Trying is Everything

How are we going to solve this problem?

It’s impossible to know all the possible solutions to a given problem, and the more complex the problem, the more possible solutions there may be.

Nothing inspires me to grab my toolbox more than problems that need solving. How do you add solutions to your toolbox? How do you hone your skills in applying those tools?

This is why trying is

Without the upfront work of experience and trying things, you may not know which tool is sharpest, or the best fit for problem.  In tech work this means trying lots of things, platforms, technologies and approaches to applying those technologies. It means talking to people who have tried lots of things and connecting to people who carry a bigger toolbox or sharpened tools.

Get involved in communities, join meetups focused on solutions and try everything!

Ready to try something new? Join our hackathon:

How to Provide Simply Great Customer Service

As products and services become more commoditized, competition is increasingly global, and high product quality is no longer a differentiator, the potential reward for providing excellent customer service becomes ever greater. As noted here recently, having “happy customers (leads) to higher profitability and stock price.”

Simple, great customer serviceThe costs of poor customer become greater as well. According to the latest customer service statistics, just 1% of customers ” feel that their expectations of good customer service are always met.” Meanwhile, 86% are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience.

Among other findings regarding the frustration caused by poor customer service:

  • 84% of customers say that their expectations had not been exceeded in their last customer service interaction.
  • 82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service.
  • 58% will never use the company again after a negative experience.

Continue reading “How to Provide Simply Great Customer Service”

Why High “Flow” Companies Will Win – And How to Become One

Have you ever found yourself so totally immersed in an activity that you lose track of time? Perhaps while putting together a puzzle, solving a complex problem, or heads-down in a hobby, you’ve become engrossed in the task at hand.

If so, you’ve experienced “flow,” the highest state of human performance and productivity.

Working in the flow stateThough the term originated in research by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his 1990 book on the subject, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, the business world has only fairly recently recognized its potential for increasing employee happiness and improving the customer experience. Continue reading “Why High “Flow” Companies Will Win – And How to Become One”

Happy Employees, Happy Customers, Higher Profit: How to Get It All With Proactive IT

The link between employee happiness and business results is clear, according to recent research from the Russell Investment Group, Deloitte and others. Happy employees make for happy customers, leading to higher profitability and stock price.

Summarizing the studies in Forbes, Blake Morgan affirms that happy workers mean higher profits, noting “publicly traded companies in the Fortune ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list have gained an average 10.8% a year since 1998” (versus 6.5% for the DJIA and 5.3% for the S&P 500 over the same period).

How happly employees mean higher profitsShe further observes that “The same companies invest in employee happiness year after year. The rest continue to not invest. There’s a clear line between companies that get it and companies that don’t.”

While numerous factors impact employee happiness, a proactive IT support strategy can play a key role. Continue reading “Happy Employees, Happy Customers, Higher Profit: How to Get It All With Proactive IT”

Queens Library Turns Page with Improved Service Management

Simplifying request management for employee services increases satisfaction and reduces costs in any type of organization—business enterprises, service providers, government agencies, non-profits, and entities such as museums and libraries, which typically rely on a combination of public and private funding.

Queens Library gets rave reviews for service request portalQueens Library in New York is one of the largest circulating libraries in the United States, with about 1,000 full-time employees spread across 62 locations, serving 2.3 million customers each year. Nearly 11.2 million people walk through the doors, and library staff answers nearly 4.4 million reference inquiries every year.

Continue reading “Queens Library Turns Page with Improved Service Management”

The Future of IT Service Management – New Research from EMA

Two recent posts here have explored predictions for IT trends in the coming year and what IT may look like by 2020. While specifics vary, the common thread is that IT teams will be expected to accelerate their own workflow while delivering technology to transform business processes.

Future of IT support - EMA researchA new study from EMA Research on the future of ITSM, reported by Dennis Drogseth on APMdigest, reflects this theme as well while adding new insights. Here are half a dozen key findings from EMA’s survey, along with additional commentary and observations from this blog.

Continue reading “The Future of IT Service Management – New Research from EMA”

How a Healthcare IT Service Provider Saved $4.7 Million with ERM

Hospitals are under pressure on multiple fronts to reduce costs. One key cost-reduction strategy is outsourcing non-core functions, such as IT, in order to focus more on effective and efficient patient care.

CareTech Solutions is a healthcare-focused IT service provider, supporting 400,000 end-users across more than 200 hospital clients, with a focus on “creating value for clients through customized IT solutions that contribute to improving the patient experience while lowering healthcare costs.”

To make it easier and faster for busy nurses and hospital staff to request IT services, and resolve technical issues more quickly, CareTech began implementing an enterprise request management (ERM) strategy with help from Kinetic Data.

Handling close to 250,000 service requests through its online service request portal in 2013, CareTech estimated “the annual costs savings and productivity gains for its collective operation to be an impressive $4.7 million.”

Read the full story here.


Does BYOD Really Save Money? It Can – Here’s How

While there’s no doubt the BYOD trend is growing rapidly, there is considerably more controversy regarding the question of whether or not it actually reduces overall costs to enterprises.

Companies like Cisco, VMware and Intel claim significant cost savings from BYOD, but Aberdeen Group cites hidden costs of BYOD that organizations need to consider.

Others would contend the answer doesn’t matter; as noted here previously, according to Gartner analyst David Willis, “Companies don’t really have a choice…Over 60 percent of employees globally say they have used a personal device at work, and Gartner predict that nearly 40% of companies will go completely BYOD by 2016.” Or as an article on FierceCIO put it “cost may be a moot point, in the sense that users are likely to pursue their own technology choices these days, whether officially sanctioned or not.”

Hidden Costs of BYOD
Photo Credit: mikecogh via Compfight cc

But inevitable or not, the costs of (and potential savings from) BYOD are important. If approached properly, the savings from BYOD can be substantial. According to a Cisco study reported on by ” a strong BYOD policy… could save $1,300 per year per mobile user. Users meanwhile, report that they are happier and more productive.”

CIO magazine disputes that, calling Cisco’s experience “an exception,” and outlines half a dozen ways BYOD actually leads to higher costs. “Mobile BYOD will cost you about 33 percent more than a company-owned mobile device approach…While CIOs might gloat at BYOD’s perceived cost savings…they’d be wrong to do so. Aberdeen Group found that a company with 1,000 mobile devices spends an extra $170,000 per year, on average, when they use a BYOD approach.”

But does it, necessarily? A closer look at Aberdeen’s findings indicates while “hidden costs” are potentially real, a well-planned, strategic approach can mitigate or eliminate many of these added expenses.

1. Wireless Access Charges

According to CIO, “a company seizing a volume-discount rate…spends an average of $60-per-month for a smartphone’s wireless voice and data services. Whereas the average BYOD reimbursement for a smartphone is $70-per-month.”

Forbes also questions the savings in this area, noting “non-management employees spend on average $75 a month and use 652 Megabytes (MG) of data per month while management levels spend and use considerably more.”

Solution: cap reimbursement at what the company would pay for a plan matched to any specific employee role. In most cases, the company will end up spending no more than it would have in pre-BYOD times, while employees will get better plans at a lower cost

Even in those situations where reimbursement for access has to be higher than the cost of a company-negotiated group plan, the device hardware savings will generally more than offset this.

2. Reimbursement Expense Processing Costs

Again per CIO, “You’ll have to tack on the hidden cost of reimbursing BYOD employees. Typically, an employee files a monthly expense report for their wireless bill. A single expense report costs about $18 to process…(and) BYOD employees often expense their entire wireless bill rather than itemize it. There’s absolutely no visibility into what’s personal and what’s corporate.”

Solution: minimize expense reimbursement processing costs by utilizing an enterprise request management (ERM) approach and automating the entire workflow process as much as possible. The savings here will apply not only to BYOD but to any category or type of expense reporting.

Also, make sure these costs aren’t unfairly and inaccurately assigned to BYOD; the CIO article concedes that “an employee who files an expense report with multiple expenses, including the wireless bill, will still only cost the company $18 to process. That is, mobile BYOD expense reporting will incur this hidden cost only if the expense report was filed solely because of the wireless bill.”

3. Security and Compliance Costs

The magazine contends “there’s a boatload of security and compliance costs associated with mobile BYOD. Typically, BYOD brings iOS iPhones and iPads into BlackBerry shops. This means CIOs will have to invest in a multi-platform mobile device management solution and other software, maybe even a VPN (virtual private network) layer. The cost of compliance—ensuring governance, risk management and compliance—is also more difficult when devices must be chased down individually.” Data Center Journal also raises confidentiality and compliance concerns related to BYOD.

Solution: first, automate the process of “locking out” devices from corporate networks until security requirements are met, using task automation software. It’s perfectly reasonable—indeed, essential—to require users to take certain company-prescribed security precautions before they are permitted to access corporate applications or data with their personal devices.

Second, while compliance risks must be taken seriously, don’t overestimate the effort of protecting multiple device types. As Fortinet security strategist Richard Henderson has pointed out, “For a long time IT departments argued that managing one type of device for all employees was much more efficient, but that is a myth and they can’t lean on that excuse anymore… Software has advanced so that it is now easy for IT to manage applications across different platforms, including Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.”

And third, keep in mind that while allowing employees to use their personal devices in a work context adds some complexity, confidentiality and compliance concerns (and potential costs) aren’t strictly a BYOD issue. They are fundamentally a matter of:

  • processes and security levels (don’t share confidential information, internally, any more widely than necessary);
  • policies (how information may be disseminated, regardless of the device or medium used); and
  • training (never assume knowledge; explain to employees exactly what types of information are confidential, particularly in public companies and heavily regulated industries).

4. Added Help Desk Support Costs

The CIO article argues “With BYOD, IT departments are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place: IT doesn’t control the actions of the carrier or the devices, yet is still being held responsible to support BYOD employees, even if IT isn’t getting additional resources to do so.

“The flip side is to unload BYOD support onto employees. The thinking goes, they are on the hook to repair their own personal devices. Got a problem with your iPad? Head to the nearest Apple Genius Bar.”

Solution: use actionable self-service as much as possible, but also, rather then sending employees to the Genius Bar, operate more like one. Supplement traditional queue-based support for urgent issues with a schedule-based approach which can not only control costs but also better serve remote and mobile workers, regardless of BYOD policies.

5. Higher Application Development Costs

Per CIO, “mobile BYOD means more platforms to develop apps for and support…BYOD may eventually lead to internal, native iOS app development for both the iPhone and iPad…The cost of internal app development can rise dramatically with BYOD. Companies that ‘go native’ must invest in each platform in the BYOD portfolio.”

Solution: develop mobile-friendly, web-based systems of engagement that isolate the interface layer from underlying systems of record. This approach leverages existing financial and intellectual investments in core legacy enterprise applications while simplifying and mobilizing the user interface to those systems, enabling organizations to develop new functionality with the disruption of a “rip and replace” implementation.

6. Functional Coordination Costs

Finally, CIO states “BYOD not only requires multi-platform support but multi-department support, too. BYOD requires significant cross-departmental overhead to ensure that everyone involved in employee administration, from HR to IT to security, is on the same page…(for example) when a BYOD employee gives notice or is terminated, HR and IT must work quickly to de-provision the personal device off the corporate network…This process is much easier if the company owns the device. Another cross-departmental concern arising from BYOD is when a part-time employee or contractor wants to connect their device to the network.”

Solution: create workflow process automatically triggered by an event (such as an employee termination) and designed using an advanced automation engine to automatically initiate specific tasks across departments (such as issuing a final check from payroll, shutting down network and email access, and disabling a security badge).

So, the answer to the question “does BYOD save money?” is: yes—provided that enterprises recognize the potential for added costs, hidden or otherwise, and take steps to assure that the potential savings of BYOD more than offset any increased expenses.

For more information: