"IT needs to stop waiting for the sky to fall in" – Ian Aitchison (Video)


This interview was filmed at the Pink Elephant Conference and features Ian Aitchison, ITSM Product Director at LANDESK discussing the current challenges faced in IT service management, along with the need for IT to stop always focusing on the negatives.

In Summary

In addition, Ian also talks about:

  • Shadow IT
  • IT needing to better engage with the business
  • The ITSM community
  • How LANDESK interacts with its customers

Please note that owing to this interview being filmed live at the Pink Elephant event, there may be some minor volume issues and background noises throughout this video.


About LANDESK

LANDESK Software is an industry-leading provider of solutions that span five key IT management disciplines: systems lifecycle management, endpoint security, IT service management, asset management, and mobility management—all unified in a consistent, user-oriented experience. Visit www.landesk.com for for more information.

About Pink Elephant

A global company with a proud and pioneering 30 year history – the world’s #1 supplier of IT Service Management and ITIL® education, conferences and consulting.Visit www.pinkelephant.com for more information about the company, services and products. This video was filmed at the 2014 Pink Elephant Conference. The 19th Annual Pink Elephant International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition will take place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, February 15-18 2015. Registration is now open.

Podcast Episode 1: Pink14 and the best moustache in the world

ManageEngine
Thanks to our friends at ManageEngine for sponsoring this podcast.

We are pleased to lift the lid on our very first podcast!

Recorded at Pink14 in Las Vegas with Barclay Rae and Rebecca Beach with guest Ian Aitchison from LANDESK.

The team discuss Shadow IT, Axelos Announcements, Pink Conference agenda and other industry news (not forgetting the best moustache in the world!)

Listen on SoundCloud here (Itunes feed to follow soon).

Who and what would you like to hear on future podcasts? Please get in touch and let us know – Drop us a line, leave a comment on this blog post or post ideas on our community forum. Thanks.

Links

Live from PINK14 – Day 1 in review

mediaAs day one of PINK14 comes to a close I am feeling somewhat frazzled. In Vegas nothing is modest and reserved and PINK14 is no different.

Held in the beautiful and ostentatious Bellagio hotel the sheer number of sessions is frankly mind boggling and trying to decide which to attend leaves you wishing cloning yourself were an option. Luckily the majority are repeated to make missing anything you really want to see unlikely.

Keynote presentations

Opened with a far too energetic lycra clad Wonder Woman dancing her way to the stage the Super Hero theme has continued throughout the day with the message that we can all be IT Super Heroes.

Both keynote speakers, retired Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield and social entrepreneur Caroline Casey gave rousing and emotional talks with audiences reaching for the Kleenex on several occasions.

 

Both told truly inspirational stories on what can be done when you dare to dream and follow those dreams through. Both presentations were also laced with great advice applicable to any IT service management organization.

Pink Think Tank

One of the many selling points for attendees of the annual Pink Elephant conferences (so I am told) is the quality of after-hours conversations. Often taking place over a meal or a beer, but often limited in their exposure outside of those party to them (and potentially the inability to remember what was said the following day).

So this year an attempt was made to formalise and capture the essence of such conversations – the Pink Think Tank. Where a pre-selected group of the ITSM industry’s deep thinkers spent a day discussing the main issues faced by corporate IT organisations before focusing on just one – from problem definition through to potential solutions. This was then fed back to the conference via a panel session today, with a Q&A session to follow on Wednesday.

The issue the think tank chose was: the complexity of multi-supplier value streams. Where the traditional IT function is faced with two discrete pressures:

  • A need to change to accommodate the needs of more agile businesses; and
  • Supplier-driven commoditisation.
The group’s solution statement pointed to a number of discrete areas/activities that need to be addressed (see the link below), headlined by the statement that IT really needs to start understanding the business. And the concept of IT needing to deal with commoditisation, innovation, and complexity simultaneously.

There was also a practical set of activities for attendees to address on their return to the workplace. Hopefully making the efforts of the Think Tank more relevant and accessible to attendees. With a commitment to create supporting documents to supplement the initial outputs.

If you are at Pink14, then look out for the Q&A session on Wednesday. If not, Rob England has shared the group’s first outputs on Slideshare. It also details those involved. In addition Rob himself will be providing a written article for us post-PINK detailing the entire Pink Think Tank process. In the meantime let us know what you think.

Everything else

There was also the announcement today that Attivio who won the PINK 2013 IT Excellence Award for Innovation Of The Year. So huge congratulations to those guys!

And we can’t forget all the numerous AXELOS announcements that took place today.

I can’t finish without mentioning the networking opportunities that been fantastic so far with a special pink cocktail created specially for the occasion, and in the exhibition hall there was a great mix of old hands and first time vendors and a certain penguin that seems to be everywhere these days.

It’s hard to really go into detail about the specific presentations live from the floor, but stay tuned for more in depth reviews of the sessions and Barclay Rae’s podcast.

 

You don't need to be a Genius or a Guru to offer a Personal Service Desk

genius
A Genius Bar for the Service Desk, could it work?

You’ll surely be familiar with the ancient Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times”. Well, those working in IT these days are so beset with “interesting” challenges that they might be justified in feeling that they accidentally offended some Chinese ancestors in a previous life.

One thing about working in IT – it’s not boring and it keeps changing. Unfortunately it’s easy to develop a defensive mentality when faced with some of the challenges I describe below.

In this article I will describe one way that you could possibly rise to the challenge and innovate in a simple way to overcoming many of these interesting challenges – and hopefully have some fun too.

You may well be familiar with the Genius Bar in Apple Stores, and you may even have heard talk recently of IT Departments that are implementing the same concept. I’d like to describe some steps that you could take to offer your own version – a Personal Service Desk

First, let’s look at some of the more interesting challenges in corporate IT these days:

What Makes a Career in IT so Interesting Right Now?

  1. Windows XP goes end of life in April 2014. Many companies out there are still running XP for business usage and are trapped through legacy applications and beaurocracy, in a position where they cannot change to Windows 7 for the foreseeable future, certainly beyond 2014.
  2. Yet the employees, some still using XP, come to work carrying their shiny mobile devices, with their own-purchased cloud services, and an expectation of a level of service learned from the ‘consumer experience’. And many IT organisations struggle to match that expectation with technology, or service.
  3. And technology is driving forward at a startling rate. It may be becoming simpler, but there is so much more of it, everywhere, pervasive and dramatically changing.
  4. Oh, and most organisations see IT as a cost centre, constantly driving to reduce headcount, to do ‘more with less’.

I think a quote from a panel debate at the SDI conference earlier this year sums it up, Rob England summarised the situation that most IT departments are in when faced with demands from an employee/customer base for a consumer experience, yet are tied and hindered by a massive volume of IT project and firefighting work with tight resources and limited staff.

To quote Rob: “No you can’t have a bloody genius bar!”. Basically IT is too busy to rise to the challenge. Or is it?

it crowd
Don’t be the faceless IT Crowd

Yet there’s something there isn’t there?

The ‘genius bar’, or the ‘guru bar’. I’d like to suggest – with respect to Rob’s experience – that it might not be that hard, and actually a closer look at this concept could help IT cope a little better in these “interesting times”.

 First, I think I’ll call it the “Personal Service Desk”. It’s a physical location, with IT support staff visible and  available, so employees / users / customers (use your terminology of choice) can walk in and bring their IT  issues with them. Anyone that’s been in an Apple Store will be familiar with that concept.

 It allows you to break down the barrier between the faceless IT “techies” – anyone seen the IT Crowd? – and move  to a customer-facing model where you actually see the faces and actually speak directly to your end users . Scary?  It shouldn’t be. Why should it be? Providing productivity through IT service is what an IT department exists for.

 Benefits of Face to Face, Personalised Service

In theory, providing a service such as this should have a few clear and immediate benefits.

  1. Reduced number of incidents received at the Service Desk, or, to be accurate, reduced number of incidents that  require traditional Service Desk attention.
  2. Increased employee/user/customer satisfaction.
  3. Increased perception of the value of IT by the business.

But it sounds hard. It sounds like a massive restructure and surely your IT technology cannot currently support this? It sounds like something fanciful that the clever industry analyst people talk about as happening in the future.

Lets scrutinise that criticism. Is it hard and heavy and complicated? I’m not so sure it is. Lets take a look at what you need to build and operate a “Personal Service Desk”?

The Personal Service Desk

  1. Location – OK, this is probably the hardest. You need space somewhere close to IT that can be opened up to allow end users to walk in. Tables, chairs, a ‘bar’, although not literally stocked with alcoholic drinks unless you really want to raise the IT experience to a new level. Tea and coffee is probably fine – well why not? Make it free. A few PC’s running common operating systems and standard desktops in the corner will be very helpful.
  1. Staff – Do you have people who are sometimes not covering incoming phones in your Service Desk? Working on resolving incidents or fulfilling requests. Great. Put a simple rota in place that allocates one or two people into the new space instead of at their desk. The important point here to remember is that a good Personal Service Desk has SCHEDULED APPOINTMENTS. There will be quiet times when there are no appointments, or times when the user is a ‘no show’. So your allocated IT staff can still do their work – at a slower rate – between appointments.
  1. Brand ­– Get a logo for IT. You’ve probably got one. Print some T-shirts and posters. Done. (OK, yes that’s a bit flippant, but it’s as hard a task as you choose to make it). Anyone scheduled to cover the Personal Service Desk must wear the t-shirt.
  1. Online Self Service – This is critical. You must have an online presence for your Service Desk. Just like every store has a web site, your Personal Service Desk should be tightly aligned with your self-service and even help you with the uptake of Self-service. Your Self-service should:
    1. Advertise the existence of the Personal Service Desk
    2. Provide appointment booking
    3. Provide satisfaction surveys from each visit
  1. Appointment Booking – Yes it’s presented in Self-service, but it goes beyond that. It needs to provide:
    1. Presentation to the end user of available time-slots for appointments.
    2. Ability for the end user to request an appointment time slot and to fill in details of the reason for the visit.
    3. Bookings into Calendars (Outlook or whichever is used in your business) for an appointment, so that the end user see’s the appointment time in their schedule of bookings for that day, with email reminders and the ability to cancel an appointment.

Obviously an appointment needs to generate or link to, or ‘be’ the start of a support process, which may require an incident to be logged, a request, or multiple. I’d recommend that an appointment is a process in itself, so it can conclude with a survey to the end user as a part of the same process.

  1. Mobile Support – Buy a couple of iPads. Staff in the Personal Service Desk can then view and update the appointments on their iPads. Why? So that they can move to sit at a table, or walk around and get away from the barrier of the ‘bar’. They must be social and visible and mobile in that space.
  1. Easy creation of tickets – During an appointment with a customer you are likely to need to create – and hopefully resolve – one or many incidents or requests. No one wants to be sitting around waiting while you fill in categories and priorities and impact and urgency. Template your most common incidents and requests and configure them to be created from a URL and then convert that URL into a QR Code (I use goo.gl). Then print out a sheet of the different QR codes so that your IT support technician in the Personal Service Desk need only scan the required code with his mobile device/iPad to create the required ticket. They’ll still need to put the user name in there but it’s a lot quicker. Push button ticketing. But make sure they have the option to go straight to resolved so that you can easily capture each thing done, and keep open those items that cannot be done.
  1. Reports – Not many. Just enough to show number of appointments, number of incidents, and number of requests all processed through the new Personal Service Desk. And don’t forget surveys. Basically enough to demonstrate the activity and value of the new function.

All of the above can be achieved with good ITSM tools, and the exact way you implement the above is up to you.

Is That It?

You could consider going further – one idea is the use of basic loan equipment immediately to hand so that you can just swap out a bad machine to keep the user productive. That’s harder to implement but the benefits there are clear. Laptop broken? Swap it out.

Then you’re ready to go. Advertise, drop flyers on every desk, put posters in the canteen, include an email footer on every support email, place an announcement on your Self-service site etc. Maybe even have a fun countdown every day to the launch. No one will discover this service by wandering around – they need to be told that it is there, and how to get there.

Above all… DO

But remember, all of this will fail unless you have the most essential piece of all – the willingness to act.

Get a team together in IT, brainstorm the above points, and work out your own version. Have fun with it, get IT people involved in the definition, creation and operation. Make it a team initiative. Enjoy doing it, and care about it! And don’t forget to let us know how you get on!

What have been your experiences in this area? Have you implemented a Personal Service Desk, a Guru Bar, an IT Genius Bar? What did you learn? Be brave and tell us all about it in the comments.

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