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Archive for the ‘Social IT’ Category

Get the right info to the right people to make more accurate and faster decisions

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Every day, IT teams are under pressure to make quick yet accurate decisions. However, because IT organizations don’t typically have their collective knowledge easily accessible and usable in one place, these decisions are often made based on incomplete and often out of date information.

If not having the right information available at the right time for the right people to make good decisions is a challenge you struggle with, you are not alone.

In earlier posts in this blog series, I’ve talked about how you can use ITinvolve’s unique crowd sourcing and data federation capabilities to capture both systems-based and tribal knowledge to create a trusted, big picture view of your knowledge across each of your technology elements, policies, applications, and more.

Next you need to be able to visualize how all the elements of your environment, your policies, and your applications come together to deliver services to your business. ITinvolve provides this capability through what we call Perspectives.

Think of a perspective as a point of view on the objects and relationships necessary to deliver a service offering. Recalling our earlier analogy of the house with the ‘Million Dollar’ view, perhaps you and your spouse as well as your children all consider the view as a key attribute when shopping for a home. But maybe you are a car aficionado and want to have a three-car garage so your perspective is that this is an important aspect of the home buying decision. Perhaps your spouse likes to garden and so having a large enough green space is important to their perspective. And maybe your children want to be close to a playground or on a cul-de-sac where they can play freely without traffic so that’s part of their perspective on what house is important to them.

In IT, we have the same situation. Let’s take the example of a business application that supports Marketing. The application administrator’s perspective will include things like the application itself, the application server, and the underlying database. Because the application contains prospect and customer data, a Security administrator would care about the company’s customer privacy policy and how that governs the application as well as other applications. And a DBA’s perspective might include the Marketing application’s database, the underlying server, as well as other databases running on the same server that support other applications.

Each of these is a valuable perspective when making a decision, such as an infrastructure change that will impact the Marketing application. And each of these stakeholders should be brought together to collaborate and provide their risk assessment of the change. This is exactly what ITinvolve does and how we leverage your organization’s collective knowledge to provide impact analysis and proactively engage stakeholders so you can get the right info to the right people to make more accurate and faster decisions.

Check out this 3-minute video to see how it works. If you’re interested to learn more about how you can get the right info to the right people at the right time, sign up for a free trial.

Matt Selheimer
VP, Marketing

How Do You Capture Tribal Knowledge?

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

In the previous installment in this blog series, I wrote about how peer review and social collaboration can help you increase trust in your IT information. And in the blog prior to that, I wrote about how ITinvolve can help you create a “million dollar” view of all your systems-based IT knowledge.

In our experience, this will get you about 70% of the way there in documenting your key IT knowledge. However, there is still another 30% of your collective IT knowledge out there. In fact, it probably walks out the door every day (and hopefully comes back the next day.) Of course I am talking about the knowledge and experience that only your IT staff possesses and that’s trapped in their heads and not documented anywhere.

This “tribal” knowledge is often difficult or simply impossible to discover using automated discovery tools and your staff is often so busy that they just don’t have the time to document it. Worse yet, even if they did have the time, you probably don’t have systems that could easily accommodate it and the ability to make it available for use by other staff members. Whether we are talking about start up and shut down parameters for a specific server, performance-tuning settings that diverge from standard build specs, relationships between infrastructure components that aren’t discoverable, etc. this tribal knowledge is often the most critical to ensuring stable operations and mitigating risks when making changes.

Consider the example of the performance tuning settings mentioned above. Let’s say an engineer was working on an emergency change to address performance issues for an application running on a particular server. He or she may have modified several or even dozens of settings such as disabling logging or increase the threads for a process to improve the performance. Now let’s say one or more of these changes is a divergence from the standard build. More than likely your engineer made these changes hastily because of the performance issues, and so it may not have been handled through your change management process but rather treated simply as incident resolution.

Now, let’s say this engineer leaves, gets a job in a new team, or simply forgets them. No one will know about these key setting changes and why they were done. They won’t be taken into consideration when planning changes for that server, and they might even get overwritten by a new engineer because an audit identifies they are out of compliance with the standard and put you right back in the performance dog house again!

ITinvolve makes it easy for your IT teams to quickly and easily capture this hidden tribal knowledge, helping you create a truly comprehensive view of your collective systems-based and human knowledge. What’s more, by following objects other users can be notified when new information and knowledge is added, and can collaborate with one another if there are questions or if they have something new to contribute such as a key setting that they may have added and not documented. Watch this short video to see and learn more about how it’s done.

In our next blog entry in this series, I will share how you can create a personalized view of the objects in ITinvolve that are more relevant to your role, a patent-pending concept we call Perspectives.

Matt Selheimer
VP, Marketing

Ten Things July 4th and Knowledge Collaboration Have in Common

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

In the spirit of this holiday week in the US, we got to thinking about all the parallels between July 4th and Knowledge Collaboration. Hopefully this list will provide a few chuckles and maybe a few a-ha insights on the meaning and value of Knowledge Collaboration too.

  1. Power to the People (it all starts here for July 4th and Knowledge Collaboration)
  2. Community Spirit (socially engaging with friends around the barbeque pit and colleagues in the activity stream)
  3. Inspiring New Approaches (think about the courage it took to undertake the “grand experiment” of founding the US and what we can/should do today by trusting in the value of collaborating with our peers)
  4. Celebrating Freedom (from tyranny and from stifling processes)
  5. Watching the Fireworks (hearing the “oohs and aahs” as colors streak across the sky and all your IT knowledge is presented visually in front of your eyes)
  6. Appreciating the Wisdom of Others (whether it’s the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence or the tribal IT wisdom of your colleagues)
  7. Time to Reflect (a day off from work to reflect, and less time spent at work fire-fighting so you have more time to get proactive)
  8. Concerts (a great performance harmonizes everything from a barber shop quartet to a string orchestra just like Knowledge Collaboration can do for change, incident, problem, and other IT management processes)
  9. Parades (an endless stream of floats, bands, and people carrying flags to celebrate the day, and an “all-hands parade” of teams and individuals being  celebrated for solving issues and executing complex projects through collaboration)
  10. They’re both hot right now! (need we say more?)

 

Happy 4th of July,

 

Matt Selheimer
VP of Marketing

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

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.

The industry’s first Social IT Index is coming soon!

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

A few months ago, ITinvolve launched a free 10 minute online assessment of Social IT maturity.  We’ve had a very strong response to this anonymous assessment and will soon be announcing a series of findings based on the responses from well over 250 IT professionals’ experiences with researching and adopting Social IT capabilities.

As a quick refresher, the Social IT Maturity Model defines four levels of maturity.

  • Level 1 – Social Exploration (where IT begins to ask questions about how Social IT can improve service support and delivery, including developing a formal plan with quantified benefits)
  • Level 2 – Social Add-ons (where Social IT capabilities are added onto existing IT management processes and practices)
  • Level 3 – Social Embedding (where traditional IT management processes and practices are re-tuned to incorporate social knowledge and collaboration practices)
  • Level 4 – Social Driven (where the IT organization now has a self-sustaining social community contributing new knowledge through crowd-sourcing and peer review, has put in place rewards and recognition for Social IT activities, and is using Social IT to drive continual service improvement)

If you haven’t had a chance to read the whitepaper, How to Benchmark Your Social IT Maturity?, be sure to read it now as it explains each of these Levels in more detail and their benefits.

We’re still crunching the numbers, but the index results will likely surprise many of you.  Here’s a teaser… More respondents have implemented at least one Level 2 Social IT Add-on than have developed a formal plan for Social IT with defined benefits according to what’s recommended at Level  1.  As with most innovations, a lot of us might want to “leap before we look” but that can be a recipe for serious questions about return on effort from leadership.  We’ll take this point head on in our analysis of the survey responses along with sharing many other exciting observations about the state of Social IT research and adoption in our industry.  Stay tuned for more.

Matt Selheimer
VP, Marketing

What can knowledge collaboration do for you?

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

As we engage with more and more IT organizations, we continue to see interesting and creative ways to apply knowledge collaboration to address many of IT’s most vexing issues.

This includes the perennial challenge of faster incident resolution, better change planning (both in terms of accuracy and speed), as well as identifying fixes to recurring problems to avoid future incidents.  In this use case document, you can read about how we help in each of these areas, including how ITinvolve can complement your existing investments (no replacements required!)

But beyond these areas, we are seeing that knowledge collaboration can help with security and compliance as well as disaster recovery and business continuity, application release management, configuration drift management and remediation, self-service knowledge, project knowledge support, client knowledge support, enterprise architecture, data center infrastructure management, and more.

In summary, wherever teams come together to share knowledge and wherever the preservation of organizational learned knowledge will help aid decision-making, there is a use case for knowledge collaboration and ITinvolve.

Check out this four-minute video, and tell us what you think.  What can knowledge collaboration do for your organization?

Matt Selheimer
VP, Marketing

Big Data Leader Chooses ITinvolve

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

While one hears an awful lot of noise around the term “big data” these days, there is a company called PROS (NYSE: PRO), that has rapidly become a world leader in business-to-business pricing and revenue management software.  PROS is a software company that knows how to harness the power of big data and its unique product is giving major companies around the world an edge in pricing and sales effectiveness.

PROS understands that information is power in the hands of the right people at the right time.  That’s one of the reasons it chose ITinvolve’s innovative collaborative IT management solution to help manage its SaaS-based cloud services. PROS has deployed both ITinvolve for Social Knowledge Management™ and ITinvolve for Service Management™ to improve service delivery and help understand the impact of changes in its cloud environment.

Here’s what John Salch, PROS Vice President for Technology and Platforms, liked about our approach to social knowledge management.  “ITinvolve offers a unique online tool that gives our teams access to a single source of federated knowledge to understand critical relationships and dependencies between physical and virtual devices, applications, policies, business services and people for our SaaS-based cloud solutions.”

ITinvolve solutions are used to launch PROS SaaS services from back room development to frontline customer interactions. Salch continues by saying ITinvolve helps “cloud operations, customer and infrastructure support, and development groups improve decision-making processes, reduce risk, and increase our overall management effectiveness and performance.”

So far, the ITinvolve solution is working well according to Christine Lambden, Senior Governance Analyst, thanks in no small part to capabilities of the product and the support that ITinvolve provides.  Here’s what Christine had to say about PROS’ experience. “Over the last year,” she explained, “we’ve seen the ITinvolve product evolve based on our feedback as customers and ITinvolve’s responsiveness is amazing. We can run our request, incident and change management using this tool and we weren’t forced to change our processes at all. The application has adapted to us, mostly through custom templates, but sometimes through conversation with our implementation consultant. The product is good and the people are very, very good.”

As an innovative provider of IT service management and social knowledge capabilities, it’s important to us at ITinvolve that our customers get the most value they can—as quickly as they can—from our product.  So it is great to hear that PROS is achieving its goals of delivering more effective IT management across all major functions.  That’s what we expect for 100% of our customers, and that’s what we’re delivering today.

You can see for yourself how ITinvolve solutions such as ITinvolve for Social Knowledge Management and ITinvolve for Service Management can save your IT team time and money while minimizing errors and boosting productivity. Go to our ITinvolve website resources section and download some of our use case scenarios and learn more.  Or, check out one of our recent archived webinars to hear straight from another one of our customers, like Jalasoft, how ITinvolve works in a highly complex environment.

Matthew Selheimer,
Vice President Marketing

ITinvolve Just Named a “Cool Vendor” by Gartner

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

We at ITinvolve got some great news this week — after launching our solution a little over a year ago, we have been named a “Cool Vendor” by Gartner in IT Operations Management.

Obviously it’s great to be recognized by one of the leading technology analyst firms in the world, but it’s especially gratifying to be in the cool vendor category as an innovative, impactful and intriguing solution in the realm of IT management—an area that’s been sorely lacking in innovation for some time.

ITinvolve is the first and only IT management offering designed from the ground up to deliver a solution that captures and visualizes both human and machine knowledge and then enables your IT to collaborate in the context of specific issues or problems.

The result of using ITinvolve’s innovation solution is better decision-making across IT and reduced risk for the entire organization.  Visit our ITinvolve website to download the Cool Vendor Report and see why other analysts are rapidly recognizing our unique approach to collaborative knowledge for IT.   And, be sure to watch one of our recent archived webinars to hear straight from one of our customers, Jalasoft, how ITinvolve works in a highly complex environment.  When you’re ready, find out how you can take a no-risk free trial of ITinvolve for your own environment at http://www.itinvolve.com/try-it-now .

Matthew Selheimer,
Vice President Marketing