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ITinvolve Blog

Archive for June, 2013

ITinvolve’s Summer ’13 Release is Here!

Monday, June 24th, 2013

One of the best things about working for a company focused on innovation and challenging the status quo is getting to promote the innovation you are delivering. Today marks ITinvolve’s fifth major release in the last eighteen months (February 2012, May 2012, September 2012, February 2013, and now June 2013). We’ve introduced more ground-breaking new capabilities over that stretch than any other IT management software vendor that we’re aware of. That’s why Pink Elephant recognized us as a finalist for their 2012 Innovation of the Year Award and Gartner recently named us one of only 5 ‘Cool Vendors’ in IT Operations Management for 2013.

With the release of Summer ’13, we’ve delivered yet another ground-breaking set of capabilities for IT professionals to help them get work done smarter and faster. There are over 100 new capabilities and enhancements in the new release, here are just the highlights…

ITinvolve Knowledge Collaborator:

  • Easy, fast access to collective IT knowledge through tagging and advanced relationship-based search (both truly unique capabilities!)
  • Enriched management of object relationships to simplify IT complexity
  • Content ratings to designate knowledge most highly and least value (including the unique ability to rate policies)
  • At a glance ability to view knowledge published for end users versus only available to IT staff
  • Ability to push key settings to any object for centralized control and visibility
  • Automatic notifications and actions based on object changes
  • Activity Stream topics to align effort and drive cross-collaboration
  • Enhanced communication methods, including speech-to-text support for mobile and other device types, broadcast notifications and the ability to easily add followers
  • Expanded configurability and extensibility – all without coding and preserved upon migrating to the next release

ITinvolve Service Manager includes all of the above capabilities and enhancements plus:

  • A modern self-service portal and service catalog with:
    • A consumer-oriented look and feel and “shopping cart” request experience
    • Broadcast news support
    • Role-based publishing of service offerings and content
    • Embedded collaboration in the context of service offerings and help categories
  • Unparalleled Incident Management efficiency:
    • Automatically show incidents with the same symptom through tagging
    • Simple promotion of worknotes to knowledge
    • Execution of predefined responses upon incident closure
    • UI optimization for technician’s using mobile devices

Take a vacation from the ordinary this summer and explore how you can change the status quo in your IT organization with ITinvolve’s Summer ’13 release. Sign up for a free trial here: http://www.itinvolve.com/try-it-now/

Matt Selheimer
VP of Marketing

What is the State of Social IT Research and Adoption?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Today, ITinvolve announced The Social IT Index, the first of its kind survey into the state of research and adoption of Social IT capabilities by IT organizations. The Index is based on the survey responses from nearly 400 US IT professionals, managers, and executives, and was conducted during the second half of May 2013.

The survey results clearly show that the state of Social IT research and adoption is quite active.

  • About a third (31%) of survey respondents indicated they have documented questions and answers about what Social IT can mean for their organizations, with 40% of respondents from organizations over 1,000 employees and 48% of those in job roles of manager or higher saying the same.
  • 37% of respondents said they have researched vendor Social IT capabilities and 44% said they have invested internal resources in prototyping Social IT capabilities. Again the numbers are higher for large companies (49% and 59%, respectively) and those in manager or executive roles (51% and 55%, respectively).
  • Slightly more than a third of survey respondents (35%) indicated they have implemented at least one Social IT capability, most commonly a Facebook-style wall for their IT organization.

Respondents also provided their feedback on the value of various Social IT capabilities naming their Top 5 to be:

  1. The ability to facilitate collaboration among individuals in the context of a specific IT activity like triaging an incident, planning a change, or determining the root-cause of a recurring problem.
  2. The ability to actively promote and push IT knowledge to specific individuals based on their role.
  3. A social object model for IT process activities like incidents, changes, problems, etc.
  4. A Facebook-style wall for their IT organization
  5. The ability to enhance traditional IT processes with social capabilities (such as weighing in on a change among key stakeholders prior to a formal change approval)

Despite all of the research and adoption underway, only 19% of those surveyed said they had a formal plan for Social IT drafted or approved (managers and executives again reported higher results with 31% saying they have a plan drafted or approved). Of those respondents with a formal plan, just half (51%) said they have quantified the expected benefits.

Other top level findings reveal that 58% of respondents have Social IT communication policies in place in their organizations (67% for large company respondents) and 25% say they have rewards and recognition in place for Social IT or are considering doing so.

So what does this mean for you?

If you haven’t yet started on a Social IT initiative, I’d encourage you to read the full Social IT Index report, which is available free of charge and without requiring any registration. Have a look at what your peers are reporting about their Social IT activity and start to document questions and answers about what Social IT can mean for your organization. How could greater collaboration and stakeholder engagement help you to speed the time to plan and approve changes, for example? How could more real-time knowledge capture and sharing speed the mean-time-to-restore service? How could improving collaboration between development and operations teams ensuring smoother application releases?  These are just a few of the possible questions you might ask.

Once you’ve documented your questions and answers, I’d encourage you to develop a formal plan with expected quantified benefits. This will help ensure your project is  judged objectively and also will help you secure funding if needed. Then have a look at what your current IT management software vendors and other vendors offer that might assist you in addition to what you could consider developing on your own.

For those of you who are already well down the path with Social IT, and from the survey results there are quite a lot of you, be sure you’ve got a plan with quantified expected results in place, and if you don’t, start building one. Otherwise, you’ll be putting the measurement of the success or failure of your efforts in a risky, subjective position. And if you don’t have a communication policy in place around Social IT yet, I’d encourage you to do so. Having such a policy will give your IT team the guidance they need to be free to use Social IT capabilities for communicating within IT and between IT and your end users. Finally, take a serious look at how rewards and recognition efforts can help you achieve your goals. Even something as basic as recognizing employees during an all-hands meeting (e.g. for using Social IT capabilities to resolve issues or better collaborate to plan a change that resulted in no adverse business impact) can go a long way toward ensuring employees know Social IT is something their management supports and encourages.

To summarize, this inaugural Social IT Index reveals what might be characterized as a real “growing up” of Social IT maturity. What may have begun on a whim to explore how social principles in our personal lives might apply to our IT work lives now seems to be trending toward a fundamental rethinking of how IT gets work done. And that bodes very well for IT organizations, which have been characterized for a long time as operating with a silo mentality and putting too much focus on rigid processes that can stifle knowledge worker creativity and innovation.

Matthew Selheimer
VP, Marketing

A Million Dollar View That Everyone Can Afford

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Have you ever gone on vacation, experienced an amazing view (perhaps of the ocean or the mountains) and wondered to yourself what it would be like to own property with such a view? If you are like most people, you definitely have. But, unfortunately, once we see the price tag for such a view, we snap out of our dream and realize that it’s just simply out of our reach (at least for most of us!)

What if you could have that “million dollar” view in your IT life, but stay within your existing budget? That would be pretty great, wouldn’t it? Well, the good news is that you can. Here’s how.

If you are like most IT shops, you have lots of data and information scattered all over the place. You likely have SharePoint sites, spreadsheets, discovery tools, CMDBs, Visio diagrams, performance monitoring tools, change management tools, and more. In a lot of cases there is good data and information in those sources, but it’s hard to use. In fact, it’s likely difficult to make any decisions with those sources because you have to cobble different pieces of information together in real-time and then rationalize differences like naming conventions, etc. This is precisely what you don’t have time to do when you are trying to make a quick – but also accurate – decision or a complex action like making a change to a key application’s infrastructure.

But you’ve also likely spent a lot of time, money, and effort trying to make your existing knowledge tools, CMDBs, and asset repositories work so you don’t want to throw them away for yet another tool. Here’s the best part. You don’t have to.

With ITinvolve Knowledge Collaborator you can easily leverage all of the data and information you have in your existing systems. We help you bring that data and information together (either physically by importing it or logically by pointing to it) so you can have a truly “million dollar” view of all your existing data and information in one place.  And we organize your data and information in the context of what you are managing so it’s easy to find and use, whether it’s an application, a server, a database, a policy, a network device, or any other aspect of your IT environment. Watch this short video that goes into more detail on our innovative approach and how it works.

Our cloud-based service is built on the force.com platform so you know it’s secure, scalable, and high-performing. Force.com also makes it easy for you to import your existing data and information through bulk data loading as well as more real-time data exchange through web services and REST APIs. We can even hyperlink to your existing data sources.  Wherever your data lives, we make it easy for you to bring it all together and create that “million dollar” view in ITinvolve. But our cloud service is also affordable and quick to implement as well.  We can start with 1 or 2 of your key applications and bring together all of your existing data and information about them in a matter of a couple of days. Really. It’s that quick.

And when you have a comprehensive view of all your data and information in one place, your IT teams will be amazed at what you can do with it. In fact, it’s quite common for ITinvolve customers to say they have learned more about their environment in a couple of weeks than they have known in their entire time working for their current organization. And wouldn’t that be priceless?

In the next blog entry, I’ll explain how ITinvolve Knowledge Collaborator helps you clean up the data and information from your existing sources so you can trust it when making decisions or taking actions.

 

Matt Selheimer

VP, Marketing

 

Reinventing the IT War Room

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

You’re about to do a major upgrade and you bring all the key players together into a “war room” — a single location where they can collaborate for a week or more as they seek to resolve any issues and ensure a successful rollout. This approach can be effective for collaborating and problem solving, but it’s also costly, time intensive, and pulls people away from their day jobs.

What if you could apply a war room approach to all projects and remove about 75 percent of the time, cost, and distraction elements from the equation? Think about the positive impact you could have on your IT organization and your business, as well as on the quality and the perception of IT service delivery from your users. Fortunately, you can make this a reality with an agile war room approach.

The agile war room extends the benefits of traditional war rooms beyond a single point in time. It brings together your best talent and your collective knowledge virtually in order to become hyper-responsive to the needs of the business around a key project or initiative on an ongoing basis – without many of the time, effort, and cost challenges of a traditional in-person war room approach.

Let’s look at some key war room functions:

  • Quickly routing incoming issues to the war room
  • Assigning a lead for each issue and a “collaboration team” to develop potential resolutions
  • Grouping issues into “major incidents” when they impact many users
  • Documenting what’s learned in the war room for reuse in the future and for feedback to the rest of the project team
  • Keeping impacted end users updated (and all other users updated when warranted)

ITinvolve enables IT organizations to virtually and seamlessly execute each of these activities and more, without the burden of having to take people away from their day jobs. Delivered as a SaaS-based cloud service on Force.com, it empowers you and your team to fully understand your IT environment and more easily collaborate to capture, share, and leverage collective knowledge through the use of social knowledge objects (e.g. servers, network devices, policies, people, applications, and business services).

We ensure all relevant knowledge is accessible from one place in the context of the project being managed by your war room and help you use social collaboration to crowd source and peer review knowledge, in addition to importing or federating information from your existing systems.

ITinvolve also automatically assesses knowledge, relationships and dependencies in the IT environment to determine who and what are impacted by changes, incidents, alerts, and problems, as well as a wide range of scenarios including application release planning, policy compliance, and business continuity planning. Our approach involves only the relevant stakeholders in collaboration, provides the right context for the collaboration, and captures the appropriate information so that it can be shared with others and reused in the future.

Costs: The traditional IT war room versus the agile IT war room

The agile war room provides dramatic savings over the cost of a traditional IT war room in terms of lT labor costs, travel expenses, and business productivity. We’ve analyzed the cost of a traditional war room that involved 20 people onsite for 40 hours each and compared it to the costs of an agile war room. Our analysis found that the efficiencies of the agile war room made it considerably more cost effective in terms of labor and productivity. In fact, an agile war room can provide similar and even greater benefits than a traditional IT war room at about 25% of the labor and productivity costs, depending on the initiative. Here’s why:

  • Your staff can do the work virtually and effectively.  ITinvolve provides exceptional collaboration capabilities so your people are only needed for fewer hours.
  • You eliminate travel costs for staff members located outside of your headquarters.
  • The collaborative nature of the solution increases business productivity. Fewer issues occur at Level One because issues are resolved with permanent fixes faster so that incidents don’t repeat themselves. More issues can also be resolved at Level One and do not require escalation to Level Two given the knowledge now available Level One personnel.

Work on issues more quickly and effectively

In a traditional war room, when there is an issue the team may spend 30 minutes or more discussing what has changed in the environment before actually starting to work on it.  However, your virtual war room can respond more rapidly because the team doesn’t need to get caught up on the current state of the environment. The proactive nature in which you follow objects within the ITinvolve solution keeps everyone informed on what is changing. The process is similar to the way you might follow someone on Twitter or Facebook so that you receive a feed of what’s changing as new knowledge is added.

Additionally, ITinvolve helps get the issue routed to the right individual or team quickly without needing to have everyone in the room physically. The solution identifies where to route the issue and places it into a virtual channel and then notifies members of that channel so they can pick up the issue and start collaborating with other channel members and experts – right away!

The agile war room members can document new knowledge quickly, making it easily accessible to the right people, which reduces the time to resolve issues and restore services. This enables the team to correlate new knowledge being added in real-time to quickly crowd source potential solutions to new incidents that may be coming in.

ITinvolve’s innovative IT collaboration solutions can help you establish agile war rooms quickly and cost effectively — even without replacing your existing service desk solution. For more information read the following white paper: Reinventing the IT War Room: A use case paper for social IT collaboration.