Service Providers Innovate in the New World of Multi-tenancy 2.0

Multi-tenancy 1.0
Multi-tenancy has long been the model of the outsourcing industry. Multi-tenancy is usually defined as using a single instance of an application to service multiple client organizations (or tenants) over a single, shared infrastructure. The value of this approach increased when service providers discovered that comprehensive IT service management platforms (such as BMC Remedy™) could be re-architected to serve multiple clients if customer data could be kept segmented and secure. The same service—help desk, desktop management, IT asset management or other IT service—could be pushed out to multiple clients. Clients enjoyed all of the benefits typically associated with outsourcing: cost-savings, efficiency and the ability to focus resources on core business competencies rather than on IT. Outsourcers benefited from the ability to easily scale up to serve multiple clients without needing to purchase and support multiple instances of the same software. The model served outsourcers well for many years.

But three trends are making Multi-tenancy 1.0 obsolete:

  1. The pressure to innovate. The outsourcing market is reasonably mature. While new players continue to enter the market, familiar faces often compete for the same business. This has placed more pressure on service providers to innovate and to demonstrate to clients that they understand their unique business requirements and offer the capacity for value-added solutions delivery.
  2. Outsourced IT services have expanded well beyond traditional service desk functions. Instead of handling only problem resolution, outsourcers are now processing requests, handling approvals, coordinating fulfillment, and more.
  3. Businesses are changing their thinking about IT, a change being driven by the ways employees are using the IT services provided to them. When employees leave their physical workplace, they often continue working using laptops, tablets, smart phones and home computers. People have come to expect technology to be easy, engaging and empowering. They are increasingly frustrated by applications and services that don’t provide this experience.

These trends place new pressure on service providers.
Their business models are based on the ability to apply one software infrastructure across many clients. But those infrastructures weren’t originally envisioned to support a client-centric environment in which:

  • Clients increasingly demand a uniquely tailored interactive experience;
  • Employees want co-created self-service, self-help and self-provisioning; and
  • Clients want end-to-end services that require integration with enterprise applications beyond IT, such as HR, facilities, and procurement.

Service providers have made multimillion-dollar investments in their software infrastructures. Few relish the prospect of abandoning these investments, but many are beginning to realize that Multi-tenancy 1.0, as described here, no longer allows them to keep up with changing client needs and marketplace conditions. Customization at the client level, which requires programming at the application level, will continue to be too expensive, time-consuming and risky. Changes or additions will continue to amplify risks. Customizations will be lost during upgrades and need to be redone, which again means more money, time, and risk. These problems will limit the service providers’ ability to scale.

Multi-tenancy 2.0
Half a decade ago, Web 2.0 conceptualized a shift from the passive viewing of prebuilt content (Web 1.0) to an interactive user-centric Internet. Multi-tenancy 2.0 conceptualizes a similar approach for services providers. It doesn’t require service providers to abandon their well-established service platforms, but rather positions those platforms as back-office applications instead of forcing them to serve both front-end and back-office needs simultaneously.

As back-office tools, IT service management platforms will continue to provide robust, stable, process-driven, and standards-based platforms for addressing incident and problem resolution, change management, service-level agreements, and configuration management databases. But in front-end roles where there is a growing need to provide tailored and client-centric customer innovations—such as request management via self-service portals, service catalogs, approvals, fulfillment, visibility, interactivity, collaboration, and co-created services—most IT service management platforms are inadequate. In today’s outsourcing environment, forcing a back-office system to accommodate both back- and front-end roles is an increasingly untenable proposition.

Moving from Multi-tenancy 1.0 to 2.0 imposes eight new demands on service providers:

  1. Configurability at the client level that is swift to deploy, requires no programming, is persistent through upgrades, and is adaptable to a continually changing environment;
  2. The ability to configure a secure, tailored experience for each client—whether at the user, department, group or enterprise level;
  3. The capability for client innovation with low risk—meaning customizations for one client should have no impact on others;
  4. Service item portability—new service items can be created in a test environment, zipped up, installed, and run in the production environment with no manual rework, and best-practice service items can be imported into different environments and run confidently;
  5. The ability to accommodate today’s interactive and collaborative way of working whenever, wherever and from any device—company or personally owned;
  6. The ability to integrate service items to enterprise applications for both simple and complex services
  7. The ability to swiftly transition new clients to a service platform; and
  8. Continual improvement and the ability to innovate.

Service Provider Innovation
The reusability of service items is one of the keys to service provider innovation in the new world of Multi-tenancy 2.0. With the Kinetic Data Multi-Tenant Suite, service providers can capture, replicate, and re-deploy new service items developed for one client across their entire customer base. Service items configured using Kinetic Data’s architecture contain a task tree that is a visible representation of the actual service item. It is abstracted from the branding and theming to provide reusability and portability in any BMC Remedy environment version 6 or greater. Innovations designed for one purpose or client can be captured, re-branded, zipped up, installed, tested, and registered for another client.


For further information on the new world of Multi-Tenancy 2.0 check out the white paper:
 Multi-tenancy 2.0: Service Provider Innovation and Customizing the Client Experience .

Service Providers Balance Factory IT by Enabling IT for Service Catalog Success

By Brett Norgaard,

Service Providers can leverage an article in the McKinsey Quarterly, “Reshaping IT Management for Turbulent Times” as you build your case for a configurable, streamlined, re-usable, secure service catalog offering for specific market segments.

The article discusses two models—Factory IT and Enabling IT. And, these two models can work together. An intentional focus where appropriate can allow you to make a business case for each and to differentiate your offerings—here’s how…

First of all, Factory IT is about using configurable products where appropriate (p. 2) atop a standardized platform. This allows you to restructure and continually improve processes. The Master Library (Service Items, Handlers, and Themes/Brands) along with a portfolio management/curator emphasis will allow you efficient re-use of the library across all of your clients. Streamlining key processes like transitioning new clients and the provisioning of tailored service catalogs are two key examples. This configuration strategy also reduces the risk inherent when modifying source code to tailor each client’s experience. The article mentions service catalogs specifically as a way to achieve efficiencies (p. 3).

Next, Enabling IT looks for new sources of value and includes a willingness to test (sense and respond) as well as close collaboration. Again, a configuration-based, low risk strategy affords this type of innovation to occur. This kind of innovation rewards partnership with people who can provide the business requirements based upon specific objectives and market knowledge. Rapid prototyping and iterative development are what happens in Enabling IT (p. 6). Mistakes are encouraged…again, a configuration-based strategy allows for this. With Kinetic Data’s configuration architecture, you can test all you want before registering a service item into the service catalog. Enabling IT supports an organization’s innovation culture—communicate, sense, respond, categorize, test, certify and register service items that can be used across the client base. The Kinetic Task Community is a good starting point to review a set of existing handlers addressing integrations with virtual resources, directories, and enterprise applications.

The article concludes (p. 8) with, “The combination of functional productivity and business value creation, will likely be a major competitive differentiator; the first step in delivering this value is to ensure companies have the right leaders in place for each effort.” A sound architecture, a configuration-based strategy, and an understanding of Factory IT vs. Enabling IT affords service provider leaders with low risk/high reward options for Service Catalog success.

Service Provider Innovation – Three Easy Pieces

Industry analysts covering service providers at Gartner and Forrester Research monitor the evolving structure of outsourcing deals on a constant basis. These analysts report an interesting trend – innovation is included as a deliverable in an increasing number of deals.

What can a service provider do to ensure a constant stream of innovations that can be delivered to their clients?

There are three related pieces to address this that service providers using Kinetic Request bundled with Kinetic Task can adopt. The first is re-purposing service items developed for other clients, demonstrations, trade conferences, RFPs, etc. In our last service provider blog post on enterprise value, we explored the enterprise value that accrues to service providers by capturing, replicating, and re-deploying useful service items. Service items configured using Kinetic Data’s architecture contain a task tree that is a visible representation of the actual service item. It is abstracted from the branding and theming so as to be re-usable and is portable (see series of blogs on Service Item Portability) so it can run in any BMC Remedy environment version 6 or greater. Inventions designed for one purpose or client can be captured, re-branded, zipped up, installed, tested, and registered for another client. Innovation number one.

Service Innovation GoalsIn a related move, an existing service item can be cloned and modified, creating a new innovation. An example of this might be to add a robust approval process for service/product requests that goes down different paths based on data collected such as dollar amounts or urgency. A well planned master library will include this approval process as a task handler that can be pulled into any service item, connected, configured, tested, zipped up, installed and registered as a new service item. Innovation number two.

Since Kinetic Data service items are made up of configuration data with no programming change to the underlying service platform source code, playing with, testing, and experimenting are encouraged and do not pose a risk. This kind of sense and respond innovation can happen reactively or proactively without the time, cost and risk of programming. Service innovators need only a business process analyst level of familiarity in order to sense and respond their way to new service items. Innovation number three.

Service innovation can come in many forms. Having a configuration driven, portable approach with an eye towards re-using service items and their component parts to modify existing service items is one easy way to achieve your service innovation goals one piece at a time.

Personalizing Kinetic Calendar

By Derick Larson

Kinetic Calendar is possibly my favorite product—and not just because we get fewer support calls. Kinetic Calendar gives you an entirely new way to view your Remedy data and opens it up to a much wider audience.

The most common question about Kinetic Calendar is how to let customers view the events they want without making multiple calendars. The idea is to give the customer a lot of data and let them “filter” down to what is important to them. This lets you have one main calendar that customers can personalize for their own requirements.

For example, you have one change management calendar that multiple departments use to view their changes. You could create multiple calendars, but that is limiting if a customer wants to see the changes for multiple departments. Filtering lets the customer personalize the calendar, without requiring you to make any changes to the actual calendar definition.

Filtering is done two ways.

First, there is an event type for a calendar called Filtered that lets you select fields (from the BMC Remedy form you are using for your data) for your customers to filter the individual events. You can set the order of the fields and even set a default. The fields are listed along the top of the web display of the calendar for the customer to choose.

The second method allows you to put parts of your qualification in the URL that is used to display the calendar. You have to build your own web page to collect the parameters and call the URL (Kinetic Request and Kinetic Survey are perfect for this), but you can really add to your customers experience by letting them make selections before the calendar is displayed. This method uses a feature called Parameter Values, and can be combined with the filters.

Combining the two methods together allows you to present very informative and personalized views into your own BMC Remedy data. For example, a service provider could see events by one or multiple companies, or their customers can be limited to just their own tickets, but still have the ability to filter based on other criteria like priority, status or assigned to group.

Let us know what cool things you’ve done with Kinetic Calendar—we love to share ideas and experiences with our customers.

Service Providers Accrue Enterprise Value Benefits from All Clients

By Brett Norgaard

Every branch office in an organization can be thought of as “an experiment in productivity” according to Frank Troppe, author of “Branching Out,” the definitive book on branch office success. The trick is to promote a culture of innovation and ultimately capture the best productivity gains from the branches and replicate them across the entire company. Troppe goes on to develop a formula called, Replication Rule 144X, which dollarizes the Enterprise Value of effective branch-based innovations. Here’s how it works. In a 1000 branch based organization, let’s say that branch #273 invents a way to save $100/mo. through the development of a process such as the on-boarding of new branch personnel, the streamlining of a claims process, or the coordination of requesting and fulfilling equipment, materials, and space for ongoing seminars.

Here’s a breakdown of the formula:

$100 (monthly savings) X 12 months = $1200 Annual Savings per Branch

$1200 (Annual Savings per Branch) X 1000 Locations = $1,200,000 Annual Savings for all Branches

For a public company, let’s assume a Price to Earnings (PE) Ratio of 12 (this is an average—it could be higher or lower)

$1,200,000 (Annual Savings for all Branches) X 12 (Average PE Ratio) = $14,400,000 in increased Enterprise Value

Not too bad for a $100/mo. savings in branch #273 within an organization that can recognize, capture and replicate this innovation. An automated request and fulfillment system like Kinetic Request bundled with Kinetic Task can certainly capture the process and present it for broad usage across an organization. And, there is an integration capability to connect to enterprise systems like IT, HR, Procurement, and Facilities to broaden the scope and scale of the innovations.

As exciting as this is for a single enterprise, it is particularly appealing for a service provider with multiple clients who may each have thousands of branches, stores, offices, centers, clinics, etc. What we are really talking about here is a multi-tenant service request and fulfillment platform that can be configured for each client and where the innovations—captured as processes within service items—are portable and “replicatable” between branches and clients.

To the savvy service provider innovator, Replication Rule 144X is just the start…

 

 

For Outsourcers, Service Item Portability is a Must Have—Part 3

By Brett Norgaard
(Part 3 of a 3 part series)

In Part 2, we argued that service item portability must also be configuration driven in a service provider environment since it is most likely changing and under increasing pressure to deliver self-service and co-created services… securely, of course. This entry will top line the business case for service providers adopting service item portability.

By employing reliable, tested and proven service items that can be offered in standard offers with additional optional service provides scale. Over time, service items from other clients can be incorporated swiftly, efficiently and effectively into the standard or optional offers. This also makes transitions swift and predictable.

Risk is lowered since portability means ease of bringing established service items into new environments. Service items based on configuration data also allow testing, piloting, and benchmarking with no additional programming with nothing to break.

Lower risk also contributes to saving time and money. One service provider cited a phenomenal gain in efficiency (16:1) when comparing business analysts configuring a service catalog vs. using developers to start from scratch.

Service item portability makes upgrades to the underlying service platform survivable. Service catalogs and service items can be pointed to the new version of the service platform and run immediately with no need for rework. This includes all branding and theming.

Time to market is shortened. One way that service providers innovate is by combining existing offers to make new offers that can be targeted at new markets. Having a low risk strategy and associated tactics enables a “sense and respond” style of innovation.

Service item portability yields a strong business case for service providers. The pieces, taken together, contribute to the ability to scale. In a world of increasing pressure on service margins and operating income, scalability is a welcome “ability.”

For Outsourcers, Service Item Portability is a Must Have—Part 2

By Brett Norgaard
(Part 2 of a 3 part series)

In Part 1, we explored the dimensions of service item portability to get an idea of how vast the challenge is to run the same service item in different versions, instances, clients, and even with the same environment (test vs. production). Needless to say, trying to keep up with programming, coding, filtering, etc. no longer works. This is especially true for service provider’s stringent multi-tenant environments. With the expansion of service catalogs, more and more end users are starting to enjoy the benefits of self-service, co-created services and greater interactivity.

The customer-facing portion of the service platform (front end) needs to be truly web deliverable configurable in order to meet the demands of a service provider with multiple tenants. A reliable configuration-driven system removes the risk associated with programming or altering the source code of the underlying service platform. Even well written and documented code changes can wreak havoc at upgrade time when service catalogs (and service items) that used to work now do not. A configuration-driven strategy will also allow the service catalogs and the component service items to be uniquely branded and themed. In a world where clients expect things their way, doing so must not increase the associated cost, risk and time of personalizing the experience.

The ability to test, combine, and reconfigure service catalogs is also an important consideration for service providers. Configuration data does not change the underlying application code so testing and piloting can happen as often as needed. Innovation happens more easily when the risk of experimentation is removed.

Service providers can also build standardized sets of service items (in service catalogs) that can be deployed (configured, branded and themed) in a fraction of the time normally required. Optional service items can be configured as well for premium offers if the service provider wishes. Best practices or inventions from one client can be captured and re-deployed across some or all of the clients. Branch-based organizations can have processes built that call out needed materials and resources and replicate them to all locations swiftly and affordably. Every branch can be an experiment in creating best practices that can be replicated across all branches. And for service providers, this can extend to more than one customer for real scalability.

Configurability of service items in the service catalog in such a way that makes them reusable and portable afford the savvy service provider with a scalable competitive advantage. In the next part, we’ll examine the business benefits of service item portability more closely.

For Outsourcers, Service Item Portability is a Must Have

By Brett Norgaard
(Part 1 of a 3 part series)

Recently, we participated in and reviewed several deals involving help desk consolidations, platform migrations, system upgrades, and the transitioning of new clients onto the standard service delivery platform. The constant? Change. Movement. The challenge? Service items are tied to, trapped if you will, to the specific instances, version, client (in a multi-tenant environment) or role (development vs. production server) and do not migrate without extensive rework, manual intervention or a complete re-do.

Let’s examine these dimensions of service item portability a little closer. Many service providers have multiple instances of the same version of their service platform. There are many many reasons for this—consolidations of multiple providers, client requirements involving security/privacy/regulatory considerations. Several service providers have reported issues with the reality of moving service items between different instances of the same version of their service platform. Issues tend to arise when “best practice” service items are captured and uploaded to the new, but same version, service platform.

Due to some of the same reasons cited above, many service providers end up with many different versions of the same service platform. Problems start to appear in this case around the upgrade procedures. Many service providers have had to redo vast portions of the service items post upgrade.

Some service providers have intended to offer a standard set of services to a set of clients on a multi-tenant platform. Challenges arise as each client requires customizations including branding and theming.  In order to deliver on this promise, service providers have resorted to extensive filtering which adds complexity to the code which move often manifests during upgrades resulting in going back to the drawing board.

One service provider reported that service items created in the test environment were not able to run in the production environment without extensive manual rework.

Two fundamental issues are at work here and conspire against service providers and their service platforms. Multi-tenancy and Self-Service. The major service platforms have concentrated on and solved the back office issues surrounding incident, change, problem and asset management. Today, each client wants service their own way. This means that they demand a unique experience—incorporating self-service, co-creation of services, and a more engaging overall experience. This is a challenge of the front office, client-facing part of the application. The usual programming and customizations of the past era no longer solve but instead work against service item portability. In our next entry, we will explore how a secure, configuration driven strategy addresses the issues of multi-tenancy, self-service with a unique experience for all.