Getting Started with Social IT (Part 1 of 2)

Today’s post from Matthew Selheimer of ITinvolve is part one of a two-part feature on Social IT maturity, part 2 will follow soon. 

"Most of your customers, employees and stakeholders are actively using social media"

Today, 98 percent of the online population in the USA uses social media sites, and worldwide nearly 6 out of every 10 people use social networks and forums.

From a business perspective, this means a very large percentage of your customers, employees and other stakeholders are already participating in the social media universe where smartphones, tablets, video communication and collaboration are a part of daily life. It almost goes without saying that, if you want to connect with new audiences and marketplaces today, there is no other platform that compares to social media in reach and frequency.

In fact, a recent McKinsey & Company report suggests that the growth businesses of tomorrow will be those that harness the power of social media and its potential benefits not only externally but internally as well:

Most importantly, we find that social technologies, when used within and across enterprises, have the potential to raise the productivity of the high-skill knowledge workers that are critical to the performance and growth in the 21st century by 20 to 25 percent.’

We are social by nature

How might IT departments take advantage of this social media potential? IT organizations are, in fact, quite social by nature. Knowledge and expertise reside in different teams, and specialists must frequently come together and collaborate to plan for changes and resolve issues. These social interactions, however, are typically ad hoc and take place across a wide variety of methods from in-person conversations and meetings, to email, to phone calls, to instant messaging, to wiki sites, and more.

How can IT build upon its existing social culture to deliver new value for the broader organization?

To be considered as more than just a ‘nice to have,’ social media must provide tangible benefits. The good news is that social media principles do provide real benefits when applied to IT – and they do so in a big way. For example, IT organizations that are using social media principles are finding that their staff can interact with users and each other in new and more immediate ways. They are also finding that they can much more easily capture and share the collective knowledge residing across their systems and teams; and then armed with this knowledge, they are able to better understand their IT environment and the complex relationships that exist among their IT assets.

Being social brings risks and rewards

This, in turn, is leading to increases in staff productivity and is making day-to-day tasks like resolving incidents and planning for changes more efficient and more accurate. The results include faster time to restore service when outages or degradations occur, a higher success rate when executing changes, and a greater overall throughput of IT process management activities – just to name a few.

But the adoption of social media principles in IT also has the risk of certain pitfalls. In this article, we will explore a four-level model of social IT maturity, (See Figure 1) including how to avoid the most common pitfalls.

  • At Level 1, organizations begin to explore how social IT can contribute by defining a milestone-based plan with clearly established benefits as their social IT maturity increases.
  • At Level 2, IT takes specific actions to add on social capabilities to existing operations, and begins to realize projected benefits around user intimacy and satisfaction.
  • At Level 3, social IT becomes embedded into and enhances IT operational processes, providing relevant context to improve collaboration among IT professionals thereby making IT teams more efficient and accurate in their daily work.
  • Finally, at Level 4, IT evolves into a socially driven organization with a self-sustaining community, recognition and rewards systems that further incentivize the expansion of the community, and a culture that harnesses the power of social collaboration for continuous process improvement.

 

Figure 1 - A Proposed Social IT Maturity Model

Level 1 Maturity: Social Exploration

The first level of social IT maturity is Social Exploration. The goal of Social Exploration is to learn, and the value delivered comes from defining your plan to improve social IT maturity.

Such a plan must include specific key performance measures that can be tied to financial or other tangible business benefits. Otherwise, your social IT plan is bound to be greeted skeptically by management.

Start by asking yourself simple questions like ‘How can social tools improve my ability to provide better IT service and support?’ and ‘What social IT capabilities are available in the market that I should know about and consider for my organization?’ If you’ve not started asking these types of questions, then you aren’t even on the social IT maturity scale yet. Exploring what social IT could mean for your IT organization is the critical first step.

To exit Level 1 and move to Level 2 on the maturity scale, you must have a documented plan for how you will improve your social IT maturity that incorporates specific key performance measures. The following sections will discuss a variety of elements and performance measures that you should consider.

Social IT Pitfall #1: Ungoverned Broadcasting

In your transition from Level 1 to Level 2 maturity, a common pitfall is to look for a ‘quick win’ such as broadcasting via Twitter or RSS. A number of IT management software vendors include this capability in their products today, so it seems like an easy way to ‘go social.’ However, if you haven’t taken the time to define your communications policies clearly, you could end up doing more harm than good. Posting IT service status to public feeds could leave your organization exposed or embarrassed. You wouldn’t want to see ‘My Company finance application unavailable due to network outage’ re-tweeted and publicly searchable on Google, would you?

You can do more harm than good if you try for a ‘quick win’ approach to social IT by broadcasting via Twitter or RSS. Posting IT service status to public feeds could leave your organization exposed or embarrassed.

Level 2 Maturity: Social Add-ons

The most important thing about getting to Level 2 maturity, Social Add-ons, is that you are now taking specific actions to leverage social capabilities as part of your overall IT management approach.

While some organizations may choose to move directly to Level 3 maturity, because of its greater value, a common next step in increasing social IT maturity is the adoption of one or more social capabilities as add-ons to your existing IT processes. The goals at this stage are typically to leverage social capabilities to improve communications with users and, to a lesser extent, within IT.

The value of Level 2 social IT maturity is defined in terms of metrics such as user satisfaction, the percentage of incidents or requests that have been acted upon within their prescribed SLAs, and the creation of formal social IT communications policies that clarify what should be communicated to whom and when.

A logical place to start is to evaluate the social add-on capabilities of your current IT management software. You may find that your current vendor offers some type of 1:1 chat (instant messaging, video-based, virtual chat agents, etc.), often with the ability to save or record that chat. You may also find support for news feeds and notifications (e.g. Twitter, RSS, Salesforce.com’s Chatter, Yammer, or Facebook integration). You might also consider using these approaches on a standalone basis outside of your current IT management software if your current provider does not offer these capabilities.

Define your communication policies

Remember the first social IT pitfall of broadcasting, though. Before you start communicating, you must define your formal communications policies. Most likely, you already have a policy that pertains to email or Intranet communications to users and employees. If you do, that’ll give you a head start to work from. In any case, here are a few good rules of thumb to follow:

  1. Only communicate externally what you are comfortable with the entire world knowing about. In most cases you will find there are very few things, if any, which fit into this category. For example, you might push out a tweet to a specific user’s twitter account that their incident has now been closed, but without any details about the nature of the incident.
  2. If you do want to communicate using social tools externally in a broader way, consider using private groups that are secure. For example Twitter, Chatter, and Facebook all support private groups, although there is administrative overhead for both users and IT departments to request to join them and to manage members over time.
  3. Make sure what you communicate is focused on a specific audience.Don’t broadcast status updates on every IT service to everyone. If you create too much noise, people will just tune out your communications defeating their entire purpose.

To exit Level 2 and start to move to Level 3 on the maturity scale, you need to shift both your thinking and your plans from social add-ons to how social capabilities can be embedded into the work IT does every day. This means expanding your social scope beyond IT and end user interactions, and working to improve collaboration within IT.

Social IT Pitfall #2: Feeds, Walls, and Noise – Oh My!

One critical success factor for social IT communications is to ensure you are targeting specific audiences. Some vendors offer a Facebook-like wall in addition to the ability to push updates out via Twitter or RSS. In addition to the exposure risk previously discussed, these approaches can also create a tremendous amount of noise, which will make it difficult for both business users and IT to identify useful information in the feed or on the wall.

Relying on a solitary Facebook-like wall for social IT, as well as pushing updates out via Twitter or RSS, can create a tremendous amount of noise, making it difficult for both business users and IT to identify useful information in the feed or on the wall.

There is a simple analogy to illustrate this point. Imagine you are invited to a dinner party and arrive as one of twenty guests. As you enter, you hear many conversations taking place at once, music playing, clinking of glasses behind the bar, the smell of food cooking. What’s the first thing you do? If you’re like most people, you look around the room to find someone else you know, someone who appears interesting, or maybe you head toward the bar or the kitchen. What you’ve just done is to establish context for the party you’re attending. A single IT news feed or wall doesn’t provide useful context. It’s like listening to random sentences from each of the conversations at the party and contains a lot of noise that a business or IT user just doesn’t care about.

While news feeds and walls typically have a keyword search capability, both users and IT users will end up spending too much time trying to locate relevant information. As a result, they will likely over time start avoiding going to the feed or wall because it contains far too much information they don’t care about. What’s more, the feed can grow so long that it needs to be truncated periodically causing useful information that was posted a long time ago to become lost to the organization.

Stay away from one-size fits all walls or feeds. They’re not useful and will hurt the credibility of your social IT project.

This is part one of a two-part feature on Social IT maturity, part 2 will follow soon.

Protecting the perimeter: social media asset safety

Social media truths

There are several risks associated with social media, but attempting to stop the use of external social media web sites is counterproductive and, in any case, impossible. The IT industry is realising that if it fails to embrace social media and define ways to use it productively, safely and securely then we may lose the opportunity to shape employee behaviour appropriately going forward.

In this article by Intel security VP Malcolm Harkins we analyse the state of the social media landscape and address the fact that social media does not create new risks, but can increase existing ones.

Recognising this truth as we indeed should, Intel says it has created policies and training tools to manage social media… and then, subsequently, the firm has deployed internal social media capabilities, such as wikis, forums, and blogs.

This article examines the effort to find the balance between protecting through restrictions and through cultivating a sense of personal commitment and security ownership among our employees.

Car crash methodology metaphors

To try to reduce driving accidents at a dangerous curve in Chicago, the city painted a series of white lines across the road. As drivers approached the sharpest point of the curve, the spacing between the lines progressively decreased, giving the drivers the illusion they were speeding up and nudging them to tap their brakes. The result was a 36 percent drop in crashes, as described by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in the book Nudge.

This traffic-control method succeeded in making drivers more aware, improving safety, while keeping the traffic flowing with minimum disruption. I think this example provides a useful metaphor for information security.

Some security controls are like stop signs or barriers: we simply block access to technology or data. But if we can shape the behaviour of employees rather than blocking them altogether, we’ll allow employees and therefore the company, to move faster.

Roundabouts are often safer than intersections

To use another traffic metaphor, a roundabout at an intersection typically results in more efficient traffic flow than an intersection with stop signs, because drivers don’t have to come to a complete halt. The roundabout increases drivers’ awareness, but they can proceed without stopping if the way is clear. Statistics have shown roundabouts are often safer than intersections.

“Of course, we need to block access in some situations such as with illegal web sites. But there are cases where it’s more efficient and productive to make users aware of the risks, yet leave them empowered to make the decisions themselves. For example, it might make sense to warn users visiting certain countries that they may be accessing material that is considered unacceptable.”

A hypothetical example…

A U.S. employee traveling on business might be working in a local office of a country with strict religious guidelines. The employee has a daughter who’s in a beauty pageant – so it would be natural to check the pageant web site from time to time. But the images could be offensive in the country, so it makes sense to warn the employee to exercise caution. At Intel, we’ve found that when we warn users in this way about potentially hazardous sites, the vast majority heed the warnings and don’t access the web sites.

In the case of information security, there’s an additional benefit of making controls as streamlined as possible. We all know if controls are too cumbersome or unreasonable, users may simply find ways around them.

We kept this concern in mind when developing a social media strategy at Intel IT.

We were well aware of the risks associated with social media, but attempting to stop the use of external social media web sites would have been counterproductive and, in any case, impossible. We realised that if we did not embrace social media and define ways to use it, we would lose the opportunity to shape employee behaviour.

As part of our initial investigation into this area, we conducted a social media risk assessment. We found social media does not create new risks, but can increase existing ones. For example, there’s always been a risk that information can be sent to inappropriate people outside the organisation. However, posting the same information on a blog or forum increases the risk by immediately exposing the information to a much wider audience. We also determined that we could reduce risk by implementing social media tools within the organisation.

The social media strategy toolbox

In light of our findings, we developed a social media strategy that included several key elements. We deployed internal social media capabilities, such as wikis, forums, and blogs. Initially, these were mostly standalone tools and employees used them mainly to connect socially rather than for core business functions.

Since then, our use has evolved to include more enterprise-focused tools, and we have integrated the tools into line-of-business applications to achieve project and business goals. We’ve also added social media tools tailored for specific business groups, such as a secure collaboration solution used by design teams to simplify real-time sharing of confidential project information across geographically dispersed teams.

As we designed our internal social media capabilities, we also worked with Intel’s human-resources groups to develop guidelines for employee participation in external social media sites.

Intel then developed an instructional video that was posted externally on a public video-sharing site. The video candidly explains Intel’s goals and concerns, as well as providing guidance for employees. It explains that Intel wants to use social media to open communications channels with customers, partners and influencers and to encourage people to adopt the technology as well as closing the feedback loop. The information also includes guidance about how to create successful content and general usage guidelines such as the need to be transparent, respect confidentiality, distinguish between opinion and fact, and to admit mistakes.

We also use technology to help ensure that employees follow the guidelines. We monitor the Internet for posts containing information that could expose us to risks, and we also monitor internal social media sites to detect exposure of sensitive information and violations of workplace ethics or privacy.

“In general, people are likely to take better care of their own possessions than someone else’s. They feel a stronger connection to their own car than to one provided by their employer. If people are using their own computing device, they may take better precautions against theft or loss. Also they may feel the same way if they are storing personal information on a corporate device. At Intel, we allow reasonable personal use of corporate laptops and therefore many employees store personal as well as corporate information on their laptops. Because of this, they have a personal stake in ensuring the devices don’t get lost or stolen.”

Many organisations, including Intel, use disk encryption on laptops to protect data in the event the laptop is lost or stolen. Adoption of disk encryption accelerated when states began passing privacy protection laws, and the consequences of data theft increased as a consequence.

Penetration during hibernation

However with some disk encryption software, the latest data isn’t encrypted until the user shuts down the PC or puts it into hibernate mode. If users simply put the PC into standby by closing the lid, the system may contain recently created data that is still unencrypted and vulnerable. If the PC is stolen at that point, the thief still has to penetrate the usual login access controls, but that’s much easier than figuring out how to decrypt the data.

When our security group analysed this data encryption issue, we decided that we needed to be careful about how we addressed it. We wanted to ensure data on laptops was protected, but we didn’t want to disrupt users’ experiences by forcing them to shut down their laptops more frequently, and then endure the subsequent lengthy reboots.

So we adjusted the system settings to initiate encryption whenever the laptop was left unused for a specific length of time. Now, if a laptop is lost or stolen, we can determine the likelihood that it contains unencrypted data, based on the time that elapsed since the employee last used it. While making this change to technical security controls, we also increased our efforts to educate employees about secure behaviour.

Insider threats

It’s an unfortunate reality that many intentional threats originate within the organisation. Among the 600 organisations participating in the 2011 Cybersecurity Watch Survey, about 20 percent of attacks were attributed to insiders.

The damage can be substantial. One employee working for a manufacturer stole blueprints containing trade secrets worth US $100 million and sold them to a Taiwanese competitor in hopes of obtaining a new job with them.

Insider attacks also cause additional harm that can be hard to quantify and recoup such as damage to an organisation’s reputation. Insiders have a significant advantage because they can bypass physical and technical security measures such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems that were designed to prevent unauthorised access.

Yet surveys have also suggested that many insider attacks are opportunistic, rather than highly planned affairs. Many insiders take data after they’ve already accepted a job offer from a competitor or another company and steal data to which they already have authorised access. In some cases, misguided employees may simply feel they’re entitled to take information related to their job.

It may not be possible to thwart all insider exploits, but we can take action to deter the more opportunistic attacks. Perhaps the biggest step we can take is to try to instill a culture of commitment. But we can also use technology to help against insider attacks.

“As part of our security strategy at Intel, we’re implementing monitoring technology that tracks users’ logins and access attempts. At many companies, IT organisations treat such login data as information that should be closely held and not revealed to users. However, our strategy is to make login information available to users so that they can act as part of the perimeter, helping to spot anomalous access attempts.”

Let’s say an employee’s log indicates that he accessed the network from Asia yesterday, when in fact he was in Europe. The security organisation might be unaware that anything untoward has occurred. But it’s obvious to the employee that someone stole his smart phone or his access information, and he can alert us to the breach.

Providing this login information to users can also help deter insider attacks. If unscrupulous insiders know they’re being watched, they’re less likely to take advantage. It’s like the corner store that invested in a CCTV camera; when you walk up to the counter, you see yourself in the display. Now consider the store on the next corner that lacks a camera. Which one is more likely to be robbed?

Striking the right balance

Whether we like it or not, people are already part of the perimeter. Technical controls alone are no longer able to keep pace with rapidly changing attacks, especially when those attacks are combined with sophisticated social engineering. It’s up to us, as security professionals, to recognise that people, policy, and technology are all fundamental components of any security system, and to create strategies that balance these components.

Above all, we need to create a sense of personal commitment and security ownership among our employees. If we succeed in this goal, we will empower employees to help protect the enterprise by making better security decisions both within and outside the workplace.

=========================

This article is based on material found in the book  “Managing Risk and Information Security” by Malcolm Harkins to be published by Apress, Inc.  To learn more about this book go to:

http://noggin.intel.com/intelpress/categories/books/protect-enable

Also see the Intel Recommended Reading List for similar topics: www.intel.com/technology/rr

About the Author

Malcolm Harkins is vice president of the Information Technology Group, and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and general manager of Information Risk and Security.  The group is responsible for managing the risk, controls, privacy, security, and other related compliance activities for all of Intel¹s information assets.

Before becoming Intel¹s first CISO, Harkins held roles in Finance, Procurement and Operations.  He has managed IT benchmarking efforts and Sarbanes Oxley systems compliance efforts.  Before moving into IT, Harkins acted as the profit and loss manager for the Flash Product Group at Intel; was the general manager of Enterprise Capabilities, responsible for the delivery and support of Intel¹s Finance and HR systems; and worked in an Intel business venture focusing on e-commerce hosting.

Harkins previously taught at the CIO institute at the UCLA Anderson School of Business and was an adjunct faculty member at Susquehanna University in 2009.  In 2010, he received the excellence in the field of security award at the RSA conference.  He was also recently recognised by Computerworld magazine as one of the top 100 Information Technology Leaders for 2012.

Harkins received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California at Irvine and an MBA in finance and accounting from the University of California at Davis.

Top 25 ITSM Pundits by Klout [August 2012 Update]

ITSM Pundits Leading the Industry

The list below contains my view on the key influencers, practitioners and personalities from the ITSM industry ranked by Klout (a measure of online influence)

Top 25 ITSM Pundits by Klout

  1. Stephen Mann 64
  2. Chris Dancy 63
  3. Jarod Greene 62
  4. Aprill Allen 62
  5. Karren Ferris 61
  6. Patrick Bolger 61
  7. Tristan Boot 61
  8. Brian Hollandsworth 60
  9. Roy Atkinson 60
  10. Rob England 60
  11. William Goddard 59
  12. Kathryn Howard 58
  13. Simone Jo Moore 58
  14. Chris Matchett 58
  15. Aale Roos 56
  16. Adam Mason 56
  17. Arlen Vartazarian 56
  18. Bradley Busch 55
  19. Tobias Nyberg 54
  20. Stuart Rance 54
  21. Barclay Rae 54
  22. Peter Lijnse 53
  23. Simon Morris 52
  24. Dan Kane 52
  25. Matthew Burrows 51

To learn more and follow these pundits please refer to this list.

Observations:

  • Lots more competition, lots more new faces, great to see more end user organizations represented.
  • This update is much more representative of the activity of the ITSM market as a whole – on and offline.
  • New top dog Stephen Mann (‘everyones favourite ITSM Analyst’) displaces Chris Dancy, who should be credited for belligerently leading the way in our online education.
  • ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ – In only a few short months everyone seems to have improved. You need a Klout score of at least 50 to get on the top 25. The previous threshold for the Top 10 in January 2012 was 40.

Notes:

  • My Top 25 Pundits is built from this list based on the Klout score today (You can view the Klout score for lots of people at once by viewing your lists from within the free version of Hootsuite)
  • The previous update from January 2012 can be found here.
  • See also ‘Punditry and Getting Started in ITSM
  • If you think someone else should be on this list please contact me.

University of Exeter Students Choose Twitter for IT Support

Given the choice, University of Exeter Students Opted to Receive IT Support Updates via Twitter

The itSMF held their UK South West & South Wales Regional meeting at the University of Exeter this week.

The theme of the day was processes and toolsets with a big emphasis on member interaction and discussion.

In a nutshell: A good day. Recommended.

Two presentations really stood out for me during the day. Firstly Deborah Pitt, Configuration Manager at Land Registry Information Systems in Plymouth, gave a compelling talk on how she managed to convince various IT teams within Land Registry to buy-in to their CMDB. In short, Deborah recalled her strategy of badgering, evangelising and more badgering.

Winning Friends and Implementing CMDBs

Deborah shared with us that she increased engagement and adoption with the CMDB by farming out responsibility for configuration items to various IT teams. For example, the team responsible for management of blackberry devices were assigned ownership of Blackberry data within the CMDB, a great strategy for building confidence in the system and getting users to let go of their precious excel sheets.

“Although process and tools have both been important in getting buy in from consumers and owners of the data that goes into the CMDB, another, often overlooked factor has been a major plank of getting the message across.   This is building successful, communicative relationships with both consumers and owners.  Through selectively targeting the audience and tailoring the message, Land Registry have been able to build enthusiasm for CMDB, such that there is now a widespread take up of CI use and ownership.” Deborah Pitt, Land Registry.

Bring Your Own Pot Noodle?

However, for me the most interesting talk of the day came from the hosts: Zach Nashed who runs the IT Helpdesk at the University of Exeter.

Zach shared how the IT support team at the University were coping with the changing demands of students. It was interesting to hear of the changing attitudes towards IT support since tuition fees were abolished. Since students will be paying £9K per annum out of their own pocket from 2012, this was beginning to translate into higher expectations and demands of IT support (e.g. If I’m paying £9K a year to study here I’m not paying extra for printing).

The IT team are also under increasing pressure to provide 24/7/365 IT services for multiple devices per student. For example students are arriving on campus with a laptop, tablet and phone with all flavours of platforms and expecting instant compatibility and high-speed ubiquitous WIFI access.

Fish Where The Fish Are

To provide higher levels of support at the University and align closely with current requirements Zach and his team hold focus groups with students. As a result the University has begun to explore Twitter as an IT support communication channel. When given the option, students at the University chose Twitter as their preferred update mechanism.

I think this is an important point for anyone considering implementing social channels into their support infrastructure. When considering implementation with a particular channel we need to consider:

  1. Do our customers actually use this social media channel?
  2. And do they want to hear from us when they are using it? (Zach noted that although students spent a great deal of time on Facebook their preferred update mechanism was Twitter)

If students of today are recruits of tomorrow then this initiative paints a picture of IT Support in 2015.

The University of Exeter are a long term Hornbill customer and are exploring a module from Hornbill specifically for twitter integration. Want to know how they get on? Follow them here.

GAMIFICATION: Collecting Coins on the Service Desk

Will generations of IT workers weaned on video games in their youth (such as the hugely popular Nintendo Super Mario Bros format) respond to game mechanics in the workplace?

Argentinian ITSM software vendor InvGate have announced some ‘Gamification’ features this week.

“Gamification is the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging.” http://gamification.org/

The logic states that generations of IT workers have been weaned throughout their youth on video games, so game-like features can be introduced to the workplace to increase employee engagement and satisfaction.

In ITSM terms this means being awarded points, badges and appearing on leader boards based on specific service desk actions.

There is much talk of Gamification in the ITSM industry (Gartner plots ‘Gamification’ hype at near peak) – but is Gamification simply marketing hysteria or a real force for change?

Firstly, I believe something smells a bit fishy about conditioning employees to beg, roll and fetch for coins and stars like Pavlov’s dogs. Shouldn’t the work itself be rewarding and fulfilling? But existential angst aside, I think it is a smart idea if implemented correctly and a great opportunity to inject a bit of fun into everyday working life.

Two examples of game mechanics in action stand out from my working career. Both were a similar format with similar goals – one went very well and one went horribly wrong. If I were to pinpoint the difference between success and failure of these two games – it would be the respect staff had for the boss. I don’t think game mechanics can be implemented as a Band-Aid for poor morale and poor performance. It takes the right spirit and the right manager.

Using Game Mechanics to Increase Service Desk Performance

InvGate claims the benefits of gamifying the service desk include great team engagement, increased productivity, increased team collaboration, and aligned objectives.

An important point in the InvGate offering is the ability to reward service desk agents, in a fairly automated fashion, based on perceived quality by users.

These rewards are not based on banal ITSM metrics but by ‘likes’, ‘thumbs ups’, ‘stars’ and other simple measures of user satisfaction (Social concepts that users are likely to be increasingly familiar with outside of work). Never mind first call resolution time – was the user HAPPY?

The most powerful aspect of this for a manager, assuming she has her team onside and playing along – is the ability to align quickly with business goals. Even the largest of service desks can quickly focus on tactical campaigns with a high degree of engagement from agents. Good-bye Service Desk Manager, hello Game master.

A cool offering from InvGate, I’m looking forward to delving further – further info here.

Service Desk Agents Winning Points For Goals e.g. Writing a Knowledge Base Article
Service Desk Agents Winning Points For Goals e.g. Writing a Knowledge Base Article (Click Image to Enlarge)

Rapportive – Adding Social Context to Email

The Rapportive Panel within Gmail

Strictly speaking, this technology is probably best described as ‘Social CRM’ rather than ‘ITSM’ but it’s a great example of pulling social feeds into a web service.

In a nutshell – you get a social summary of the person you are emailing.

The more information and context I have about my customer, user, reader, business partner – the better service I can provide.

If you are thinking about adding social data into your ITSM environment, or even questioning the value – then perhaps the items below will provide some food for thought.

I’m a big fan of Rapportive; the list below provides a quick summary of the strengths:

Blindingly Easy

First of all, the technical stuff. It’s a Gmail add-on delivered via a Chrome plugin. It’s very easy to install and use, these things needn’t be difficult. The Rapportive panel replaces what were previously adverts within Gmail. In the interests of privacy I’ve used my own details (right).

Within My Workflow

You don’t need to leave your workspace to lookup anything. Everything you need is presented within the workspace you are working in without any hassle or additional windows or clicks. Just like pulling the pertinent details from an asset register into an incident record – I get to see the headlines and dig out into further detail if I need it.

Automatic

I’ve worked with tools in the past that require you to link every single person to their social details manually. Rapportive just does it automatically, if I get an email out of the blue from someone new it automatically just grabs everything I need right within the email window. It’s awesome.

Social Context

This is the most important bit – my email conversation is enhanced by social context and relevance. For the person I am corresponding with I can see their photo, job title, last few tweets, Facebook updates and other social accounts. It’s great information to have at hand when responding to someone new and saves time hunting around LinkedIn. This gives a much richer experience than just seeing some boring corporate auto-signature.

Social Analytics

Click to Enlarge

This is where things get really smart. I can also connect Rapportive to other web services accounts and it will cross-reference email addresses with those services.

For example I use MailChimp for my email newsletter so when I receive an email support request, query or business enquiry from someone via email Rapportive will tell me:

  • Whether that person is already on my newsletter list and
  • Which articles they clicked on within the newsletter

This is a huge advantage when responding.  For example I will respond differently to someone that has subscribed to my newsletter for a year and read last month’s update compared to someone new.

Zero Lag Time

Finally, somebody else can worry about the computing power. Between them Gmail and Rapportive can worry about that. When I’ve used social CRM plug-ins locally (such as Xobni or Plaxo for Outlook) they tend to be compute hungry and slow down the email experience. Rapportive has its moments when it temporarily goes offline but it does not stop me from processing email.

The Right Price

It’s free.

Further info at www.rapportive.com

I'm not saying my opinion is better than yours, but I do have a klout score over 60

Learning to play nicely

This article has been contributed by Chris Dancy of ServiceNow.

Introduction

There are 30 million reasons to care about your Klout, but for now, don’t.  In the future (36-48 months) something like a klout score could determine your position.

If your name is not on this list please connect with Martin. The names are an arbitrary list of names of people using twitter who speak about ITSM.  For the sake of full disclosure, you could add any person on twitter to this list who is an expert in gold fish and if they had a high klout score, they would be above all the other ITSM “experts”.  To learn more about klout and the industry of influence, I encourage you to read on.

Digital Influence 2012

Do you remember when only CXO’s, Analysts and Speakers had any real sway over our organizations?  Do you remember when we paid for advice that seemed like common sense?

The marketing of digital influence is a fools game, unfortunately many people love to play games for a living.

Let us first set some parameters before we have this talk.

Yes, I am in fact, an authority on the topic of social media and online influence.  Why am I an authority?

  1. I have had the good fortune to spend four years watching every single person, organization and marketing team in the IT space joining in this social media game and succeed or just die.
  2. I don’t abuse social media (more on this later).
  3. Klout, Peer Index, Kred.ly and Empire Avenue say I am an expert, so THERE, I must be!

Yes even I laugh out loud a bit at number three.

Second, this topic is about as explosive as calamities in the catholic priesthood, and probably more so as it involves people e.g. humans.

Humans are a nasty bunch, they like to judge, list, order, measure all in the name of gaming some dissociative sycophancy they acquired while working through an oedipus complex.

Yes, I do suffer from a bit of sardonic misanthropy and it is shameful.  Daily I struggle to allow humans back into my life. Sometimes I hasten the technological singularity just so I can get back to dealing with objects that can’t be programed in objective hubris.

Finally, we need to look a bit of history on the World Wide Web to understand how we ended up here.

The Rise of the Spiders

The rise of the search engine grew out of the need to find order in the volumes of information being shared on the web.

That’s it.

Nothing else.

There were many search engines in the 1990’s.  The first WWW search engine I ever used was yahoo.

I remember be so overwhelmed by the answers that I didn’t care if they were correct or not. This feeling of euphoria with “any” solutions rather than the correct solution can only last so long.

Finally as many people were celebrating the non-event of Y2K, they returned to work and found their peers were using this site called “Google”.

Google was so cocky in it’s early days, they proudly presented users with a button labeled “I’m feeling lucky”. The “lucky” button was basically just Google’s way of taking you to the first hit you found without looking at any others.

Google had so successfully indexed pages using an algorithm called PageRank, that people were flocking to the site to find information for most of the 2000’s.

This is where our story turns a little dark.

Remember those nasty humans I mentioned above?  Well a small group of them said, “Hey, we can make money by being “Internet Search Experts” (read social marketing expert).

These Internet Search Experts quickly spawned an industry, a multi BIILLION dollar industry called SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Business spent billions handing over their websites to these gurus who hacked and cracked their way to fortune.

Many people will still argue the merits of SEO as a real skill.  Call me old fashion but I consider shoeing horses a skill, not jacking up HTML.

SEO WAS THE FIRST MAJOR PUNCH IN THE FACE THAT MARKETING, INDUSTRY ANALYSTS AND PUNDITRY TOOK IN THE FACE.

The SEO industry changed a lot of people’s lives.  Developers were now in marketing, content creators were now experts on Google rankings and blogging was about to change the game again.

Between 2005-2010, blogging, YouTube, peer networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace), read “Social Media” threw the entire SEO industry into a tailspin.

Enter 2012, close to a billion 3G enabled handsets all sharing data, experiences and information.

Just as in 2000 with the vast amounts of data that Google conquered, today’s consumers are overwhelmed with information pumped from everything around them.  The Internet of things has taken over and Google can’t keep up.

Remember those nasty humans I have mentioned twice now?  Well a small group of them have created another billion-dollar engine, this time around “Social Media”.

Information Democratization

There is a minor difference in 2012 from the SEO experts of last decade, Information democratization.

You don’t need to teach people how to share (although we should while we have a chance add digital literacy to every high school, university and corporate environment).

We are at the beginning of a change in the way we do everything and by 2015 we will have close to two billion people sharing just as much if not more information because of the rise in mobility.  For more information on mobility and big data, I have a slide deck here.

Phew!

Social Analytics

Wait, you still haven’t talked about klout or this “influencer list”.

Much controversy has been generated by Klout.

On one hand Klout could be a very easy way to know with a fair amount of certainty that a social object (in this case, a person) is sharing and sharing information “correctly” that is relative to your search.

On the other hand, Klout could just been seen as an arbitrary algorithm that is making some people “better” than others and lacks any real transparency.

Sound familiar?  Yes, these were the same arguments made by proponents and opponents of Google circa 2000.

Personally I understand the klout backlash; I understand the misgivings about any influence system.

For the first time in my professional history, we have the BEGINGINGS of a way to measure KNOWLEDGE WORKERS.

This scares and it SHOULD scare you (Open the FUD gates).  This should scare you more if you are in Information Technology or any type of knowledge sharing field.

We are at the beginning of being able to ascertain via algorithms, “how you share” and if you are practicing “good digital etiquette”.

This is the most revolutionary thing to happen to human kind since we became able to share books in codec form to the masses.

THIS REVOLUTION WILL BE THE SECOND AND FINAL BLOW TO THE FACE OF MARKETING, INDUSTRY ANALYSTS AND PUNDITRY.

Unfortunately hubris, greed and ego are fighting very hard to beat back the systems such as klout.

Humans don’t like to be told how to share.   Humans want to act they way they want period.  Think of the first year of school.  Kids don’t share and have to be taught, how to share and WHAT to share.  Teachers measure students “social” skills early in school to let parents know how their child is progressing, or if that same child is in America, how much to drug that child into submission.

So what does this mean to you and your klout, kred.ly, peer index or empire avenue score?

Hopefully nothing, but personally, I do hope people take more time to start acting less like children and more like “CO-operative Knowledge workers”

Klout and all the influence systems, have very little to do with how many “followers” someone has.

They are about WHAT is done with the information that is shared by a person.

This presents two very distinct problems for “Social Media Experts” and the rest of us.

  1. How do we separate out what we share so it’s relative to the people following us(our customers)?
  2. How do we know what is good ” digital etiquette “.

First, as Christopher Poole stated during a keynote, at the web 2.0 summit in 2011“It’s not ‘who you share with,’ it’s ‘who you share as,’”

Therein lies the first key to this puzzle; currently we don’t have the complex systems to sort out sharing.  So folks like myself, share as different people, multiple twitter accounts, multiple Facebook’s, etc.

I respect my audience.  This respect is real therefore; I know it is absolutely impossible to follow more than 150 people per Dunbar’s Number.

If you are following more people than 150, you are lying to yourself and those people you are following.

There is a major benefit to following everyone who follows you, you get MORE followers.

In this case QUANITY doesn’t equal quality or substance, and klout and the rest of the systems see right through you.

The second problem, How do we know what is good digital etiquette?

Again, it’s a lot like real life, you don’t steal, you don’t brag and you don’t talk needlessly.  If you really care about digital etiquette, I have three blogs you can read here.

Chris Dancy

Summary

In summary, follow less people, before you post anything to ANY social network, say to yourself, Is this of interest to anyone outside of my mother and spouse?  If that answer is no, back away from the mobile device or keyboard.

You can do this, I would not have taken time to write this piece if I didn’t believe and see first hand many knowledge workers who are starting to respect the time of their customers (followers).

You will be met with doubters, these are the same people who don’t care about, reply to all emails, klout or any digital influence system.

Deep though, in the darkness of their cube, will stare wildly watching their blog stats, their Facebook notification indicator, their likes, their YouTube views and their unread inbox count.

These are the knowledge workers of yesterday.  These people don’t care about actual klout, they are the game players who never shared and will never share without a fight.

See you on the playground, and until then be kind to each other.

This article has been contributed by Chris Dancy of ServiceNow.

Image Credit

IT SmartDesk: When Everyone Can Work in IT Support

I recently spoke with Maff Rigby of ITSM start-up IT SmartDesk.

Maff recently presented a session at the itSMF UK conference entitled ‘Social IT – how social media is turning ITSM on its head’. The slides from Maff’s session can be found here.

Facebook Meets IT Support

In a nutshell, during his itSMF session Maff suggested ways in which Social concepts could be used to our advantage in ITSM. These included real time chat and collaboration, using live feeds and activity ‘walls’, harnessing new technology to notify customers or users of issues and using modern collaboration techniques such as wiki’s, crowd sourcing and tagging.

IT SmartDesk is positioned as ‘Social IT Service Management’; using IT SmartDesk I can invite anyone to join me on the system, they can share what they are currently working on, log incidents, ask questions, follow an incident, log bugs and generally join the conversation and collaborate. It’s Facebook meets small IT team support.

IT SmartDesk is aimed at small teams or businesses seeking an online solution, Maff and his team have initially focused on logging incidents and bug tracking – but for me the real key differentiator with this offering is the type of user who can collaborate and provide support.

IT Support for IT Savvy Companies

Traditional ITSM solutions are based on a certain number of IT users who support the larger customer base. E.g. I’ll buy 5 concurrent users for my service desk system to support hundreds or thousands of my customers or users.

IT SmartDesk have turned this model on its head and have priced the system by total number of people logging into the system. They have wisely recognized the market trend that IT support does not have all the answers and many companies are providing support to IT savvy users. With IT SmartDesk anyone in the company can jump in and collaborate. The IT support operator changes from gatekeeper to curator.

The paint has only just dried on this new tool, but from what I have seen so far I found the system to be blindingly obvious to use, easy on the eye, fun to use and clean. Let’s hope they can keep it that way as the feature set expands.

I look forward to keeping track of IT SmartDesk over the coming months.

Further details can be found here > www.itsmartdesk.com

Screenshots below, click to enlarge.

Notifications
Notifications

 

Dashboard
Dashboard

 

Answer Question
Answer Question

Which ITSM Vendors Engage Online?

I was inspired to compile this list of ITSM Vendors in order of online influence after listening to an edition of the ITSM Weekly Podcast in which James West of ServiceDesk360 discussed his list of ‘influencers’ on PeerIndex.

Of all the segments of the IT market that might benefit from social networking and enterprise collaboration – nowhere is it more relevant that ITSM.

Click to View

Vendors have been ordered by their ‘Klout’, a measure of online influence. Those vendors with a higher score are more likely to be:

  • Listening to the market
  • Engaging with their audience online
  • Responding accordingly and
  • Producing good content and thought leadership that people want to share online.

I believe these principles run right to the heart of service management.

I believe it is also worthwhile to identify those vendors that are producing good stuff and listening to the market.

‘Klout’ is not 100% watertight, I’m sure there are ways to corrupt and circumnavigate the system. For example some companies might hire a top notch PR and a marketing company to provide a ‘ghost’ presence but ignore the principles at work within the vendor itself. Looking at the list I believe it provides a fairly accurate view of genuine influence – you could have a gazillion friends and followers and pump out updates every minute but still not have ‘Klout’.  It is important to note that this list also ignores some of the great work by the service management community offline.

This list is by no means exhaustive, I will add to it and expand it over time.

If you have any recommendations for changes please contact me. The table is compiled from this list. See also – Punditry