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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.

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.
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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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Under the Hood…Replacing Our Default Embedded Database

Posted by on October 8, 2013 in SysAid
MS SQL new embedded database in SysAid Every good software relies on a good database, which allows the software to run smoothly, to allow growth, to be robust, and of course to secure the consistency and availability of your data. SysAiders that chose our Cloud offering don’t have to worry or manage the database or any other technical aspect related to hardware, installations, upgrades, etc. For SysAiders that have chosen to go with our On-Premise offering - we have always allowed you to select and manage your own database. But we also took care of those who want a simple and easy installation by having an embedded database that is automatically set up during the installation process, providing a worry-free environment that can be treated as a black box. We constantly improve our product and the technology it is based on, both in aspects that are visible (like the new UI), as well as aspects going on under the hood. This time around we decided to upgrade the embedded database to MS SQL Express - a top tier database that will bring you improved performance, allow you to grow, and have SysAid run on the newest technologies available out there.
New installations, starting from SysAid 9.1 released this October (2013), already include MS SQL Express as the embedded database. Our R&D is investing a lot of effort in creating an automatic migration from Derby (our previous embedded database) to the new database, so when you upgrade to one of our next releases in 2014 - this will be an automatic seamless process. Just like we do with our colleagues who reach the age of retirement, we would like to thank the Derby database for the good years it provided us and wish it a happy retirement! A few years ago, Derby itself replaced the previous database and became the default database for SysAid. The decision to retire the Derby database now assists us in providing something integral for our customers (what they’ve been asking for) - more On-Premise releases per year! We already provide several Cloud releases per year - almost every month, and only one or two On-Premise annual releases. By reducing the number of supported databases to 3 (MySQL, MS SQL, and Oracle) we are able to reduce and optimize our QA cycles allowing us to release more upgrades per year with features and bug fixes. As I said in the beginning, we constantly improve our product and invest a lot even on the parts that you can’t see or don’t know about. We do know that some of you are very familiar with the technologies SysAid is built on and even have processes or technologies that are integrated with them, so this is a heads-up for you towards this important upgrade of our technology. Let me know if you have any questions.
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What SysAid 9.1 New Release Means For YOU

Posted by on October 1, 2013 in SysAid

SysAid On The Road

In the last few weeks you heard about the beautiful UI, Dynamic Forms, SysAid RDS and all the other magnificent new features in SysAid 9.1. Today I wanted to talk about another central aspect of our new release: YOU, our customers.

Throughout the year we talk to our Pathfinders, hold Customer Roundtables, and receive your feature requests. But when Beta season comes around we always discover a newfound appreciation for customer feedback, realizing how important it is have you involved. Every time we incorporate customer feedback into SysAid, we’ve gotten wonderful responses and incredible results.


We’re Listening

SysAid 9.1 represents just how effective it is to communicate with our customers: we heard that our On-Premise customers wanted to have new releases more often, similar to the amount of releases our Cloud customers receive. We reacted by releasing SysAid 9.1—which sets the infrastructure that will allow us to release double the amount of releases next year for On-Premise customers. We achieved this by consolidating the number of On-Premise databases, so there is less QA required and more time for new releases to go out in a shorter timeframe.

Now, all SysAiders, both On-Premise and Cloud users, can expect to have a new release in the next couple of months. This is just one example of SysAid incorporating customer feedback.

SysAid On The Road

Another step to continue nurturing our relationship with customers is our new initiative called SysAid On The Road, which will see our team travelling the world to meet customers face-to-face and ensure they are getting the maximum value from SysAid’s platform. We will also focus on getting a deeper understanding of any open issues customers may have with SysAid.

Our first stop is Denmark this upcoming week where we will visit AVK, and we are REALLY excited about it. If you would like us to visit your office, or would like further information on what SysAid On The Road is all about, then contact us at: ontheroad@sysaid.com. We want to see how SysAid can enhance your daily life as an IT admin even more, so invite us over!

SysAiders, we are in listening mode. As CEO, I still manage the accounts I had as VP Customer Relations so that I can continue to maintain a hands-on relationship with customers. Today, I am inviting each one of you to email me personally with any questions, concerns or comments you may have at s.lahav@sysaid.com. Let’s keep this incredibly open and responsive relationship we have going strong.


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SysAid Customer Relations Take a Trip to the Blue

Posted by on September 30, 2013 in SysAid
On September 15th we had our annual Customer Relations Day, a day to relax away from the office without the normal separation of borders between managers and staff, where we can take a little bit of a load off. We decided to drop off our burdens at the beach and hop onto a boat, and have a day out in the sun. As you can imagine we spend most of our time in a closed office where we hardly see the sun (which I personally don’t complain about but maybe I’m not the norm). SysAid Customer Relations Day 2013
And no, that wasn't our boat. This was what we went on. SysAid Customer Relations Day 2013 I am the one next to the really tall guy on the right…oh, the problems of being short. After our boat took us into the deep waters of the Mediterranean Sea, a few of us decided to jump in—some with more skill than others. SysAid Customer Relations Day 2013 After a 3-hour boat ride, we came back to land at around 1pm. But the day was not over yet! After handling the waves of the ocean, we then drove to a beautiful villa, where we were treated to a superb steak lunch by the pool. SysAid Customer Relations Day 2013 The hot tub was pretty relaxing too. Above you can see the final photo of the day where we made a pact - whatever happens at The Villa, stays at The Villa. You will just have to imagine the rest ;). -Sivan
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4 Features That Will Improve Your Life as an IT Admin

Posted by on September 24, 2013 in SysAid
SysAid Service Desk 9.1 Release Preparing training material and informative content is always challenging and fun at the same time. Lucky for me, I get to have fun almost every day in my role as SysAid Academy Supervisor. Every month we prepare a webinar that we think can make you a better SysAider, and this content is available for you at any given time on our YouTube Channel. This month, however, is even more exciting because we're having our New Release Webinar, and we're going to show you our brand-new release version 9.1 in all its glory. I assure you, this is not one to be missed! Hosted by our VP Products Oded Moshe, this webinar promises to be both educational and entertaining. And, we’re making it even more enjoyable to watch as we play a game that will give you a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card.

4 Categories, All You Need

In this webinar we are going to show you our new UI and its major improvements, which is the result of over one year of researching our users’ needs . Aside from it being very nicely designed, it also brings a fresh and much more efficient approach on how things are organized. We have come to the conclusion that everything we do today falls under four main categories: Service Desk, Assets, Analytics, and Tools. All about this and more is going to be presented by our Creative Director Maurice Hason.

It's Time to Submit a Service Record

One of the the concepts we teach in our certification courses is that you need to to supply your users the fastest and easiest way to submit their service records in order to reduce your emails and phone calls. Now with our new categories driven templates, or Dynamic Forms as we like to call them, it has never been easier.The end user just needs to select a template related to his/her issue and the form is automatically filled according to preset data that we configured. VP Professional Services Hanan Baranes is going to show us how that works.

Remote and Secure is Not a Paradox

Up until today, if you wanted to keep your LDAP server on a remote location and integrate with SysAid, you would have had to open various ports to allow the traffic to go through. The same thing went for Cloud clients who needed to integrate with their LDAP even if it was in their internal network. With v9.1 we are releasing a new and improved Remote Discovery Service (RDS) that will eliminate the need for opening ports and will allow a secure connection with your remote branches. VP Customer Relations Joseph Zargari is going to explain how this works and what you need to do in terms of configuration.

We Will Never Forget You

The authentication process was also improved in this release. We added the Remember Me feature, which keeps a password cache. This makes the authentication process a lot faster and prevents a server down issue in case you lose connection with your LDAP server. This and more is going to be presented by Product Manager Oleg Sin. Register now, October 1st 12 PM EST - we look forward to seeing you there!
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Nubo – World’s First Remote Android BYOD Launches

Posted by on September 23, 2013 in BYOD

I just got back from TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 and have a lot of news to share with all of you.

In 2011, I founded my second company, Nubo. Nubo is a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) startup that has now officially left “stealth mode”. As many SysAid customers know, more end users than ever are bringing their smartphones and tablets to work. The trend is clear.

My CTO and I flew from Tel Aviv to San Francisco to participate in TechCrunch’s yearly event. I wanted to launch Nubo in the midst of the cream of the crop of IT startups and there’s no better place. (You can read TechCrunch’s article about Nubo here.) We set up a booth and spoke with hundreds of visitors. The techies were fascinated by Nubo’s “Android on iOS” capability (more on that below), and IT journalists wanted to know how we succeeded in virtualizing the mobile experience.

Are you curious?


When I founded SysAid, I saw the need for a comprehensive ITSM platform. There were other products out there, but none that had my "all-in-one" approach. The same goes for BYOD. My three tenets of BYOD are:

1. Native mobile experience

2. Zero work data on device

3. Identical user experience for Android and iOS

A Remote Workspace for All Mobile Devices

Nubo is a remote workspace which allows the management of one work environment for all iOS and Android devices. Employee apps, corporate data, shared files and folders are all synchronized and located in one remote environment, leaving no data on any devices and ensuring the highest level of corporate data security.

Made for Mobile

Nubo has developed what we call “UX Over IP”, a remote display protocol designed to deliver a native mobile experience. Today’s mobile users - especially BYOD’ers - expect native touch and automatic adaptation to any device's display size. If you’ve ever used a Windows to Android port, you will appreciate Nubo’s made for mobile experience.

Android on a Server, Device as a Display

With Nubo, enterprise data stays where it belongs - in a secure datacenter. We call this “Android on a server”. Users download and install the Nubo Player, which allows them to access your enterprise app store. Nubo virtualizes the data - essentially projecting it to devices. When a user session ends, no data remains on the device. We believe that this “device as a display” approach will change the BYOD landscape.

When a user misplaces a device, all you have to do is block access to his or her Nubo account. Who wants to have their tablet wiped only for it to turn up two days later?

Working Together - Android & iOS

For the younger generation, the culture wars have been replaced by the “OS wars”. Have you ever tried to convince an iPad owner to go with Android or vice versa? Nubo stays above the fray by supporting both popular mobile operating systems.

Nubo works on iOS, Android and any web browser. The Nubo app is a thin client that is accessible from any device. Two colleagues can debate the pros and cons of Android and iOS at the water cooler, but when they get down to work with Nubo, they will both enjoy the same user experience.

BYOD with Nubo

Nubo has a long way to go before it will be as successful as SysAid. I can only hope that it will have such an active user base. With that in mind, I want to invite our extended SysAid family to visit Nubo at https://www.nubosoftware.com. Nubo is looking for companies to join our trial program, perhaps your company would be interested?


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Is Apple’s iOS 7 Taking a Page from Android’s Book?

Posted by on September 17, 2013 in General IT

ios7-vs-android

Just when you thought it was beginning to settle down, the heavy-weight battle between iOS and Android is once again heating up as Apple finally gave its loyal followers what they've been eagerly waiting for. Last week, the tech giant unveiled its latest mobile phones – the iPhone 5S and the 5C – along with a slew of new and exciting features.

Before the much anticipated unveiling, many mobile aficionados claimed that the iOS 5 felt oddly familiar to Android. Ian Paul, an independent writer at PC World and TechHive, argued that "You might even call these new features magical or revolutionary, unless you're an Android user, then you'd call them 'stuff I've been using for years.’” However, others beg to differ.

Let the comparisons begin…


Interface

Apple has drastically changed the entire look of its interface with a fresher, more modern look. Wooden bookshelves and leather-bound diaries have been replaced with greater transparency. However, some argue that Apple is just playing catch up with Android, claiming that iOS 7’s Control Center is something Android has already had for some time.

Multitasking

In the previous versions of iOS, multitasking was extremely challenging. However, that’s changed, as the new iOS 7 has similar multitasking features to Android. For example, the multitasking windows now fill the entire screen and in addition to the app icons, users can see thumbnails of what they were previously looking at within the app. They can also swipe to dismiss the apps they want to close, similar to Android.

Web Browser

With the new iOS 7, users have a 3D view of opened tabs, making it easier to switch between sites, which comes standard with Android’s Jelly Bean. They’ve also introduced the iCloud Keychain, which allows users to save all of their usernames and passwords for websites they use regularly.

While the new iPhone boasts several impressive features and updates – many of which Android already employs – it’s hard to sift through the marketing fluff to determine which packs the bigger punch.

Tell us… which mobile operating system do you prefer?


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How We Celebrated the New Year with the SysAid Race!

Posted by on September 12, 2013 in SysAid
SysAid celebrates Rosh Hashana/New Year 2013 Last Sunday on the 1st of September we had our annual corporate event celebrating the Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashana. As the HR team, it was our job to arrange the event. We kept everything a secret from all SysAid employees to encourage curiosity and heighten the experience. Haha…it was devious but really fun! The "operation" took off at 2:00 PM by sending out an email to the whole company explaining that everyone was being placed on teams. Each team got a color and received a t-shirt and hat to match. Team spirit was beginning to buzz at this point.
By 3:00 PM we all gathered in front of our building to receive instructions from the "journey manager" who also exposed the day’s mission – The Amazing Race. He explained that we will need to solve rather complicated riddles for a few hours, to move from one place to another, and to reach the final destination by evening. The confused faces, mixed with smiles and cheers, were hysterical! After some picture taking and giving out the maps and instructions, we finally departed at 4:00 PM with each team driving away in their own jeep, complete with private driver, water bottles, and healthy snacks. The Amazing Race We had an incredible experience combining fun and teamwork while visiting historical sites with some of the most stunning views. At 8:00 PM all the jeeps drove up to the final location where the big party was about to begin. But first, we wanted to symbolize the New Year by flying wish balloons (also known as sky lanterns) to the open skies. Our CEO started the ceremony by sending her balloon up with her blessings and best wishes for the company for the year to come. Then everyone else joined in, and the dark sky became dream-like with all the lights from our wish balloons. Wish balloons/sky lanterns Now it was time to eat and party hard! The 3-course meal was delicious and just enough to get everyone energized to dance the night away. We, as the HR ladies, had our joy by seeing everybody smiling, dancing and just simply having a great time. Partying with SysAid CEO Sarah Lahav We can’t finish without wishing you all health, happiness, and fun for the upcoming New Year. -Reut and Mor
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