This week I have been travelling to see Forrester’s I&O Leadership Board (FLB) members in Paris and working on my I&O FLB workshop session for Orlando and London happening in October, titled ‘An Outside In Approach To Your IT Strategy’. During my conversations I have been discussing Forrester’s excellent new book entitled ‘Outside In, The Power of Putting Customers At The Center Of Your Business’. It contains great insight and examples on how successful companies are adapting to the “age of the customer” by ensuring experience rich relationships.
So what does 'putting the customers at the center of your business' mean to I&O Professionals?
Firstly, we need to ditch the word ‘users’. It’s a dirty word in my vocabulary as it conjures up images of employees being ‘addicted’ to our IT services. Our employees are not going to go ‘cold turkey’ on us if they don’t get their corporate IT fix. They are our internal IT customers who have feelings, needs and wants plus are increasingly able to source their own technology services to increase their productivity.
Here’s the hard truth:IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams are becoming less relevant. This will only accelerate now that we are in what Forrester calls “the age of the customer” where bring-your-own-technology policies and “as-a-service” software and infrastructure proliferate.
In this new world, developers still need compute and storage to keep up with growth. And workers need some sort of PC or mobile device to get their jobs done. But they don’t necessarily need you in corporate IT to give it to them. Case and point: employees pay for 70% of the tablets used for work.
At the end of the day, if you can’t deliver on what your workforce and developers care about, they will use whatever and whoever to get their jobs done better, faster and cheaper.
Much of this comes down to customer experience, or how your customers perceive their every interaction with the IT organization, from your staff in the helpdesk to corporate applications they access every day. Here’s a proof point on how much customer experience matters from Forrester’s soon to be published book, Outside In: over a recent five-year period during which the S&P 500 was flat, a stock portfolio of customer experience leaders grew 22% percent.
BMC has a golden opportunity to take a different track with Numara than it has for past mid-market acquisitions (see Magic Solutions), and it must do so if it hopes to build on this one and drive new revenue for the long haul. Numara enjoys a massive installed base of customers with its Track-It and Footprints product lines in the small and mid-market. They have been hard at work rounding out their portfolio to include Client Management (software management, systems management, and OS management), and other areas. Numara has been on a journey to re-invent itself and has been succeeding. Further, we believe that the culture of the Numara organization and BMC's will align well, as long as Numara is given the autonomy and investment they need to grow their portfolio and momentum in the field.
BMC Will Need Time To Work
Numara customers should expect relatively little change in daily operations for the first few months, as BMC aligns the organizations. If history is a reliable guide, BMC will typically give a larger acquisition such as this the opportunity to remain mostly intact, and inject key people and processes to help align the acquired organization with the BMC culture and ways of doing business. If this holds true for Numara, customers should see it as a positive step.
As well as an adaptation of a festive song this could be one of the guiding jingles for ServiceNow.
This week I have been attending, along with my colleague Stephen Mann, the Knowledge11 conference in Frankfurt. ServiceNow is one of those companies that ITSM practitioners have an interest in because of their phenomenal growth and go-to-market model.
So what are their secret ingredients that make the solution so appealing?
Is it simply, that their key differentiator is that they provide a SaaS-based model and have experienced a bit of luck with the ‘cloud’ computing phenomenon? Is it that they have a great company name which lends itself well to becoming a brand? Is it that their sales and account managers have mythical powers?
My answer to you, after spending time with their clients, is that, firstly, they have inherent or at least portray a focus on the end ‘customer.’ They understand that their customers are looking for fast integration that will link in and improve their current ITSM and other business workflow processes. Also, the majority of their customers adopt the SaaS-based solution; it means that they can’t hide behind the age old cloak of “It must be the users infrastructure/network/environment/processes, etc.” If there is a problem with the software they have to fix it because the chances are that another customer will experience the same issue.
As many of you know, Forrester conducted a joint research study earlier this year, in conjunction with the US chapter of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF-USA). The report is finally now available to the deserving. Forrester clients can download it using the normal access methods. Members of itSMF-USA will receive their copy from itSMF-USA. If you contributed, but do not fall into either category, Forrester will be sending you your copy.
You can read a few of the finding in my original post announcing the completion of the study. An example of the findings is the level of satisfaction with service desk solutions. While satisfaction in general is higher than one would think, a SaaS model has proven especially satisfactory:
Please let me know if you are having difficulty obtaining your report. Thank you again for all the participation that led us to these findings! We look forward to next year’s study!
There is growing evidence of a harmonic convergence of Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) with Security and it is hardly an accident. We often view them as separate worlds, but it’s obvious that they have more in common than they have differences. I live in the I&O team here at Forrester, but I get pulled into many discussions that would be classified as “security” topics. Examples include compliance analysis of configuration data and process discipline to prevent mistakes. Similarly, our Security analysts get pulled into process discussions and other topics that encroach into Operations territory. This is as it should be.
Some examples of where common DNA between I&O and Security can benefit you and your organization are:
Gain economic benefit by cross-pollinating skills, tools, and organizational entities
Improve service quality AND security with the same actions and strategies
Learn where the two SHOULD remain separate
Combine operational NOC and security SOC monitoring into a unified command center
Develop a plan and the economic and political justifications for intelligent combinations
On 22-Nov-2010, Attachmate Corporation announced it was acquiring the assets of Novell, Inc. Once on top of the IT world, Novell's glory had clearly faded. Along the way, however, it acquired several attractive assets of its own (e.g., PlateSpin, Managed Objects). Towards the end of its independence, the future certainly looked bleak for Novell and especially its management software businesses.
The immediate reaction to the Attachmate acquisition was skepticism among most industry watchers, including yours truly. My reaction was similar when Attachmate acquired NetIQ. After all, what rationale is there to a legacy mainframe software company buying either NetIQ or Novell? The perception was that all of these product families would be milked for their maintenance revenue and innovation, and other development would be killed. It now appears these fears were largely unfounded, though I stand by my original skepticism. Veterans like me have seen such things unravel before.
The various Novell assets have been redistributed across four companies in the Attachmate Group, with the management assets being assimilated under the NetIQ brand. While a full merger of the NetIQ and Novell assets will take at least a year, the (now) NetIQ team has moved with impressive speed to launch its initial consolidated families.
One of the problems I see with ITSM adoption is that it is all too easy to get lost in a framework such as ITIL and to lose focus on the customer element. Unfortunately, ITSM adoption is not a one-size-fits-all approach and so adoption can be different from company A to company B, which means that trying to adopt a process from a guide can be difficult and can feel impossible.
The answer to good ITSM adoption practices lies within those practitioners who have implemented processes, experienced the highs, the lows, the sweat and even the tears. In order to really build best practices these people need to share these experiences back to the rest of the community. So one way I think we could do this is to arrange a ‘Free ITSM Practitioner Meet Up’ which I thought could maybe be called ITSMME (me=meet up). This would follow the successful Cloudcamp format and would be an evening, free to attend event with an agenda like this:
6.30pm – Introduction - introducing speakers and maybe a theme.
Last week I took part in a podcast focusing on the "Future of the Service Desk." Unsurprisingly, this is a hot topic at Forrester for the I&O role. The standard equation for measuring service desk performance is simply the highest possible quality or customer service over the lowest possible cost. While simple on paper, the challenge to try and achieve this equilibrium is a complex conundrum for many service desk managers.
Developments such as the "consumerization" of IT further compound this issue. Service desk professionals now operate in a business environment in which their end users or customers are "tech savvy." This leads to a potential conflict spark point where IT customers believe that they have more IT know-how than the service desk. In some cases, this could well be true and it would be dangerous to dismiss these customers and their knowledge. So what is the answer? Well, on the podcast I explained that the service desk and IT as a whole has to focus on becoming "customer savvy" to embrace these pressures.
Ciscoannounced today its intent to acquire NewScale, a small, but well-respected automation software vendor. The financial terms were not disclosed, but it is a small deal in terms of money spent. It is big in the sense that Cisco needed the kind of capabilities offered by NewScale, and NewScale has proven to be one of the most innovative and visible players in that market segment.
The market segment in question is what has been described as “the tip of the iceberg” for the advanced automation suites needed to create and operate cloud computing services. The “tip” refers to the part of the overall suite that is exposed to customers, while the majority of the “magic” of cloud automation is hidden from view – as it should be. The main capabilities offered by NewScale deal with building and managing the service catalog and providing a self-service front end that allows cloud consumers to request their own services based on this catalog of available services. Forrester has been bullish on these capabilities because they are the customer-facing side of cloud – the most important aspect – whereas most of the cloud focus has been directed at the “back end” technologies such as virtual server deployment and workload migration. These are certainly important, but a cloud is not a cloud unless the consumers of those services can trigger their deployment on their own. This is the true power of NewScale, one of the best in this sub-segment.