our productivity. “You can edit what was previously typed … and you don’t need Whiteout!”

pong-511px.jpgLet’s go back even further: Pong


As a fairly irritating father of two boys, I have spent many family car trips regaling them with stories about what technology was like when I was a kid. Trapped in the back seat of the car, they were forced to suffer through a lot of these stories, such as me telling them how I awoke one Christmas morning to find a video game console called Pong nestled under the tree, and how I was legitimately thrilled to be able to do nothing more than monotonously bat a tiny white blip back and forth across a black TV screen. Beep … boop … beep. And, they also know that the little storage card in my camera contains more than 30 times the storage capacity of the first computer I had in 1986. Apparently, this is a story I seem to share with them a couple of times per year, because they become increasingly irritated each time I tell it, which going forward will be monthly.


I wanted my kids to be amazed by how far we have come, but from the back seat of the car they simply would look up from their hand-held gaming devices long enough to roll their eyes and say, “Borrring.”


It’s not their fault that I’m boring

electric-football-511px.jpgWhile I grew up playing vibrating electronic football (“It uses real electricity!”) and the board game Operation (“Wow! His nose lights up!”), my sons have had a more sophisticated technology experience. They never have known a world without Internet and mobile phones and GPS.


In 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell made the world’s first phone call to his assistant, Thomas Watson (you remember: “Watson, come here, I want to see you”), Watson probably didn’t roll his eyes and declare, “My dear Mr. Bell, I must assert you to be … borrring.” That’s because it was new and fresh and amazing.


Whereas the slightest advancement in technology once caused our respective heads to spin, we now casually shrug off that which would have been considered jaw-dropping to previous generations. Why? It’s because my sons, and every new generation to follow, are victims of the advanced technology curve that has occurred in their lifetime. It’s too difficult to impress them with new technology because they are technologically spoiled.


We’ve been boring people for generations

Whether you are a Millennial or from The Greatest Generation, the truth is that every generation likes to wax eloquent about how far technology has advanced in their lifetime. My father used to reminisce about the days of party-line telephones and life before air conditioning, and he would tell me that someday I probably would drive my kids around in a flying car. (Um, how ‘bout it, Science?) I would suspect that even the generation of cave men who discovered fire probably bored their furry little sons with tales of The Days Before Fire. Cave man, speaking to son: “When me was small, eat mammoth raw. No fancy-schmancy fire to make cooking. (scoff)”


Macpaint-511px.jpgSo why should it be … that you and I should get along so awfully

I recall being at a party in 1984, gathered around a Macintosh computer and watching a friend tool around in the MacPaint program, saying, “And if you click this little paint-can tool, you can spray paint on the screen.” A humble bit of graphic functionality today, but on that evening there were audible gasps that could be heard above Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” blaring on the turntable.

Now I can’t do anything else until I hear that Depeche Mode song. (Four minutes later) OK, I’m back.


Jane, stop this crazy thing

Part of the “When I was a kid” exercise of talking with your kids about the rapid advancement of technology is helping them dream about all the amazing wizardry that could come to fruition in their lifetimes. It’s important for you to suggest that they likely will have this same “when I was a kid” discussion one day with their own children. And while the next generation of kids will hear these stories, roll their eyes, and likely once again proclaim boredom, at least it might be from the back seat of a flying car.


Pull up a rocking chair and spin a yarn about your old-timey technology

When you talk about how far technology has come in your lifetime, what are the stories that you tell? When you were a kid, what stories about technology advancement did you hear from parents or grandparents? What is your favorite Depeche Mode song?

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Is Government Prepared for Mobile User Expectations?


Orange County, California - Winter 2013.

I was aiming for the 55 Beach Cities exit when apparently I used the Fast Pass lane (FasTrack® by The Toll Roads®). The 55 exit is a left-lane route and I’m new to that road, so it’s no surprise that this would happen. Here in Northern California, it’s pretty clear where you need a Fast Pass because you have to really move to get into that pathway.


Weeks later, I was hit with a paper ticket in the mail—but it arrived before I even got home, and that was long after the three-day grace period. I was confused and frustrated – I had stopped and paid the fee but apparently in the wrong section. Thanks to a punitive fine that I wasn’t aware of previously, suddenly my $3.25 ticket skyrocketed to $103.25.


Transportation is a critical mass necessity and given this, government services really needs to connect with its customers (taxpayers), not only to create a more positive experience (or improve a negative experience), but to keep up with the demand and pace of technology innovation. My minimum expectations as a taxpayer and mobile/geo consumer are that digital services are available and accessible—especially if there’s an issue with offline communication. And to be fair to The Toll Roads, they do provide a mobile app to people who have already signed up for a FasTrack®pass. I also see progress in another key area of transportation: parking. I am now seeing a few parking areas that accept mobile payments and notifications, and I assume that is a nationwide trend.


Going forward, I hope that transportation vendors will put in place a technology strategy that allows people like me to connect with their services through an app—maybe a geo-notification system based app—or, heck, even email with an opt-in for mobile notification. Even more forward thinking, this geo-based app could notify me that I’m in a toll zone that would violate the FasTrack rules.  I did pay the toll, but apparently in the wrong lane.

These kinds of goals would most likely require five strategic pieces:

  1. People and process must align with business objectives (or taxpayer objectives).
  2. Digital business services and support must be in place to deliver the needed technology.
  3. Data governance would review permission settings.
  4. Vendors would move to cloud-based technology and mobile-first initiatives, if not there already.
  5. Digital marketing channels would ensure participation.


Don’t forget a sprinkle of all-around desire to make this change within the existing administration. If this technology were in place, I’d be more than happy to pay that original toll because the agency would have considered its responsibility to notify me, and to give me convenient options to pay. And since we all pay for these kinds of services (via tolls and taxes), I’m sure I’m not the only person who would like to be notified of my transgression in a timely manner, rather than get the surprise huge bill. The bill made me feel like the agency was profiting from its lack of requirement to notify me (to put it nicely).


Convenience and organization are two of the reasons I love emerging technology. With technology, our lives improve. So when technology isn’t there for standard services, it can cause an unexpectedly miserable experience. 


Is asking for change from public services unreasonable, especially if we pay for them? How can these kinds of services meet our needs and expectations? Can public services fully embrace the app and when will they reimagine the business models required to pull this off?


Your thoughts? Do you have a favorite government digital services app?

Care to get involved? I found this handy site for those who want to make a difference in our government digital services.



Dena Lawless is a mobile mom, an emerging technology fan, early adopter of twitter and LinkedIn, an ex-moz, and a BMC employee managing content strategy. She is purely social, loves hiking, good music, tennis, and 60% dark chocolate.

Post-script: Shortly after writing this blog, I received yet another ticket for roughly the same amount, no warning or ability to pay the $3.25 and this time, I was sure to look everywhere to avoid I paid at the toll booth.  There was an "offer" within the ticket to use my fine to 'purchase a FasTrack pass.' I thought this to be a rather blatant way to force people to buy FasTrack passes.

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Service model excellence: Giving business access to services they can complete on their own with a user-friendly, app store front-type capability.


In a recent study of consumer habits, findings showed that 19 percent of respondents disliked the supermarket experience because there were too few open check-outs. This was the number one dislike reported. checkout.jpg


Every time I go to the supermarket, I wonder why the self-service check-out lines are not heavily used. There are pros and cons with traditional checkout lines as well as the more modern self-service check-out experience.


Benefits of self-service can include: one staffer can manage four to six self-service kiosks, self-service can lead to reduced check-out times, and better customer satisfaction and costs savings can translate to the customers since they will have more time to be productive. On the psychological front, self-service provides a sense of power and control to customers.


Self-service may seem to provide a shift in labor skills from entry-level, such as “bagging” (required in traditional checkout lines), to more skilled labor, like the ability to make electronic self-service machines components. Self-service also enables a better demand-side control. When demand is very busy with checkers, the self-service system can capture overflow.


There are some obvious disadvantages to self-check-out, too—like shoplifting (bypassing the lane entirely or circumventing the weight system) or price-switching (putting a different tag on the item they’re scanning, a subtler form of shoplifting). Still, the potential costs associated with self-check-out may be seen as tolerable compared to the costs of traditional check-out processes, such as manned checkouts.  Self-service checkouts may likewise be criticized for reducing the possibilities for customers and store staff to interact, and the possibilities for customer service in general.


For me, the biggest negative is that self-service check-out doesn’t make buying fruits and vegetables very easy, and I often hear that dreaded “unexpected item in the bagging area” message.


Even with these negatives, there are clearly benefits to the self-service world. The world is chock full of self-service concepts, not just at the supermarket. Banking interactions, insurance and permit requests, retail exchanges, and countless other historically face-to-face service models have all adopted self-service models.self service.jpg


Why not implement self-service style concepts for your IT services? The benefits we see in the supermarket example directly apply to the models we have in IT.


One staffer: Not that an IT service desk will ever get down to one employee, but by leveraging self-service capabilities for the business, an IT department can reduce staff and costs. By providing autonomy to the end user community and giving users more data and more accessibility, calls and other requests directly to the service desk are reduced as well.


Reduced check-out times: By giving the business access to services they can consume on their own with a user-friendly, app store front-type capability, and by understanding much more information about the user or the requested service, IT can reduce the effort and time required to fulfill services and get the request to the business quicker. In contrast to email and phone, these new self-service tools allow IT to provide much more information, and thus cut down on the time required to deliver service.


Better customer satisfaction: With today’s consumer-friendly tools, customers are accustomed to supporting themselves. By providing tools users often access for their at-home services, along with empowerment to serve themselves, an IT service desk can improve customer satisfaction.


Time savings & productivity: Through automation and information gained from modern self-service tools, IT will have the knowledge required for service fulfillment, at a glance. No longer will staff be required to gather knowledge from multiple systems, nor will they have to perform manuals steps on items required to finalize a request—automation and requester information will provide these.


Labor skill shift: Through call deflection concepts like self-service or peer-to-peer collaboration, IT teams can shift skills commonly required of L1 staff to other projects around the IT environment.


Remember, a system is only as good as its parts. In writing this blog, I did encounter reports of some stores scrapping self-service to improve customer service overall. For instance, Costco got rid of self-service kiosks because they believe humans do a better job providing check-out service.


Fair enough. If you agree, why not implement a hybrid approach?


We often see banks (ATMs & tellers), airports (mobile check-in and agents), and gas stations (pay pumps & attendants) providing a hybrid environment. Apple adopted the hybrid service model in a very useful way: I can go online and purchase any Apple product available in market, but I can also book an appointment at the Genius bar to get in-person attention.


Let’s adopt the same hybrid service model for IT. Provide self-service tools, but also provide in-person appointments—concierge-style support where an employee can book a time slot to meet face-to-face with support staff. Combining these types of self-help and in-person support could be the ultimate service model.


Jeff Moloughney


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Over the last week, one of our competitors has gathered their customers, partners, and employees to share their latest and greatest technologies. Some great ideas, but one that has been underplayed -- what's truly going to amaze the end users of IT.  The sales rep on-the-go, the finance manager working hard to close quarterly books, people want IT to be seamless -- empowering, stress-free, and even... enjoyable!


When end users aren't happy, nobody's happy. That's why BMC invented MyIT.  For end users -- it's a simple app.  One that allows them to request services, with a simple, formless interface that they understand.  For IT, it not only saves time by empowering users to request services on their own, but it improves end users' satisfaction of IT.


My colleague and friend, Alf Abuhajleh, went out to the Knowledge14 conference to find out whether the underplayed idea of mobile, self-service, formless IT would play well with conference goers.  Here's what he discovered:



We believe that there are two main things that IT needs to do as part of the next wave of IT service management:  Provide an amazing user experience, and streamline service delivery. Later this week, I'll turn my focus from providing an amazing user experience to streamlining service delivery.  In the meantime, I invite you to check out the innovation taking place at BMC, and how how we're enabling the New IT in companies of all types and sizes.

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