I recently had some first hand experience –
from the receiving end – how much of an effect genuinely good customer service
can have. The experience started in dismay but was recovered well beyond
Anyway, to start at the beginning ….
I had to go and ‘swear an affidavit’ –
which for those of you not into the jargon of jurisprudence means to formally
promise what you are saying on a form is true. In England you can either pay a
solicitor for this service, or you can get it for free at the county court. So,
of course, I went off to the County Court.
Now, it started, I admit, with me failing in my responsibility to be a proactive customer. I did not think
through what I knew. County Courts in England are where the most
serious crimes are tried, so it is where the most dangerous criminals would be.
A moment’s thought, therefore, would make it obvious that there will be fairly
impressive security. But of course I was just thinking about delivering a form
so the metal scanner and request to empty my pockets took me by surprise. And
my producing my Swiss Army penknife from my pocket sent the security man into
action. The knife was confiscated – suggestions that I wasn’t even in the
building yet and could just go back, leave offending items in the car and start
again, were not allowed to be considered. I was told that I could not get my
knife back when I left but instead I needed to write in to the court manager
asking for it to be returned by post.
So, I had a perfect example of a ‘Moment of
Truth’; putting me instantly, and very extremely, ‘anti’ the staff and the
processes. It seemed obviously the staff are required to leave common-sense at
home and not bring it to work with them.
And thus, in a bad mood I reached the court
officer with whom I was to sign and swear that my forms told the truth. She
spots my mood, finds out why and explains that the rules are for protection and
cannot be altered – causing no improvement in my mood. She then looks at my
forms and points out that I have not brought all the right documents – and then
throws in for good measure that my solicitor has supplied my with the wrong set
So … it is now clear to me that I have
driven into town, paid for my car parking, lost my knife for the duration and
all for nothing because my paperwork is wrong. But fear not – after this it
gets better. I had been expecting a businesslike word or two of sympathy and if
I allowed myself a glimmer of optimism then maybe even an explanation of what I
needed to go back and fetch, so that it would work when I came back.
Instead the lady reacted very differently.
She pointed out that the forms I have forgotten are copies of documents they
already have lodged with them, and that they have blank forms of the right
kind. She fetches the missing forms, lends me a pen and helps me understand
what is needed on the right form, checks it through, makes corrections and then
duly witnesses it and formally logs it in the system as sworn and correct. As she
put it “Well the purpose is to get your stuff recorded, if I can make that
happen then why wouldn’t I help?”
Of course she was perfectly right, her job
is to help get these things done, and so thinking for herself and helping
people get there is an obviously correct attitude. Isn’t that exactly how
everyone in service delivery sees it?
Well, of course we all know that it isn’t –
not yet! The sad aspect of this kind of story
is how surprised we all are by them – that they are worthy or repeating
because this quality of service is still unusual.’
The key aspect of this story – with its two
different approaches to dealing with the customers - is how much good service
experience depends on customer facing staff that are knowledgeable of the
customer’s context and goals. But more than that even, the management trusted
and empowered (at least some of) their staff to use common sense and do what
was right – maybe even if it didn’t follow exact procedures.
Are the customer-facing staff in your
organisation trusted and empowered? If not, is it because they can’t be
trusted, or because they have been given the knowledge? Or is it just that
no-one has ever thought it would be a good idea to trust and empower them? What
happens in your organisation – do you get good service or do you a strict
process delivered, whether or not it is appropriate?
David has written about the Cloud Service Management Simulator Workshop in a previous blog and things are heating up as we get closer to Pulse.
In addition to the Sunday workshop we have a few extra seats left on Saturday for business partners and customers who wish to attend. If you are interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Both workshops (Saturday and Sunday) are from 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm.
And for more information, watch developerWorks' Scott Laningham interview Ivor MacFarlane on what to expect in the room.
Personally, I never really got hooked on American Idol, but next month IBM is releasing a Software Development reality TV series at the 2009 Rational Software Conference that I'd love to watch! Yup, I'm a nerd. :) This stuff fascinates me. I'm looking forward to the drama, laughs and intrigue. Get an overview of the new reality TV series and view a trailer with the videos below:
Overview: IBM Rational's Walker Royce discusses the Reality TV series as he fills you in on some of what you can expect to see at RSC 2009.
That was a cheap ploy for me to work in a comment about how excited I am that Austin is well on it's way to getting a Formula 1 track (Statesman).
Shameless? Or brilliant? You make the call
Anyhow, the title is a pun on the Random Access Compression Engine™ (RACE) architecture that is a part of the Storwize offering that IBM recently acquired.
I want to welcome all the Storwize employees to IBM (hello!) and let our customers know that this is some pretty tight technology and it's worth reaching out to your IBM sales rep or business partner to learn more about it.
Storwize provides real-time data compression technology to help clients reduce physical storage requirements by up to 80%*, which improves efficiency and lowers the cost of making data available for analytics and other applications.
Here are three good links for more details on the aquisition as well as a quick video featuring Doug Balog, Vice President of IBM Storage.
I am just back from a week working in Tokyo. For someone who
writes as much as I do about the need to understand customer culture and how
that affects expectations, it is always a good lesson to visit Japan, where the
culture is about as different (from where I normally work) as you get within
the service management world. (Of course culture does get even more different in,
say, certain Amazonian tribes or a primary school playground, but with little
formal ITIL adoption there as yet, Tokyo
is my extreme of difference.)
Although the shadow of the tsunami and very
real loss to the community endures, the human spirit carries on and people
still laugh and enjoy life. One of the pleasant surprises is how universal
humour can be. It is also easy to forget how quickly people’s behaviour adapts
and copies from those around them. You really only notice the extent to which
you adapt when you get back home. For example it took me a while to stop bowing
to people and also to stop smiling at people in the street, restaurants etc –
or certainly to stop expecting them to smile back.
I also got used to things that I would
expect not to cope with easily. Specifically after the first day or so I was no
longer bothered by how much my room on the 16th floor shook when one
of the steady stream of aftershocks wobbled Tokyo. That reminded me of how worryingly
quickly I had got used to seeing young men with machine gums patrolling the
streets while working in Belfast
in 1992. Seems we absorb new technology just as quickly, and it takes very
little time for what seemed new and so different to become everyday life.
People as old as me can remember life without a mobile phone, but already I
find it hard to recall how it felt to be out of contact whenever out of the house or office, let alone that it didn’t bother me to be unreachable.
But coping without things you have got used
to does happen – and it is clear there are some very direct lessons for service
management in Tokyo
today. Obviously in the light of their unfortunate experience and need for disaster
recovery and business continuity they are well placed to be the source of most
of the case studies for the next few years. It may well be a long time before
even the immediate effects stop being so visible – there is an obligation for a
15% reduction in electricity consumption that looks set to last a long while.
That kind of thing has so many knock-on effects you quickly realise how
dependent we are on technology. Not only because it is a shock to go back to
old ways – and waving a fan may be an ancient Japanese tradition but it much less
effective than air conditioning; but because we depend on so much that cannot
function without the technological infrastructure. The power reduction of 15%
has to applied carefully, because so many things – like data centre power –
must be maintained. So the power for things that drive mere comfort is hit very
hard – very little cooling in offices and, for example, my hotel had turned off
That made me think of just how complex our
everyday infrastructures have become, with so much more than electricity on our
critical list. It perhaps should be acompulsory occasional exercise to think through just how many things we
presume will be available – not just the obvious (utilities, access, people etc).
I am sure we would all be surprised at some of the things we tacitly depend on –
and equally sure there are good stories to be told about some of them – any offers?.
If you are friends of Tivoli experts on Twitter, you may see #tivtour tweets quite a bit this week. See my recent write up on this topic to learn more about the mystery event. Also, see Twitter Search for #tivtour on Twazzup
for a running stream of related tweets and photos. The Tivoli Tour runs
at many IBM locations this week and in Brazil on May 29. So you can
expect to see more Twitter conversations in the near future.
In his keynote address yesterday, Al Zollar talked about how customers are leveraging Integrated Service Management. Capital Region of Denmark in Copenhagen, is in the process of leveraging Integrated Service Management to track missing assets, improve maintenance schedules and get their company back on track.
Capital Region of Denmark is a conglomerate of hospitals with data distributed across three different storage tiers and four sites, with an online disk capacity of 500 Terabytes and backup and archive data exceeding 1.5 Petabytes.
They have solved their storage complexity issues with Integrated Service Management and are managing their entire storage infrastructure with only four people.
He also talked about how the U.S. Air Force is leveraging Integrated Service Management. The U.S. Air Force defense and intelligence network manages the operations of nine major commands, nearly 100 bases, and 700,000 active military personnel around the world. They are leveraging Integrated Service Management solutions to design and deliver a cloud infrastructure with unprecedented levels of security and resiliency.
It's not just a vision for the future--it's happening now. Integrated Service Management can help your company get past the complexity and risk you deal with on a daily basis.
We love our planet, Mother
Earth. Don’t we? As for me, having been born and brought up in a place so close
to nature, away from bustle of city, and having studied ‘Environment and
Resource Economics’ as one of the subjects in my Post Grad, these things have
always been the driving forces behind my love and fascination towards Mother
Earth. And, since Mother Earth is inseparable from the technological revolution
and innovations happening around us, it gives me a proud feeling to be an IBMer
who works towards Big Blue’s mission of a Smarter Planet.
Visibility, Control and Automation™ is how
IBM defines service management which, when obtained for the smarter business infrastructures and end-to-end service
chain, can take any business to its zenith and contribute in making our
Mother Earth a Smarter Planet.
IBM’s Tivoli® Software places
IBM in a unique position to help the clients provide smarter solutions and the
expertise needed to design, build and manage a infrastructure that enables them
to improve service, reduce cost and manage risk.
Not long ago, while surfing
through our case study database, I stumbled upon a Tivoli success story that
caught my attention and I’m happy to share the same with our readers here.“Schweizerische
Bundesbahnen (SBB) Leverages rail system and network transparency to keep
trains on schedule”. Wow, the title looked so fascinating to me and that might
be because I’ve had many not-so-good-train-experiences, delay in arrival or
departure and the likes (which I always dislike).
(SBB), or Swiss Federal Railways, is Switzerland’s leading transportation
company.SBB transports over 800,000
passengers and more than 220,000 tons of cargo each day, maintains 3,011
kilometers of track that connects more than 800 rail stations and also a large
construction organization that engages in roughly 5,000 construction programs
each year. However, due to inefficient monitoring systems, a one day system
problem in 2005 had stranded nearly 200,000 passengers, costing almost US$5
million. Hence, SBB was looking for a more aggressive service management
strategy to prevent future events of this type and operate 9000 trains a day
without any hassles.
customizable user interfaces that increase network transparency, and helps
support staff to be better informed about infrastructure health. 2.Leverages proactive management and automated
alert systems to recognize and repair more than 50 percent of issues before
they can impact operations. 3.Increases the availability of SBB’s train
network by approximately 2,000 minutes per month - therefore saving
approximately US$2.3 million each year.
Martin Schaeren, Head of BU
Service Management, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), is all praise for IBM, “Trying to manage 3,000 kilometers of track
is a particularly daunting task. But, by leveraging our new IBM solution, we’re
able to see our entire infrastructure clearly and respond to problems before
they can affect our operations.”
Well, a commendable success
story indeed. We, the IBMers, sincerely, wish that all the railway systems of
our world become ‘smarter’, sooner than later. What say?
As I wrote last week, I am looking forward to delivering more simulations over the next weeks and months, I always enjoy the buzz of working with people rather than sitting in a lonely room hitting keys and listening to the dog snore.
I went through my technologically savvy period some years ago (back in the horse-drawn computer age). For years now I’ve felt that the biggest scope for improvement in service management is through the people part of the famous trilogy of people, process and technology.
It’s important though to be sure that we don't forget it is a trilogy – in a recent presentation I used a picture of a milking stool to make the point: three legs, if you have problems in any one of them you will fall on the floor, spill the milk and fail to do your job.
So the emphasis on people is not because we don't need the technology – it’s because there have always been plenty of people selling the technology hard in our business. And it sometimes seems to me that there are people even keener and more excited to buy it – each one as much a fashion victim as the lady horrified she’ll be spotted in last year’s shoes. But – for sure – we do need good technology. Of course, I work for a software and technology company so I would say that, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
And process is still vital – that is the first level of learning that comes from our simulation games – not knowing what needs to be done usually means you don’t do what needs doing. I remember getting excited by process when I first understood how to see and then improve them. I remember also how much better ITIL V2 was than V1 when we went ‘process focused’ – and how modern and nifty we thought we were.
But again – there is no shortage of process champions, so forgive me if I keep harping on about the people. There are more of us than there used to be pushing the importance of people. Paul Wilksinson, of course, has been – and still is – a trailblazer, although he is still obliged to play the prophet because the vast majority of our industry still needs to be converted to the simple reality; that no matter how cool your IT gadgets and software and no matter how carefully researched your process, if you don't keep the third leg – people – strong and secure then things simply won’t work.
Successful politics is called ‘The art of the possible” and I am aware we – those who believe that people factors are the biggest stumbling block to successful service management – need to play that game too. No point (yet) trying to make everyone totally people focused – our efforts through the simulators and suchlike are to at least get IT managers to realise that the quality of the services they deliver does depend on people aspects. It’s simple stuff really, like people talking to each other, finding out what things matter to them.
Strangely enough, this is the kind of thing we do well and automatically outside work, but somehow it becomes so much harder when it gets all business related – maybe we like to take sides at work, or think the office is too important a place to act human in. What is about being in the office (or Datacentre or shop floor or whatever your work looks like) that strips us of some basic level of humanity? We seem able to talk to our colleagues at work about non-work things – last nights TV or football, fashions, music etc – but not about their work wants and needs.
Of course there are exceptions – we need to capture and promote these to help us get the message across. My favourite is a reversal of the norm I just described. It is from a UKgovernment department where a cricket match between IT and Finance was being played out one evening. Due to Finance’s excellent bowling there was a hiatus since the batsmen were being dismissed faster than the next one could get the equipment on. During this pause the non-striking batsmen (from IT) was chatting about work and they solved a issue that had turned into a long running fight between managers. The managers had stood on principles and formality instead of talking about what was actually wanted. The issue was solved by these real workers getting a mutual understanding through the revolutionary approach of talking and listening to each other.
That’s what we shall be trying to do with the delegates to our simulation sessions – and in other ‘take the people seriously’ initiatives. Do you have some good stories about how much difference it makes when your people are able to understand each other’s perspectives? Be great to hear them. Be even better to catch up at one of the forthcoming simulations, or to see you at Pulse in March and we can talk – and listen - over a beer. J
 Apparently coined by Bismark, but I first heard it used by Harold Wilson in the 1960s
Al Zollar, will be collaborating with thought leaders at CIOsynergy on May 6. One of the topics Al will be talking with other CIOs about is how building a dynamic infrastructure can help CIOs free up more of their time to focus on innovation and driving competitive advantage.
CIOs in every industry are all too familiar with the operational and financial challenges that growing infrastructure complexity and rising energy costs are creating for their organizations.
There is increased complexity across the board, and that is a trend that will continue. Creating competitive advantage now means dealing with complexity better than your competitors. And that means the ability to work across your organizations technology siloes to harness technology to support breakthrough innovations.It also means creating a flexible anddynamicinfrastructure to support those innovations.
IBM has been working with many companies and CIOsto helpthem to realize their part in the Smarter Planet, and address the challenges of this environment with such capabilities as Integrated Service Management, Cloud, Security, and Virtualization delivered via our extensive portfolio of hardware, software, and services.Our offerings help our customers create that flexible, dynamic infrastructure that frees up CIOs to innovate, and create the breakthrough services that make them more competitive.
IBM’s vision for a dynamic infrastructure offers an evolutionary new model for efficient IT delivery—giving CIOs the tools to overcome the minutia of daily operations to drive real business innovation.
It’s an approach that allows CIOs to:
Position themselves as agents of change within their organizations
Help break down barriers to global integration
Lead by example on green initiatives and reduce enterprise energy consumption.
That means CIOs will be better able to align IT with business goals and help pave the way for creating the Enterprise of the Future.
Find out more about building a dynamic infrastructure.
If you have spent five minutes with me, you have probably heard me rave about the "WTF" podcast from Marc Maron.
It is the first topic of discussion when I talk to a friend of mine (second being Doctor Who).
The reason WTF works is that you have a veteren comedian (Maron) who knows the questions to ask. Who understands the journey. Who can have the types of discussions that lead to places you and I wouldn't think to go.
Maron is on the short-list of great interviewers. His podcast is one of the few times where the word "fascinating" really applies.
There are a number of reasons to attend (and if you read the Pulse Blog or follow #ibmpulse, they're too numerous to list here).
We announced that Woz is one of our keynote speakers.
Well, the format for this keynote is going to be a little different. He is going to be interviewed by none other than IBM's very own; Grady Booch (@grady_booch).
Grady is an innovator in the same vein as Woz. He was one of three individuals who invented UML.
As someone who worked for a company that relied heavily on UML (which I'm sure is the same for many readers), it's like "Memphis" Raines meeting Henry Ford. He's pretty much the reason a number of us are where we are in this industry.
UML. The Apple computer.
Grady and Woz were not only on the ground floor of technology revolutions, but they both built most of the foundations.
Between the two of them, they personify the type of innovation that we promote at Pulse 2012.
I can not stress this enough: innovation is the differentiator. It's what puts our clients in the leadership position in their industry. It's the thing that organizations playing "catch up" are trying to chase down.
Pulse is about not only helping you find the solutions to drive your innovation, but it's also about mindset. It's about thinking like an innovator.
Thinking like Woz and Grady. Getting you there.
And a keynote like this, with a real in-depth discussion between two of the best in the business. It's gonna be fascinating and you need to be there.
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
There are many great reasons to attend Pulse 2010- you can see real-world demonstrations of the newest service management solutions, you can hear about strategies and product roadmaps that can help you chart your roadmap for success, and you can get free-certifications and hands-on instruction in on-site labs. These are all great reasons to attend Pulse 2010, but I would like to focus one that often gets overlooked--networking with people not like you.
Pulse gives you the opportunity to attend tracks tailored to your specific area of focus and network with people doing work like you do. While there is a great deal of value in networking and sharing ideas with people whose roles are similar to yours, there may be even more value in talking with people who don’t do what you do.
What would happen if CEOs, service providers, IT professionals, plant managers, facilities managers, VPs of Operations, security administrators, and storage managers talked with each other? What kinds of solutions and ideas would emerge?
For true innovative thinking to occur, reframing challenges and understanding different points of view is key. While it’s easier to stay in your comfort zone and talk with people who speak your language, the opportunity to talk with people from other industries or from your industry but with roles different than yours may be one of the one of the best ways to gain new insights, reframe the challenges you are facing, and think outside the box.
Pulse 2010 gives you the opportunity to do just that. It offers you the chance to network with industry leaders and a broad audience of users and partners who may have different takes on service management—ones that can help you solve existing problems more efficiently, develop new services, or find new ways to accelerate growth and gain competitive edge.