Portals: In your pocket

This post is the seventh in a series about building portals for teams and groups to interact with customers. If you’re interested in reading more please follow us on twitter or subscribe in the right-hand margin of this blog —>

Team Leader: What do we want?

Team: Supercomputers in our pockets!

Team Leader: What do we got?

Team: Supercomputers in our pockets.

If you’ve made it this far in your journey toward a comprehensive customer portal: CONGRATULATIONS! You now have a system of customer engagement. This is a goal many brands fail at many many times before seeing success.

So – you know where I’m going next right? The customer. What do they want now? You’ve given them a voice, and enabled powerful access to your data and services.

What could customers possibly want besides everything?

Easy; they also want it all times and places.

They want this new system of engagement to be with them at all times. I’m working at 2am on my 23rd cup of coffee. I’m excited and inspired to make our company’s next new product.

Take the opportunity to delight your customers by fulfilling their needs at the time they need.

“Oh hey, I should tell finance about this material shortage that is predicted by our research partners” – goes to finance portal on iPhone.

“I need to order 300 pounds of rubber.” – goes to procurement portal on Android.

“I like Peter. What’s his email address?” – looks up employee info on a web browser on his child’s internet connected pillow.

These are the realities of today. These are not predictions. Your colleagues and co-workers deserve the right to work freely and to do so when it’s convenient to them and on their terms.

Does your portal require Internet Explorer 11 so that business rules can be enforced? Terrible.

Does your portal require a mobile version and a desktop version? Stupid.

Gone are these old perceptions of web development. Now there is only disruption, connection and communication. The rest is just a check-box on a management system.

Get every customer engagement on mobile to keep them as a customer.

Else; you may as well close the door on over half of your users, half of the time.

Better Service Visibility = Better Delivery!

Service disruption occurs when change and release management collisions occur.

How do we prevent these collisions from occurring in the first place?

Even the most sophisticated teams are subjected to these problems; why?

No matter how much planning and automation you have, there are still outages!

Now the service desk is getting hammered with calls and a VP is irate over not being able to reach his “key” system. No one is happy. The world is on fire!

We planned. We strategized… We have GREAT tools! We have GREAT PEOPLE! We AUTOMATE!!!

Why? Why me? Why us?

While you may have planned accordingly, followed the good practice handbook to the letter and thought you understood the decisions in the CAB, you still had collisions. Why?

Because you made decisions based on incomplete information.

There are MANY systems of record that hold critical information related to service delivery. That information is often not all in a single database — such as your ITSM system.

Vacation and business event information? It’s in your messaging system (Exchange).

Customer specific case information? It’s in your CRM (Salesforce.com).

Release information? It’s in your ITSM system (ServiceNow).

If key data related to change/release decisions is not all in the same system, the effort to correlate it may be painful and time-consuming, but; ultimately it is worth it if service is improved. Figure out how to get it correlated — even if it is a spreadsheet. Reduce the risk by knowing what is what.

calendar-video-preview-1
1:56 — A demonstration of a unified calendar view.

We built Kinetic Calendar to enable real-time visibility into key data from multiple applications. it’s more important than ever to be able to cross reference data from those systems. Request a free demo here.

Are We There Yet?

magic-cube-cube-puzzle-play-54101tl,dr; flexibility. From buying a new app to acquiring a company, your ability to integrate can make or break returns.

When your doctor prescribes medicine there are many questions. A patient might ask “How long until it kicks in?”

This applies to business decisions as well. Adopt a new system and executives begin to ask “When will realize value?” Start shipping a new product line and investors wonder “When will profits emerge?”

How do we answer these questions with accuracy and speed? One thing acquisitive companies do is compare books. Take a look at the finances. Look at the details of operation expenses, profits and capital expenditures. This gives you a great deal of insight about the hard facts of a business.

There are many other aspects aside from finance though. How do new products get more clarity on when profits will emerge? Unique funding tools like kickstarter have shed light on this. Why not get people signed up to buy before or during design? Have you asked people if they would buy your product? Will they? How will you tell them when it’s ready?

What if you took the kickstarter model to heart?

How will employees know when a new system will be available? When will their jobs get easier or more streamlined? Have you asked for their input?

Kickstarter has a ton of value beyond just crowdfunding. It’s a way to communicate, survey and set expectations. These functions are critical during times of flux and change.

Knowing where our teams, systems and colleagues are within a transition empowers speed.

We’re building your next kickstarter and can’t wait to share it with you. You can also try it out for yourself here.

To learn how our software empowers organizations to architect for fast integration, read our stuff on preparing to realize the value of BIG change.

 

In the beginning…

tl,dr: all business processes start somewhere, whether data, event or request driven. That simple goal is the starting point of request process improvement.

I just need to collect people’s email addresses to get started.

I get into a lot of solution conversations with my friends. This is consulting 101, but there’s more on the line when I’m personally invested in this person.

There are other challenges too, when it’s personal there’s usually a cost prohibitive budget, a.k.a. no cash on hand.

So when someone asked me how to collect information and “get started” a lightbulb went off!

All processes start somewhere.

pexels-photo-28554It appears that almost all business processes come down to a click. An order. A bit. A byte. SOMETHING; whether it be data or a request, something triggers a business response.

Can we then assume that the best software gets this?

When I asked this, I re-asked it a couple times before I realized this was the value IT was providing. Particularly when it refers to Enterprise Architecture.

The decisions you make about the puzzle you are composing with technology investments influences your ability to react to information and events.

Which is why good architects and business analysts ask difficult questions about APIs and Integration points.

Can you send an example of the JSON?

It’s why great application developers know the details of how to alert and register events. As well as how to extract and parse event and alert information in a meaningful way.

How do you start a process? Is it as easy as filling in a request form? Do you click a button? Is it complex or simple? Why?

Participants in our second virtual hackathon have been challenged to start a business process. Create a simple registration application. Start capturing those email addresses and start the business process you need to start now.

For more information about how we feel about business processes check out this simple process flow, subscribe to our blog or check out who we are!

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 Curb Appeal of your Catalog

Performing regular application rationalization presents countless opportunities for organizations to recover waste, reduce costs and add efficiency. Although large enterprise platforms are beholden to theseWally_Shopping rationalization projects, they are often overlooked as out-of-scope.

This is usually because removing the platform has disastrous results for the customer experience.These platforms are low-hanging fruit for organizations to save millions in operations costs.

The choices you make today, drastically impact your ability to be flexible and vendor neutral tomorrow.

Thanks to several years of customer experience being a fad (and now a trend), many software manufacturers are refactoring and struggling to decrease switching costs while still providing you value.
Ideally each of your business partners and software suppliers should be working with you to decrease time to value and increase value.

Scoping Technology Differently, Differentiates

tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) – Switching to the latest toolset just catches you up to competitors, it doesn’t take you past them. If your goal is differentiation and increasing value past “par” then design for rapid technology change, perform regular system evaluations and have an honest and transparent tool selection processes.

 

Your enterprise has several platforms that are capable of accomplishing literally anything. With enough development these systems can likely perform many business functions. But should they? Just because your jackknife has a saw doesn’t mean you will enjoy using it; there may be a better tool.

How can you tell what each system should do? Enter the “Enterprise Architect” (EA), this person is essentially a business analyst and technologist, and hopefully has a great deal of understanding how systems fit together. They are ready to tell you which tools should do which tasks. They do this by analyzing toolsets and balancing the goal of optimizing value while decreasing overhead. For instance, building an intranet site for department use on SAP is going to take quite a bit of customization and org-change, while Sharepoint is built for this purpose (and your company already has a license). Bring them your goals.

This applies to all functional areas. Daily work in human resources (HR) handles aspects of talent and career paths, these functions are unique to this team and have specific tools that work great for this space.  Building something from scratch is not a wise investment and can lead quickly to waste and missed opportunity. But if the organization is a talent agency, it’s likely they have a custom system for managing people. This is their differentiation.

So what happens when new tools or demands are raised? Enter the “Business Relationship Manager” (BRM), this role is essentially a business analyst with great listening and persuasion skills. These people partner with the architects mentioned above to make things happen – this can mean pushing features that didn’t exist before, switching platforms or finding better data sources or integrations.

In the HR example above you can quickly see how HR uses these features and technology to differentiate their value. They are collectively better as they improve and iterate their tools and processes. Perhaps their toolset allows them to cross-reference LinkedIn data with compensation, or compare performance with career path; whatever the case, if there is business value in quality talent, enabling these toolsets is the goal. This should be clear to the BRM and Architect alike, and they should know whether the talent management system can handle an integration of that sort. Maybe they get a business intelligence app involved or just work slowly toward this goal.

This applies broadly across the enterprise. If you aren’t able to differentiate, you run the risk of missed value and ultimately irrelevancy. As technology continues to be the differentiator of choice, the importance of having quality Architects and BRMs increases. Getting quality masterful value out of your toolsets is their sweet spot.

Where Data Security Fits in Two-Speed IT

“Where does security fit in bi-modal IT departments?” asks Mary K. Pratt on CSO Online. She explores the question with IT leaders from a handful of organizations, opening her discussion by noting:

“The bi-modal idea has its benefits and its pitfalls but the determination seems to come down to the size of the enterprise. In the mid to smaller companies, there is not the luxury of splitting the security group out into subgroups. In the bigger companies the question becomes where do the security folks belong.”

Though the CIOs she speaks to take different approaches to managing bi-modal or two-speed IT, they generally agree on two points:

where security fits in 2-speed IT1) It’s best to perform both speeds or modes of IT–innovation and operations–in one centralized group, rather than two separate teams where the innovators “throw things over the wall” to operations as applications are developed.

In this structure, the same individuals work on both innovation initiatives and day-to-day operations tasks, though overall a greater share of time is spent on operations, and employees vary in how much time they spend on each type of work.

2) Security has become so important, as cyber threats have multiplied, that it must be baked into new projects, not added later as an afterthought. Ultimately though, security “should sit in operations.”

Continue reading “Where Data Security Fits in Two-Speed IT”