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 everything.tools

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: http://developer.kineticdata.com/hackathon

Eight Top CIO Concerns for 2016: Research and Resources

Rapid business change combined with the increasing importance of technology across all aspects of business operations have raised the profile of the CIO role—as well as the challenges.

And with close to half of all current CIOs now in their 50s and 60s, the coming decade will see not just significant changes to this role, but also to the backgrounds and perspectives of the people coming into those jobs.

SIM 2016 IT trends studyThose are among the conclusions from the Society for Information Management‘s (SIM) IT Trends Study 2015.

Summarizing the report’s findings for InformationWeek, Jessica Davis writes that the report provides a “snapshot of (today’s) CIOs…(along with) insights into the technologies their organizations regard as essential today” and offers a close “look at what’s on the minds of these key executives.”

Continue reading “Eight Top CIO Concerns for 2016: Research and Resources”

Looking Back: The Top 20 at 200

As the Kinetic Vision blog approaches another significant milestone, its 200th post, here’s a look back at the top 20 most-read posts since the blog’s launch in March of 2011.

Not surprisingly, the phrases that occur most frequently in the posts below indicate readers are most interested in industry research about request management (that’s what we do), its applications (service catalogs, employee onboarding, BYOD) and its benefits (cost savings, process automation, risk management).

Request management blog posts: - top 20 at 200It’s also not surprising many of these are “evergreen” posts; these are articles with a long “shelf life” that continue to draw significant numbers of views month after month. The most-read post so far in 2015 (How IT Will Change by 2020 – Research From HDI) narrowly missed the list below, coming in at #23 all-time.

Here then are the top 20:

Continue reading “Looking Back: The Top 20 at 200”

Webcast: The New Rules of IT Support and Service Management

What are the new “rules” in IT support and service management? Kinetic Data recently spoke with Eveline Oehrlich, VP and research director at Forrester Research, to discover her organization’s findings and predictions on that topic.

Happy employees make for happy customersIn the webcast Rewriting the Rules on Service Support & Management: Happy Employees = Happy Customers, Eveline discusses:

How IT Pros can be Business Heroes

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

Mobile, Social, and Cloud Computing – The Changing Role of the CIO

The focus and responsibilities of the CIO position are expected to evolve significantly over the next few years, as IT adapts to the latest once-in-a-generation change.

CIOs will be challenged to innovate and be strategic planning partners with other business leaders, while dealing with increased cyber-security threats and information architecture platform changes, in an environment of skills shortages and anemic budgets—among other changes.

Those are a few of the conclusions reported on CIO Insight from a recent IDC study, Worldwide CIO Agenda 2014 Top 10 Predictions. The report describes the new challenges CIOs are facing and provides recommendations for how CIOs can transform their organizations over the next few years to adapt to these developments.

Changing role of the CIO

Three trends in particular—pertaining to agility, mobility, cloud computing, social networks, and service planning—deserve a closer examination.

Mobile Business Will Require More Support

“By 2017, as a result of enterprise mobility, 60% of CIOs will support agile architectures with a mix of cloud-based interfaces for legacy and next-generation apps.”

As noted here previously, mobile device management and mobilizing business processes is a high priority in a majority of enterprises this year. But not every business process needs to be mobilized, and not all of those that do have the same urgency. The best approach to supporting mobile workers is an agile model; determine which processes are most vital to and common among mobile users, redesign those processes to provide a delightful experience for mobile users, then move on to the next prioritized set.

In addition, as the prediction above acknowledges, most enterprises have significant investments in legacy control and management applications. Mobile users increasingly need the ability to view, add, delete, and change information in these systems. Proving mobile access to legacy applications and data needn’t mean a disruptive and expensive “rip and replace” approach.

Instead, build a simplified, mobile-friendly web interface that enables users to access and interact with data in legacy systems. This “leverage and extend” approach is far less costly and time-consuming, and can be rolled out gradually, as with mobile process redesign. Forrester Research describes this as integrating “legacy ‘systems of record’ with newer, cloud / mobile / web-based ‘systems of engagement.'”

Demographic Shift to Public Social Networks

“80% of CIOs in consumer businesses will integrate IT with public social networks by 2015 in order to meet the needs of young and mobile customers.”

Possibly—though the notion that public social networks are the best venue for IT (or other business service) integration is certainly debatable.

Just as most people use different social networks for different types of interaction (e.g., LinkedIn for professional networking, Facebook for friends and family, Twitter for news, etc.), business communications aren’t monolithic either. Projects and topics within a business are typically of most interest to a discrete, defined group of employees.

It’s likely therefore that business application vendors will build contextual social capabilities into existing systems, so that, for example, the P&L statement can be discussed within the accounting system, while performance reviews can be commented on (with proper access rights, of course) from within the HR management software, and IT service metric trends can generate social interaction within a business value dashboard.

Gap Between Business and IT Planning Unsustainable

“IDC expects 60% of CIOs to recognize the importance of developing a fully functional enterprise architecture linked to service development and planning, but says less than 40% will deploy that architecture effectively.”

A key component of an “enterprise architecture linked to service development and planning” is a business service catalog that enables business process owners to map out, test and deploy their own process workflows in conjunction with IT, but with minimal technical assistance.

This approach enables those with the most knowledge of business processes to redesign those processes from the user perspective, and teams to develop processes that cross functional lines (e.g., onboarding a new employee). Employees, meanwhile, are provided with one central portal from which they can request any type of service, resource, or product needed to do their jobs, and check on the status of pending requests, at any time from any device.

As the role of the CIO evolves, some disruption will be inevitable. But using tools that leverage existing technologies as much as possible minimizes business interruption. Using those tools to enable automated self-service increases convenience for users while reducing costs. And taking an agile approach to service redesign, and the technology needed to support automated, enterprise-wide service delivery, can help avoid unnecessary jolts and smooth the path (somewhat at least) to becoming a next-generation CIO.

Next steps:

IT: Business as Usual, or The Next Epic Change?

Change is constant in IT. But every so often, a wave of change rolls in that fundamentally reorients the profession. Are we on the crest of such a wave today?

Changes of this magnitude tend to come along roughly once each generation:

  • 1953: transistors began replacing vacuum tubes in computers, ushering in the semiconductor age.
  • 1973: Bob Metcalfe invented Ethernet, which enabled computers to be connected in local area networks (LANs).
  • 1993: the Mosaic web browser was released, the “first commercial software that allowed graphical access to content on the internet.” That was also the year that CERN made the World Wide Web available to the world free of charge. Though the Web was technically three years old at this point, Mosaic and CERN opened it up to non-technical users.
  • 2013…the “consumerization” of technology?

Are the changes unfolding in IT today simply evolutionary developments, or are we in the midst of a dawn-of-a-new-era-type environment? There are indications from a number of vantage points that the latter may be the case. Consider the signals pertaining to:

Is the next revolution in IT at hand?Technology: mobile online access has overtaken the desktop. According to eMarketer, “for the first time this year, time spent on non-voice mobile activities will surpass time spent online on desktop and laptop computers.”

Application development: both commercial and internal business app developers are increasing building new software in the cloud. While most of the potential still lies ahead, TechTarget has stated that “Ultimately, the cloud will be an instrument in the transformation of consumer behavior and worker productivity, and the seeds for both these revolutions will be sown in 2013.”

Demographics: as the first generation to have grown up with digital and online technologies, millennials are now entering the workforce in large numbers and with a different set of expectations than their professional predecessors. Millennials, a.k.a. Gen Y, expect applications to be easy to use, social, and mobile. But perhaps the biggest change is that this is the first generation of employees to arrive at work with better technology that what their employers have to offer, a huge driver behind the BYOD trend.

IT: the most compelling indication of a tectonic shift in technology, however, comes from IT leaders themselves. At the recent Fusion 13 Conference, a group of 21 senior technology leaders agreed that current IT operating models are broken, and issued a Service Management Call to Action proclaiming that “The Service Management community MUST change. A fundamental transformation is needed.”

Powerful evidence. How should IT groups proceed given these conditions? If the current shifts are indeed a new inflection point rather than just evolutionary developments, then a fundamental reorientation of IT practices, as yet to be defined, will need to emerge. But regardless, here are a few practical steps that can be taken today to adapt to the waves of change washing over IT and business:

  • Redesign processes from the end user perspective. Rather than creating processes that are most convenient for service-delivery groups, start with the goal of a “delighted customer” then work backwards, automating processes along the way, wherever possible, to optimize efficiency and accuracy.
  • Implement new service models such as enterprise request management (ERM) for service requests and schedule-based rather than queue-based service delivery. Both approaches improve the service experience for an increasing mobile workforce.
  • Adapt to revolutionary times with gradual change. Despite the current scope and pace of changing user expectations, big-bang “rip and replace” responses are not helpful; not only is this enormously costly, it also inevitably involves unforeseen delays and business disruption. Instead, utilize agile service request management and “lightweight” business process automation (BPA) to gradually design, test, tweak, deploy, measure and optimize new processes, starting with those that are most common or painful and gradually increasing the portfolio of services covered.
  • Recognize the need for business change, not just IT change. Increasing “consumerization” type expectations impact departments and functions across organizations, not just IT groups. IT is in an ideal position, however, to help other functional groups adapt to these changing expectations, for example by extending the concept of IT service catalogs across the enterprise, to HR, facilities, finance, and other shared services groups. The tools used should empower business process managers in any part of the organization to design and optimize their own processes, with minimal assistance from IT.

What’s clear is that IT groups need to shed their old image of being “defensive, late, overpriced, uninformed and unhelpful.” IT must adapt to the changes noted above, and others, continuing to provide the business with “guide rails” in areas like cloud computing and BYOD (for security and cost reasons) without imposing a straightjacket of control.

Evolution or revolution—where do you think the industry stands today?

 

The Kinetic Data Secret Sauce (Video)

Theodore Roosevelt said that “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Great ideas (or great software) are only great to the extent they are devised to help others solve real problems.

In conversations with Kinetic Data customers, an observation expressed frequently is that the company’s employees are not only technically adroit, but also seem to truly care about making customers’ lives better—whether it’s as simple as resolving a minor functional issue or as complex as enabling users to create capabilities their companies have never had before.

What’s behind this approach? In this video, co-founder and president John Sundberg talks about how to assemble a great team, collaboratively develop ideas, and anticipate customer needs. He also discusses what’s behind the enterprise request management approach to business service delivery, and the inspiring results of customers building upon Kinetic Data software and sharing their accomplishments at the annual KEG event.

John is also known for his colorful expressions, such as “It’s like comparing apples to space travel.” Hear this and other “John-isms” decoded in these short video outtakes.

Learn more about Kinetic Data here.