Recently in Service Desk Category

Unhelpful live chat

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My PC is about to give up the ghost - it keeps dying and flashes its little orange light forlornly like a lost waif. I can get it going again by taking it apart, fiddling with the battery and other bits and swearing at it (the latter actually works best). However, I've decided enough is enough and time to buy a new one, which will, of course, be Windows 7 (current one is XP).

So I have gone through all the software / hardware to see what works, what doesn't - most of it is ok apart from one synth (for my music, but I have another one) and one bit of home accounting software for which I have found a replacement. The software was particularly annoying as it appears to be only the UK that hasn't bothered to upgrade to 7; USA and Oz versions seem to work fine???

Anyway, we then come down to the wireless adapter, which Microsoft says is compatible, but requires a free download (driver I assume) with a link to the manufacturer's site, where of course there is a download for Vista and XP but nothing for 7. There is, however, a Live Chat button so I go for that.

After a short wait I get a hello, I am Maurice..... how can I be of assistance? I enter my query - moving to Windows 7 with network adapter ...., will it work and do I need to download a new driver? He comes back with 

  • Can I ask you some questions?
  • Go for it
  • What country are you in? 
  • UK
  • What is the serial number of the device?
  • enter number 
  • What is your problem?
Well the problem is that you haven't read the original question I typed in, but being kind I type it in again.

  • It will work
  • Do I need a new driver - your website only has Vista and XP for download?
  • Please give me a few minutes
  • OK
  • Thank you for your patience
  • No problem, but are you going to answer the question?
  • What connection are you using? Cable or ADSL?
  • Don't see why that is important, but cable to wireless router
  • I am sending you a link to how to make your wireless router work
  • My wireless router works fine - that's not the problem. Can you please answer the original question - and I repeat the question
  • We don't support that adapter on Windows 7
  • Why did you tell me did?
  • I sent you the wrong answer by mistake. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
  • Goodbye (and good riddance!)
Now, this is the short version of the chat. Most of his answers came from the helpdesk-how to-make-a-short-answer-into-a-long-one manual. Who teaches these people? They sound as if they have swallowed a bad dictionary combined with a Jane Austen novel. I am going out on a limb here, but I would bet the 27 words where one would do approach comes from an American trainer. You're lovely people, but IMHO you can't speak English! 

  • How can I be of assistance? Yuck - how can I help?
  • Incentivise!!!! Yuck, yuck, yuck - anyone using this word should be shot - what's wrong with motivate? 
  • Deplane!!! Yuck - ditto - disembark.
  • Momentarily. Yuck - ditto - soon.
  • At this moment in time. Mega yuck -ditto - now.
  • etc.
(Actually shooting all those people would solve the world population problem, but I digress.)

Anyway, could someone please start teaching helpdesk people proper English and also give the poor souls a list of useful answers to common questions like does your product run on Windows 7? Me - I'm going to buy a new adapter from a different company.

Miracles do happen

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I was helping out a friend with their TV system, and as a part of that we had to ring up the help desk. I am not a great fan of help desks normally, as the ones where I live are typically situated in another country and manned by people who don't understand a word I'm saying. Furthermore they are given a script to run through, which has obviously been written by someone who graduated from the Marquis de Sade school of customer diplomacy. 

I was amazed to talk to someone in my own native language, who could explain exactly what the problem was and how to fix it - UNBELIEVABLE! And when I told him that he was the most useful person I had spoken to in years (I may even have said the ONLY useful person) he thanked me profusely. 

Now that was a service desk, not a help desk.

We just posted a case study in correlating IT service management maturity with business maturity ...and presenting an example of how BSM maturity can actually assist IT organizations in understanding potential causes in the ongoing disconnect between IT and their business customers.  What was interesting about this case was the recognition that this IT shop has received from their business counterparts in automating so many functions within their energy utility company ...yet the difficulty the IT organization was having with fundamental IT initiatives such as a "production oriented service desk" and a 24/7 network operations center.  This company was great with in-house development and struggling with IT operations ...charting a course to a disintegrating IT-business alignment at some point in the future. 

Recently I watched the TV program with Michel Roux (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00xjzml/Michel_Rouxs_Service_Episode_1/) where he takes a dozen people, mostly without any job or experience at all, and over a course of several weeks will transform them (he hopes)into waiters, maitre D's, sommeliers etc  for his Michelin star restaurants. Well last night was the first episode and it was amusing and cringe worthy at the same time. Some of them had never opened a bottle of wine with a cork and had to be taught. When they came at the end of the 1st programme they were made responsible for the "front of house" within a ZiZZi restaurant here in the UK's docklands. It was fascinating.

Customer service, in fact "customer-oriented service management" (BSM?), was so un-natural to them, that the inevitable happened. They worked in silo's, they focused on their tasks and not on the customer, SLA's were not understood and ignored if they were, some stuck to process regardless of the bad impact on the customer (business). For example they were told not to take the food order until the drinks had arrived (they must take the drinks order first and process it). So when the bar was really busy and could not provide the drinks for over 20-25mins, the customer had to complain that not only did they have no drinks, not no-one came to take their order, and worse, when the customer asked them to take the order, they were informed by the waiter that they cannot until your drinks have arrived!!!!! Unbelievable, but it does show that sticking to the "letter of the law" on the process and not being flexible can adversely impact your customers (businesses).

The correlation to ITSM and BSM was all too apparent to me. The "greeter" would be the service desk, the interface between the waiting staff and the customers. They would greet the customer, take some details (how many in the party etc) and place them in the appropriate area of the restaurant and allocate to the appropriate waiter (even introducing the waiter to them). All this allocation was based on demand management, capacity management, priority (had they booked, or just a "walk-in").

The waiter was the support staff, managed and controlled by the Maitre 'd (service manager) who is responsible for the entire front of office experience and the customer (business) service. The sommelier being a specialist support person interacting and delivering a solution appropriate to the meal and the customers taste, but the waiter is still the "single point of contact" for all the interactions with the table and the customer. 

It will be interesting to see how they develop their (business-oriented) service management stills.

Today, I was visiting a London financial services organisation who are seeking to implement an organisation cultural change for IT to be less technology focused and move to a customer (business) centric focus. The examples they gave were so mirrored by the experiences shown on the TV programme and prove that Service Management fits across all markets and perhaps we need to drop the IT prefix and simply focus on the customers. Often the best way, I've found, is to imagine you are the customer and how would you like to be served or be treated in the circumstances you are in right now!

Looking forward to seeing how Michael Roux and his students progress.

Tim Stratton has just posted an article on Value-Based Management for IT. In essence, his Value-Based model addresses three fundamental aspects of IT:

  1. The Value Chain: How does IT design and deliver services?
  2. The Service Portfolio: What services does IT deliver?
  3. Value Realization: How does IT leverage this information to innovate?
Another way of saying it is: Business Service Management!

Going forward, it'll be interesting to apply the value-based model to cloud computing.

Read the article >>

Reading through the articles on BSMReview.com, I started to wonder: "what is the problem?". Is IT really thàt disconnected from the business? Looking around in my living room and at the office, I can harldy imagine how life would be without any Information Technology to support me. And all of this is provided to me by companies in the form of products and/or services. Would I buy and/or use them if I didn't know what value they bring to me? No, of course not. Given that IT has penetrated already so much into my life, these "IT companies" must be connected to (or better say integrated within) "my business".

Interestingly some time ago I delivered an ITIL v3 based Service Portfolio Management workshop within a large Financial Institution. In preparing for this workshop we agreed to first focus on the question: "what is a service?". So I started by presenting the ITIL v3 definition of a service: "A means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.". So far, so good. Then we looked at how to define a service and -more specifically- on how to define the business value of a service. Now when I asked the question "what is the busines value of your e-mail service?" the answer I got is "The e-mail service provides message traffic and storage of e-mail and e-calendaring". Does this describe a business value? Don't think so.

Looking at this sample, one might see it as a proof point that IT is really disconnected from the business and use it to justify a Business Service Management approach. Personally I wouldn't go that far. The only thing that it shows to me in this particular case is that IT is not able to articulate the business value of a service, but that doesn't mean the service doesn't have value or is not being used. On the contrary, the e-mail service sample above is one of the most used and appreciated service in the Financial Institute with an implicit value. Nevertheless and ultimately as one of the results of the workshop we came up with the following definition:

E-mail services provide value to the business when cooperative business communications are conducted without the constraints of location, device or time-zone. Value is created when IT operates for the business a store-and-forward messaging system, so that business employees can compose, send, store and receive e-mails with peers both inside as well as outside the business and in a manner that

  • Is accessible 24 x 7 x 365 across the globe
  • Allows only one outage of max. 5 min per 3 months
  • Enables messages up to 45Mb and mailboxes up to 100Mb
  • Supports protection of business confidential information
  • Ensures data availability and archiving within business policies

Similarly and on a bigger scale, I recently met with another customer (read: a service catalog manager within IT) who asked me to review his service catalog and provide feedback. Of course I accepted this and then found myself reading through a 193 pages thick service catalog printed on paper. When the guy returned after a few days and asked me for my opinion, I said: "Imagine that you are entering a restaurant and ask for a menu card. And when the waiter returns he delivers to you the cookbook of the chef. How would you feel?". He immediately got the point that the service catalog contained way too much information for their business customers. In addition I showed him that there was also information missing in the service catalog. And you probably have guessed this one already: it contained no descriptions of business value whatsoever.

Again also in this situation the reality was that all services in the catalog already existed and were actively being used by the business customers. So why then create a service catalog? Good question. In this particular case the main driver for producing a service catalog was IT's desire to explain what they deliver, however the business didn't ask for a service catalog and also was not involved in the creation. And like Bill Keyworth rightfully stated in The Why & What of Business Service Management: "BSM success is entirely dependent upon the willingness and skill of both IT and business to have an effective two way conversation ...one party without the other is doomed to failure.".

Reading through my samples above and several articles on BSMReview.com, I see a number of very specific issues and symptoms, but am still not sure what the main problem or need is for which we are trying to find a solution under the name of Business Service Management. When we define BSM as "the discipline that aligns the deliverables of IT to the enterprise's business goals" then I wonder what's the value in doing this? And isn't this already happening implicitly ? Is it really possible to define the package of whatever it takes to deliver the expected service to the business community ...in a way that they can understand and appreciate that delivery? To me this sounds a little bit similar like designing the perfect organizational structure, while we all know that this does not exist (otherwise everybody would have it by now...).

I realize that my statements are provocative, however I believe that a good understanding of and interactive discussion around the fundamental problem we are trying to solve should be the starting point for (m)any article(s) on BSM(Review.com). So let's first address the question: "Business Service Management: what's the problem?".

Looking forward to your comments.
o1

"You Answer It; You Own It!"

A customer-focused service culture designed with the customer in mind will quickly benefit from the practice of Total Contact Ownership (TCO), where there is no ambiguity of ownership and direct accountability when it comes to the customer experience and ultimate satisfaction.

Read the article »
In an earlier entry, I bored you rigid with the tale of my buying a new PC. The good news is that it has arrived and works beautifully - I even have to grudgingly admit that WINDOWS 7 seems to be OK (I think the secret with WINDOWS is to skip versions?)

However, perhaps it's me, but communication between me and the maker leaves a lot to be desired!

My email:

Dear X

Never got the confirmation email that the system said I should get, but I did get a computerised phone message end of last week. The PC arrived safe and sound yesterday. All working fine.

Their response:

Order confirmations are sent by email immediately after the order is confirmed, however I will resend the confirmation now.

I still haven't received the original email or the alleged resend. It doesn't actually matter as I have the PC, but something is obviously wrong with their system and their total inability to understand my problem. Yes, I have checked that my email id is stored correctly.

They have now sent me a customer feedback survey to see if I am happy with their handling of my question. Guess what? NO I AM NOT. But it will probably make no difference as I am not convinced that anyone ever reads those things anyway???

Well, here it is: "Why Doesn't the Business Drive BSM? A Value-Driven Business Service Management Maturity Model" >>

BSMReview's Bill Keyworth and Rick Berzle evaluate the management of IT services from the perspective of the business, a.k.a. "business service management."

The negative impact of IT organizations being culturally and functionally disconnected from their business community is escalating, explain the authors.  As evidenced by the push to bypass traditional IT options through Cloud and SaaS initiatives, IT must enhance how technology is provisioned for the business.

The BSM Maturity Model described in this ground-breaking paper covers 5 levels:

bsm levekls

You can download it here for free (registration required) and let us know what you think >>

Service!?

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Some years ago I wrote a book about making our lives easier, and I am glad to see that a lot of the ideas in there are now appearing as apps on the iPhone. Then when I worked for BMC I wrote a popular blog, which urged people to adopt a Service Mentality, and things seemed to be getting better round the world (not entirely due to me - my timing was just good!). Unfortunately we then entered a nasty recession and things have gone severely downhill as companies strive to save money and hence cut down on service.

I live in the UK, a country which appears to be run by a group of greedy incompetent people, and that means that we probably will probably de drowned by melting polar ice caps before we come out of recession. So I was not at all surprised to see an article in one of our Daily newspapers (Daily Mail) asking:

Infuriating call centres, feeble excuses - who gets YOUR wooden spoon for rotten service? 


The categories where they have asked for nominations are:

  1. Overall worst customer service
  2. Most irritating call centre
  3. Longest time to solve a simple problem
  4. Biggest incorrect bill
  5. Most pathetic excuse for failing to solve a problem
Anyone care to share a nomination or two?

IMHO there is little point in spending lots of money on IT systems if you treat your customers like dirt, which is why I have always said that BSM is not a set of products or systems - it's a mindset.

 

Triage

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Continuing my thoughts on Bad IT = Bad Communication, I would like to give you an analogy.

Imagine you are a doctor and you have 3 patients and you have to decide (rapidly) which one to "work on" first - like the beginning of MASH when the helicopters come in.

The first patient has a blinding headache, the second one has stomach pains and indigestion, and the third one has a knife stuck in his arm. I am sure your immediate reaction is that you would treat the man with the knife first?

OK, now some more background. The first patient is the CFO, who pays your salary. The second is the VP of Sales, who won't get off the 'phone and is driving everyone mad,  and the third one is the boss of HR, who is currently selecting people for redundancy. Who goes first now?

Some more. The CFO says he must get the latest sales figures to the CEO immediately, the Sales VP is trying to launch a new sales campaign and has a TV interview lined up, and the boss of HR has just fainted. Changed your mind yet?

Now, you happen to know (because you are on the board) that the sales figures were printed last night and they probably haven't changed significantly today as we haven't got near the end of quarter yet, the HR man is not bleeding as your nurse is applying pressure and tending him, but your TV campaign was signed off last week and if you miss this slot the company has just wasted half a million dollars. Which one comes first now?

And people expect IT to make the right decisions without the facts?
 

team

Business Service Leadership: The Time is Now! [Part 1] new article
by Peter J. McGarahan
Business Service leadership is about doing the right thing for the right reasons and making fact-based decisions. It's about challenging conventional wisdom and having the moral backbone to stand up for doing the right thing for your customers and the people that serve them. »

Business Service Management (BSM) is a process, a mindset, not a product (as Peter Armstrong would say) so it is not a technology in the first place.  It is strategic, however, so let's take a quick look at each of Gartner's choices and ask:

"What has this got to do with BSM?"

Gartner's Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2010

Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is a style of computing that characterizes a model in which providers deliver a variety of IT-enabled capabilities to consumers. Cloud-based services can be exploited in a variety of ways to develop an application or a solution. Using cloud resources does not eliminate the costs of IT solutions, but does re-arrange some and reduce others. In addition, consuming cloud services enterprises will increasingly act as cloud providers and deliver application, information or business process services to customers and business partners.
My two cents: Managing cloud services demands that companies must have a BSM strategy which can monitor and manage the physical datacenter, virtualization, and the cloud - whether it be public, private, or hybrid. We need ITIL in the Cloud and robust Cloud Service SLAs.

Advanced Analytics. Optimization and simulation is using analytical tools and models to maximize business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios, before, during and after process implementation and execution. This can be viewed as a third step in supporting operational business decisions. Fixed rules and prepared policies gave way to more informed decisions powered by the right information delivered at the right time, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other applications. The new step is to provide simulation, prediction, optimization and other analytics, not simply information, to empower even more decision flexibility at the time and place of every business process action. The new step looks into the future, predicting what can or will happen.

My two cents: OK, so now we know how to compete on analytics. But the decision-making process is much more complex than most people expected. Analytics are fine, but what we need is refined insight and critical understanding.  The Big Shift Index tells us about what we haven't thought about measuring yet! Where's BSM in all of this? Well, if your CRM and yoru ERP systems are mission-critical, then BSM ensures they deliver on their promise when you need it.

Client Computing. Virtualization is bringing new ways of packaging client computing applications and capabilities. As a result, the choice of a particular PC hardware platform, and eventually the OS platform, becomes less critical. Enterprises should proactively build a five to eight year strategic client computing roadmap outlining an approach to device standards, ownership and support; operating system and application selection, deployment and update; and management and security plans to manage diversity.

My two cents: Anytime, anywhere, on any device. BSM must be an integral part of managing virtualization to avoid virtual sprawl, if nothing else. Of course there's the end-user experience that needs monitoring as well.

IT for Green. IT can enable many green initiatives. The use of IT, particularly among the white collar staff, can greatly enhance an enterprise's green credentials. Common green initiatives include the use of e-documents, reducing travel and teleworking. IT can also provide the analytic tools that others in the enterprise may use to reduce energy consumption in the transportation of goods or other carbon management activities.

My two cents: Virtualization and Cloud computing will help IT become greener faster, by reducing the datacenter footprint.  And virtual collaboration can reduce carbon emissions. Isn't optimizing asset usage a BSM function?

Reshaping the Data Center. In the past, design principles for data centers were simple: Figure out what you have, estimate growth for 15 to 20 years, then build to suit. Newly-built data centers often opened with huge areas of white floor space, fully powered and backed by a uninterruptible power supply (UPS), water-and air-cooled and mostly empty. However, costs are actually lower if enterprises adopt a pod-based approach to data center construction and expansion. If 9,000 square feet is expected to be needed during the life of a data center, then design the site to support it, but only build what's needed for five to seven years. Cutting operating expenses, which are a nontrivial part of the overall IT spend for most clients, frees up money to apply to other projects or investments either in IT or in the business itself.

My two cents: See previous two cents <<

Social Computing. Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work - one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing "external" information. Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities. Do not ignore the role of the social profile to bring communities together.

My two cents: Have you noticed that Twitter is having availability issues lately?  I wonder if they use ITIL or BSM?  Same story on Facebook. Maybe they use ITIL-Lite.  There are unfortunately, some documented productivity issues with social computing, but we have an effective solution for improving knowledge-worker productivity.

Security - Activity Monitoring. Traditionally, security has focused on putting up a perimeter fence to keep others out, but it has evolved to monitoring activities and identifying patterns that would have been missed before. Information security professionals face the challenge of detecting malicious activity in a constant stream of discrete events that are usually associated with an authorized user and are generated from multiple network, system and application sources. At the same time, security departments are facing increasing demands for ever-greater log analysis and reporting to support audit requirements. A variety of complimentary (and sometimes overlapping) monitoring and analysis tools help enterprises better detect and investigate suspicious activity - often with real-time alerting or transaction intervention. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these tools, enterprises can better understand how to use them to defend the enterprise and meet audit requirements.

My two cents: See this survey on security management best practices.

Flash Memory. Flash memory is not new, but it is moving up to a new tier in the storage echelon. Flash memory is a semiconductor memory device, familiar from its use in USB memory sticks and digital camera cards. It is much faster than rotating disk, but considerably more expensive, however this differential is shrinking. At the rate of price declines, the technology will enjoy more than a 100 percent compound annual growth rate during the new few years and become strategic in many IT areas including consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other embedded IT systems. In addition, it offers a new layer of the storage hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages including space, heat, performance and ruggedness.

My two cents: Wrong? We're going to see cloud storage take over this area, and it may or may not use flash memory.

Virtualization for Availability. Virtualization has been on the list of top strategic technologies in previous years. It is on the list this year because Gartner emphases new elements such as live migration for availability that have longer term implications. Live migration is the movement of a running virtual machine (VM), while its operating system and other software continue to execute as if they remained on the original physical server. This takes place by replicating the state of physical memory between the source and destination VMs, then, at some instant in time, one instruction finishes execution on the source machine and the next instruction begins on the destination machine.

However, if replication of memory continues indefinitely, but execution of instructions remains on the source VM, and then the source VM fails the next instruction would now place on the destination machine. If the destination VM were to fail, just pick a new destination to start the indefinite migration, thus making very high availability possible. 

The key value proposition is to displace a variety of separate mechanisms with a single "dial" that can be set to any level of availability from baseline to fault tolerance, all using a common mechanism and permitting the settings to be changed rapidly as needed. Expensive high-reliability hardware, with fail-over cluster software and perhaps even fault-tolerant hardware could be dispensed with, but still meet availability needs. This is key to cutting costs, lowering complexity, as well as increasing agility as needs shift.

My two cents: Now this is a BSM play if there ever was one!

Mobile Applications. By year-end 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce providing a rich environment for the convergence of mobility and the Web. There are already many thousands of applications for platforms such as the Apple iPhone, in spite of the limited market and need for unique coding. It may take a newer version that is designed to flexibly operate on both full PC and miniature systems, but if the operating system interface and processor architecture were identical, that enabling factor would create a huge turn upwards in mobile application availability.

My two cents: Anytime, anywhere, on any device.  Didn't I write about that a few seconds ago? And don't we need our CMDB to track all these diverse devices and apps?

As you can see, I've attached Business Service Management (BSM) as an enabling IT strategy for just about all ten of Gartner's Strategic Technologies for 2010. And of course if it's a service provided by IT or even an external service provider, we're still going to need a Service Catalog for 2010. More on that in a later post.

Israel, where do agile practices fit into this? Just about everywhere as well?

Malcolm Fry does a nice job with his parable of the “Keeper of the Forms.” It starts off a bit slowly, but really picks up around the 3:40 mark. And, as usual, with everything Malcolm says, there’s a real lesson to be learned for IT:

Reminds us of Peter McGarahan’s post just a few hours ago, doesn’t it? >>

More from Malcolm: How to Improve Productivity by 40%

You call that service!?

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With all the talk on here and in IT about service, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what service actually means. I love Ken's post on surrounding the employee with services, and it brought to mind what has been happening to us at home this week.

On Monday just as the cable engineer arrived here to fix our TV - transpired all it needed was a new card in the cable box - our 'phone, which is from the same cable company, died. I asked the engineer to look at it and he, of course, replied that he does TVs, not 'phones.

Fortunately, dear reader, I managed to restrain myself from throttling him on the spot and decided to report the problem. Now, this is normally done by picking up the 'phone and dialling 150, a call which starts with the "this call is absolutely free" message. Using the 'phone is, of course, somewhat tricky if the 'phone is broken. So I climbed on the internet, fortunately still working, and found a number to call. It was, unsurprisingly, an 0845 number, which means that you are going to pay (heavily) for the call. Strangely enough, the call did not start with the message "you are about to be ripped off for calling us to report a problem, which is our fault", but I managed eventually to get a person on the other end of the 'phone.

The person I was talking to was in one of our far-flung former outposts, and we had the usual problems understanding one another as I speak English, and she spoke some strange argot. Still, not as bad as the call I once had, which started with the person the other end saying in a broad Asian accent "Hi, my name is Chuck". No it isn't, so why start a service call with a blatant lie - are you setting me up for the almost inevitable ensuing bitter disappointment?

Anyway, I digress. She couldn't find anything wrong with their system, asked why the engineer I had just had did not fix it (answer unprintable) and agreed to send out a 'phone engineer. The earliest date they could offer? NEXT SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!! You, of course, have no choice, so you agree to this ridiculous offer.

Last night our 'phone rang. It has sprung back into life all by itself, so I called today to cancel the engineer. When I get through, I am told that they had cancelled him already as it was a regional fault and they had fixed it. WHY THE BLOODY HELL DIDN'T YOU TELL ME THEN???

If you can't work out what was wrong with their service and how to improve it, I suggest you send me an email and I will give you a few pointers!!!!
 

What Matters is the End Goal

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Its strange how history repeats itself, fashions go in cycles, and every generation comes to them for the first time thinking these things are new, innovative and revolutionary. I guess it's because we're still human and we still need to learn the same lessons over and over again. We want to listen to advice, but can't, we want to learn from the past, but don't, we all want something that's called "common" but is far from it - sense!

May years ago now the company I worked for at the time brought a new concept to the marketplace. The analysts jumped onto it and made it their own and the market hype was all over it, it was the direction all business had to get to. Eight or more years on and we're still moving in that direction, the buzz died down, but the capabilities slowed and the term used changed from IRM to BSM.  However BSM was actually only a subset of what IRM aimed to achieve. With the complexities we find ourselves in today, with Virtualisation and Cloud computing the issues are still the same only in some cases magnified and the responsibility of ownership is moving. More and more the Business is, and will continue to, relinquishing ownership of the delivery of services to the employee (who make up the business) and allow suppliers to take over. It's something that has happened for centuries now. We moved from self-sufficiency to being reliant on others. Once, we all had wells in the garden to provide water for the household, now it's all provided through piped services. Once, we had to make our own small generators for the electrification of the Home, Farm or estate, now it's all provided through piped services. The list goes on, and so it is and will continue to be within the IT environment. Hence the need for Service Management to ensure we all have the disciplines, controls, standards and processes in place, controlled and managed to ensure delivery as required by the customers, whomever they may be.  Why did we move this way? Well for various reasons, economies of scale, cost savings, and to allow us to focus on our core competency without being dragged down by day to day necessities of life.

A slide on my website shows what is required to support the employee, who is at the centre of the business, and how these are more and more being delivered via services as depicted around the circumference of the sphere.  This slide goes back 8 years or more, so not new, but it appears it was rather a vision of the future, and more and more I can see it being fulfilled. Whether we use the same term or not is irrelevant, what matters is the end goal. Something that Geoffrey Moore of Crossing the Chasm fame predicted at roughly the same time.

Check out the slide and let me know if you see it being slowly fulfilled:

turbitt_internalexternalsp.jpg

Explains Richard:

Initially, compliance was an externally imposed distraction, representing just one more burden on an over-stretched enterprise and IT staff. But now, compliance activities not only provide data about current practices but also highlight areas where increasing the level of control could yield greater efficiencies in operation.


Read The Path to Compliance as a Business Strategy »

first contact resoulution

Peter McGarahan explains why there are five initiatives that are critical to all support centers around the process of providing best practice, cost-effective support that meets or exceeds your customer's expectations:

1. Solve it on first contact (First Contact Resolution).
2. Own it till resolved, closed when validated by the customer (Total Contact Ownership).
3. Eliminate the problem (Problem Management/Root Cause Analysis).
4. Deflect to another channel (Self-service, email or chat).
5. A balanced approach to measuring performance and cost-effectiveness (Driving Continuous Improvement).

Read his article: First Contact Resolution: The Performance Driver!

BMC Software announced yesterday the acquisition of Tideway Systems Limited, a UK-based, privately-held IT discovery solution.  As outlined in the press release, there is always goodness in IT delivering greater value to their business community through improved understanding of what IT assets are owned, what constitutes their relationships and inter-dependencies, where they are located and who owns them.  Tideway's contribution to that value is unquestioned.  (See Israel Gat's story on the acquisition announcement). 
 
BMC indicated that "the new offering supports the complete set of discovery requirements for BSM and features deep integration with BMC's Atrium Configuration Management Database (CMDB)." The yet-to-be fulfilled promise deals with the deeper integration of Tideway's IT discovery and BMC's Atrium Configuration Management Database (CMDB).  I'm assuming deeper integration as a result of the acquisition, else why the need to buy out their premier IT discovery partner ...except to remove that premiere offering from the grasp of BMC's competitors? 

Unknown is the impact to Tideway's existing partners such as Oracle and ASG Software Solutions.  What about the other 60+ Tideway partners and those customers who are dependent upon Tideway technologies?

We're also wary of any tool that promises to support the "complete set of discovery requirements for BSM" ...when true Business Service Management (BSM) requires discovery and mapping of most business oriented assets.  For example, does this mean that BMC is promising to support all types of business assets, including communication assets, manufacturing assets, inventory assets and transportation assets ...all of which include embedded IT components leveraged by commercial applications?  That would truly be impressive.

Finally, as IT management becomes more of a gating factor for the successful implementation of cloud computing, the BMC recognition that "visibility into the data center" and the need to "model, manage and maintain applications and services" is critical for cloud environments is welcomed. We believe the Tideway acquisition puts BMC in a stronger position to build a cloud-based CMDB which could become a core competence within BMC's solution suite, should they decide to pursue this value proposition. 

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Agile BSM

Discussion around Business Service Management (BSM) has been ongoing for years ...and years ...and years. Yet it remains a fairly immature dialogue as vendors scope BSM to capitalize on their respective product offerings; as IT organizations struggle to articulate the desired end state; and as industry analysts deliver unique perspectives for purposes of differentiation.

Fortunately, the purpose of BSM is so fundamental, so basic, and so obvious ...that vendors, IT organizations, business managers, analysts and editors intuitively "get it" ...dwindling the confusion that so frequently accompanies newer technology concepts. This website is dedicated to the BSM dialogue by whoever wishes to participate. There is no fee to join ...no content that requires a subscription ...and no censorship of reasonable ideas and questions.

IT has been, is and will continue to be hammered for being disconnected from the business needs of the customer that IT serves. Sometimes the IT organization is adequately connected to the business entity, with the value simply unrecognized. More often, IT is guilty of diversionary focus on technology silos that business doesn't care about. BSM is the discipline that aligns the deliverables of IT to the enterprise's business goals.

That discipline comes in the forms of activities, technologies, tools, metrics, processes, best practices and people. BSM creates a laser focus on those deliverables generated by IT into something that is meaningful to the business community. If the IT deliverable is of no importance to the business function, then IT should eliminate or repackage it into a service that carries appropriate business value. BSM success is entirely dependent upon the willingness and skill of both IT and business to have an effective two way conversation ...one party without the other is doomed to failure.

Read my complete introduction: The Why & What of Business Service Management

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