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Welcome to the SysAid Blog - the place to go to find out where the IT industry is going, and what is SysAid’s role in it.

SysAid’s New Version Numbering System Keeps It Simple

Posted by on November 27, 2013 in SysAid
SysAid New Version Numbering Here at SysAid, the "naming" of our software has always been a technical issue of incrementing the numbers as we release new features…and new versions. When I joined the company in 2008, we were at SysAid Release 5. Since that time, there’s been two major releases each year, so we went from 5.5 to 6 to 6.5 to 7, and so on. Last year we reached the 9th generation of our product with the latest release 9.1. With the numbers rising and before entering the 2-digit arena (aka Release 10), we figured it’s the perfect time to improve the logic to our naming convention. So we began to rethink our numbering strategy/policy.

So What Did We Do?

We decided to break up the concept and give value and meaning in the version number that will indicate when the specific version was released. The first 2 digits would represent the year – in other words 14 for 2014, and the next digit after the period would represent the specific quarter in that year, e.g. SysAid 14.1 means the 1st quarter of the year 2014.

Common Language for Cloud and On-Premise

SysAid has Cloud releases as well as On-Premise releases. Cloud is always a little ahead of the game, getting the releases quicker, with On-Premise getting it a few cycles after. Although for Cloud the naming convention is actually less relevant than for On-Premise—because Cloud is always updated, so you don’t need to know which version you have, as you always have the latest—we still wanted to create a common language for both On-Premise and Cloud. We know we are releasing 2-3 On-Premise versions every calendar year, therefore we decided to name the versions according to when they are planned to be out for On-Premise, and not Cloud. So if, for example, we have a scheduled On-Premise release in January 2014, which incorporates a few cycles of Cloud, we’re going to call it 14.1. The Cloud version will already receive 14.1 in the year 2013, as the Cloud cycles start rolling out. Following this logic, Release 14.2 is scheduled to be out for On-Premise in June 2014, but our Cloud customers will start seeing 14.2 features already in March because March/April/May cycles are the ones that will be bunched together to create 14.2 On-Premise Release in June 2014. Note that the actual version number contains an additional two digits to control the minor releases within the major releases, for example 14.1.01 , 14.1.02, etc.

Make Sense?

Once you get used to it, it’s very simple. You can look at the version number and know exactly when your SysAid release was issued. You’ll know how up-to-date you are. Even if you’re using SysAid On-Premise, you can look at Cloud Release Notes as they get published, and you’ll know what features to expect in your next release and when it will happen. We think this will save a lot of questions, and bring added value to the numbering system.
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SMCongress – Viewed Through a Customer Lens

Posted by on November 25, 2013 in ITSM
Future of the ITSM Industry At FUSION 13, the annual joint itSMF USA and HDI conference, a group of pre-selected people came together to consider and report back on the future of the IT service management (ITSM) industry. There are many articles and blogs that cover the group’s outputs ranging from the SM Congress site, through a CIO.com article by the group’s initiator Charles Araujo, through to blogs that take a number of different views on the group’s outputs, including: These are blogs that cover a wide range of views on the merits of and issues with the SMCongress and its outputs. But I want to put those to one side for now; well, actually for the rest of the blog. I want to give you my views. I want you to think of it from the point of view of our customers.

Putting Our Customers First

Let me lay my cards on the table. I love our customers – we succeed because they succeed. I want them to be the best they can be. I want them to be helped in any way possible. Helped in dealing with the challenges and complexity of modern IT service delivery. So I value the contributions made to the industry by anyone, or any group, willing to take the time to help. The SMCongress is/was intended to help but there is a “but.” And it is a big “but.”

Are our customers hearing about the SMCongress, let alone buying in to it?

So let’s pause for breath for a moment.

The Customer Point of View

In early November I made a number of UK customer courtesy calls, not to sell to but rather to listen to a number of our customers. While at one – a sizable media company – I asked what they thought about the SMCongress and its “call to action.” They hadn’t heard of it. And they didn’t have time for it. They also hadn’t heard of Back2ITSM or any of the other sources of conversation and help available “socially.” In some ways you could say that this is a little like “not having the time to go on a time management course” or not having time for problem management because you are too busy fire-fighting incidents. But it’s not, it’s different. It reflects the realities of the real IT industry, not those of the socially-transmitted conversations that many of us are party to. We need to realize, respect, and respond to this before we can move forward with any form of industry change.

Real-World IT

It might be a generalization but many people in real IT jobs don’t have the time to be socially active at work. They are working with limited resources, missed deadlines, and all-hands-to-the-pumps crises that mean that they are lucky to get home to their families at a reasonable hour. They want and need things to help them get through the day. They need help in dealing with the challenges and pressures of working in IT. But then they also need to ensure that all their hard work is recognized as important by the rest of the business. They need to show their worth. So they do need something or multiple things. But before we can help them we need to do those three Rs - realize, respect, and respond. I might be guilty of jumping to a solution here but we need to realize that if we are talking of change without linking it to real-world IT and using the words and communication channels real-world IT actually uses we are just talking amongst ourselves. We might as well be shouting from the moon in terms of the messages being heard, understood, and bought into at a grassroots level.

But We Shouldn’t Give Up

We just need to step back and work out how best to tailor and deliver what is ultimately an important message – that many IT organizations need to change. That is, to change for the better from a business enablement point of view. So the call to action is needed – take a look at www.smcongress.org – do you agree that things need to change? How can this call to action be made real for people delivering IT services on a day-to-day basis? And how can we at SysAid help you to help yourself and the colleagues and customers you enable through IT?
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Gartner’s Top IT Predictions for 2014: BYOD and Cloud Computing to Take Over

Posted by on November 21, 2013 in Cloud
Gartner's Top IT Predictions for 2014: BYOD and Cloud Computing to Take Over In the world of technology, timeliness is extremely important. Being the first to take advantage of new and popular trends gives you more time to implement and perfect them. So when Gartner unveils their annual predictions for IT trends for the forthcoming year, it’s a good idea to pay attention. After looking through Gartner's top 10 IT predictions for 2014, two things are very evident:
  1. Companies need to start preparing for an influx of mobile device usage in the workplace
  2. The Cloud will become an even more integral part of ALL IT needs
We have already seen these trends emerging heavily throughout 2013. The Software as a Service (SaaS) industry has been experiencing tremendous growth thanks to the growing popularity of cloud computing, and BYOD has been a hot topic for nearly all of 2013. It’s safe to say that Gartner's predictions aren’t too far off.

Are Companies Ready for Mobile Growth?

Gartner estimates that the amount of mobile technology will be growing exponentially through 2018. For most people, this isn’t very surprising. The problem that Gartner sees is that some companies aren’t prepared for the rate in which mobile device usage at work will grow. According to Gartner’s report, “The unexpected consequence of bring your own device (BYOD) programs is a doubling or even tripling of the size of the mobile workforce.” The question that CIO’s will have to ask themselves is whether or not they have the infrastructure and protocol in place to handle that much growth. As Gartner recommends, one of the first steps companies should take to prepare for the predicted mobile device growth in the workplace is to review your current BYOD policy or create one if you don’t currently have one in place. Also, it is going to be crucial that companies invest in MDM software. Trying to monitor hundreds, or in some cases thousands of employee-owned devices for BYOD without the use of integrated software is next to impossible. For companies completely new to BYOD, you will also want to revamp your service desk to make sure they’re prepared for the change. If your service desk is primarily used to only handling issues with company issued Blackberry phones, they might be thrown for a loop when someone calls them for an issue with their iPhone 5S.

Moving to the Cloud

The Era of Personal Cloud A lot of companies have already begun integrating cloud computing into different aspects of their operations. For the most part, they’ve started out small with things like creating backups to Dropbox or collaborating on documents with Google Drive. But Gartner predicts that the cloud will eventually become more important than devices. They call this “The Era of Personal Cloud”. Obviously, a shift this big will mean increased security measures for cloud computing and advances in the services that are offered. Gartner describes a world where device specs will no longer be as relevant or as significant because all services will be handled on the cloud. Therefore, rather than improving devices, companies will have to improve the capabilities of the cloud. Web-Scale IT Gartner also mentions Web-Scale IT as a new trend for 2014. Web-Scale IT is simply a way of describing the way in which cloud services for enterprises is scaled. For the most part, when we think of scaling we think in terms of size. However, with Web-Scale IT “capabilities go beyond scale in terms of sheer size to also include scale as it pertains to speed and agility." In other words, efficiency will start to play a much bigger role in cloud computing. If Gartner's predictions are correct, companies need to start preparing for significant changes in the way that they operate. Luckily, some changes can be implemented right now such as warming up to BYOD and integrating SaaS into different areas of operation. Some of Gartner's predictions such as Smart Machines might be a little while away, but BYOD and cloud computing are here now.
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Transitioning from SysAid CSS to IT

Posted by on November 19, 2013 in SysAid
If you have a SysAid CSS account, this blog post is directed towards you. SysAid has decided to merge SysAid CSS with our leading ITSM solution SysAid IT, and you have a lot to gain. As you may have noticed, SysAid CSS was not upgraded for quite some time. We were in thinking mode, assessing our next step with the CSS (customer service software) solution. The decision was made to bring CSS to the level of our popular IT solution, and offer all our CSS clients the same treatment as everyone else, in terms of consistent upgrades and updates. Our Customer Relations department is here to support you with any issue that might come up in the transitions process. For your convenience, we have recorded a webinar that will explain the process and demonstrate some new features that you'll be getting. Watch the video below: https://youtu.be/ue3Nkrww8w8

What Are We Changing?

Actually not much. Aside from several changes in the terminology, the transition to SysAid IT should be all smiles :). Here is a list of terms and their equivalents in SysAid IT:
  • Home = Admin Portal
  • Help Desk = Service Desk
  • Relation Mapper = CMDB Module
  • Process = Changes
  • Self Service Portal = End User Portal
  • User Management
    • Contact = End User
    • Agent = Administrator
    • Accounts = Companies

What Are the Benefits You Are Gaining?

With the transition to SysAid IT, you will have the privilege of using all the latest and greatest updates of our upcoming release version 14.1. Here is a short list of the capabilities you will be gaining.
  • A brand new and improved user interface. We have totally reconstructed the UI from the ground up to give you a great user experience.SysAid Help Desk Dashboard
  • SysAid is now fully ITIL compliant. This gives you the ability to manage very detailed work processes in order to improve effectiveness in your department.
  • Dynamic Forms. It has never been easier to submit service records. All users have to do is select the template that is suitable for the case they are presenting and SysAid will automatically fill in the rest. And of course, you have total control over the content of the template.
  • New Knowledge Base UI. We have totally redesigned our Knowledge Base, and it is now more intuitive to use and search. With the ability to add pictures, videos, and colors, you have the ability to create great knowledge items that have the potential to save you a great deal of service records being opened.

Goodbye CSS, Hello SysAid IT

So it is now time to say goodby CSS and hello to SysAid IT. Between November 24th and December 15th we will start the process of moving all our Cloud CSS clients to SysAid IT. As for our On-Premise clients, there will a beta version available for you on December 14th, and an official release in January 2014. Please follow me on Twitter @SysAidAcademy...and let me know if you have any questions.
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itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition 2013: Review from a CEO and First-Timer

Posted by on November 12, 2013 in ITSM
IT Service Management Forum UK Well, Oded Moshe, Joe the IT Guy, and I are fresh back from the UK following our very first visit to the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition in Birmingham last week. It was cold, and it rained a lot, but I’m pleased to say that the event itself made up for both of these facts. The wide-variety of event content was delivered by: high profile names; IT consultants; vendors; and people with proper IT jobs, and between the three of us we attended numerous sessions looking at topics ranging from effective problem solving to gamification, from financial management to change & release processes, and more. It would be a tall task for us to write about every presentation with passion, so instead we’ve decided to highlight the sessions that stood out to us most.

Energise your Service Desk for the Future & Cure Your Service Desk With Customer Experience – John Rakowski, Forrester Research

This session was one of the ones that stood out from the rest. It offered clear and simple advice, often much needed in the ITSM industry. John discussed the increasing need to better manage the experience of end users. He advised that you can no longer ignore the phrase “customer experience”, and that it’s now becoming a case of “adapt or die”. The great thing about John’s presentation was that he didn’t just preach about customer service, he provided actionable advice for attendees to take away and use to better their business. One of the things he discussed in detail was how utilizing a Self Service Portal, as a front end for the Service Desk and potentially automation, can empower end users, improve service, and offer outstanding value to the business all in one go; potentially for a relatively small investment in terms of time, money, and resources. John also walked us through the results of one of the latest Forrester customer experience surveys, with the most interesting statistic (in my opinion) being that 47% of people prefer to use external sources/fix their IT issues themselves instead of contacting the Service Desk. This is a scary statistic, but one that could be changed by making a bigger investment in customer experience and additional capabilities such as Knowledge Bases and Self Service Portals. So are you utilizing a Self Service Portal?

The Good, the Bad, and the Agile – Patrick Bolger, Hornbill Systems

I was secretly hoping that the stories I’d heard about Patrick’s brilliant presentation skills were all lies given that he works for a competitor… I’m joking of course. Regardless of whether I’m joking or not, his session was actually very interesting. He looked at the topic of Agile from a very different angle to what I’m familiar with. I’ve always viewed Agile from the perspective of R&D, but I loved that Patrick made us look at it through a Service Desk lens. Patrick offered up some interesting statistics from a recent itSMF Service Transition SIG survey:
  • 62% of people surveyed are “dipping their toes into the water” when it comes to using Agile principles
  • 30% think the idea of Agile looks great, but they don’t know how to apply it to ITSM
  • 5% said that they couldn’t live without it
  • 3% said they simply wouldn’t touch Agile
So how do you feel about Agile? Patrick also looked at the different approaches to ITSM, both the traditional approach and the newer Agile-mindset approach: So which of these approaches do you currently take? Patrick’s session also proved how ‘enthusiasm’ from the presenter (married with great content of course) is truly the key to delivering a great presentation.

The Beauty and Simplicity of Common Sense Business Relationship Management (BRM) – Andrea Kis, Tata Consultancy Services

They say that common sense is not so common, and I am inclined to agree. Sometimes you don’t need shiny tools and processes, or to throw money at new initiatives and projects, sometimes you just need to step back and apply simple common sense. This was why Andrea’s presentation was so refreshing to hear. Andrea discussed many things including:
  • How you can apply day-to-day personal relationship skills to IT Service Management to better IT’s relationship with business colleagues
  • How the role of BRM in maturing relationships takes the IT service provider from basic provider to promoter, then to partner and finally to peer
  • How you need BRM in all areas of business (not just IT) if you truly want to operate successfully
Being a huge advocate of customer service (both internally and externally), the point that Andrea made that really resonated with me was that:

“When it comes to BRM the focus must be on the relationship from the viewpoint of the customer not the viewpoint of the business – perception is reality”.

Have you implemented the role of Business Relationship Manager in your organization yet?

Overall

The formal conference content was excellent and very educational, there was so much value to be had from the presentations that it was a shame that there were not more practitioners in attendance. Unfortunately this lack of ‘real IT people’ was my only negative point about the conference. In my opinion, because of the lack of practitioners the roundtable discussions regarding the future of ITIL, and the itSMF UK Big 4 Agenda were lacking in substance. Speaking only to analysts, vendors, and consultants is never going to bring about any ‘real’ answers or commitment for change. I’d be the first to admit that what I think is a challenge for the Service Desk, could potentially be the exact opposite of what a real life IT administrator (or other IT practitioner) considers a challenge. Thus in the roundtable discussions I was not convinced that the opinions brought forward, on what was important to the ITSM industry, truly reflected the opinions of the front line of IT. So what do you think the ITSM industry needs to focus on in 2014? Gamification? Agile? Problem Management? Business Relationship Management? Is the future of ITIL and the plans of AXELOS important and/or relevant to you? My recommendation to both itSMF UK and AXELOS would be to build stronger relationships with vendors. Vendors have access to large client-bases, full of the people actually doing the things we are continuously talking about. Vendors could act as a conduit for ideas and feedback, and as a platform for change. SysAid would be more than happy to be involved in this kind of initiative. We would be happy to encourage practitioner-led discussions, and to help get to the heart of what really is important in ITSM. Of course we could technically go off and do this ourselves, but where would the benefit in that be to the wider ITSM community? Anyway, roundtables aside, the conference itself was excellent. We made lots of new friends and acquaintances, learnt even more about ITSM, and hopefully also made it known that SysAid is happy to be involved in any community-led initiatives (be it SM Congress, Back2ITSM, the itSMF Big 4 Agenda, the Future of ITIL, or similar). Finally, I just want to take this opportunity to say congratulations to Stuart Rance on winning the itSMF UK Lifetime Achievement Award. I don’t think I have ever met a person more passionate and knowledgeable about ITSM than Stuart.

IT service management forum conference I was thrilled to have the chance to chat with John Rakowski.

Sarah and Sophie at the IT service management forum

Sophie Danby and I all dolled up for the black-tie dinner.

IT Service management forum with Pengi

Oded Moshe and I also caught up with Adam Holtby.


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5 Techniques IT Departments Are Learning from Apple’s Genius Bar

Posted by on November 6, 2013 in Service Desk
Apple Genius and IT Frustration, confusion, and a general disconnect all describe the current relationship between many IT departments and business-side employees. However, the concept of the Enterprise Genius Bar is improving the way help desks operate within companies today. The Enterprise Genius Bar is essentially an Apple Genius Bar for the workplace. Within the Apple Genius Bar, customers are encouraged to bring their devices in to learn more about how they operate, how to resolve basic issues, and to see what other technology is available. This interaction eliminates the wall that exists between a typical help desk and customers because both parties are face-to-face and the entire experience has a more personal touch. An Enterprise Genius Bar brings the same model into the workplace. The modernized enterprise help desk has already been successfully implemented by SAP, and many more forward-thinking companies are planning on adapting the concept. Even companies that have not fully adapted the Genius Bar model are at least taking some cues from the idea. Here are a few Genius Bar inspired improvements and techniques that IT departments are making.

1: Employee education

One of the biggest complaints amongst help desk staff is that too much of their time is spent helping company employees fix basic issues that they should be able to resolve on their own, such as not being able to log in, restoring deleted files from the recycle bin, or slow internet speeds. Instead of immediately changing an employee password, restoring deleted files remotely, or restarting the router, help desks are realizing that it’s more beneficial to explain to employees why and how these issues arise. Through educating employees on common problems, the amount of service calls is reduced and the often overworked help desk staff can focus on more crucial issues.

2: Providing customer service

Since the IT department is a part of the company (unless the department is outsourced), customer service isn’t a top priority for some technical support members. However, Apple’s approach places a strict focus on providing top notch customer service and CIOs are taking this into consideration. Some examples of better customer service in IT departments include faster response time to newly opened tickets, updating employees while issues are being resolved, and following up after tickets are closed.

3: Let employees play

The rise of BYOD and the consumerization of IT have both played a role in the variety of mobile devices available for business use. Device manufacturers and app developers are all making products for the tech savvy business person to be more productive and more efficient. With all of these options, employees have to find out what’s the best fit for their position and company. Instead of relying on retail stores to give this advice, IT departments are taking this task on and letting employees know which products will fit their specific needs. SAP’s Mobile Solutions Center is a perfect example of this. Employees can visit the kiosks in the workplace and get hands on experience with different apps and devices. The experience can be taken even further through the ability to actually rent devices to test them out as well. Renting devices can be done easily as long as you have software to manage mobile devices and a tool to manage software inventory.

4: Be inviting

If you don’t have a technical support issue, there’s no reason to contact the IT department, right? Wrong! As Apple’s Genius Bar has proven, providing a welcoming environment encourages customers (or employees in this case) to come by even if something isn’t necessarily broken. This has several benefits, the most important of which, is promoting preventative maintenance. All too often, people wait until their devices get a virus or completely stop working to check up on it. This makes repairs more difficult and time consuming. When employees feel comfortable just stopping by and learning from the support staff, they will be more likely to update their software or get their laptops looked at to make sure they aren’t at risk for any type of malware.

5: Hire well-rounded staff

Just having the technological know-how is no longer sufficient enough for help desk staff. According to Mike Burgio, VP of Managed Services Operations at Inergex, “You can't look for people who are only very good from a technology standpoint. You need people who are also very good from a customer service and personality standpoint.” CIOs are looking for help desk people who have the ability to talk on the phone, be personable, and generally have a likeable attitude. In addition to this, support staff also has to be able to fix more devices than ever before. Employees are now equipped with a variety of Android, Windows, Apple, and Blackberry devices, which are all built differently. Pre-BYOD, the help desk was limited to only having to fix a few different types of devices, but that has drastically changed within the past decade. IT departments are evolving to adapt to a more tech savvy workforce. By integrating the practices of the Apple Genius Bar, companies can have a one stop solution for all of their IT support needs.
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Movember: SysAid Helps Change the Face of Men’s Health

Posted by on November 4, 2013 in SysAid

Movember at SysAid

Have you heard of Movember? It's a month-long event that takes place annually during the month of November that involves growing mustaches, in order to raise awareness for prostate cancer and other male cancer initiatives. Call it a campaign, a fundraiser, whatever you want. The point is to get people talking, so more men will get checked, and hopefully prevent serious long-term illness or even death.

SysAid wants to participate and help raise both awareness and money! Last week, all SysAid employees were notified that if they grow their mustaches during the month, SysAid will donate $25.00 per person to the Cancer Society. Personally, I won’t be able to grow my mustache (thank goodness ;) but I do hope all my male colleagues will feel the peer pressure and humanitarianism, and stop shaving their upper lips!


Help Increase Our Donation

We want to raise even more money…so we’re opening up the offer to all SysAid customers around the world. Anyone who grows their 'stache and sends us a photo of themselves at the end of Movember, with SysAid running on a screen in the background (so we know you really are a customer), we will donate to the Cancer Society $25.00 in your name as well.

Photos should be posted directly to our Facebook page, or tweeted to us @sysaid (use the hashtag #movember). If you are extremely shy, you may also email the photos to community@sysaid.com, and we’ll be sure to make the donations.

Please - don't even think twice, grow those mustaches today!


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Get Off the Bench and Make Your Mark Through Effective Benchmarks

Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Service Desk
IT Service management forum benchmarks Ahead of my presentation “Get off the bench and make your mark through effective benchmarks” at the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition next week, I wanted to start a discussion about IT metrics and benchmarks. IT people love statistics and most IT organizations are run on performance metrics. But what do the metrics really tell you about the relative level of your success? Are you purely measuring operational efficiency or are you measuring how well you support end user and customer needs? Are you beating all your performance targets but continue to be viewed as an unresponsive, slow, uncommitted, and detached IT organization – something that business colleagues have to, rather than want to, work with? “But we beat industry benchmarks” I hear you cry. But do you? Are they representative of your organization and your customers’ needs? And were they created before One Direction were born? You need relevant and timely benchmarks and a mindset that appreciates that beating the benchmarks is not enough – that the benchmarks and other performance metrics are a launchpad for improvement activity not a medal of honour.

Statistics and Mystics

However, statistics can mean different things to different organizations with different IT operational models and maybe even different cultures. Take the use of email as a service desk access channel for instance. The graph below (taken from our IT Benchmark module) shows that there is a wide range of email usage amongst SysAid customers ranging from 0% to 100% email. Service Desk Benchmarks Chart Let’s consider those with 0% email usage. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well it depends. It might be indicative of a well-oiled IT service desk that people want to call for assistance. It might be indicative of a service desk where emails take weeks to be answered and hence people just call up. Or it might be that self-service via an employee portal is working really well. At the other extreme, 100% email usage (which interestingly is the mode for the data set) – is this a good or bad thing? Again it depends. It could be indicative of smaller IT shops where catching an IT support person on the phone is difficult so an email is best. It might be a corporate mandate that there be no calls to the service desk in order to reduce costs. Or it might just be that people prefer to email rather than calls these days. The problem is that I have just spent the last two paragraphs trying to guess what these statistics really mean. And unfortunately I don’t have mystical powers.

So What Is Right?

Again it depends. If you were to compare your organization to the graph above, should you be handling more or less incidents or service requests via email? The important thing to recognize is that this is probably the wrong question to ask. The right question or questions relate to what your customers want and need, and your capability to service those needs, particularly as this is email we are talking about, which is a halfway house between the customer calling the service desk and self-service. Yes there are benefits to the customer – they don’t have to call and they can take as long as they want to create the email. And there are benefits to the service desk – email reduces the need for immediacy of response and it allows service desks to better deal with service desk peaks and troughs. But it might not save the service desk any time, particularly if the service desk agent has to call the customer for more information that wasn’t included in the email. So does being average or being either side of average really mean anything?

Use the Stats to Help Move to a More Optimal State

Look at the stats from a number of points of view. If you have low level of email contact (and self-service portal usage), is this what’s best for your organization? It might be. If, however, business stakeholders would like to reduce operational costs and/or increase the level of self-help, then maybe trying to increase the level of email contact is a red herring. Look to other benchmarks and exemplar organizations to understand what and how high levels of self service can be achieved. Conversely, if you have high levels of email contact, could you be converting these email transactions to self-service portal transactions where a percentage can be resolved without service desk involvement? A win-win as the customer gets immediacy of resolution and the service desk is under less pressure and might even incur less cost.

The Power of Self-Service

If you want to find out more about winning with self-service and how to use IT benchmarks to improve IT and business performance, then please attend my presentation at the itSMF UK event. I will be speaking at 12.20 on Monday 4th November in the Expo Hall Theatre. If you’re not already scheduled to attend, then there is still time to register and join us for what is set to be a very valuable event to anyone working in IT Service Management. For those of you who cannot attend, I will publish a post-event blog with an overview of my IT benchmarks presentation, along with a list of tips on how to improve performance, so stay tuned! And don’t forget, you can follow everything that is happening both days of the event (4-5 November) by following the Twitter hashtag #ITSM13. I’ll be tweeting from the conference (follow me @sarahlahav), along with @Joe_the_IT_Guy, @OdedMoshe, and @SysAid.
Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.
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Managing the Explosion of BYOD with Mobile Device Management Solutions

Posted by on October 23, 2013 in BYOD
The bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon is taking businesses by storm. Now, more than ever, BYOD programs are becoming commonplace in the workplace, helping to satisfy the needs of today’s 21st century worker – who's accustomed to using the latest high-tech devices. In fact, businesses are encouraging employees to bring their own devices to work. According to a Gartner study, half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes. Moreover, 38 percent of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers by 2016. "The era of the PC has ended. Employees are becoming more mobile and looking for ways to still be connected wherever work needs to be done," said Phil Redman, research vice president at Gartner. "The convenience and productivity gains that mobile devices bring are too tempting for most companies and their employees.”
While the benefits of BYOD – including creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction, and reducing or avoiding costs – are abundant, the movement has dramatically shifted the roles of IT departments, bringing on new challenges, such as security risks, policy requirements, increasing IT workloads, high mobile management costs, and privacy issues. “Securing corporate data on mobile devices is a big challenge, but one that companies must embrace. Enterprises are struggling with how to support and secure this dynamic workforce,” added Redman. To help combat these challenges, effectively support BYOD initiatives, and gain full control over all mobile devices entering their IT management software system, CIOs and IT administrators are increasingly turning to mobile device management solutions (MDM). In fact, over the next five years, 65 percent of enterprises will adopt a mobile device management solution for their corporate liable users, according to the aforementioned Gartner research. MDM gives CIOs and IT administrators the ability to:
  • Support multiple mobile platforms
  • Extend IT management and security policies to both corporate and employee-owned devices
  • Automate help desk software support (if the MDM solution is integrated with your Service Desk and Asset Management)
  • Easily enroll employees' devices by simply sending a device enrollment notification via email or SMS
  • Initiate individual or bulk device enrollment
  • Set customized policies
  • View detailed hardware and software inventory
  • Apply or modify device policy settings
  • Trace installed apps
  • Deploy preconfigured Wi-Fi and email settings
  With MDM, CIOs and IT administrators can easily manage complex fleets of mobile devices while simultaneously satisfying the demand of 21st century workers.
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4 Metrics for Monitoring the Performance of Your Self-Service Channels

Posted by on October 16, 2013 in Service Desk
Service Desk Metrics Famed management consultant and researcher Peter Drucker once said, “what's measured, improves.” While companies have long used KPIs in call centers for this reason, they haven't had a lot of other metrics for measuring performance in other customer service channels. FAQs, publicly-facing knowledge bases, communities and other forms of self-service provide a lot of value to companies, the primary one being deflecting tickets from the call center. Some of Hewlett Packard's community articles are viewed as many as 1,500 times for example. While many of these page views are likely people just causally browsing, others could be from site visitors that might have called for answer in an alternative scenario. Now that an increasing number of customers prefer these digitally-based channels, it's time companies apply the same level of scrutiny to performance in these channels as they do in the call center. Here's four metrics your company can use to monitor and maximize the value you get from your self-service channels.

Percent of Community Questions that Receive a Response

In order for customers to actually want to use your self-service channels, they have to believe they will actually get a response. For this reason, it's important that you monitor the percent of community questions that receive a response—ideally this would be 100 percent.

Percent of Community Questions that Require an Employee Response

In order to ensure all of the questions in your community receive a response, you will likely need to have someone responsible for moderating the community. Several help desk systems allow you to have an alert sent to an employee if a question doesn't receive a response from the community within a certain time frame. Over time, you will want the percent of community questions that require an employee response to fall. If it doesn't, you might want to investigate, and perhaps add gamification and other tactics that increase engagement.

FAQ / Knowledge Base / Community Article Page Views

It's important that you identify which topics resonate most with your customers. This will help you know which articles should be presented first, or on the front page of your communities. Knowing what's popular will also help direct what content you should create proactively (rather than waiting until someone asks that question in the community). Monitoring page views across all of your self-service channels will help you identify your most active content themes.

Trends Among 'Question Types' in Email, Chat, Phone Support

While this is a metric for monitoring non-self-service channels, the information from it will be used to improve self-service performance. Let's say you just released a new product. You might all of the sudden get an influx of calls regarding set-up, or other questions about using it. Your team should tag these issues by type. As you get an influx of a particular issue type, this could trigger the self-service team to proactively create articles around that solution. These are just a few of the metrics that are likely possible for monitoring self-service performance. What KPIs have you found most successful? Join the conversation with a comment here.
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