Four Ways CIOs Can Embrace Consumerization 2.0 and Help the Business September 16, 2014 No Comments

Consumerization is the most sweeping change in IT in the past 20 years. Millennial workers, who’ve grown up with mobile phones, social networks and ecommerce sites are bringing their personal technology to work—and not just asking IT to adapt, but increasingly working around it.

As Frank Palermo notes in his InformationWeek article, Hey CIOs, Stop Saying ‘No’ To Consumer Tech, “According to Gartner, in 2012-2013, 64% of enterprises said mobility projects forged ahead without the full involvement of IT.” Employees are bringing their own mobile devices to the office, storing company data with consumer online services like DropBox, and in some cases developing custom cloud-based apps, even in heavily regulated industries which have resisted these trends until recently.

How CIOs can embrace consumerization 2.0Of course, consumerization 2.0 and its manifestations do not mean the end of IT as a vital function. Recent high-profile data breaches such as those at Target and Home Depot serve as bracing reminders that it’s imperative to keep corporate data secure, and that requires management by IT professionals.

Contending that “Security and other new challenges arising from the consumerization movement mean that CIOs need to make sure that services are secured, tested, reliable, and integrated into the enterprise application stack,” Palermo outlines four best practices CIOs can use to “establish themselves as a formidable business partners, avoid shadow IT, and, most important, remain relevant.”

Design for mobile first. Considering that smartphones and tablets now account for more than half of all Internet access, that’s not a bad strategy. At the very least, mobile access should be taken into consideration in the early stages of designing any new business applications.

One valuable approach is to design what Forrester Research calls smart process apps, or SPAs. The technology advisory firm defines these as “a new category of business application software designed to support processes that are people-intensive, highly variable, loosely structured, and subject to frequent change. Smart process apps fill the gap between systems of record and systems of engagement by automating both structured and unstructured work activities in support of collaborative processes.”

By narrowing what is truly needed by your users due to the restrictions of screen size, application designers are forced to simplify what are often complex user experiences.  This simplicity is often what consumers crave and is seldom found in enterprise applications.   These core processes can then often be translated to desktop interfaces leading to a cleaner, more flexible approach.

Leverage the cloud. As noted here previously, “Business application developers working within large enterprises want to build applications in the cloud. But they would prefer to spend their time coding and testing, not managing cloud infrastructure.” Users, too, often favor cloud applications for functions like file storage, collaboration, and project management.

IT needs to provide users either with safe ways to utilize commercial services or with company-approved alternatives that protect vital data. Whether providing cloud services and applications to developers or users, IT can use an enterprise request management (ERM) approach to provide users with a single, intuitive portal through which they can compare and request those services and apps based on their capabilities, costs, and other information.

Protect and secure mobile devices. Interest in using personal mobile devices at work (BYOD) skyrocketed starting in late 2011. Many IT groups initially resisted this movement, but as remote management tools improved and the potential for cost savings became apparent—not to mention strong preferences on the part of employees to utilize their personal smartphones over company-supplied Blackberrys—they began working to accommodate these devices rather than shun them.

Though security concerns remain, the use of training and awareness-building, combined with improved tools for securing devices and their data, have increased business and IT acceptance of BYOD. Generally, organizations that have embraced BYOD have reduced their mobile access and hardware costs, improved flexibility, and make their employees happy.

Be social. Palermo recommends enterprises use internal social discussion tools such as Yammer “that invite all levels of the organization, without hierarchy, to exchange ideas or voice concerns.”

Facebook and Twitter aside, social capabilities can also be built into business tools and applications for functions such as discussing business metrics and collaboratively resolving enterprise-level problems.

Though consumerization adds challenges and complexity to the roles of the CIO and IT staff, it also provides new opportunities to respond to user needs and even proactively offer new capabilities that are an extension of cloud, mobile and social technologies.

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Show Me the Money! How to Calculate ERM Cost Savings September 9, 2014 No Comments

Enterprise request management (ERM) is an approach to service delivery that combines an intuitive Web portal with a back-end automation engine to accelerate fulfillment, enabling workers to request any type of service, equipment, or resource via a single intelligent interface, anytime, from any device.

The ERM model reduces service delivery costs and delights users while leveraging much of the technology you already have in place. And it empowers IT professionals to be heroes to the business.

ERM-Cost-ReductionOther key benefits of an ERM implementation include:

  • Service standardization
  • Reduced delivery time
  • Reduced risk
  • Improved visibility into service delivery
  • Overall process improvement

But how do you go about proving the value—making the financial case for implementing an ERM strategy?

A new document from Kinetic Data, Process Efficiencies with Kinetic Request: An executive view of the benefits and financial impact of enterprise request management, details the financial value of ERM, how to calculate cost savings, and other factors to take into account when evaluating the financial benefits of this approach.

With ERM, employees can request any “thing” they need to do their jobs, regardless of which internal service group (IT, HR, facilities, finance, legal, etc.) provides that item or service. Productivity as well as user experience are improved because employees have only one (easy) system to use for requesting any type of service, instead of needing to know who provides what and navigating multiple different online (and sometimes paper-based) request processes.

Back-end workflow processes (approvals, scheduling, fulfillment) are automated using orchestration engine software. This process automation reduces costs, eliminates manual efforts, accelerates service delivery, and improves process quality. Process owners can define their own “service items,” mapping and testing task workflows before putting them into production.

ERM is especially valuable for managing complex processes that cross functional boundaries, such as new employee onboarding. Though not required, ERM most often begins with an IT service catalog implementation, then is gradually expanded to other shared services groups.

The document also explains how Kinetic Request and Kinetic Task can enable organizations to implement effective ERM strategies that are scalable, flexible and manageable. For example, according to Gartner, 85% of business processes are initiated by a form. Yet research shows that up to 40% of submitted forms contain missing information that must be manually corrected. By pre-populating forms with “known” information (based on login), presenting questions dynamically (that is, follow-on questions can change based on previous responses), and validating all input, Kinetic Request dramatically reduces the need for manual information correction.

To demonstrate the potential financial value of ERM to your management team, download Process Efficiencies with Kinetic Request: An executive view of the benefits and financial impact of enterprise request management. If your team isn’t familiar with ERM, ask them to watch the movie first.

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Where’s Wally? Meet Us at these Upcoming ITSM Events September 3, 2014 No Comments

Fall is the season for football, back-to-school, and scrambling to complete that summertime to-do list before winter arrives.

It’s also the season when business and IT service management events kick into high gear. Kinetic Data will be exhibiting at several events over the next couple of months. Here’s where we’ll be—stop by and let’s talk about business process improvement.

IT service events - where to meet Kinetic Data this fallAFCEA TechNet Augusta 2014
September 9-11, Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, Augusta, GA

Government, industry, and academia speakers will address a broad range of topics and focus on the importance of the network, security issues, and training to enable operational forces to modernize and be ready to meet emerging challenges in 2025 and beyond. Kinetic Data and service provider partners will show how Kinetic Data products support enterprise request management implementations in government agencies and the armed services.

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014
October 5-9, Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL

Learn how to realize, build and optimize digital opportunities, move digital business from theory to practice, and evolve IT leadership to become indispensable in the new digital business world. Kinetic Data will be showcasing our Kinetic Request service portal software, Kinetic Task automation engine, and other products that support enterprise request management initiatives.

BMC Engage 2014
October 13-16, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Orlando, FL

Bringing together business leaders and IT professionals, from executives to operations to the front lines of system administration, BMC Engage 2014 offers a comprehensive agenda of IT management topics, networking, and hands-on technical training in BMC products and solutions.

FUSION 14
October 19-22, Gaylord National Resort, Washington, DC

Jointly hosted by industry icons itSMF USA and HDI, FUSION 14 brings together top minds to facilitate a total immersion experience into today’s most relevant service management topics. Discuss and compare the benefits and challenges associated with using ITSM when implementing virtualization, the cloud, mobility, security, SaaS, and more; establish and accomplish service management goals specific to your organization; and arm yourself with the knowledge you need to implement service management initiatives back at the office.

How IT Pros can be Business Heroes August 26, 2014 1 Comment

Though IT groups are sometimes criticized for being disconnected from or out of sync with “the business” (sales, marketing,  finance, etc.), IT professionals—like their colleagues in other functional areas—want to be heroes to the organization.

How to be an IT business heroNo employee or group wants to be seen as a roadblock to business or operational progress. Quite the contrary, most would like to display the agility to leap over financial or technological obstacles; the speed to accelerate cumbersome manual processes; even the foresight to anticipate needs and solve problems before they happen.

While being born on the planet Krypton or getting bitten by a radioactive spider aren’t realistic paths, there are practical steps that IT professionals can take to become business heroes.

How to be a hero

Saving time, reducing costs, and improving the user experience are always popular achievements. Doing all three at once is even better.

Consider utilizing an approach like the enterprise request management (ERM) framework to simplify and accelerate business processes of any complexity, from password resets to PTO requests to new employee onboarding.

ERM is a model that combines an intuitive web portal with powerful workflow automation software to make it easy for employees to request any type of equipment or shard service easily, at any time, from any device,  and check on the status of open requests;  accelerates service delivery; ensures first-time fulfillment; and reduces employee provisioning costs.

To be a business hero, evaluate the ERM approach to delivering services from IT or any functional group better, faster and cheaper.

How to be a super hero

Improving processes for business users is great. But even better is giving business process owners the tools and capability to redesign, test, tweak, and deploy their own automated workflows.

To go beyond better-faster-cheaper, look into graphical automation engine tools that enable business managers, with minimal IT assistance, to map out their own business task workflows.

These tools enable process owners to automate tasks by passing information (employee names, dates, vendor IDs, etc.) between in-place functional or enterprise management and control systems (HR, ERP, ITSM, etc.) without modifying core application code.

To be a super hero, give process owners tools to quickly and easily redesign and automate their own workflows, without risk of “breaking” any functions in legacy applications.

How to be a Guardian of the Galaxy

To achieve the highest level of hero-dom, go beyond meeting user needs to anticipating them. Famous examples of this business super power include Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

While anticipating needs can be challenging, the ability isn’t limited to visionaries. Take a look at a business process. Talk to users about their most immediate needs. Then imagine that’s done; what are they likely to ask for next? What ability to meet need B follows from addressing need A?

An example is: your organization has a busy tradeshow schedule. Your company’s exhibit booth is always stored at the same warehouse and shipped via the same carrier. Your marketing team would like the ability to specify event dates and locations for the coming year,  and have the booth automatically shipped to each new venue.

Imagine—poof, that’s done. What else is the marketing team likely to want as a follow-on?

How about connecting your organization’s universal request portal into travel sites like Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, and Orbitz, as well as your corporate rental car provider and even airline sites, so marketing staff can get alerts about airfares as the next show approaches?

How about also connecting it to your expense reporting system so air, hotel and car rental costs can be reported automatically? And automate shipping of product literature and any equipment needed? And send reminders automatically to marketing staff about key show-related milestones and activities,  like requesting press lists?

To be a guardian of the galaxy, think beyond fulfilling the immediate needs of users, and ask yourself what other capabilities are enabled by the technology that solves that short-term problem?

One final note: heroes don’t keep people waiting. When the Penguin is freezing over Gotham City, Batman doesn’t tell the good citizens to wait while he replaces the engine in the Batmobile. Even if you’ve got a major ITSM, ERP or other system implementation project in the works, you can continue with smaller projects that add near-term value by utilizing software tools that work with what you have today as well as what you’ll have tomorrow.

Even without a cape, super strength, or x-ray vision, you can be a business hero. It just takes the right approach and the right technology.

Next Steps

How Agile Development Powers IT at the Speed of Business August 19, 2014 No Comments

By any number of measures—scientific progress, computing power, economic output, enterprise technology—the pace of change continues to accelerate exponentially. When combined with the shift in customer and employee expectations of technology (a.k.a. the consumerization of IT), this likely spells the end for waterfall-style development processes and expensive, disruptive, long-lead-time big-bang enterprise software system implementations.

Agile methods speed software developmentTraditionally, the challenge in waterfall-style development processes was ” trying to come up with every requirement a product might possibly need to meet before starting to build it,” according to CIO magazine’s Sharon Florentine in How to Use Agile Development to Avoid Project Failures.

Because it’s difficult for people to identify and articulate every feature they may need in advance, additions and changes to specifications were nearly inevitable, leading to scope creep, which caused most projects to be delivered late and over budget.

Given the accelerating pace of change, the concern today isn’t so much that users can’t predefine all needed features (though they still can’t), but that even if they could, the list would be obsolete well before the project was finished. Possibly even before the list was finished. Business requirements today simply change too quickly. And “It’s…depressing for developers (to)  see that the product they’re working on doesn’t meet the objectives (business or consumer) while they’re writing them,” per Florentine.

As noted in both the CIO article and here previously, the answer is to utilize an agile approach to development, combined with collaborative teams: “You’ve got (to get) business and IT working together, collaborating, and that’s what will make the difference…At first, everyone feels like they’re ‘forced’ to work together, but once it becomes apparent that the goal for both teams is continual improvement, that’s when you start to see the value.”

Even more powerful than having IT develop a product that iteratively meets an expanded range of user needs is for IT to create an environment where users can do it themselves. Graphical workflow process automation tools enable business process owners to map out their own business processes, starting with simple tasks and building in complexity over time.

One example is an HR manager automating a simple task (such as ordering business cards for a new employee), then building upon that over time to automate a much more complex process (like employee onboarding). Taking an agile approach enables business process owners to achieve “quick wins” by automating simple tasks, then building the confidence and trust to expand the parameters for automation.

With the right tools, processes can be tested and tweaked before activation. And since processes can be easily rolled back if needed, and the workflow process design happens at the system of engagement level with no modifications to core enterprise applications code, there is virtually no risk that user-designed processes will “break” any mission-critical functions.  Mature workflow automation tools will provide this agility while still giving the IT organization ongoing management and monitoring of these processes.

Collaboration and agility are vital components of project success for IT and the business. By empowering business process owners to easily design their own customer-facing services and automated workflow IT groups can better align their goals address a critical issue raised in the CIO article, that “what the business side and IT side want to deliver don’t sync.”

Next Steps