Higher Ed Service Catalogs: Six Top Questions Answered

While CIOs across industries are grappling with new threats and opportunities presented by revolutionary technological change, those who work in college and university settings face unique challenges.

Top questions about higher ed service catalogsWriting on LinkedIn Pulse, Tracie Bryant notes than in addition to common CIO challenges like budgeting, strategy, and training, higher ed CIOs must also address issues like scaling up bandwidth to handle “the booming popularity of online classes,” and implementing an advanced technology infrastructure to attract the best and brightest students and faculty (as well as donations).

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How Service Catalogs Help Enterprise IT Innovation

Over the past few decades, organizations have applied technology primarily to reduce costs. Faster computers, instantaneous global communications, and specialized software for every business function have dramatically improved productivity and driven costs out of the value chain.

But the days of cost reduction as the primary focus of IT may have ended. As noted here a year ago, “improving the effectiveness of business processes” has replaced reducing costs as the top concern of IT leaders.

BPI IT innovation report - accelerating business transformationNow, fresh research from the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network reinforces and builds on this trend. Across enterprises, business leaders are looking to IT and new technologies to help “increase agility, improve customer experience, and make their companies more competitive.”

As the mission of IT is transformed from driving out costs to driving business model innovation, IT’s profile is raised as well. Per the BPI research, almost two-thirds (65%) of enterprises “say technology has become ‘far more important’ to their organizations in the past five years. Another 28% see it as ‘somewhat’ more important.”
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The CIO’s Role in Stellar Customer Experience – Hunter Muller

The role of the CIO has shifted dramatically in the past few years, from the traditional focus on “keeping the lights on” to playing a more strategic part in aligning IT with the business, as well as embracing trends like the consumerization of IT.

Yet in his new book The Big Shift in IT Leadership, author Hunter Muller “contends that many CIOs remain focused inward, only concerned with technology,” according to Anita Bruzzese on The Fast Track blog.

The Big Shift in IT Leadership: How Great CIOs Leverage the Power of Technology for Strategic Business Growth in the Customer-Centric EconomyAs Bruzzese writes, “The best CIOs, (Muller) says, know that results beat out technology. Having great technology doesn’t mean much if customers aren’t having a good user experience.”

Muller believes CIOs should not only contribute their expertise to efforts aimed at providing a great customer experience (for both internal and external “customers”), but to take a leadership role in this area.

He views IT leaders as uniquely positioned for this task, because CIOs “have total visibility across the organization,” and with that access, “have a golden opportunity to help develop innovative strategies and spur collaborations that will have a big impact on the organization’s overall success.”

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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.

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Five Keys to Successful Collaboration in the Future of Work

Despite panic-inducing, high-shock-value headlines like Will machines eventually take every job?, there’s little to worry about for most workers. Robots are more likely to supplement human labor than to replace it.

But while automation technologies broadly speaking (robots, “smart” machines, and software) may not destroy many jobs (if any) on net, they will certainly change the nature of the future of work.

Future of work is more collaboration than robotsThe work of the future will be technology-assisted, data-driven, and collaborative. Simple, autonomous tasks (e.g., scanning a barcode) are easy to automate. Complex tasks requiring a mix of expertise (e.g., designing and developing a business software application) are far more difficult, and not candidates for automation any time soon.

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Enterprise Collaboration Tools: Hammers in Search of Nails?

All but the simplest processes in an enterprise require collaboration of some type, whether it’s two co-workers writing a document, or a cross-functional group of employees developing an application or resolving a thorny technical issue in coordination with external vendors and partners.

Email or file-sharing tools are often all that’s needed for simple projects. But for complex situations, enterprise collaboration tools offer more sophisticated, specialized functionality for communication and task management.

Enterprise collaboration tools: best if used properlySo why is it that CIOs “can’t sell enterprise collaboration tools” within their organizations, according to recent CIO magazine piece? As Matt Kapko writes:

“Enterprise collaboration is a dubious pursuit. You can almost sense its impending failure the minute it gets introduced to a workforce and becomes just another tool that employees are supposed to use…

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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”