You are the Software you Buy.

Software reflects the beliefs and assumptions of those who make it.

The mundane decisions developers make affects how companies function. Thus; developers can have a large impact on your functions, teams and success.

Good companies chose platforms, languages and tools that enable their success. Great companies find partners that are enjoyable to work with and share common values.

teamIt’s up to your vendors to be transparent with their culture, sharing their beliefs. And the responsibility is on the enterprise to explore that vendor’s philosophy.

This becomes even more important as you consider platforms that determine long lasting success. If you’re going to have an application for three years or more, how do you expect the software to change? What new decisions are the product managers at that firm going to make in five years?

Can you influence their decisions?

Diligent buyers develop a relationship with a software company before purchasing. Some attend user groups and build something before a sales cycle. Others inspect or fork code on github, or use a trial version.

So, what are you buying? How do the users feel? Have you made a good match? Ask!

To learn more about our culture, watch a short video here. We’ll also continue to post our beliefs and values here, so stay tuned!

Integration Update

We’re always adding to the list of integrations that are pre-developed and free to download. Of course you can create a custom handler for ANY service with modern web integration, but this is just easier and more cost effective 🙂

This month we added a ton of Azure integrations – so I put together a quick summary of integrations you might be interested in (for a full and updated list always go here.):

Infrastructure Automation

Azure

We’ve added capabilities on both the Government and Cloud sides, specifically focused on Create, Delete, Status, Retrieve, Shutdown, Restart and Start.

Amazon S3

This handler generates an expiring URL for S3. Expiring URLs take a bucket, a key (path + filename) and an expiration and build up a special URL that will give the user access to the file only for a certain time period.

Amazon EC2

There are quite a few in here for working with Images and Instances. Listing, retrieving, statuses and starting/stopping – basic functions you need in EC2.

Chef

Bootstrap a node in chef using Knife.

Rackspace

Create and delete servers.

VMWare

VSphere, for infrastructure automation of course. All kinds of options here.

Tomcat

What else? It reloads 🙂

OpenNMS

Trigger nodes when records are created, updated and deleted.

Sales and CRM

Salesforce

Lots of functionality like managing contacts and accounts.

Salesforce Pardot

Create and retrieve prospects.

Sugar CRM

Retrieve account records.

Stripe

Take payments and complete checkouts

Task Management

GitHub

There’s too much to list here – but we use it, there’s a ton of integration points.

ServiceNow

Too many to list, users, groups, changes and incidents mainly.

Jira

Again, too many to list… probably because we love it.

Utilities

If you like JSON, XML, CSV and password generation These handlers are for you.

BMC

Lots of shops use BMC – so obviously we have tons of integrations. Check out the Remedy, ITSM, Bladelogic and Atrium integrations.

HP Service Manager

Create and update incidents.

IWise

Create and retrieve incidents

InfoBlox

Create A records, PTR records.

Communication and Collaboration

Basecamp

Tons of integrations, invites, todo’s, events, projects and more.

Active Directory

Too many to list – this is a biggie.

Google

User admin, calendar integration and group management

Twilio

Because nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore

Citrix

Meeting automation? Yes please.

Evernote

I love this app. Use the handler to create notes or notebooks

Dropbox

Move, delete, create and share.

LinkedIn

Company posting, profile posting and a listing of connecting people

SMTP

Manage emails, meeting requests and sending attachments.

Facebook

Events, links, statuses and posts.

Imgur

Upload automation; yes!

Twitter

Search followers, compose and include pictures

Yammer

Create, delete invite – lots of options.

The First Kinetic Data Hackathon

Winners banked $3,000 in our first hackathon ever! 2015 IT predictions and trends

We challenged anyone to build a Property Management solution using Kinetic Request (and optionally Kinetic Task). The challenge also asked participants to work toward one of four prizes:

  1. The first submission ($1,000) –

    Lindsay Hodges -RDS Services

  2. The best looking submission ($1,000) – Tian McPherson of McPherson Enterprises Inc.
  3. One random winner ($1,000)- Nanoatzen Castro of Infosys
  4. Most complete solution ($3,000) – No entries judged in this category — everybody went after “first solution”.

We learned a lot conducting this hackathon. It challenged us to build even more on our platforms. Taught us how easy it really can be to build solutions on Kinetic Request, and inspired us to build a full sandbox automation solution using our own tools. More to come on that.

Right now, we’re busy preparing for the next event which is scheduled to start September 16th, 2016. Register here to learn more and subscribe to hackathon related news.

You Released a Catalog; Now What?

Adoption: Getting People to Use your Catalog

If people don’t use your portal, there is a risk of missing returns on your investment. This is important because an initiative like a self-service portal is usually sold to leadership as part of a cost-savings initiative.

catalog open

Marketing

How do you get your customers to think about your portal when they need something? To understand this, consider the lifecycle of technology adoption. Innovators and early adopters will be easy to convince since a new portal to make requests is a disruptive change. For the rest of your audiencemarketing is key to making people aware the catalog exists and what value it provides.

Some keys to marketing your catalog include simply talking to people about it, putting it on your hold music, send links to the portal and have service agents talk to callers about your catalog. Partner with your internal marketing teams and corporate messaging teams to share stories about the self-service catalog. Of course, linking to your catalog from intranet pages and emails is also important.

Informational sessions, brown bags, new hire orientation and all-hands meetings are some more great platforms to share the stories and value of your catalog.

Experience

Having a great experience is a non-negotiable requirement of any self-service portal. If the first interaction customers have with your catalog is not a good one, they may never come back. To achieve this, partner with your customers to capture and provide input to what they would like the experience to be like. Watching people order things is a great place to start.

Improvement: Making the Catalog a Part of Company Culture

Build analytics and measurement into your catalog to determine what services people are using, which ones they aren’t using and identify what your customers are looking for. Having access to what people are searching for can help you understand what services they are looking for that may not be available yet.

Surveys help you understand if people are happy with your portal, upset with your portal and gives people a voice and input into your systems. To increase survey response rates try rewarding respondents and adding incentive to users helping you build the portal. And when something changes on your portal, make sure you communicate and understand the impact on your customers.

Making frequent small improvements keeps change simple for your end users. Make sure your items have a similar look and feel, and make ordering easy. Focus on the customer experience, and never stop improving.

Expansion: growing the use of your catalog

There are lots of ways to expand. Adding departments, services or even a new portals are challenges you may need to overcome. Seeking out the power-users, information brokers and persuaders to discuss the design and functionality of your portal will be exponentially valuable.

There are a couple ways to scale your expansion. One way is to build items and technology features to be reused and leveraged by power-users. Building activities and functions that are repeatable and modifiable will make your catalog easier to use and therefore more likely to I used.

Another is to build your technology in such a way to distribute the details of your services. This might include being able to leverage a standard approval workflow, or giving business professionals the ability to customize their own forms. This may take some careful planning and maybe even re-work, but the investment is worth it when demand increases.

Support: How to Scale Innovation

Since most modern technology platforms can literally do anything, we need to break the habit of asking “Can it…” and start planning how to approach a solution.

Exploring what your platforms are capable of keeps you in the role of “early-adopter” which makes you a key resource to the people leveraging this technology. This role will often start automating solutions or fixing problems that people have been complaining about for years. This is an important step in the life of a self-service platform.

Expand who is using the platform, give them a framework to work within and cross-train. Having multiple people involved in a system like this removes the risk of having a single point of failure.

Nobody knows everything, so getting others involved will also help scale exploration. Continuously learn more about the technologies that are providing the value your team and company need.

Lastly, keeping your platforms up to date keeps you leveraging new functionality and feature sets as well as keeping you learning more about the enabling technology.

Get Started

Ready to get started implementing a catalog that can grow? Start learning more today at http://kineticdata.com.

Kinetic Data creates business process software that delights its customers, making them heroes by transforming both the organization and the people who work there. Since 1998 Kinetic Data has helped hundreds of Fortune 500 and government customers — including General Mills, Avon, Intel, 3M and the U.S. Department of Transportation — implement automated request management systems with a formula that is proven, repeatable and ready to implement. The company has earned numerous awards for its superior products and support. Kinetic Data serves customers from its headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., offices in Sydney, Australia, and through a valued network of reseller partners. For more information, visitwww.kineticdata.com, follow our blog, and connect with us on Twitter andLinkedIn.

Diversity and Failure are the Keys to High Performing Orgs

TL,DR; Add diversity -> Increase trials -> Increase failures -> Increase learning = high performing organizations.

Discover moreHave you ever heard someone say they didn’t know what they didn’t know? Discovering new ways of working and learning can be challenging. This is particularly true if a team lacks diversity. If everyone likes the same radio stations, how do we discover new music? If everyone reads the same websites, do we even need to discuss the content?

Broaden your horizons.

Listening to new thoughts, ideas and perspectives can be inspirational and often valuable. When you find something new worth trying, try it!

Failure promotes learning and high performing organizations embrace both.

Expand your horizons by exploring one of our non-profit partners; Geekettes, WomenWhoCode, Geekout and DevOpsMSP.

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

Why I Joined KineticData

TL,DR; I’ve never worked for a company where they could handle the bandwidth of my ideas. It feels good. Kinetic Data is in the perfect position to make a big impact on the technology aspect of many industries. To prove it we’re paying cash to build solutions on top of our platform.

My tech career started with ServiceNow. Actually, it really started on a home-grown filemaker system, then ServiceNow. </tangent>

If you’ve been in the tech industry even slightly longer than me, you probably realize why my short tenure and lack of exposure to “legacy systems” skews my perception. Our industry has a rich history of trials, tribulations and successes. The first exposure to older systems of record taught me that several vendors and tools had gone through a “vicious cycle”.  This was usually because the tools or company had:

  • Become too disparate
  • Relied on archaic code bases (technical debt)
  • Politics or other in-fighting with partners or business practices
  • Overpricing
  • Crazy licensing
  • Undervaluing
  • Overvaluing
  • Poor architecture
  • Grown by acquisition
  • Wasn’t innovative enough
  • Outgrew themselves

and a myriad of other reasons. Having heard these experiences, told by those more experienced, trends appeared and I realized;

History repeats itself.

This isn’t new information, but it’s a new look at our current reality.

The complex becomes the simple, only to become complex again. And we certainly see this in the stories of our industry. The term “coded into a corner” has become a common description for technology platforms that support automation and technology management.

OverComplicatedOverTime

This is a vicious cycle technologists understand very well. Companies implement systems regularly. Some systems have more stickiness than others, some are more durable, some have more staying power. Organizations have baggage too, some can adapt quickly, some have the discipline to squeeze more life or value out of platforms than others.

How can we stop this cycle? It is damaging the reputations of service providers, projects, departments and individuals. Start by not doing anything on the list above. There are two things that are imperative for ideas and companies to survive:

  1. Decentralize work: enabling the customer to manage their own business processes
  2. Well architected technology: make integration and platform value longer lasting by making wise choices

It is cruel to list those two behemoths like that. Both of these goals are massive undertakings with massive benefits.

How to get there

How does a team make progress toward those goals? Firstly, make them organizational goals, secondly make them department goals, and thirdly make decisions to support this direction. Whether it’s hiring or training architects, giving them the proper oversight (by having them report to non technical leadership) and by giving them power to change your systems.

So Why Kinetic Data?

There are a lot of reasons of course. Primarily as a marketer and technologist, I need to strongly believe in a product before I can successfully make others believe. I’ve seen what KD is building and I have faith that it will not only change the way you look at platforms again, but it will help companies achieve the two goals listed above.

I’ve had the pleasure to work at a handful of companies and Kinetic Data has a very healthy and supportive psychological culture and environment. Never have my ideas been so welcome and accepted in a professional setting. People are eager to try new things, fail quickly and feel the support of our team if we make mistakes.

If you want to see what I’ve seen – give it a whirl. Sign up for more information, trials and demos here.

The Wally Awards 2016 – Integrator of the Year

We love our customers. They are who we do this for.

Aegon AwardThis year we gave awards for sharing some of our Key Values.

The winner of “Integrator of the Year” demonstrates how open system design and well honed integrations can deliver incredible business value.  With over 20 million users and customers, we are honored to present this award to Aegon Transamerica.

To read the full release click here.

To learn more about us go here.

If you’d like to try our software and make money doing it, sign up for our hackathon here.