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Archive for January, 2013

Get beyond crowdsourcing to social IT collaboration that integrates Peer Review

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

We as IT professionals hear an awful lot about collaboration and social media these days.  Amidst all the buzz however, it’s difficult to sort out what’s meaningful and what’s not. That’s one of the issues that ITinvolve’s Social Knowledge Management  and IT Service Management solutions address in a way no other service desk or ITSM offering does.   We call it a “peer review” approach to social IT and it makes us unique in this space.

To understand the value of peer review, you have to recognize that most IT departments are making decisions based on a continuum of knowledge about their environments.  At one extreme you have a centralized and mechanistic auto-discovery approach exemplified in CMDBs.  At the other extreme you find a crowdsourcing approach to knowledge based on new social media capabilities such as news feeds and private walls.

ITinvolve takes a more balanced approach to social IT collaboration that closely resembles a peer review process. By assembling knowledge based on social objects, ITinvolve helps you to both crowd-source and then peer review knowledge to provide the most accurate and up-to-date understanding of any given element in the IT environment and its relationships with any other elements. ITinvolve enables you to bring together a host of experts in a practical collaborative process, in the context of a specific issue or problem, so that everyone can collaborate based on trusted knowledge.

The diagram shown here illustrates ITinvolve’s Peer Review approach.

ITinvolve addresses the challenges of IT operations in complex environments by leveraging both the social concepts of crowdsourcing and the mechanistic approach of auto-discovery tools, combined with the practice of peer review.  By marrying system and human knowledge along with peer review, ITinvolve offers a unique, more balanced approach to IT operations that improves the scope, quality and value of knowledge used by IT professionals to make decisions.

We go into more detail in a newly released thought leadership white paper called, “From Many — One Trusted Source: 30 Days to Better IT Visibility Through Peer Review and Collaboration.”

Stay tuned to this blog series as I explain further how ITinvolve’s “peer review” approach is critical for success in applying the power of social IT collaboration to manage requests better, resolve incidents faster and make changes with confidence.

Be sure to take the IT service industry’s first Social IT Maturity Assessment.  You’ll get an immediate summary of your social IT status and gain a better understanding of how Social IT can help transform your workplace.

Michael Mychalczuk,
Senior Director, Product Management

30 Days to Better IT Visibility Through Peer Review and Collaboration

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Sound too good to be true?  Not with social IT collaboration solutions from ITinvolve.

That’s because ITinvolve has taken a very different approach to leveraging newer social technologies and putting them to work in the IT department to improve productivity and decision-making.   Social knowledge management capabilities such as those offered by ITinvolve are uniquely designed to help IT executives, managers and admins find better ways of understanding their environments and establish a far more trusted set of knowledge for day-to-day operations in less than 30 days.

We explain this key differentiator in the newly released thought leadership white paper called, “From Many — One Trusted Source: 30 Days to Better IT Visibility Through Peer Review and Collaboration.”  In the whitepaper we describe how our unique approach to finding the elusive “single version of the truth” stands out from other so-called collaboration tools.  It details how our approach to social IT functions much like a peer review process that addresses the one underlying issue not always acknowledged in the discussion of social collaboration today:  Collaboration is only as effective as the knowledge that is trusted and shared among those participating.

At ITinvolve, we recognize it’s nearly impossible to make informed decisions and work productively without a trusted source of key knowledge that accurately describes the environment that we are working in.  By offering a Social Knowledge Management solution that helps your IT staff and stakeholders work from the same basic understanding of reality, you gain a huge advantage compared to purely mechanistic knowledge systems such as CMDBs or the crowdsourcing chaos of conflicting voices exhibited by bolted on social media newsfeeds and private walls.

This next series of blogs will give you a clear explanation of why ITinvolve’s “peer review” approach is superior to any other in applying the power of social IT collaboration to resolving incidents faster and improving change management.

I would also encourage you to spend a few minutes filling out our industry’s first Social IT Maturity Assessment.  You’ll get an immediate summary of your social IT status and gain a better understanding of how Social IT can help transform your workplace.

Michael Mychalczuk,
Senior Director, Product Management

#5 Reinforce and Reward Social IT by getting executives to recognize and reward collaborative behavior among IT staff and stakeholders

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

One of the keys to rebalancing the people, process and technology success formula is to promote and reward collaboration among your IT staff and stakeholders.   We’ve described several ways in which Social IT can help everyone make smarter and more informed decisions by collaborating and sharing information with each other.

Keep in mind that your IT staff members pay close attention to the behaviors that are actually valued and rewarded in your workplace by management.  None of the suggested behaviors in previous blogs on this subject will work without the proper reward and recognition from the bosses.

Given the potential advantages of the ITinvolve solution to enable collaboration and improved problem solving for IT staff and stakeholders, you’ve got to make sure that using it is rewarded.  So, it’s your job as an IT leader to help create and promote a culture of collaboration that encourages and rewards individual team members who participate in social IT.  When your IT staff assumes responsibility and ownership of objects in their sphere of influence and actively contributes on a daily basis, you need to reinforce that behavior so it sticks.

Here are a couple of examples of how you can reinforce Social IT behaviors with a solution like ITinvolve.  Set a goal of getting a specific number of social objects into the knowledge management system by a certain day, and then pay a bonus to those who contributed to meeting that objective. Another example would be to provide incentives through bonuses and/or annual performance reviews for those who make decisions by consulting the social IT knowledge management system.

Be sure to read our new ITinvolve thought-leadership paper, “Power to the People:  How social IT helps rebalance the people, process, technology equation.” It gives you a thorough grounding in how you can engage your IT teams in making use of social IT collaboration.

You should also spend a few minutes filling out our industry’s first Social IT Maturity Assessment.  You’ll get an assessment of your social IT status and gain a better understanding of how Social IT can help transform your workplace. You’ll find the rewards are worth the effort.

Matthew Selheimer,
Vice President Marketing

# 4 Make it Second Nature – Leverage intuitive social techniques to enhance decision-making

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

The real potential and promise of social IT stems from its ability to foster ways of communicating and working that feel natural and intuitive to human beings without forcing them to perform additional tasks when they already feel overworked. The fact is, IT organizations are inherently social already. IT teams just haven’t had solutions that are designed to support collaboration and the capture of knowledge in a social context.

The ITinvolve solution, for example, provides the means to go beyond email or instant messaging, and collaborate and discuss in a way that fits naturally into the work IT professionals are already doing. This is accomplished with a Facebook-like news feed that automatically alerts team members when a problem or issue involves their area of responsibility while not doing the same for things that they don’t care about – thus, filtering out extraneous noise or chatter that is common in social tools.

This is in stark contrast to simply adding on a social media component to an existing IT service desk or service management tool. The “bolted on” approach to social IT which might add a private Facebook wall can quickly degenerate into lots of noise from multiple voices that can waste valuable time and become more of a distraction than a help.

The ITinvolve solution augments existing processes and practices without being seen as just another thing that must be done, or another distraction, in the course of a day.  ITinvolve offers IT organizations a social knowledge management system that facilitates discussions about what is most relevant to the stakeholders who participate.  It helps to streamline and speed routine IT decision-making and facilitates “virtual” CAB meetings that make teams more productive and focused on issues or changes that have the biggest risk.

You can learn more by reading our new ITinvolve thought-leadership paper, “Power to the People:  How social IT helps rebalance the people, process, technology equation.” It provides more detail on how you can “feed and engage” your teams to improve your management of ever more complex and interdependent IT environments.

Don’t miss the opportunity to also participate in our industry’s first Social IT Maturity Assessment.  You’ll get an assessment of your social IT status compared with other organizations and gain a better understanding of how Social IT can help transform your workplace.

Matthew Selheimer,
Vice President Marketing

# 3 Assign and Trust – Built-in accountability when capturing knowledge

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Our blogs last week covered two key behaviors that your organization must cultivate if you are to harness the people power of social collaboration and rebalance the people, process, technology equation. Today we focus on a third behavior called “Assign and Trust.”

Assign and trust focuses on new methods of accountability for knowledge, so that individuals take on responsibilities that go beyond traditional, mechanistic IT processes and systems. The goal is to capture and share knowledge about the IT environment that individuals and their colleagues can trust when accomplishing tasks and solving problems in daily operations.

At ITinvolve we’ve built a social knowledge management solution that recognizes the need for IT team members to contribute to knowledge via crowdsourcing social inclusion.  However, we recognize that even though multiple individuals can contribute knowledge, all knowledge is not created equal. Therefore we’ve developed a solution whereby a single individual or role is assigned sole ownership of a “social object.”

Because individuals are acknowledged by the ITinvolve solutions as responsible for specific objects, and objects are transparent to other team members, the individual who creates and/or owns the object naturally wants to keep key knowledge surrounding their objects as accurate and up to date as possible. This, in turn, helps increase the trust of the knowledge about social objects, or, if it the objects are not being accurately maintained, the individual who is responsible can be held accountable.

Accountability is assigned and knowledge is shared in a social context that encourages each individual to do their part and see that their objects accurately reflect reality.  It’s a matter of personal pride and a responsibility to the entire team.

By downloading our new ITinvolve thought-leadership paper, “Power to the People:  How social IT helps rebalance the people, process, technology equation,” you can learn more about how our solution works to “Assign and Trust” knowledge for the benefit of all.

While you are visiting our website you can also discover your own level of Social IT Maturity by taking the industry’s first Social IT Maturity Assessment. Investing a few minutes time on the survey will give you an assessment of your social IT status and a better understanding of how Social IT can work for you.

Matthew Selheimer,
Vice President Marketing

# 2 Feed and Engage – Crowdsourcing keeps knowledge current

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

As we noted in the previous blog, bringing back balance to the people, process and technology equation means sharing responsibility for creating and maintaining knowledge about your IT environment by using attributes that are facilitated through Social IT.  And one of the big advantages of social technologies for the IT team comes from the ability to “feed and engage” your IT team members and stakeholders on a continuous basis.

The ITinvolve solution, for example, enables IT team members to “follow” objects (servers, network devices, applications, etc.) and automatically assigns IT users to incidents, problems, and changes so they are pulled into collaboration workflows. With this approach, individuals are continuously alerted and fed new information as social objects are updated or engaged by other team members during the course of daily operations.

The result is Social IT-based “crowdsourcing and peer review” of knowledge that taps into the human instinct to fill in the gaps of known and unknown information. When  confronting incidents, problems, and changes, the IT team makes better decisions through better coordinating team effort where individuals contribute to issues they feel connected to and care about based on their responsibilities, their expertise, or simply their individual interests.

This is in stark contrast to working in traditional siloes of responsibility.  Rather than hoarding knowledge for job security, individuals are encouraged to take ownership of objects in their sphere of influence and responsibility.  When they assume a personal ownership role, they keep their objects updated with new knowledge, and they create new objects when performing daily tasks.  Then the ITinvolve solution automatically shares their activities with others who are affected by or depend on them.  This creates a climate of collaboration that’s been missing from many IT operations.

You can learn more by reading our new ITinvolve thought-leadership paper, “Power to the People:  How social IT helps rebalance the people, process, technology equation.” It provides more detail on how you can “feed and engage” your teams to improve your management of ever more complex and interdependent IT environments.

And take a few minutes to participate in the industry’s first Social IT Maturity Assessment.  In only a few minutes you can get an assessment of your social IT status compared and gain a better understanding of how Social IT can a big difference in your workplace.

Matthew Selheimer,
Vice President Marketing

# 1 Divide and Conquer – Establishing the elusive single source of “the truth”

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

This first blog in our series on harnessing the people power of social collaboration to rebalance the people, process, technology equation is the principle of “divide and conquer.”

This principle addresses a big problem for many IT organizations:  Despite an arsenal of technical tools such as monolithic configuration management databases (CMDBs) that attempt to capture all information about the IT environment, we still struggle with getting an up to date, accurate picture of our IT environment.  And if you don’t have a CMDB, your situation is even more challenging.  IT departments all too frequently spend limited budget dollars trying to establish a “single source of truth” that is, in fact, either out of date, not trusted by many in their own organization, or both.  As a consequence, IT team members either do not use these tools and databases for their intended purposes, or they are forced to rely on inaccurate information to assess issues or problems and make decisions in day-to-day operations.

At ITinvolve we’ve developed a new way to give everyone in IT a stake in contributing to and verifying the accuracy of the key knowledge about the IT environment. Thus, the “burden” or responsibility of maintaining and updating critical knowledge doesn’t fall on any single person or centralized team, but is the collective responsibility of everyone participating.

We’ve found a way whereby machine knowledge is continually augmented by human knowledge and validated so that your IT team and stakeholders can “divide and conquer” to more efficiently and cost effectively create and maintain a single source of truth to work from. Or, to put it another way, rather than trying to eliminate the human factor, social IT actually encourages all knowledgeable individuals to share their expertise and contribute to the collective knowledge pool.  Using ITinvolve, IT teams create and follow “social objects” that leverage well-known principles from Wikipedia and Facebook-style news feeds to collaborate as a team of equals, sharing responsibility for their own areas of expertise.

A new ITinvolve thought-leadership paper, “Power to the People:  How social IT helps rebalance the people, process, technology equation,” describes how you can “divide and conquer” using Social IT to make team members more efficient and productive.  It’s the key to managing ever more complex and interdependent IT environments, as well as helping to drive innovation in your IT service delivery.

While you are visiting our website you can also get a gauge on your own Social IT Maturity by taking the industry’s first Social IT Maturity Assessment.  In about 10 minutes you will receive an assessment of your social IT status and gain a better understanding of how Social IT can work for you.

Matthew Selheimer,
Vice President Marketing

It’s time to rebalance our people, process, technology equation

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Whether talking about vendors, consultants, or IT managers, our industry has been too focused the on process and technology while neglecting the people component of the traditional equation for IT success.  We’ve now reached a point where improvements that focus on process and technology alone are becoming smaller and smaller.  At the same time, personally empowering innovations such as tablets and smartphones have introduced a new era of enterprise IT consumerization that is dramatically changing workplace habits and forms of communication and collaboration within and between team members.

A new thought-leadership paper from ITinvolve entitled, “Power to the People:  How social IT helps rebalance the people, process, technology equation,” challenges our industry to cultivate five attributes that will give  people the power to do their jobs more efficiently and productively – thereby, helping IT organizations to drive new breakthroughs in IT service delivery.

This next blog series will examine each of the five critical attributes that will help you  harness the power of social  collaboration to rebalance the people, process, technology equation in your organization.

  • Divide and Conquer – Overcome limitations of traditional mechanistic approaches to IT information discovery and share the knowledge and expertise of your IT staff across the enterprise
  • Feed and Engage – Facilitate new ways of engagement to break down traditional barriers to communication and collaboration among IT teams and stakeholders
  • Assign and Trust – Foster accountability for knowledge, so that individuals take on responsibilities that go beyond traditional IT processes and systems and their peers can trust in the knowledge captured and shared
  • Make it Second Nature – Incorporate approaches that feel natural to IT team members and help them interact intuitively
  • Reinforce and Reward – Compel executives and IT managers to recognize and reward collaborative behavior among IT staff and stakeholders

Here’s a picture of how these attributes can rebalance the three legged stool of people, process and technology and help put IT departments back on solid footing.


IT organizations can restore the balance for success by integrating these five key behaviors into the people component of the people, process, technology triad.

 

In this blog series, we’ll explore each of these attributes briefly and explain how they can elevate people back to their rightful place as an equal member of the triad with process and technology.  We’ll also discuss why this is so critical  to managing the many IT challenges and complexities of our rapidly evolving environments.

I’d also encourage you to take the industry’s first Social IT Maturity Assessment and benchmark your current social IT maturity. It takes just 10 minutes and gives you a convenient starting point, along with some practical advice, for your social IT journey.

Matthew Selheimer,
Vice President Marketing

2013 – the year when Social IT moves from early adopters to early mainstream

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

It’s no surprise that IT organizations are dissatisfied with their current IT management software solutions.  One need only look at the recent survey from Forrester Research and itSMF USA to read the cold hard facts in black and white.

Why is this the case?  While there are a number of reasons including a general lack of vendor innovation and an over emphasis on implementing ITIL processes for the sake of doing so, there are two reasons that stand out head and shoulders above the others:

  1. Many IT organizations are finding that traditional CMDB approaches are inadequate in establishing a sustainable single source of truth. It is our belief that, in 2013, the industry will finally accept that the promise behind the CMDB is still sound, but that a) the traditional approaches to deploying it are simply too hard for a majority of IT organizations to deploy and maintain, b) their data not sufficiently trusted by either IT operations and other IT teams, and c) fall short of capturing the required knowledge to be the single source of truth as claimed. As a result, we expect more and more that IT organizations will look beyond the traditional CMDB model to understand how social IT collaboration can more fully capture, federate, and promote knowledge of the IT environment either in combination with a CMDB or without it.
  2. The People aspect of the People, Process, Technology triad has been paid lip service over the last 5+ years and needs to reclaim its place as an equal member. IT organizations continue to focus on automation of processes and tasks, but are beginning to recognize the diminishing returns of this strategy as the primary way to increase service stability and efficiency. Instead, we expect the industry will reverse long-held views that Process and Technology are “king” and re-embrace the importance of People and the human element. This will breathe new energy and life into overworked IT teams as they feel more valued and appreciated when their organizations adopt solutions that are built to facilitate and capture human-to-human communications not only machine-to-machine communications.

It is because of these key reasons that we believe social IT will evolve from early adopters to the early mainstream in 2013. As more organizations realize that they can evolve from ad hoc, 1:1 collaboration and fire-fighting meetings to the use of solutions that not only support social IT collaboration but are built with these principles from their foundation, they will achieve new breakthroughs in IT service support and delivery, share this with their peers in the industry, and social IT will catch fire.  The old days of scattered knowledge in systems and IT employees’ heads will give way quickly to new approaches that capture and promote knowledge using familiar social media principles and facilitate in-process collaboration that enhances traditional IT processes. You will be hard pressed to find an RFP for an IT service management solution that doesn’t include social IT a year from now.

…and that will make 2013 a very exciting year ahead indeed!

Be sure to follow @itinvolve on twitter and fan us on Facebook to stay on top of the innovations that ITinvolve is delivering with social IT collaboration.

Matthew Selheimer
Vice President, Marketing