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.

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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

Interview: Simon Morris, 'Sneaking ITIL into the Business'

Ignoring the obvious may lead to a nasty mess

I found Simon Morris via his remarkably useful ITIL in 140 app. Simon recently joined ServiceNow from a FTSE100 Advertising, Marketing and Communications group. He was Head of Operations and Engineering and part of a team that lead the Shared Services IT organisation through its transition to IT Service Management process implementation. Here, Simon kindly shares his experiences of ITSM at the rock face.

ITSM Review: You state that prior to your ITSM transformation project you were ‘spending the entire time doing break-fix work and working yourselves into the ground with an ever-increasing cycle of work’. Looking back, can you remember any specific examples of what you were doing, that ITSM resolved?

Simon Morris:

Thinking back I can now see that implementing ITSM gave us the outcomes that we expected from the investment we made in time and money, as well as outcomes that we had no idea would be achieved. Because ITIL is such a wide-ranging framework I think it’s very difficult for organisations to truly appreciate how much is involved at the outset of the project.

We certainly had no idea how much effort would be spent overall on IT Service Management, but we able to identify results early on which encouraged us to keep going. By the time I left the organisation we had multiple people dedicated to the practice, and of course ITSM processes affect all engineering staff on a day-to-day basis.

As soon we finished our ITILv3 training we took the approach of selecting processes that we were already following, and adding layers of maturity to bring them into line with best practice.

I guess at the time we didn’t know it, but we started with Continual Service Improvement – looking at existing processes and identifying improvements. One example that I can recall is Configuration Management – with a very complex Infrastructure we previously had issues in identifying the impact of maintenance work or unplanned outages. The Infrastructure had a high rate of change and it felt impossible to keep a grip on how systems interacted, and depended on each other.

Using Change Management we were able to regulate the rate of change, and keep on top of our Configuration data. Identifying the potential impact of an outage on a system was a process that went from hours down to minutes.

Q. What was the tipping point? How did the ITSM movement gather momentum from something far down the to do list to a strategic initiative? 

If I’m completely honest we had to “sneak it in”! We were under huge pressure to improve the level of professionalism, and to increase the credibility of IT, but constructing the business case for a full ITSM transition was very hard. Especially when you factor in the cost of training, certification, toolsets and the amount of time spent on process improvement. As I said, at the point I left the company we had full time headcount dedicated to ITSM, and getting approval for those additional people at the outset would have been impossible.

We were lucky to have some autonomy over the training budget and found a good partner to get a dozen or so engineers qualified to ITILv3 Foundation level. At that point we had enough momentum, and our influence at departmental head level to make the changes we needed to.

One of the outcomes of our “skunkworks” ITIL transition that we didn’t anticipate at the time was a much better financial appreciation of our IT Services. Before the project we were charging our internal business units on a bespoke rate card that didn’t accurately reflect the costs involved in providing the service. Within a year of the training we had built rate cards that both reflected the true cost of the IT Service, but also included long term planning for capacity.

This really commoditised IT Services such as Storage and Backup and we were able to apportion costs accurately to the business units that consumed the services.

Measuring the cost benefit of ITSM is something that I think the industry needs to do better in order to convince leaders that it’s a sensible business decision – I’m absolutely convinced that the improvements we made to our IT recharge model offset a sizeable portion of our initial costs. Plus we introduced benefits that were much harder to measure in a financial sense such as service uptime, reduced incident resolution times and increased credibility.

Q. How did you measure you were on the right track? What specifically were you measuring? How did you quantify success to the boss? 

Referring back to my point that we started by reviewing existing processes that were immature, and then adding layers to them. We didn’t start out with process metrics, but we added that quite early on.

If I had the opportunity to start this process again I’d definitely start with the question of measurements and metrics. Before we introduced ITSM I don’t think we definitively knew where our problems were, although of course we had a good idea about Incident resolution times and customer satisfaction.

Although it’s tempting to jump straight into process improvement I’d encourage organisations at the start of their ITSM journey to spend time building a baseline of where they are today.

Surveys from your customers and users help to gauge the level of satisfaction before you start to make improvements (Of course, this is a hard measurement to take especially if you’ve never asked your users for honest feedback before, I’ve seen some pretty brutal survey responses in my time J)

Some processes are easier to monitor than others – Incident Management comes to mind, as one that is fairly easy to gather metrics on, Event Management is another.

I would also say that having survived the ITIL Foundation course it’s important to go back into the ITIL literature to research how to measure your processes – it’s a subject that ITIL has some good guidance on with Critical Success Factors (CSFs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Q. What would you advise to other companies that are currently stuck in the wrong place, ignoring the dog? (See Simon’s analogy here). Is there anything that you learnt on your journey that you would do differently next time? 

Wow, this is a big question.

Business outcomes

My first thought is that IT organisations should remember that our purpose is to deliver an outcome to the business, and your ITSM deployment should reflect this. In the same way that running IT projects with no clear business benefit, or alignment to an overall strategy is a bad idea – we shouldn’t be implementing ITIL just for the sake of doing it.

For every process that you design or improve, the first question should be “What is the business outcome”, closely followed by “How am I going to prove that I delivered this outcome”. An example for Incident Management would be an outcome of “restoring access to IT services within an agreed timeframe”, so the obvious answer to the second question is “to measure the time to resolution.”

By analysing each process in this way you can get a clearer idea of what types of measurement you should take to:

  • Ensure that the process delivers value and
  • Demonstrate that value.

I actually think that you should start designing the process back-to-front. Identify the outcome, then the method of measurement and then work out what the process should be.

Every time I see an Incident Management form with hundreds of different choices for the category (Hardware, Software, Keyboard, Server etc.) I always wonder if the reporting requirements were ever considered. Or did we just add fields for the sake of it.

Tool maturity

Next I would encourage organisations to consider their process maturity and ITSM toolset maturity as 2 different factors. There is a huge amount of choice in the ITSM suite market at the moment (of course I work for a vendor now, so I’m entitled to have a bias!), but organisations should remember that all of vendors offer a toolset and nothing more.

The tool has to support the process that you design, and it’s far too easy to take a great toolset and implement a lousy process. A year into your transition to ITSM you won’t be able to prove the worth of the time and money spent, and you have the risk of the process being devalued or abandoned.

Having a good process will drive the choice of tool, and design decisions on how that tool is configured. Having the right toolset is huge factor in the chances of a successful transition to ITSM. I’ve lived through experiences with legacy, unwieldy ITSM vendors and it makes the task so much harder.

Participation at every level

One of the best choices we made when we transitioned to ITSM was that we trained a cross-section of engineers across the company. Of the initial group of people to go through ITILv3 Foundation training we had engineers from the Service desk, PC and Mac support, Infrastructure, Service Delivery Managers, Asset management staff and departmental heads.

The result was that we had a core of people who were motivated enough to promote the changes we were making all across the IT department at different levels of seniority. Introducing change, and especially changes that measure the performance of teams and individuals will always induce fear and doubt in some people.

Had we limited the ITIL training to just the management team I don’t think we would have had the same successes. My only regret is that our highest level of IT management managed to swerve the training – I’ll send my old boss the link to this interview to remind him of this!

Find the right pace

A transition to ITSM processes is a marathon, not a sprint so it’s important to find the right tempo for your organisation. Rather than throwing an unsustainable amount of resource at process improvement for a short amount of time I’d advise organisations to recognise that they’ll need to reserve effort on a permanent basis to monitor, measure and improve their services.

ITIL burnout is a very real risk.

 

Simon Morris

My last piece of advice is not to feel that you should implement every process on day one. I can’t think of one approach that would be more prone to failure. I’ve read criticism from ITSM pundits that it’s very rare to find a full ITILv3 implementation in the field. I think that says more about the breadth and depth of the ITIL framework than the failings of companies that implement it.

There’s an adage from the Free Software community – “release early, release often” that is great for ITSM process improvements.

By the time that I left my previous organisation we had iterated through 3 versions of Change Management, each time adding more maturity to the process and making incremental improvements.

I’d recommend reading “ITIL Lite, A road map to full or partial ITIL implementation” by Malcolm Fry. He outlines why ITILv3 might not be fully implemented and the reasons make absolute sense:

  • Cost
  • No customer support
  • Time constraints
  • Ownership
  • Running out of steam

IT Service Management is a cultural change, and it’s worth taking the time to alter peoples working habits gradually over time, rather than exposing them to a huge amount of process change quickly.

Q. Lastly, what do you do at ServiceNow?

I work as a developer in the Application Development Team in Richmond, London. We’re responsible for the ITSM and Business process applications that run on our Cloud platform. On a day-to-day basis this means reviewing our core applications (Incident, Problem, Change, CMDB) and looking for improvements based on customer requirements and best practice.

Obviously the recent ITIL 2011 release is interesting as we work our way through the literature and compare it against our toolset. Recently I’ve also been involved in researching how best to integrate Defect Management into our SCRUM product.

The sign that ServiceNow is growing at an amazing rate (we’re currently the second fastest growing tech company in the US) shows that ITSM is being taken seriously by organisations, and they are investing money to get the returns that a successful transition can offer. These should be encouraging signs to organisations that are starting their journey with ITIL.

@simo_morris
Beer and Speech
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ITSM Vendor Directory V1.0 (itSMF UK Conference Exhibitors)

Web searches for tool vendors has given me a shortlist of over 100 ITSM related vendors (See here and here for a few examples).  However my goal is to present tool vendors in a meaningful and useful format for prospective buyers. The aim is to allow oranges to be truly compared with oranges.

As a starting point I have included software vendors who exhibited at the recent UK itSMF conference. I will add and enrich this grid over time adding more and more vendors as I comprehend them.

V1.0 itSMF UK Conference Exhibitors by Type / Focus

Vendors have been assigned to one of nine pens based on two characteristics; the primary market they serve and the company type. I don’t believe prospective ITSM buyers make decisions based on these criteria, but it allows a prospective buyer with an interest in one vendor to immediately see comparable vendors in that space. For example if I had shown some interest in Axios, I could quickly see companies of a similar ilk.

Market Focus

This is the primary market focus (i.e. not sole focus).

Generally speaking most software vendors will happily sell their software to anyone who wants to part with their cash, but they will typically have a market sweet spot that they focus on. I would be dubious of any company that claims to serve the entire market for every purpose, they are either desperate or naive.

The words ‘SME’, ‘Mid-Market’ and ‘Enterprise’ refer to product characteristics rather than specific numbers of users or company size. After all, each term will have a different meaning depending on where you live on the planet. A large enterprise in Helsinki is an SME in Houston. So for example, you might say that a characteristic of tools aimed at SME companies are typically aimed at high volume with DIY implementation.

Company Type 

  • Conglomerates – Large international brands with divisions that include ITSM tools.
  • Suites – IT Management tool sets which include ITSM tools
  • Specialists – vendors whose sole focus is ITSM.

Finally, I have deliberately avoided the word ‘Cloud’. Over the next few years I see this as being a delivery option rather than key competitive differentiator.

Other Categories

There are other product categories that are outside of scope of this grid which I would like to cover. They include utilities or enablers that are associated with ITSM (e.g. Intel exhibited at itSMF), customer service, general support ticketing tools and systems management tools with ITSM functionality. I also believe there is growing overlap with Social CRM tools.

Your Feedback?

Have these vendors been allocated accurately? what other characteristics would you track? Please share your feedback by leaving a comment. Thanks, Martin

Vendor Booths at Conferences Need a Shakedown

Vendor Booths at Conferences Need a Smack Down
Time for a new model?

I was lucky enough to attend the first day of the ITSMF conference in London yesterday. Having spent most of the day in the exhibitor lounge I can’t really comment on the speakers and content, but the whole event was very well organized and it seemed to have a great atmosphere, great networking and great people.

I have previously attended this event as a vendor so it was interesting to see the other side of the fence. Getting people to your stand is an age old problem but the disconnect between vendor booths and delegates seems to be getting worse, especially for tool vendors. This is not a criticism of the ITSMF conference per se, but conferences generally.

Exhibitor Booth – A Twenty-Year Old Concept?

The rest of vendor marketing seems to have moved along with the times with the introduction of email, web seminars and to a degree, social media. But with the exception of electronic swipers and polluting hashtag streams – has the conference vendor booth concept really progressed in twenty years?

The ITSMF team did a good job of delivering a compelling agenda with varied content and speakers. But most of the exhibitor lounge seemed to be disconnected from the delegates like awkward boys and girls at a teenage disco. We’re in the same room, we have shared interests but I’m not sure where to start…

In dating terms the current exhibitor booth model is like a nightclub – your luck in finding a suitable date is strongly dependent on serendipity; who is there at the time and who you happen to bump into. Whereas exhibitor booths should be closer to speed dating – aligning customers with problems with pain with solutions.

I don’t claim to have an answer for this issue, but one idea that springs to mind is breaking the traditional vendor hall into themes as chosen by delegates prior to the conference. So for example some key themes might be consumerization of IT, doing more with less / accountability and maturing your operation.

Exhibitors could populate ‘zones’ dedicated to certain subjects and delegates with an interest in that topic could immerse themselves in what the industry has to say, and offer. For exhibitors – If you don’t feel confident speaking about the key concerns of the industry – what are you doing at the conference?

Permission

I believe the disconnect can be boiled down to permission. The marketing guru Seth Godin refers to permission based marketing; the tectonic shift between outbound and inbound marketing. I strongly recommend Seth’s book for anyone trying to grapple with modern marketing, it is very readable and accessible (The much hyped clue-train manifesto remains half-read on my bookcase gathering dust next to ‘A brief history of time’).

Outbound marketing refers to ‘if you throw enough at the wall something will stick’; cold calls, leaflets, advertising. Inbound marketing refers to getting found by prospects and ‘earning their way in’ by providing value.

Let’s start a conversation based on something I know you are interested in, have a brief discussion, then we can both walk away from the show knowing we have something of interest to talk about in the future. I have your permission, a topic of conversation and a common interest. I don’t think swiping my badge in exchange for jelly beans whilst you tell me about your latest release constitutes value.

An intangible part of the conference process is networking, catching up with old colleague in the industry and having a bit of fun. Daft toys , in nothing else, are a bit of fun and good ice breaker. However if I were a marketing manager looking to justify my attendance at such a show it has to be based on hard economics.

These conference are important. Many people in the industry get great value from them. Exhibitor booths are an important part of the financial model of a conference – either the exhibitors need to up their game or the model has to change.

#Back2ITSM – 4 Reasons to Get Involved

Learning from others - where have they been, what did they find?

Forrester Analyst Stephen Mann is on a mission to progress the ITSM Industry by getting more industry stakeholders to share their experiences and give their peers a leg-up.

I’d like to share my views on this subject for the benefit of industry practitioners who perhaps, feel a bit uneasy about contributing in this way towards an industry.

Perhaps they might feel it is a huge time drain, perhaps they might be asking – “Why should I share my valuable experience, intellectual property, my crown jewels that I’ve worked hard to build – with others?”

With 400+ free to access ITAM articles available over on the sister site The ITAM Review I would like to think I ‘Do my bit’ in my own small way for that industry and I would like to share my experiences of this process. My hope is that other practitioners might see the benefits, pick up their pitchforks and also contribute towards Stephen’s #Back2ITSM campaign.

  1. Connect – Contributing has connected me with all sorts of people and opened all sorts of doors. I’ve received great value from this personally and professionally.
  2. Learn – I love to write. Every time I write I learn, this pushes me further ahead and opens up new opportunities. I appreciate that not everyone enjoys writing – pick your medium. Write, Tweet, Present, Video, Podcast, Networking. Choose a medium that works for you.
  3. Marketing – Let your expertise do the talking. People recognise your expertise which opens up new opportunities.
  4. A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships – Progress and development of an industry helps everyone.

My point is that although #Back2ITSM is an altruistic campaign, it can really benefit you personally and I urge you to chip-in where you can. If you don’t know where to start try this – ITSM Practitioner Health Check – to help assess where the Industry needs help.

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ITSM Tools Census – Creating an Independent Guide to Tools

One of the primary reasons for starting The ITAM Review back in 2008 was to simply provide an unbiased list of the key players in the market. The vendor directory was one of the first pages to be published on The ITAM Review and continues to be one of the most frequently visited pages.

I commonly speak to organizations about to embark on their final technology selection with tools that are inappropriate for the job, they simply don’t know what is out there and what is most appropriate for their needs. They are choosing from solid software publishers who have great technology – but the technology may be wholly inappropriate for their current needs.

This is akin to planning a trip from London to the South of France with a family of four and choosing between a Scooter, and Family Saloon and a Juggernaut. All of them are good vehicles in their own right, with their own satisfied customers and accreditations – but only one is really suitable for the job in hand.

Another challenge we face in the enterprise software market is that sales reps make a persuasive case for buying a scooter or a juggernaut when we need a saloon and it is often difficult to assess their advice from an independent perspective.

I believe the same can be said of the ITSM tools market. Oranges are not always being compared with Oranges.

I plan to start conducting independent reviews of ITSM tools in 2012. My goal is to review, compare, rank and classify all of the various tools in the market, from the smallest of nimble start-ups with a handful of customers, to the industry stalwarts with hundreds of customers. My aim is that prospective buyers can discover clusters of tools that might be suitable for their particular need, maturity, size and budget rather than trying to assess the entire market.

In order to prepare for my reviews, I first intend to build a near-exhaustive list of tool providers which will include a high level overview of their value proposition, key competitive differentiators and sample customers and use cases.

CALLING ALL ITSM TOOL VENDORS

I am inviting vendors to complete an ITSM Tools Census to help generate the list – please encourage everyone you know from the vendor community to participate.

PLEASE NOTE: All results will be published free of charge without registration in a permanent public archive for future reference.

For ITSM Tool Vendors – Click here to complete the ITSM TOOL CENSUS

Thanks in advance for your time and cooperation.

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Never Mind BYOD – What about BYOA?

Bring Your Own Device, Build Your Own App?

Lots of chatter happening around ‘Bring Your Own Device’ and the ‘Consumerization’ of IT.

These issues seem to represent the convergence of a number of growing trends:

  • Consumers being increasingly IT savvy
  • Consumers being used to instant internet gratification and on-demand ‘Apps’
  • Smart efficient toys
  • Productivity and GTD in a world of infinite choice
  • Cloud based apps eating the lunch of enterprise software dinosaurs

The result? Support departments are either having to support a plethora of new platforms or are facing increasing pressure to loosen up corporate standards and traditional ways of thinking.

Some interesting figures published this week, firstly from LANDesk:

“(the) influx of mobile devices in the workplace, viewed by 96 per cent as vital to productivity, is resulting in huge pressure on service desks. Service desk managers are finding themselves swamped with calls to support mobile devices yet underequipped to deal with them.

The survey found that a massive 76 per cent of service desks claim that the extra support required has had a negative impact. This is due to the fact that the uptake of new devices has necessitated a rapid accumulation of knowledge and expertise to support them.”

This raises an interesting point; who says the service desk has to know everything? Shouldn’t the service desk be about support rather than encyclopedic knowledge of every device? If the service desk is to avoid collapsing under the burden of these devices organizations need to learn to work in partnership or participate in communities.

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it.” Samuel Johnson.

The second piece of research came from systems management appliance vendor Dell KACE:

Key findings from the research are:

– 87 per cent of companies have users with personal devices that are being used for work purposes

– 62 per cent thought that they don’t have the tools to manage personal IT devices coming onto the network

– 64 per cent don’t think they know about all the devices that are coming onto the network

“New Research Reveals Growing ‘Consumerisation of IT’ Trend Fuelling Security Fears and Highlights Lack of Strategy to Manage Personal Devices.

According to the research, security needs top the list for IT managers when it comes to managing external mobile devices with 82 percent citing their concerns about the use of personal devices for business use, and another 62 percent specifically concerned about network security breaches.”

In terms of security, vendors such as Good Technology are providing some interesting technology in this space. It’s about securing the data on the device rather securing the device. So the choice of device becomes less of a security headache.

BYOA?

Discussions to date have been device centric. The bigger issue, which dwarfs BYOD, is Bring Your Own App (BYOA?)– When users become bored and frustrated with the glacial pace of enterprise software and use their own Apps to get the job done. One browser, one credit card, bye-bye dinosaur.

What do you think? How should organizations address BYOD and BYOA?

Photo Credit

The ITSM Tool Pricing Ouch-O-Meter

Click to Enlarge

One thing that has surprised me during my initial exploration of ITSM tools is the simplicity of some SaaS based pricing models.

Software licensing options offer vendors the ability to flex their competitive muscles, adapt their solutions to different customers and maximize revenue.

Microsoft is particularly good at this, if you are a left-handed student living in Outer Mongolia – Microsoft has a SKU code with your name on it! To the other extreme, Salesforce.com licensing is remarkably straight forward, if you have fifty users and you want Enterprise Edition – everyone must be on Enterprise Edition.

The counter to this simplicity is that customers might end up paying for development of software that they don’t use, but I think this is easily outweighed by simplicity and predictability. No hidden surprises and endless fiddling about with licensing scenarios.

Moreover, for a SaaS based subscription model it is in the interests of the vendor to ensure you are a happy customer, rather than the vendor constantly trying to sell the next upgrade or option. Vendors are more interested in longevity and retention over winning the big deal, in theory at least.

The KISS Principle

I was pleasantly surprised to see some SaaS based ITSM vendors offering one simple price per user per year. For everything. I’m not the sharpest tool in the box so I’m all for keeping things simple when the opportunity presents itself. KISS.

Being this crystal clear over licensing represents a significant paradigm shift for some traditional ITSM tool vendors. It is difficult to wean yourself from high margin professional services revenue when you have grown used to it – how will that revenue be replaced if we simplify everything for our customers? Similarly some vendors position relatively low cost ITSM tools specifically to generate new business for their consulting business.

Eyes Wide Open

I believe pricing simplicity should be a serious consideration when choosing a tool vendor. I have compiled a quick pricing ‘Ouch-O-Meter’ to help during the tool selection process. Click on the image above to enlarge it.

I’m not saying that SaaS is the only way to go, nor am I anti-consultant (being one myself) – I just like the simplicity of the licensing model. I believe how things are priced moving forward should be a serious consideration when exploring a new vendor relationship, there is nothing worse when securing a great deal than to find the hidden extras.

Am I entering into an ‘all you can eat’ license or a ‘We’re going to nickel-and-dime you every time you breath’ relationship?

Have I missed anything here? What else should be considered when it comes to vendor pricing?

5 Steps to Building a Tool Selection Scorecard

At the SDI event I attended last week, Ken Goff gave a compelling talk on tool selection.

This is not a new concept and I’m sure many readers would have used similar methodologies, nonetheless the credit for this article goes to Ken and SDI.

In this article I aim to provide an overview of Ken’s logic. The goal is to build a decision matrix for tool selection that is closely aligned to your requirements. The focus is on making an objective decision based on facts and stripping away any emotion or subjective bias.

5 STEPS

  • Step 1: Define your criteria, wish-list and desires of a new tool (This is a whole topic by itself and won’t be covered here).
  • Step 2: From this list define which of your criteria are Must Haves or Show Stoppers, there is no point investing in a tool if these features are not included. The remainder will be ‘wants’ or ‘nice to haves’.
  • Step 3: Assign a weighting score against each criteria
  • Step 4: Score each tool according to the criteria, then multiply the score by the weighting score to generate an overall score. Eliminate any candidates that do not meet the ‘Must’ criteria.
  • Step 5: Total all scores to provide an overall objective rating.
To demonstrate this in action I’ll use this methodology to choose a new house to purchase.

EXAMPLE

  • Step 1: Criteria: I’m looking for a house to buy in Poole, UK. I would like 3 bedrooms, a Sea View and for the property to be in Poole.
  • Step 2: Must or Want: It must have a least 3 bedrooms (Must), The Sea View and Location are nice to have.
  • Step 3: Criteria Score: I will assign a score to the criteria as follows: 3 bedrooms (10), Sea View (8) and Poole location (5).
  • Step 4: Scoring: See table below. As an example Property 1 has no Sea View (Score 0), it has four bedrooms (score 9) and is within Poole (score 8). Total aggregate score of scores versus weightings equals 130.
  • Step 5: Property 3 has the highest score, Property 2 is eliminated because it only has 2 bedrooms (A must) and Property 1 is last.

This method might seem overkill for 3 criteria, but becomes very useful when dealing with 50+ requirements.

I have used Poole in Dorset, UK specifically as an example (The fourth highest land value, by area in the world) since it doesn’t matter how suitable your tool is if you can’t afford it. Indeed, the price range of the tool might be factored into the criteria.

Please let me know if you have anything to add to this process or if you have any experiences to share.