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The Future of IT Operations – Five principles to empower IT professionals

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

This is a six part series from our CEO – Logan Wray

Embracing the human element

There is a fundamental disconnect in IT operations these days between the service management tools provided and the needs of IT professionals who use these tools. That’s because most IT operations and service management tools have been busy trying to eliminate the human element by focusing on automating processes and refining existing technology. Perhaps this approach is a result of attempting to eliminate human errors. Or perhaps it is an attempt to save money. But, although automation is critical, we believe that the knowledge and human element is equally critical to IT operations

The vast majority of existing tools have hit a wall when it comes to handling the diversity and complexity of today’s social enterprise with its mix of new technologies and newly empowered users. The market needs new and innovative solutions.

One result of current approaches is IT professionals often waste lots of time searching for information they need, not trusting much of the information they find, and spending considerable effort trying to locate, communicate with, and extract key information from colleagues or other stakeholders to do their job.

This situation has unfortunately become “normal” operating procedure in many IT departments. And, it is to a large extent a reflection of the vested interests by major and minor service management vendors on promoting the legacy architectures they have built in the past. There has been a striking lack of appreciation for how IT teams actually have to deal with the challenges they face every working day, including responding to incidents, resolving problems, and anticipating or reacting to the impact of changes in an environment where they must meet increasing business demands and assume more risk.

That’s not to say that their existing tools don’t work to document what occurs. Rather, the problem stems from the expectation of users that their legacy tools should be able to provide more value in today’s world. Tools originally designed to be a “system of record” cannot effectively take advantage of modern communication paradigms, nor are they designed to provide analysis to users to gain better insights or anticipate problems. The vast majority of existing tools have hit a wall when it comes to handling the diversity and complexity of today’s social enterprise with its mix of new technologies and newly empowered users. The market needs new and innovative solutions.

While some recent attempts have been made to “tack on” social media functionality into existing service desk tools along with admonitions to “collaborate” more, these are relative band aids when it comes to fixing the real problem. Until now, no one has really understood or developed a flexible yet scalable solution that can holistically combine the necessary people, process and technology elements into a new way of understanding and managing their current, highly complex IT environments. Until ITinvolve.

At ITinvolve, we turned the current obsession with process and technology in IT ops on its head, and put the human or people component front and center in the proverbial people-process-technology equation. In doing so, we’ve developed a solution that is designed to capture both the human and machine knowledge necessary to understand our complex, hybrid, and distributed environments. A tool that actually helps the humans involved to improve decision making by providing intelligent analysis and combining it with collaboration processes in the context of a specific issue or problem. Just as important, we’ve made sure this new tool integrates with existing infrastructure investments so there’s no need to rip and replace.

In creating this unique cloud service offering called ITinvolve for Service ManagementTM, we developed our solution according to several key principles that we believe will drive—are driving— the future of all IT operations.

Stay tuned for Principle 1: Capture all kinds of knowledge for better understanding

Fix the Customer

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Way back when I was first getting started in IT,  I worked at a small computer repair shop in Hackensack, NJ.  I say small meaning their revenues were just a hair north of a million dollars or so.  We did all kinds of things from deploying new Novell servers to printer and computer break/fix stuff to wiring offices to house calls for regular folks who had a broken computer.  I think that Windows 3.11 was being released around then so there was also a lot of training that we were doing on that.

The owner of the company was a great guy.  Very personable and smart as a whip.  Having more of a systems and networking background,  there were a lot of things that I had to learn. He taught me how to fix printers, huge Okidata line printers and HP Laserjets.  Not replace them mind you, fix them – figure out what component was broken and fix it. He also taught me a ton about customer service.  The biggest lesson in the customer service space was this – “Fix the customer”.  Basically, it boiled down to the fact that the problem was not resolved until the customer A.) knew it was resolved and B.) knew how it was resolved.  Depending on the customer, they may not be able to fully understand how it was resolved but they should be made aware of the steps that were gone through.  Leave them smarter than you found them.

I’ve tried to carry this little lesson with me and apply it wherever and whenever I could, be it a sales call,  a support call or (my favorite) just BSing during a break at a conference or at lunch. Knowledge is something that has to be shared in order to be valuable.  If you keep it all inside then what good is it doing?