Are you interested in learning more about Cloud Computing and Virtualization? Be sure to register and attend these two community webcasts happening this week on June 8th and 9th. These promise to be very informative events you don’t want to miss!
WEBCAST on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 11:00AM Eastern USA Webcast title: Get your image sprawl monster under control – secrets to image management from an expert Sign up for this webcast here
Description: Companies have embraced virtualization primarily to impro! ve utilization of hardware and save costs. However, virtualization especially on x86, has led to significant growth in management costs. Much of this increased cost stems from growth in images. We will discuss some of the key challenges around managing images and how IBM is taking a holistic approach to solving these pain points and restoring control.
Speaker: Ruth Willenborg, IBM Distinguished Engineer in IBM Software Group, Tivoli
WEBCAST on Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 11:00AM Eastern USA Cloud - Extending your virtualization into the cloud Sign up for this webcast here
Description: The benefits from cloud computing seem clear: cost reduction, better flexibility, scale to meet business demands, etc. However, getting to cloud involves a lot of decisions Learn how some of your colleagues are leveraging Tivoli solutions to automate virtualized environments and move to private clouds.
Speaker: Mohamed Abdula, IBM Director, Service Automation and Cloud Solutions Product Management and Bowman Hall, IBM Director, Cloud Computing Client Engagements, IBM Software Group
I was teaching an ITIL course last week –
with the managers’ bridge route to the ITIL expert about to close, there was a
sudden need for a trainer and I got the chance to pick up a training gig in Dublin. Well, on the edge
actually – in Blanchardstown. Turns out that is place to make you question your
presumptions about a country – the view from the hotel window (as you can see)
could at first glance have been most any mall in any US town. And after being used to
seeing an Irish Bar in every town I go, this time I spent 4 days without even
seeing a pub! So, not your typical Irish trip, but both pleasant and useful
For all its economic challenges it is good
to see Ireland
still as friendly as ever – a modern multi-cultural EU country now, certainly
more expensive than ever before, but still they understand the craic. It is nice
to be in one of those towns where you are expected to sit in the front seat of
the taxi and talk about life and its meaning and pleasures – and even though my
drivers were from Hong Kong, Africa and Ulster
rather than Dublin,
still it all felt very Irish and human sized.
But I had a great time work wise too, a
rare opportunity to focus again on the ITIL material, a reminder of some parts
I had all but forgotten – including some it seems I wrote myself. Most
important though was the chance to talk with the others on the course, getting
an insight again into how this stuff works in the real world – the delegates
all being part of our managed service accounts and delivering real service
management to real customers on a day-to-day basis.
I guess I need that reminder now and again:
writing, talking – even thinking – about things is good and important stuff,
but if we lose sight and touch with actually doing the things we talk about
then inevitably we will get that writing and thinking and planning wrong. I was
lucky enough to visit some real service management workers the week before
also. That was in Abu Dhabi – a different
culture from Ireland
for sure but mostly the same issues that people in our industry face like
resistance to change and even more resistance to change management; where to
start, how to measure, the need to derive pragmatism and realism from the
theory in the best practice books.
So - a couple of weeks of good lessons for
me, and I hope for my students also. I had a good reminder of the need to keep
real, to encourage reality above ideals. I learned not to presume how a place
will be, nor to be too concerned if it looks a little different to begin with. Despite
appearances, service management issues have more in common than you might think
– across counties, cultures and industries – which gives us all a large
community of colleagues to discuss matters with and to exchange ideas and
conversation. I guess that is what we look to organisations like itSMF to
facilitate in the widest sense: service management craic.
Anyway – I am looking forward to keeping in
touch with service management reality – through talking to and working with
people in real service management jobs, be that through training, conference
discussion or more directly. We all need that good mix of ideas and
 Go ask an Irish friend if you don’t know the word: you will know
the concept because good conversation and pleasure in good company is not an
Irish preserve, although they are especially good at it – and one of the few to
have coined a word for it.
As may have been noticed from recent blogs I
spent most of the last month travelling. Actually thinking about it, most of my
last 33 years has been travelling for work. So while I might spend much of my
time talking about service with IT professionals; the services that most impact
my life tend to be related to the travel industry. Seems to me that service is
service, and many of the lessons learned in travelling – and watching people
while travelling – are very relevant in all aspects of service delivery, IT
related or not.
What has really impressed itself upon my
mind recently is how receiving services – of whatever kind – can so often make
you feel offended, insulted, slighted or just plain angry. Objective thought
makes it pretty obvious that the intention was actually to deliver good
service, but somehow it can be hard to believe that when you see some of the
symptoms of not thinking things through.
Let’s start with a fairly innocuous and
almost silly example from the Dubai
metro system. This metro is brand new, really impressive, fast, clean
comfortable – and cheap. I can forgive its rather early closing time (11pm) and
late start on the weekend as a necessary acknowledgement of how many taxis and
especially taxi drivers need to continue to make a living – and how much they
may have felt threatened by the new metro.
What I couldn’t help but notice, and that
stuck in my mind more than anything else, were the local information maps displayed
– a good and helpful feature that shows important buildings near enough to walk
to from each station. They show where places are using colour-coded dots, for
example pink dots show hotels. At my local station there were three hotel dots
– so I which hotels were served by that metro stop. But it didn’t tell me which
hotels they were – just that they are
hotels – how much more effort would it have taken to write the names on? And
how much would that final piece of data been worth? I think that’s what bothers
me – when suppliers seem to do 90% of the work right but that missing 10%
destroys 90% of the value.
But OK, I am sure that will be remedied -
eventually. There is, however, a characteristic of physically delivered
services that I see so often – and bothers people so much – that I have tried
to give it a name. Best I have so far is VNS,
Non-Service.I am sure you have
seen it – travellers will see it at airline travel desks and immigration
counters, but all of us see it almost daily at banks, post offices and shops.
Let me set out a typical scenario - one I saw last week (and most times I
travel). There are 5 or 6 customer service desks; two of them have staff
serving the waiting line of customers, one by one. At another desk are two of
the airline or airport staff – every now and then a customer in a hurry goes up
to them, only to be turned away. These people are not attending to customers.
No, it might be that they are doing some critically important task, vital
filing, discussing long term business strategy etc. But why do they do it in
font of the customers? We can see only paid supplier staff NOT helping us, and
apparently not caring. Actually, I think banks are amongst the worse offenders,
frequently seating staff at customer facing positions to do non-customer facing
It seems to me that this is a failure to
think through how customers perceive things. Of course it might make perfect
sense to the planners and HR people – making best use of physical space, having
managers where they can see staff working etc. But – if you feel tempted to do
this, or anything else that customers will see - please think through how it
will look and feel to someone who was NOT there when you planned it.
In fact VNS and other ways to disregard customer
perception – once you think it through – have significant implication and
consequences: whether that is IT applications that decide to archive your
records when at times apparently selected to annoy you the most, scheduled
maintenance that seems to target your busy periods or supervisory staff walking
around apparently doing nothing helpful while customers wait in long lines. The
more complex our world gets, the easier it is to get things wrong. Like the maintenance
slot that is obviously good to the planner in New York but which hits the
obvious usage slot in Dubai (where Sunday is the first working day of the week,
and you want your administration services – like expense reporting – up and
running at the start of the week – which is when business travellers typically
do their expenses.
So if you are planning services that a
customer will see, please do me a favour: try and think how it will be seen and
perceived, putting aside how logical YOU already know it is. As the man said –
perception is reality, try to make your customers’ perception into your
Final story, about how it is possible to
get it right. Many years back, when I worked for the UK Forestry Commission, I
recall talking with our Recreation Planning Officer. He had just designed and
constructed some way-marked walks through a forest he personally knew very well.
Before he allowed them to be opened to the public, he brought his children in,
and walked behind them on the route – noting down everywhere they had trouble
seeing the right way – and then he corrected those faults. I believe that
nowadays this might be called ‘User Acceptance Testing’ – and what it needs is
users, not suppliers pretending they can see it from a user perspective.
I set out do this blog as a pretty
shameless advert for my article in the latest issue of the itSMF International
magazine. So let’s get that bit out of the way first – it is here
– read it soon!
But actually thinking about the itSMF magazine leads naturally
on to talk about the itSMF International publishing and the recent success
stories – and success stories should be talked about, so I’ll do that now. It has been a while since the international
publishing committee of itSMF (IPESC) faded out – but while IPESC may be
dead, I felt its spirit, innovation and enthusiasm resurrected at our recent
chapter publishing meeting. IPESC was always full of good intentions, but the
difference now is the ability to take ideas forward to our itSMF’s own
publications – and to produce good things.
The magazine is one of those things. It may
not be exactly War and Peace – but it is the kind of things that professional
service managers might read, enjoy and then look for the next issue coming out
– exactly the positive reinforcement cycle we need to create a tipping point. Actually,
the meeting itself was another great thing. So far as we can tell this was the most
chapters ever represented at any kind of itSMF meeting – including all previous
IBM – along with TSO – sponsored the
meeting, and we also hosted it at the IBM Amsterdam office. That sponsorship
gave me the right (and from my management’s perspective, the obligation) to a
10 minute agenda item to address the meeting. Now, those of you who know me
will realise I don’t usually need the justification of an agenda item to talk.
But, given the nature of my audience, I wondered what to talk about in that
formal situation. The obligatory ‘IBM has something you might be interested in
seeing’ bit was easy – a quick demo of our new G2G3 developed virtual
simulators – plenty about those in other blogs on this site so go read them I won’t
repeat it here.
My main message – and one I feel strong
enough about that I want to repeat it here – was how important sponsorship like
itSMF is (also rightly) proud of its ‘owned
by the members’ and ‘not for profit’ nature – and so it shapes the community more
than any other organisation – or more accurately it helps its members shape and
develop that community. But being not for profit doesn’t stop there being bills.
We all share in this service management
community, and it seems to me both right and necessary that the key players in the
industry take seriously the need to also be key supporters of that community.
For many sponsorship is seen as a way to
keep conference prices low, or just about advertising leverage. The sponsorship
of meetings like the publications gathering in Amsterdam makes a real difference to itSMF
being able to work on initiatives (in this case publications initiatives) that
push the boundaries and develop our community – things that can take us all
forwards. That kind of innovation – like ITIL itself 22 years ago – cannot be proprietary.
Like ITIL though the proprietary players stand to benefit from the evolution
and development of the non-proprietary guidance.
So what I spoke about in Amsterdam, and what seems important enough
for me to say again, is that the community needs its big players to put enough
back in. IBM sponsored that event, I hope IBM will sponsor again – but I would
like it even more if we have serious competition from some other big names to
get the good sponsorship.
itSMFI is producing important parts of our professional future, and
there is the chance for all players in this community to support - big companies with big sponsorship through
to individuals getting involved and active. So get on board - please.
If I had one take away from Pulse, it would be that the community is the key to IBM's success in all of our endeavors.
Our customers (you: the community) are the ones who help us with ensuring that we're giving you the tools to do your jobs and make it home in time to watch Justified (or whatever it is you do when you get home).
Events like Pulse illustrate that one of the ways a community is at its finest is when the members are interacting with each other and helping one another.
Reading, writing and sharing content is one of the ways that communities create ties and these ties tend to be strongest in the technical community.
Service Management Connect will provide a direct path to IBM service management experts and promote fast effective two-way communications between customers and IBM on a variety of service management topics.
The first sub-community to go live will be Business Service Management and these sub-communities will compliment the Tivoli User Groups and ISM Library.
Start by going to the site today and taking a look. We will be talking about it more in the weeks to come as well as be adding new categories soon.
See below for a video that Denny and I shot on the show floor at Pulse 2011. (YouTube link)
Dateline: Boca Raton, Florida - February 28, 2011 - 11:00 am
The MGM Grand Garden Arena darkens, the roar of the crowd softens to a buzz, the orchestra appears on stage, dramatic music accompanying the video montage of customers telling their service management success stories... So far, this Pulse 2011 Day One General Session rivals what I saw from the Academy Awards last night (absent the evening gowns and tuxes, of course).
And I'm seeing this all from the comfort of my home office!
I was not one of the lucky 7000 people to attend Pulse 2011 in Las Vegas in person, but, for the first time, I can tune into Pulse as it is happening. So, I did just that - I tuned into the Pulse Day One General Session via Livestream...and it seems there were about 400 people doing that right along with me.
I won't go into each element of the Day One General Session in detail, but I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts and takeaways:
One of IBM's clients, Bill Broughton, from Amtrak, kicked off the conference today, telling the crowd of clients, business partners (and yes, a few IBMers), this is "OUR conference."
Our event host, Scott Hebner, Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, IBM Software - Tivoli, reiterated that thought, but from the opposite perspective, telling the crowd that "this is YOUR conference." 85% of the sessions at Pulse 2011 feature client speakers, and the ability to network and share best practices is more important than ever. "It's not just about technology any more...it's about the economic value that technology brings."
Next came Madge Meyer, from State Street, who talked about the importance of innovating - and of executing flawlessly. She even quoted Charles Darwin, which I thought was particularly apropos: "It is not the strongest that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one who is the most responsive to change."
Madge was followed by Dr. Danny Sabbah, General Manager, IBM Tivoli, who talked about how the world (business, government, society) is facing an unparalleled rate of change. Companies need the velocity and agility to adapt quickly - and the basis of this will be producing honest data that is transformed by predictive analytics to produce smarter outcomes. And he reminded the crowd that IBM needs to move as fast as they do.
Steve Mills, Senior VP and Group Executive Software & Systems, IBM, introduced the crowd - and the rest of the world - to the new era of Smarter Computing. He reminded us that IT operating costs is the core issue faced by clients around the world...and although there's significant increase on IT demands, IT budgets are flat. We need to fundamentally transform the economics of IT...and that is Smarter Computing. A couple of straight talk points: IT consolidation is pretty much a given. Get rid of excess IT Now. And he offered arguably the best quote of the morning: "People say stupid crap every day...you have to decide what to listen to."
And finally, Dean Kamen, Innovator and Entrepreneur, wowed the crowd with his talk about innovation and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Technology). He described innovation as being failure, failure, failure...followed by surprise after surprise (mostly bad)...but every once in a while, you get a good surprise in there, too. I really enjoyed his story about Chuck and the DARPA prosthetic arm (got a little misty eyed, I must admit). And I was especially moved by his FIRST initiative and his absolute passion for turning science/math into a sport - making it something that you have passion for, that is aspirational, and that you want to participate in. Being a female and being a computer science major (and still often being the only female in a room of techies), that hit home with me. I was also proud to see my alma mater, Georgia Tech, was a sponsor of FIRST. Again, as he talked about the success of FIRST through the years, the eyes got a little teary.
Whew! What a great way to start! I encourage you to watch the Day One General Session in its entirety at your convenience - and to tune into the Day Two General Session tomorrow morning. My experience with Livestream is that that the technology was practically flawless (I only had one minor audio glitch when Dean Kamen was showing the Stephen Colbert video). Otherwise, the livestreaming went along perfectly. And it will well be worth your while to watch the whole session. It will get your mind thinking, and it will inspire you at the same time. Plus, it's like having a front-row seat!
In Ivor Macfarlane's most recent article, he (rightfully) points out that we should look beyond cost to improve service management. Cost used to be the major (if not only) factor in making IT decisions, but it isn't any more, especially when it comes to service management. IT services deliver a lot more than economic savings. They create new possibilities, generate new business advantages, empower new services and strategies, connect organizations with new customers and markets, and much more.
Ivor explains it much more eloquently than I, but here are a few things I took away from his article:
The concept of "cost" as a way of assessing IT services should transform to "value," which is fundamental to ITIL at its core. Take these definitions straight from ITIL:
"A service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific cost and risks."
"Service Management is a set of specialized organizational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services."
Instead of talking about TCO (Total Costs of Ownership), we should talk about CCO (Complete Consequences of Operation). As IT services become more and more pervasive, the consequences of problematic IT service management become more and more significant.
There are other factors that should be considered as well,such as energy management/sustainability, public relations, human resource allocation and more.
In a nutshell, IT service management should address costs, value, consequences and benefits. Definitely food for thought. (Perhaps Curry in a Hurry?)
And just what are Proven Practice Workshops? First of all, they're new to Pulse 2011 - reason enough to check them out. Second, in these workshops, you'll hear from leading Tivoli Services experts about their proven implementation best practices and guidance. Tivoli Services will lead 5 of these dynamic workshops:
Business Service Management
Integrated Service Management
Each workshop will provide real-world value, including best practices, reference architectures, solution optimization, cross-domain integration, effective rollout strategies and common myths and pitfalls. For hands-on, practical information on how to get better ROI from the infrastructure, it's hard to beat the Proven Practice Workshops at Pulse 2011. Learn more about these workshops in the article Pulse 2011: Proven Practice Workshops Maximize ROI.
Special Interest Areas
Pulse 2011 will deliver more information, in more ways, on more relevant subjects, than ever before. With such a rich array of information to choose from, some of you may be wondering: "How can I zero in on exactly the right sessions for me?"
Pulse has got this solved through Special Interest Areas, of which there are seven:
Best practices and implementation
Once you've registered for Pulse, you can begin using IBM's Pulse SmartSite to build your personalized agenda. From the Agenda Builder section, you can search for relevant sessions in several different ways—one of which is by Special Interest Area. You can see below the Virtualization Special Interest area:
I recently booked
my travel for a business trip to the US at the end of February. I will
be talking at several itSMF USA Local Interest Groups and – of course – be attending IBM’s big
service management spectacular – Pulse in Las
Vegas from 27th February. I’m looking
forward to the trip, and not just to escape the British winter weather. I am
delivering our simulation ‘game’ on the Sunday at Pulse and Atlanta in March - they are always fun, especially
our new one with added cloud features. But the best part is getting to meet
people, customers and suppliers, both at Pulse and in the itSMF meetings. There
really is no substitute for meetings with grassroots practitioners to keep up
to date. And always fun too, you do still meet such nice people in this
If there is
anyone out there actually reading this stuff, and is in Vegas for Pulse, or at
the LIG is San Francisco, Fort
Lauderdale or Atlanta
– do come and say hello. And if you would like to be part of our
cloud-flavoured SM simulation at Pulse please visit our landing page, and
then RSVP to email@example.com
But – not
unusually – I have distracted myself a little from where I thought I was going
when I started writing this. So … I booked some flights: from London
to Las Vegas and back to Europe from Atlanta about two weeks
later. As we all know, we live in the information age so immediately I started
to receive information. And I do admit it was information –I had booked a
flight to the US
and I got information about the situation in the country I was going to.
Let me divert
again a little bit and remind you – because you are all experts and know this
stuff – about a basic knowledge management concept; the spectrum that runs
data->information->knowledge->wisdom. At the beginning data is
extensive but not too helpful. If it ever reaches wisdom
it actually helps you survive and thrive.
But back to that
travel information I was getting. Remember I had booked a flight in late
February to the Nevada desert; what I received
by email was warning me about traffic disruption in downtown WashingtonDC
in late January. I have subsequently been advised of snow problems in New York.Now this has good conversational value,
allowing me to sound knowledgeable and sympathetic on calls with New Yorkers,
but I suspect that was not the intention.
I interpret it
–this may be grossly unfair of me, but I am the customer and customer
perception is what matters – like this: travel advice is being planned and
delivered by someone who goes to the same desk in the same office everyday, and
rarely puts foot on an airplane. Of course the real culprit behind this is ease
of programming – data is cheap and plentiful, applying some basic ideas to turn
that into information is quite fun, sounds good and means you can despatch all
sorts of travel notice updates to people who will be travelling sometime in the
future. But it is – sorry but it really is – just using data because you have
it. Maybe they bill on the number of messages? Maybe they really think I want
to know? The real consequence is that I delete these emails unread now – so if
they were by some miracle to send me something useful, I would miss it
last year this system showed the kind of silo thinking that comes from not
knowing the customer’s environment – the kind you often see in service
management reporting. I spoke for itSMF Sweden
in Malmo, getting to Malmo is really easy – you fly to the nearest
airport and take the train direct from airport to town centre. But two factors
combined to deliver me information even less useful then usual. One, the system
thinks only in terms of flights and rental cars – I think it rather looks down
on train travel as a bit common. Those of us who use trains mostly have to buy
the ticket when we get to the station. Second factor is that the nearest
airport to Malmo is Copenhagen
– a lovely and convenient airport with great direct train services – but it
just happens to be in Denmark.
So, yes you guessed it, I got lots of travel advice about visiting Denmark, there could have been civil
insurrection and rioting in the streets in Malmo and they wouldn’t have told me – why
that’s a whole different country!
Now of course Sweden doesn’t
do insurrection, I travelled easily and had a good time at an excellent event
without any issues. But all this useless information I get seems symptomatic to
me of measuring the wrong things – probably something we are all guilty of,
because – as I have said before in these blogs – measuring the right things is
harder, but if we can manage it then it drives us into doing the right things.
Maybe at the real heart of this though is the simple statement, if you don’t
know what you are aiming at, you are unlikely to hit it.
I suppose if
somebody were to ask me what I want notifications about, I would be happy to
work with them, and set up delivering something that goes beyond information,
starts delivering knowledge and gets me the wisdom I need to make the right
But if that is actually
ever to happen then those of us receiving all this useless information need to
realise it is – mostly – our fault. I could have responded offering to help
them improve, I could proactively tell them what I need – I could offer some of
my time as an investment in my own future knowledge and wisdom deliverables. But
It is easier (and more fun?) to carp and whinge – so maybe my New Year’s
resolution should have been around practising what I preach – doing what I
talked about in my itSMF conference presentations last year – and to start
being a good, committed constructive customer because it won’t get better
OK – I’m off to
find the ‘help us improve our service’ button on the web site. See you at Pulse?
 Best explanation of the step from knowledge
to wisdom is one I stole from my daughter, Rosie and it goes ‘Knowledge tells
you a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable; wisdom is knowing that but also
knowing not to put it in a fruit salad’.
It probably goes without saying, but service management means different things in different industries: Service management can help banks improve customer service, drive business model efficiency and manage operational risk. Service management can help government agencies reduce complexity and waste and deliver services more effectively to the citizens who rely on them. And communications service providers need innovative service management solutions to address the limits of the backbone, a highly competitive environment and customer loyalty.
The list goes on, but in all cases, rendering better service management in any given industry means weighing and balancing different complexities—as well as the leading solutions and strategies best suited to address them.
Pulse 2011 provides the perfect venue for you to not only learn about service management for your industry - but to actually see it. And seeing is believing, after all. The Pulse Expo Center will offer demos in groups, designed to explore the most pressing needs service management professionals face in six different industries:
Intelligent Site Operations
Communications Service Providers
Smarter Energy & Utilities
Integrated Service Management for Banking/Insurance
In addition to these clusters of industry demos, you'll also have access to industry-centric demos taking place elsewhere in the event. Not to mention tons of industry-specific sessions and activities - Check out the Pulse 2011 Sample Agenda Builder and see for yourself. Choose "Search by Industry" and select your industry.
If you're new to zEnterprise or even if you've had your system for a while, this is a great opportunity to listen to speaker Randy Scott discuss this topic (and there will be a live question-and-answer session as well as a future replay).
Here's a brief description of the webcast and we look forward to you attending:
This in-depth look at Tivoli Application Management for zEnterprise can help you:
Integrate end-to-end active and passive monitoring
View and monitor workloads for composite applications, physical and virtual machines, groups and response times
Use alerting capabilities for early detection of costly performance problems and outages
Ok, so I'm not really a Luddite in the original sense of the word...but I fully admit that I prefer handwritten notes to emails and texts, hardcover books to paperback or eBooks, buying the full CD (AKA the album to us old-timers) rather than downloading a single tune...and just don't get me started on the term "my bad..."
Being a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech, a Computer Science major and working for a technology company, I can assure you that I appreciate innovation and the value that technology brings to the the world as much as anyone, perhaps even more. I had one of the first Sony Discman CD players, my husband and I were very early adopters of satellite TV, I use an insulin pump to manage my diabetes and, of course, I have an iPhone. But sometimes I need to sit back and think about what all this really means...and thinking about it NOT in terms of the technology itself, but in terms of everyday life makes me appreciate it even more.
Which is why I am truly excited about - and looking forward to future installations - of the Service Management in Action feature articles by Ivor Macfarlane, our resident Service Management expert/evangelist/all around good guy. Check out his first article...Real-World Service Management: Ivor Macfarlane on Service Management Dynamics and see what I mean. In this article, Ivor uses a food court in Hong Kong to show how service management is everywhere, not just in the IT department, and it isn't something you do and forget about. It requires ongoing optimization over time—a continuous re-evaluation and improvement of the customer experience.
Hmmm...makes perfect sense to me. I think we all know this instinctively, but hearing it explained in this context, the light bulbs start going off. (Not to mention that I've had a wild craving for curry lately)!
Ivor will be contributing his perspective, insights and experiences from the real world to Service Management in Action on a regular basis...to help you understand what service management truly means and how it can ultimately help you get a better business outcome—and a better experience for your customers. Stay tuned for more!
Signing off for now, Your friendly roving Integrated Service Management Reporter
P.S. I learned what the word "Luddite" meant only this year, after hearing my favorite British singer refer to himself as such during an interview. And when my favorite British IT Service Management expert used the word in conversation recently, I figured I must use it, too! ;-)
I’ve done a few talks to camera recently –
interviews at the itSMF Spain
conference and a mock programme at the UK. The UK thought I was perfect for
‘Antiques Roadshow’ and I have to admit I fit the title’s parameters. I watched
the people using modern video equipment and it did make me feel old. Nearly 40
years ago I was editor of the student TV society at University and I was
recalling how many of us it took to deliver 30 minutes worth of black
& white programme onto 2 inch wide reel-to-reel video tape. It seems all but
unbelievable watching the kids now (the age I was then) record it in perfectly balanced
colour on something the size of a small book – when our kit weighed more than
the library. But the whole situation is another example of getting focused on
the changes and missing what stays the same.
While the television technology has changed
beyond recognition, the basics of interviewing haven’t.So hopefully I helped by trying to follow
those basic rules for an interviewee – ignore the camera, keep talking, try to
say something interesting. You can judge for yourself at http://www.best-management-practice.tv/best-management-practice-at-the-itsmf-uk-conference-2010.
(Actually if you are sad enough to be interested in the earlier ITIL days, I
shall be writing an article on that next year.)
So, this TV stuff is like most services
these days – the technology bit keeps changing, using new ideas – basically
becoming far more complex to understand whilst at the same time becoming ever
easier to use. That means customer expectations keep increasing (you don’t find
many people content with black & white TV any more) but at the real core,
the prime deliverables remain the same. We might talk more and more about
plasma vs LCD, 3D, surround sound, HD and all the rest; but the real
satisfaction comes from watching people be clever, funny, informative etc in a
way that holds our attention and entertains us.
And there is the heart of most of what I
have been talking about at conferences for the past few years. It is easy to
measure things like pixels and screen size and the number of channels and hours
of programming available, but so much harder to measure what we actually want from
a TV service.
Keeping that old television link, last week
was the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder: a sad time for anyone
of my age and background. So I found myself watching old clips of Lennon on a
programme recalling his life. Now the man was clearly an extremist with
impossible dreams – and I may well return to my belief that we need some
extremists to make the majority move at all, but that’s another blog. One of
his lines, though, did trigger the realisation that this need for real
measurement isn’t a new idea. He was ranting about governments (as usual) and
said “If anybody can put on paper what our government, and the American
government etc., and the Russian, Chinese, what they are actually trying to do,
you know, and what they think they're doing, I'd be very pleased to know what
they think they're doing”. Now he followed that with “I think they're all
insane!” which perhaps is more about presumed results than objective
measurement, but nonetheless the basic concept is interesting.
We want to know what is at the heart of
our and others’ behaviour but it is very difficult to express that. It is hard
even to ask sometimes in a way that doesn’t sound as if you have failed to pick
up the social or business norms; because often we just presume there is a
reason and take the usual comfort in things ‘that have always been done like
that’. Maybe it is just easier to hide behind the numbers and the detail of how
you are doing things rather than making it all that clear what it is you are
trying to do, why you are doing it or even who you think you are doing it for.
One last seasonal example maybe, since it
is mid-December as I write this. Many of us will get back to work in January to
be greeted by the question ‘Did you have a good Christmas?’ For those who did,
you will know without recourse to precise measurements – it isn’t based on the
number of presents you received, how many carols you sang or how much turkey
you ate. Unless the biggest fun you have is skiing, it probably won’t have
mattered that much if it snowed. But if you had a good Christmas then you will
know – but my, isn’t it hard to set genuinely accurate measures beforehand?
And what can we learn from that, or at
least set out to do better? Maybe if we are buying or delivering any kind of
service we should at least try to be aware of – if not the ultimate – then at
least a higher level goal. And don’t be surprised or disappointed if your
expensive new TV might not affect the entertainment value, although it will help
you see the ball better in the cricket, and that might be an important factor.
And at work, a new finance package won’t make your profit margins higher – but
it might tell you faster what they are, and perhaps that makes an important
difference. Just be sure that’s important enough for what it is costing you,
and that you know the knock-on effect onto the higher level measure.