Jarod Greene

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Jarod Greene
Sr. Research Analyst
8 years at Gartner
8 years IT Industry

Jarod Greene focuses on IT service support management, specifically, IT service desk management, organization and technology. This includes social IT management, software as a service (SaaS), IT support process improvement (including the ITIL framework), and IT knowledge management and self-service approaches. Read Full Bio

I Always Feel Like, Somebody’s Watching Me

by Jarod Greene  |  July 14, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

(What c’hall know about Rockwell?!)

Last Monday we published a research note for ITSSM buyers on how to choose between BMC and ServiceNow.

How to Decide Between BMC and ServiceNow for ITSSM and Beyond

This is a note that’s been in the works for some time, and serves as a compliment to BMC and ServiceNow SWOT analysis notes that published earlier in the year.

We wrote this note because our estimates indicate that collectively BMC and ServiceNow own 50% of the ITSSM market.

We also wrote this note because our clients are asking this question at least three times a week.

The gist of the note is that choosing BMC or ServiceNow on ITSSM is too narrow of a focus. There are other things to consider.

Both have strong ITSSM offerings, but the similarities end there. Outside of ITSSM, BMC and ServiceNow are two different companies with two different strategic road maps, and “choosing between them” requires IT organizations to determine how value will be gained beyond the use of their ITSSM offerings. That starts with understanding what type of IT organization you are and how you outline the path to business value.

  • In selecting BMC, most organizations decide to demonstrate value through the end-to-end management of stable and reliable IT services composed of traditional and cloud-based environments.
  • In selecting ServiceNow, most organizations decide to demonstrate value by creating custom request-and-fulfill applications that meet a wide range of needs outside the IT organization.

We don’t recommend an “appropriate” choice to clients, contrary to widely held beliefs.

We ask organizations who they are, where they want to go and how do they plan on getting there. Based on the context, I have a discussion about what organizations with a similar story have done and talk about the pitfalls to avoid in getting there.

Sometimes they choose BMC, sometimes they choose ServiceNow. Sometimes they choose neither. And, sometimes, they choose both.

The reality is, many large, complex mature organizations value what they have with BMC’s ITOM portfolio to manage IT services and their data center environment. They just don’t love Remedy ITSM.  At the same time, these same large, complex mature organizations are attracted to the idea of using ServiceNow’s development platform to create custom request-and-fulfill applications that meet a wide range of business needs. They just are not willing to lift their BMC ITOM portfolio and shift over to ServiceNow’s, largely because ServiceNow doesn’t have the products.

From that context, I noted that BMC and ServiceNow were better compliments than they were  direct competitors. In a chart, we noted that across 18 ITOM products, BMC has many strong, best of breed products. We also noted that ServiceNow cannot make the same claim – many of their ITOM products (outside of ITSSM) were scored as weak, adequate, or not available, and that ServiceNow fills these gaps with partners.

I also noted that based on several years on dialogue with ServiceNow leadership that it was unlikely that ServiceNow would fills gaps with acquisitions. Specifically:

IT organizations should not rely on ServiceNow to expand in ITOM functionalities with specific products. ServiceNow will continue to build out its partners in ITOM to provide complimentary ITOM tools.”

And then this happened 48 hours after the note published:

http://www.servicenow.com/company/media/press-room/servicenow-acquires-neebula.html

Oh.

#AcquisitionHadMeLike

kevin-hart-feat-

 

In my second most notable tweet of that day, I called this a good look. Here’s why:

  • Neebula fills a gap for ServiceNow, providing top-down service mapping that is likely to compliment (not replace) the bottom-up discovery they already provide.
  • ServiceNow can compete on SDM – a place BMC ADDM or HP’s Universal Discovery hit them hard on.
  • IT Service View CMDB’s, when done correctly, are very sticky. Sticky is a must have in a subscription based business.
  • ServiceWatch gives ServiceNow a pivot into Infrastructure Monitoring and a very light slice of Application Performance Management.
  • This provides ServiceNow with another “in” into the IT organization.  If ServiceWatch is sold standalone, they can engage IT organizations who have recently licensed ITSSM tools, and want top-down discovery to populate their CMDB’s.
  • It excites the ever-expanding ServiceNow customer base, and shows a stronger commitment to ITOM.
  • Hell, the product name even fits.

I also think it’s interesting that this is an acknowledgement that the entire world isn’t moving to the cloud for all applications, and not all applications will be built atop ServiceNow.

This wasn’t the sexiest purchase for ServiceNow, but it’s solid.

  • What do you think?
  • Are you a BMC/ServiceNow customer or prospect swayed in any capability by this acquisition?

Please  – let me know in the comments, or on Twitter (@jarodgreene).

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New ITSSM Tool, or Nah?

by Jarod Greene  |  February 5, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

You can get with this, or you can get with that” — Dres of Black Sheep, “The Choice Is Yours”

I ran this tape into the ground. This was back when high technology was pushing a button to flip from the A-side to the B-side. Kids today, with their streaming music services accessible on their smartphones, have no idea about the struggle of winding your popped tape with a pencil.

I digress.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading “Decisive”.  The book, authored by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, provides a very effective decision framework that when applied helps us make better decisions in life and work. Chip and Dan were speakers at our 2013 Data Center Conference in Las Vegas. I did not get a chance to catch their session, but a colleague grabbed the book for me.

I&O leaders have to make decisions every single day, whether approving of a change, hiring of a new employee or purchasing an IT service support management platform. I reference the third point for a specific reason; of the 779 Gartner client inquiries I fielded last year, 332 were about trying to determine which ITSSM platform to choose. Forty percent of my calls were with clients trying to arrive at a decision to stay with their current vendor or go to another one.

The most common question: “Do we stay with BMC, or go to ServiceNow?”

The most common response to that question: “Well, it depends…”

This isn’t skirting the question. That answer is driven from the fact that there are many variables to consider, including the client’s scope of information, an understanding of their situation, their ability to distance themselves from a decision, and the availability of resources to support whichever decision they make.

At Gartner, our goal is to help deliver the technology-related insight necessary for our clients to make the right decisions, every day. The technology-related insight is relatively easy —— I’m privileged to have ongoing dialogue with the providers of ITSSM tools, and I validate vendor claims with the clients I interact with throughout the year. I can help a customer develop a shortlist based on their requirements, provide insight that can validate a customer’s suspicions or help decipher a seemingly complex pricing model without too much trouble. But, the part about helping clients make the right decision can be a little misleading at times. I am usually given 30 minutes at a time with a client, where the first five are used to gather situational context. Over the next 25 minutes, I apply my expertise and scope to that context to provide the client with recommendations and suggestions. I also want to make sure to call out any pitfalls to avoid, and help clients see things that are not immediately obvious.

Then, of course, the choice is yours.

Even with all the technology-related insight in the world, our clients can still run into the villains of decision making, evidenced by short rip-and-replace cycles. That’s where a decision framework, like the one the Heath brothers outline in “Decisive,” is an extremely viable tool to utilize.

 

WRAP

 

Widen the Scope of Possibilities

“Should we replace our vendor or not?” is a narrow frame. There are many more options to consider, but often they are out of the scope of the decider. Recently, I was on a call with an IT leader who was adamant about replacing her service management platform because she concluded that it lacked IT service catalog and IT asset management capabilities (which was simply not true). The decision was made to move to a new solution, and the inquiry call was to discuss what type of pricing to expect. Using the “vanishing options” technique from the book, I asked her (hypothetically) what would happen if funding for a new tool wasn’t approved. Stunned by the question, she proceeded to say that if the organization had to stay on its current platform, it would refine processes and try to make more effective use of the tool, if it indeed provided service catalog and ITAM capabilities (which it does). By considering opportunity costs, perhaps an investment in process improvement might be more sustainable.

Reality Test Your Assumptions

There is no shortage of information available to help you make a decision, and the authors surmise that we tend to trust “the averages” over our instincts — but not as much as we should. We lock ourselves in an “inside view,” which is our evaluation of our specific situation.  This plays out on my inquiry calls with clients, who conclude that their IT organization is a mess and that a new technology solution will be the catalyst for positive change. Having a Gartner relationship provides our clients with an “outside view,” which allows me to explain how things generally unfold in a given situation, such as the purchase of a new ITSSM tool.  Analysts collect context over time, in order to articulate what usually happens, and they describe the typical outcome in the form of pitfalls to avoid and critical success factors. Still, most clients gravitate to the inside view for reasons tied to pride and overconfidence  in their abilities to “make it work”. Both views are required to gather the best information.

Attain Distance Before Making a Decision

My clients often describe sales  situations as “high pressure” when sellers make it hard for the buyer to attain distance from the decision. Images of Jordan Belfort come to mind, shifting into closer mode when a prospect tells him he needs to talk it over with his wife. In the fourth  quarter of 2013, I handled more ITSSM tool decision calls and contract reviews than in any other quarter. These contacts were a mix of seller-driven fiscal year-end fear, and buyer fears tied to not spending allocated funds. In both cases, fear drives the decision-making process with predictable results. Emotions are tied to the familiar (what product everyone else seems to be using, what vendor attends the most tradeshows, etc.), and loss aversion (i.e., losses being more painful than gains are pleasant) creates situations that allow exploding offers to be effective.

Prepare to Be Wrong

This isn’t the same as being pessimistic for no reason, but rather understanding what the future looks like across a range of outcomes. Leaders should plan for the worst-case and best-case scenarios, and ask questions tied to the outcomes, so as to prepare accordingly. Ask yourself:

  • So your ITSSM tool implementation went horribly wrong. What happened and why?
  • So your ITSSM tool implementation was a huge success. What happens next?

The latter is a very real “trap”  — take the customer who executes flawlessly, and starts to see so much demand from the business that it becomes hard to meet demand without additional resources. For some, it’s a good problem to have, but for others without foresight, it can be a real challenge.

My brief and simplistic overview of this book does not do it justice. I would strongly encourage this read to anyone who has to make a decision, whether it is IT-related or not. The book is full of examples that are easy to understand and contextualize. We can all stand to improve our decision-making skills.

Isn’t that right, Mr. Kapernick?

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

Serious questions:

Are you replacing your ITSSM tool in 2014 (or nah)?

How does your organization go about making key decisions?

What expertise can you lend as someone who has been there before to help someone trying to make the same decision you had to?

What approaches to widening assumptions, reality testing answers, attaining distance and preparing to be wrong did you undertake, and how?

 

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You Can Read the Magic Quadrant, After You Finish Cleaning Your Room

by Jarod Greene  |  August 23, 2013  |  2 Comments

“Clean this house from the inside out”

-       Issac Caree, Clean This House

 

(It’s not always hip-hop guys. I do listen to Gospel music too….)

On my 14th birthday, my dad gave me $100. Well, he didn’t just give it to me – he told me it was somewhere in my room. Like most teenagers, my room was an absolute disaster. I’d have to clean my room to find it.

“No problem” I thought to myself. I figured he’d put it somewhere simple where I could find it in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t in my sock drawer. It wasn’t underneath the bed. It wasn’t in my “Above the Rim” Soundtrack CD case. It wasn’t in between my Sega Genesis and Sega CD console.

Clearly, I’d have to take this search for value to another level. That day, I developed a cleaning model that I still use today.

I pushed everything (from the floor, under the bed, inside the drawers and atop all surfaces) into one big pile in the center of the room. I wanted to see everything in front of me to sort out. Next, I sorted through the pile, making sure nothing would be throwing away in the process. Then I methodically and meticulously put things back where they belonged, ensuring that as I did so, I’d look in non-obvious places for value. Lastly, I swept the floor, made the bed and bagged trash for disposal.

So the room was clean, but much to my chagrin, I hadn’t yet located the funds.

What if my father was playing a cruel joke on me? If so, it wasn’t funny, because he would then be guilty of playing with my emotions. When I asked if that was the case, and he replied with a laugh and reassurance that it wasn’t, I only grew more frustrated. I stormed to my room, fist clenched and full of anger.

When I walked into my room, I stopped to realize how it was now an impeccably clean space, with no junk or clutter on the ground. I was able to maneuver through the room in ways I hadn’t been able to in weeks. With nothing on the floor to draw my eyes downward, I was looking at my room different for the first time in a while. That’s when I realized that it might be a good time to rearrange the posters, so that Cindy Crawford would be the last thing I saw before I went to bed.

That’s when I realized that my father was a cruel man. Tacked to the upper right corner of the Charles Barkley poster over my bed was a crisp $100 bill.

Stop laughing. Seriously, stop it.

Almost 20 years later, I think about what my father was doing. Sure, he could have said, “clean your room, and then I’ll give you your gift” or “clean your room because I’m your father and I said so”, but he didn’t. In fact, he didn’t even suggest I clean my room at all, he simply told me what was in there and left it for me to find, if I wanted to. And by not hiding it in an obvious place, he made me work for it. The well-taken point was that sometimes you have to clean up things you have to find the hidden value in what’s within your immediate grasp.

I tell this story because it reminds me of the tendency I&O organizations disregard the value that they are sitting right on top of. They look for quick wins in the sock drawer, or in CD cases, and when they can’t find it quickly, they get frustrated. The response is usually haste, and the push is to throw out all the hard process design, customization and configuration work away, before being self reflective. They forget that they moved into a clean room, and they made it messy. That would be like me blaming my father for my room being dirty, because he bought me so many clothes, video games and CD’s.

What if organizations just cleaned their rooms up? What if they stopped to recognize what changes need to be made before they start looking at new rooms? What if instead of building a long list of new requirements for new rooms, they changed their practices on how they manage their current one? More than we all care for it to be the case, the solution I&O organizations arrive at is to rip and replace, with the belief that things will be different this time.

It might be, but it won’t be sustainable.

Quick wins with new tools have more to do with the process of cleaning your room than they will with moving into a new one. A business case for a new tool is that it will allow organizations to clean up, and that proposition is backwards. The logic is that by quickly get everything in front and center and putting it back where it belongs provides a better overview of what services they deliver, and how to better support them. When you clean room, I’d expect First Contact Resolution and Customer Satisfaction go up. What is harder to do is keeping the room clean, while you work to better meet the demands of the business at the pace they desire. Your clean room may actually work against you, by setting expectations that you may not be poised to deliver on. Your clean room is a start, but ultimately your organization must undergo a culture change, much like the one you needed to undergo the last time you acquired a shiny new tool set. We have to move beyond a “quicker picker upper” culture, and into one that better allows us the flexibility to move at the pace of change the business requires to better enable outcomes. A clean room is the minimum expectation, not the gold standard.

So as you review the Magic Quadrant for IT Service Support Management Tools, 2013, please keep people, process and culture transformation at the forefront of your mind. Between now and the time you look to select your next tool, take steps to systematically clean up internally, so you can start to view your environment from a new perspective. Start establishing processes and defining clear roles and responsibilities. Then ask yourself what a new tool can do that your old one doesn’t. Recognize that yes, sometimes you have to dance with the one you brought to the dance (another life lesson my father taught me for a completely different situation), and ask for help if you need it. Generally speaking, the real value an organization gets when they acquire a new toolset comes from professional services beyond technical implementation and integration. Let someone help clean your room, so that is’ easier to help steer the effective people and process change necessary for success. Regardless of what technology choices you make, please be sure to take steps to keep your room clean, instead of moving into new rooms that you make dirty all the time. Avoid the tendency to think that new tools transform your organization because they are easier to upgrade or provide new features and functions that you may or may not utilize.

There is value in what you have and in where you are (it’s right behind your Charles Barkley poster) but you have to spend the time to clean up your room, and keep it clean, to find it easier. The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine, so until you make those changes, I gather you will be eagerly anticipating the 2017 version of the Magic Quadrant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hoodie IT

by Jarod Greene  |  July 15, 2013  |  5 Comments

Like, late night I’m on a first class flight / The only brother in sight the flight attendant catch fright / I sit down in my seat, 2C / She approach officially talkin’ about, “Excuse me” / Her lips curl up into a tight space / Cause she don’t believe that I’m in the right place / Showed her my boarding pass, and then she sort of gasped / All embarrassed put an extra lime on my water glass…. – Mos Def, (Track 15) Black on Both Sides

When I talked to a particular vendor last May about the concept of “Hoodie” IT, it had nothing to do with Trayvon Martin. It was a two-fold reference to the new realities of IT, mentioned during the same week Mark Zuckerberg wore a hoodie to a Facebook investor meeting months before the IPO. The first part of the reference spoke more to the fact that mobile, social, analytics and the cloud were accelerating the shift from command and control from executives (“suit and tie” IT) to everyone’s IT (hoodie IT). The second part spoke to the level of effort one has to exert to be successful in any endeavor; in that you have you work extremely hard to achieve your goals and objectives and through that work you’d be wise to put your hoodie on. It’s the reason Rocky Balboa isn’t running up the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in a pashmina:

11189545-hoody-rocky

This past May, while attending the same vendor conference where Hoodie IT was discussed, I looked up and saw a picture of the company’s founder wearing a hoodie on a pre-session slide a slide discussing the new realities of IT. I didn’t think twice about it. I got it, and I think everyone else did too. For those who saw it and snickered, I think it spoke to the fact that there is very much a suit and tie contingency who don’t believe a “hoodie element” belongs in IT.

For obvious reasons, I think they are wrong

This isn’t to compare the suit and tie contingency to George Zimmerman, but rather to discuss how the pre-conceived notions and prejudices held by those who decide who “belongs” are preventing us all from reaching our goals and objectives. I honestly don’t believe George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin because he was black. I also do not believe the trial was about race. I do believe that the events that led to the shooting of Trayvon Martin stemmed from one man using visual cues of race and attire to determine that someone was where they were not supposed to be, and deciding to do something about it.

I knew George Zimmerman would walk. Part of that premonition is because as an IT Research Analyst, my job is evaluate and analyze the information I have at my disposal to draw conclusions and make predictions. Furthermore, as an IT Operations / IT Service Management Analyst, I spend a good deal of time helping organizations understand:

  • The state of an environment,
  • the recurring issues that plague that environment,
  • the root cause of said issues that impact the environment, and
  • the impact of changes to that environment to prevent further issues.

So it’s with those analyst skills that I can understand how we have arrived at a particular point and time and void of emotion, help to determine which steps are necessary to reduce of the risk of arriving there again.

However this time, the issues with determining who does and doesn’t belong are personal to me and I actually live in the environment that’s being affected. Unfortunately, based on what I wear and what I look like, I’ve been told too many times that I don’t belong somewhere. And because I’m in the environment this time, I struggle with clearly helping to determine the next best set of steps.

Jarod Greene “being in the environment” obviously does not often yield the same unfortunate outcome as what happened to Trayvon Martin. What I’m speaking of is the countless number of times that a conference security guard told me to leave a room because it was reserved for “press and analysts only”, before actually seeing my identification badge. I’m talking about the times I’ve gone on-site to see clients alone, where I would check in with the receptionist and await the client in the lobby alone, only for the client to come out, and look around the room confused as if the Gartner analyst who traveled to see them had suddenly left the building. I’m talking about the time when a friend of mine (who is also African American and works in IT) was accidentally invited to a conference call, only to hear himself being referred to as “the angry negro”. I’m talking about the Indian computer programmer in Silicon Valley who architects the next great solution, and has to hire a white graduate student from Stanford to be the pitchman for the product because VC’s have told him that his people are not good with money. I’m talking about the countless number of disenfranchised individuals (women, gay/lesbian/transgender) who are passed over for opportunities, positions and promotions for a variety of reasons that include, but are not limited to, not being a team player, being too confrontational, being hard to communicate with, not being “strategic” enough, or (my favorite) not being articulate enough. Being told you don’t belong doesn’t just hurt; it’s impacting our abilities to reach our goals and objectives. Just think about the last time your company tried to innovate with a room of individuals all from the same background who just so happen to all get along.

It’s sad when I’m at a large IT conference and I can count the number of African Americans attending on one hand, and even sadder that I don’t even need all 5 fingers to count the number of African American analyst colleagues at my own company. For the record, we all belong there, but I’m a little tired of the joke we make that we’d better split up soon, so not to alarm anyone. I’m also a little ashamed to admit that before I joined the analyst ranks, I intentionally rebuffed the efforts of people like Frank Kenney and never introduced myself to Daryl Plummer, because I didn’t want anyone to think I was there outside of my own merit.

What I enjoy about being a minority in this field is that everyday I’m provided with a daily opportunity to change the stereotypes held about African American males. So as you read this, I’m challenging you to better understand and address their preconceived notions and prejudices, and apply them to a dialogue that effects change. There is no single solution to solving the discrimination challenges of the world, but if change starts at home, allow me to use this blog as a platform to ask that you and others around you open your mind when you consider who does and doesn’t belong somewhere. You’ll be surprised as what transpires next.

 

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‘Got Business Productivity Team And U.O.E.N.O It…..

by Jarod Greene  |  July 9, 2013  |  2 Comments

You’re welcome in advance for getting U.O.E.N.O stuck in your head. It’s one of the heavy rotation songs in my iPod now, courtesy of Rocko, Future and Rick Ross.

“This (is) a thousand dollar pair of shoes and you don’t even know it …”

Most I&O organizations have the foundation for Business Productivity Team initiatives in place, they just don’t know it.

 Gartner’s Infrastructure and Operations Management Conference was an outstanding event. Sure, I’m a little biased, but the show served to validate the push IT organizations should be making to improve IT-business engagement, for the sake of being better aligned to and aware of business challenges and objectives. I presented twice (“Driving IT-Business Engagement From the Bottom Up” and “What Can Foursquare, Facebook and Final Fantasy Teach I&O Organizations”), moderated a compelling End-User Case Study with Bob McCarty and Julie Walsh of Fidelity (who told the story of their TechWorks Enterprise Guru Bar), and co-led a roundtable on IT Service Desk Practices. The common theme in each session was that attendees and participants fundamentally agree that their traditional IT service desk model is not working. The business moves faster than an asset-optimizing IT organization can sustain, and the IT help desk struggles to satisfy the business the best they can, with limited resources at their disposal. The results are predictable: customer confidence is low; performance metrics don’t demonstrate business value; burnout and subsequent turnover levels are high. Our IT Key Metrics Data 2012 shows that on average, an IT service desk Full-Time-Equivalent handled 1619 more contacts last year than in 2011 — contacts that were likely higher in complexity and presented with a greater sense of urgency.

Those close to the service desk know that the function they provide is critical. They understand that business leaders demand higher levels of personal productivity and throw money at tools to ease their anxiety — tools they expect to be easy to use, intuitive and work seamlessly across multiple devices. They also understand how workforce culture, consumerization and the cloud impact the traditional IT service support model, and know it’s imperative that they do something sooner rather than later. However, most importantly, they struggle with understanding how to define the roles, responsibilities, success criteria and ROI for the development of a business productivity team (BPT) concept; sentiments echoed in my round of webinars two weeks ago (see Gartner Webinar: “The Future of IT Service Support“).

What I find most ironic is that this role already exists in some shadow IT support capacity, and most IT organizations don’t even know it.

Take a visit I had with a customer two weeks ago, where certain members of the IT organization were often the victims of the drive-by/walk up/”Hey Joe!” support model we have grown to love and hate at the same time: Love because as the provider of walk-up support, we were able to connect with the user we were helping, get an understanding of their challenges, provide a solution and receive gratitude and appreciation in real time; Hate because we have all worked with a person who took this to the extreme, and would disappear for long stretches to help users, meanwhile never documenting any activities along the way and often contradicting the IT policies and processes upper management had been working so hard to establish. Also take into account the organization that outsources Tier 1 support to a third party, but employees refuse to contact them for support and assistance, preferring to call “Randy” anytime an issue occurs. Despite Randy’s best efforts to have users call Tier 1 half a world away, his attempts are futile so to help his business peers achieve their objectives, he will troubleshoot, triage and resolve as best as he can, even at the expense of the objectives he is tasked with completing day in and day out. Complicating matters is that if the withstanding rule of management is “if it isn’t written down or logged, it never happened,” then how can IT make the case that they do provide outstanding service on demand? If we want to satisfy customers to help demonstrate business value, why do we push customers away so much?

Where is the disconnect, and how can IT service and support organizations modernize to account for changes in IT service complexity and business expectations, if they are unable to demonstrate value to the business they are asking for resources and support from?

It starts with recognizing that IT service desks can do more than fix things when they break. I talk to hundreds of I&O organizations a year who want to benchmark their operational and technical metrics, but tell me that they are not able to capture customer satisfaction data because their users don’t fill out surveys. (I joked at a conference last month that when your users are not filling out surveys, it’s not that you don’t know how they feel. It’s the opposite — they are telling you exactly how they feel!) All jokes aside, the Catch-22 is real. IT organizations attempt to optimize around costs, processes and service at the same time and it does not work well. To optimize costs, we move IT away from business users. To optimize processes, we leverage standard, hard-coded scripts that we rarely deviate from. As much as IT organizations say they want better relationships with the business, most have a funny way of showing it.

This is not to say IT organizations should not optimize their resources around costs and processes – but more so, they should recognize that there are capabilities present that allow IT to provide personalized, context-aware assistance that not only allows the business’s favorite IT guy to provide that support, but to do it consistently, and to do it in a way that lets the business know that you don’t just feel their pain, but can actually work toward creating solutions and identifying alternative measures to alleviate it.

Ultimately, I believe that once business productivity teams start to track improvements in business outcomes that they are responsible for, they will start to be valued accordingly. In other words, if you improve what’s important to the business and attribute the cause to your presence, then your BPT becomes valuable. As BPT concepts are absorbed into the traditional service desk construct, it will be important for I&O organizations to get a handle on how much shadow IT support is occurring. In those instances, there is a good amount of valuable information and knowledge generated, and then subsequently lost. It needs to be managed better. It’s one thing to digitize the water cooler conversation or the ad-hoc walk-up support sessions, but it’s another thing to repurpose this knowledge to better understand how to improve the support and delivery of IT services to the business at large.

You may be closer to a BPT model than you think. Do you have unofficial BPT analysts in your organization who placed service ahead of costs and process optimization? Have you worked to quell these efforts, or see it as a necessary function for supporting the business?

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Ask Jeff Brooks if ‘Dem Polls Important (Potent Polls)

by Jarod Greene  |  March 25, 2013  |  Submit a Comment

Shout out to anyone who can figure out which lyricist the title of blog is tied to. (Hint: His pep talks turn into pep rallies).

Short but sweetie today – my colleague Jeff Brooks and I have been on our grind through the initial round of IT Service Support Tool Vendor Magic Quadrant demos, with a handful more to complete this week. We’ve also been doing our fair share of inquiries, strategic advisory sessions and client engagement days through this first quarter, and while we get together often to discuss client chatter, industry trends and the most recently watched episode of  ”Girls”,  we recognize that there is clearly a need to go out and get more information. To help extend our reach, we have recently launched an IT service desk survey.

We’re after the IT leader buying trends, concerns, and  framework considerations to supplement our research, and we need your help.

Our love doesn’t cost a thing, but we are fully aware that your time is valuable, so for that we would like to offer anyone who completes the survey a Gartner research note of their choosing to be emailed directly to them.

The survey can be found here:  http://tinyurl.com/bhtv2ej

But wait, there’s more! (#BillyMaysVoice)

Jeff Brooks will be attending the SITS2013 show (http://www.servicedeskshow.com/)  in London,  April 23-24. Jeff will establish an official Gartner presence in the Expo Hall, and anyone  interested in a meet up can find him there. In addition to insight, Jeff will be handing out Gartner schwag, while supplies last, and trust me – you don’t want to miss out.  Jeff is also schedule to present and host separate sessions; one of which will be a fiery debate on whether or not ITIL has an expiration date. Surely Jeff didn’t think having that debate in the UK was a great idea, but he informed me that he’s watched enough Jerry Springer to know to duck flying chairs at his head if necessary. Gartner Analyst and UK resident Ian Head will also be in the building, so if things get really dicey, Jeff is covered.

So please – feel free to take the survey, either online or in person at SITS in a few short weeks!

Either way, thank you in advance for your participation!

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Platform to the People

by Jarod Greene  |  March 12, 2013  |  1 Comment

One of the most fundamental business lessons I’ve learned is that as long as you have a platform, you have the opportunity to create and demonstrate value. I didn’t learn that from Kanye West, but he addressed it in “Power” (the remix, of the classic “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album) when he said:

Now we all ain’t gonna be American Idols/But you can at least grab a camera, shoot a viral/take the power in your own hands….”

Lately, I’ve been an IT Service Support Management analyst thrown into many Platform-as-a-Service discussions, due largely in part to the success of ServiceNow. I don’t cover PaaS – my colleagues Yefim Natis, Eric Knipp, and Lydia Leong do. Still, I cannot ignore the fact that PaaS has become part of the ITSM lexicon.

Again, I don’t cover PaaS, but it’s important that I have a fundamental understanding of the concept.

A platform is a foundational technology or service that is essential for a broader, interdependent, ecosystem of business. Not every product can become a platform, but to have platform potential research suggests that a platform must satisfy two criteria:

1-     It should perform at least one essential function within what can be described as system of use or solve an essential technological problem within an industry.

2-     It should be easy to connect to or build upon to expand the system of use as well as to allow new and even unintended end use cases.

So, ITSSM tools, automating IT management processes as an essential function, are enabling an easy way to build upon their core solution to expand the system of use to new, and even unintended, end uses.

Platform, I get, but Platform as a Service? Let’s start at home:

Gartner defines PaaS as application infrastructure functionality being offered as a cloud service or a cloud-enabled product. Adding technologies to support runtime execution and integration of business applications forms the foundation for Application PaaS – which is a cloud platform that enables the development and deployment of multitenant, elastically scalable business applications.

SaaS vendors have the opportunity and capability to productize the platform on which their core offering is built. It’s not just ServiceNow. ITSM vendors – Cherwell, Frontrange, and Easy Vista – who license in the SaaS model also message PaaS, but I’d like to understand how much value I&O organizations place on PaaS to build out business or IT capabilities, considering the last thing many of them want to do is support “something else”.

If the larger SaaS enterprise application software market is an indicator, then we may have our answer already. Gartner research conducted through last year also shows an overwhelming sentiment among SaaS buyers for the provider to have PaaS capabilities. A whopping 96% of worldwide respondents (n = 592) said that PaaS is a requirement when selecting SaaS providers. Clearly, the ability to have these cloud layers “tandem-sourced” is paramount for SaaS buyers.

The challenge for me is that qualified respondents of the survey are SaaS buyers of broader enterprise application software (BI, ERP, SCM, CRM, PPM, Collaboration Software, Office Suites and Digital Content Creation). Curiously, IT Operations Management software is missing in the analysis, which begs the question:

Should Infrastructure and Operations groups use PaaS capability as a selection criterion when evaluating ITOM SaaS solutions?

Many say I&O organizations already do, and have been doing it for years with on-premise platforms. The value proposition in these instances was that the IT organization could better justify a large capital investment by including the ability to meet a wider range of needs for separate organization needs. For SMB’s, this was, and still is, standard practice. You will find more I&O organizations who have used ITSM software to automate tracking and request management processes for human resources or facilities management, than you would who have not. You also see that VAR’s have made a pretty penny off of building capabilities and extensions on an ITSM vendor’s platform to create some level of competitive differentiation for themselves. In speaking to these organizations, the story often ends with how growing, specific requirements from the non-ITSM organization’s eventually outstripped their abilities to meet them, or how their ITSM partner created technical (read: financial) dependence that they could do without. For these reasons, many organizations switch tools and prefer clean installs (minimal configuration, only must have customization), and have pained memories of their adventures in extended capabilities.

Others say that this platform opportunity is completely different. The value proposition here being that this time, because both the system and application infrastructure (middleware) are fully managed a service provider. Since the maintenance of the middleware is a managed service, organizations have the opportunity to do what they did before, minus the customization trap and the required overhead. Essentially, organizations can extend the value of their purchase, maximize ROI and lower the cost of innovation.

It sounds like a good deal, but just because organizations CAN use PaaS, should they?

I think it depends, and it starts with some basic questions for I&O leaders have to answer honestly:

  • Do your system engineers have the skills and capabilities to build applications on your ITSSM platform?
  • Do your application developers have the skills/desire/bandwidth to build applications on your ITSSM platform?
  • If you don’t have the skills/capabilities/desire/bandwidth, who will you source this work to?
  • Does the cost of sourcing development work offset the potential ROI?
  • Would some applications be better bought COTS than built?
  • What are the hard and soft costs of building and maintaining the applications you build?
  • To what level will the business need to be involved to drive change/transformation around the changing business processes being  automated?

This is not to knock the PaaS model for I&O, but it is to get real about what it means.

The real benefit I find for organizations who have developed applications on the platform is that they are no longer at the mercy of their software vendor to deliver advanced capabilities. An organization armed with a platform who finds a gap in their core ITSSM offering can fill it themselves, in a much for efficient and effective capacity than in years past. I&O organizations are doing, and will continue to do amazing things on the platform, meaning that the majority of innovation will come from customers, and not the vendors.

Hmmm, maybe that’s why the 2012 ITSSM Magic Quadrant had no leaders and no innovators. Maybe this year we’ll put customer dots up.

So what will be the PaaS end game for I&O organizations? Will I&O organizations use the platform to create innovation solutions faster than their ITSSM vendor can, use them to automate a wider range of business processes, or both? If given the platform power to use, how do we ensure IT organizations don’t abuse and misuse it, so they ultimately don’t lose it?

For the record, I believe in platform for the people. The platform puts the power into the hands of the larger pool of innovation in the world – the I&O shops who use these tools each and every day. Add mass collaboration to the equation, and the possibilities are truly endless.

I&O leaders, will you use the PaaS to build custom applications? If yes, what and when? If no, why not? How much does PaaS weigh into your SaaS ITSSM tool decision?

Do tell!!

 

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Don’t Let Your Vendor Catfish You

by Jarod Greene  |  February 1, 2013  |  1 Comment

Shortly after we all learned that Notre Dame was no match for the SEC in college football’s National Championship, we learned that their star linebacker had learned all about the dark side of social media.

Heisman trophy finalist Manti Te’o got catfished. He wasn’t the first person, and he won’t be the last. While it’s happened to the vast majority of Gen Y’ers, it’s never happened this publically, or in this bizarre of a fashion.

I’ve been catfished before, as a teenager who discovered the internet, AOL chat rooms and websites like social media original gangster BlackPlanet.com. In the 90′s cult classic “Friday,” Chris Tucker’s character Smokey perfectly describes what usually happens in those scenarios:

“(That girl said) she looked like Janet Jackson. (She) got out the car (and) looked more like Freddie Jackson!”

As a happily married father of two, my online and social experiences have taken a different turn. No, I don’t have friends from high school who are secretly in love with me misrepresent themselves online for their own pleasure, but I do have to vet every single customer reference a vendor gives me make sure the person on the other end of the phone is who they say they are.

Let me say this first. The majority of Analyst Relations departments I work with are outstanding. We have an open dialogue. They can get product managers and customer references when I ask, and they provide timely updates on their offerings and offering strategy. They work tirelessly to perform a role that isn’t the easier in the world to excel at. I thoroughly appreciate the work these teams perform, and value it extensively.

At the same time, I have run into situations that were a bit “fishy.” There is always the possibility that the person on the other end of the line isn’t who they say they are. It’s possible that I could be thinking I’m talking to Earl in North Carolina on his recent implementation of Vendor X’s product, when in reality I’m talking to an intern in Vendor X’s office.

I also find it strange that a vendor will claim to have hundreds of customers, but can’t get a single one to speak to us. (Note to vendors: I aim to be the most accessible analyst possible. I’ll talk to a customer reference anytime or anywhere. I even own the scheduling function, just get me contact information and we’ll take it from there. J)

There have been other times when:

• I’ve been sent emails from Analyst Relations people that brag about recent wins for companies we cannot verify exist
• I’ve spoken to customers who did not have the tool set up in production
• I’ve spoken to vendor-provided references who turned out to be resellers of that tool

You might read those and chuckle, or you might think I’d take offense from having my intelligence insulted.

I don’t get offended. In the spirit of learning from experience, I vow to never be catfished again. I check references thoroughly. I work to make sure these are real people, in real positions, and I want to make sure customers do the same when they ask for references from a potential vendor. Specifically:

• Ask vendors for local references when possible. Explore opportunities to talk face-to-face.
• Ask vendors for references similar in size, IT budget, and process maturity, to better position yourself to make like comparisons.
• Once provided the reference, locate their profile on LinkedIn and other social media sites, as well as their presence in the vendor’s user communities.
• Understand that there is usually an incentive for the vendor-provided reference to say good things about the product they use.
• Use references to supplement information. The information they provide can be extremely valuable, but they shouldn’t be your primary “ear on the street.”

Following these steps won’t prevent being catfished, but it does lessen the likelihood, and give you things to watch for.

Has something like this happened to you before? If so — do tell! Don’t be embarrassed.

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It’s Time to Get the Trap Back Jumping

by Jarod Greene  |  January 3, 2013  |  3 Comments

It feels so good to be back. You can only attempt to explain what you do as an IT research analyst to your friends and family for so long. I’ve been with Gartner 8 years now, and my parents didn’t “get it” until they sat front row at my “Kill Your IT Service Desk” presentation at Gartner’s Data Center Conference last month!

I’ve been out of the office for the last 2 weeks, and extremely busy over the last 2 months with end of the year deliverables,  sales engagements and conferences. As such, I have been unable to blog as frequently as I initially set out to. For that, I apologize and resolve to entertain, enlighten, engage, and educate on a much more regular basis. While I was out – one of my favorite artist released his long awaited “Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head” album. Since the December 18th release, “Trap Back Jumping” has been in heavy rotation, and that’s been the case, because Mr. Clifford Harris is right. It’s time to get back to business!!

Looking back, the ITSM market in 2012 was eventful. I was able to put together some decent research, including my first Magic Quadrant. Both BMC and ServiceNow dominated my inquiries. I attended several high value vendor conferences and got to meet wonderful people. Lastly, the emergence of alternatives to traditional service desks came to the forefront, as more inquiries began to revolve around proactive, business focused IT support models; where I&O organizations began to incorporate mobile and social capabilities that breathed life into an otherwise mundane space. In 2012, I had over 1000 interactions this year with Gartner clients and the broader community of ITSM professionals – and the dialogues looked like this:

Wordle: 2012Inq

Looking forward to 2013, I predict the following:

  • IT Service Support Management tools are going to take on the look and feel of CRM tools – whether it’s by vendor design or through customization/custom development. It’s going to take a while for I&O organizations to become a Service Provider for IT in a service aligned delivery models, but at the core, ITSSM tools have to begin to place greater emphasis on the bi-directional exchange of value between IT and the business. The service desk can do so much more than fix things when they break. If I&O organizations are going to attempt to run IT like a business, tools will need to be better equipped to handle customer relationships at the user level, and it has to go beyond automatically sending satisfaction surveys at the close of support interactions.
  • Gamification will be discussed at a good clip, but implementations will be minimal. My Gartner Data Center Conference presentation on gamification in IT Operations was in the top five for attendance (#humblebrag), but most attendees were just trying to understand what the hype was about and/or trying to find management processes to apply it to and use cases where it would make sense. Additionally, their challenges with respect to implementing gamification are significant, usually starting with culture. Ultimately, “good” gamification will just be the use of game mechanics in support of objectives and/or very well designed software. Game on ITSSM vendors- but remember it’s more than just points and badges.
  • Mobile and social enabled service desk analysts will unshackle themselves from the basement to collocate with the business on a much more frequent basis. Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data 2013: IT Service Desk Analysis: Multiyear shows that annual contacts handled per IT service desk FTE went up from 5,384 contacts to 7,003 contacts. Goes to show you that even in BYOD/Personal Cloud world, users are still going to need help accessing and leveraging IT services, and will call upon the service desk for assistance.
  • BMC and Service-Now will continue to wage war for the upper mid-market and enterprise revenues, but SaaS will NOT be the distinguishing factor between the offerings. All throughout 2012, a key theme of customer requirement conversations has been flexibility and ease of use – licensing has been less of a hot button issue – rarely do a get a call where a user says “We want a SaaS solution and won’t consider anything else”. Generally speaking I think organizations have figured out what SaaS is (and isn’t) – are beginning to make more informed decisions taking their short and long term requirements into account.
  • ITOM buyers will look to purchase more solutions from one vendor (or fewer mini-suites from multiple vendors), in search for “one hand to shake” (as opposed to one neck to choke). IT Operations management vendors with multiple mini-suite offerings that are “good enough” and integrate easily stand to do well, even if their ITSSM tool doesn’t blow you out of the water.

Here’s to getting back into the swing of things – the only way I know….

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We Are Never Ever, Ever Getting Back Together

by Jarod Greene  |  October 23, 2012  |  3 Comments

I really hate seeing relationships filled with promise in the beginning go bad in the end.

I am currently on-course to take over 1000 client inquiries this year. 70% of my calls involve the replacement of IT operations management tools. The reality is that hearing about failed relationships and the subsequent breakups has become part of my daily routine. Breakups are inevitable, and it tends to happen when one party (usually the client) spends more time, money and resources towards making the relationship work than the other (usually the vendor). It’s a lose/lose situation, the client is back at square one and casts the vendor as an evil entity that has over-promised and under-delivered; and the vendor loses a customer and has their reputation sullied.

I see it all too often from my vantage point, where I&O organizations typically replace management tools every five years. Over the past five years, the total software revenue for IT operations management tools was $70 billion, and over the next five years, IT organizations will spend a forecast estimate of $100 billion — a number that does not take into account the hard and soft costs of a failed relationship.

The reality of the situation is that there are some organizations and some vendors who just don’t belong together. While they make a cute couple, that doesn’t mean that they are soul mates. The irony is that the breakups are not a result of a lack of features or functions, but because someone’s expectations were not met. Those expectations should be verbalized at the onset, but rarely ever are. This is where I stress to I&O organizations the importance of outlining key steps and questions to be answered to scope an IT service desk or IT service support management tool acquisition. These steps should not require long, complex analysis nor should they generate thick reports, but rather they should be a document that succinctly articulates the strategic parameters of the acquisition. In other words, I&O organizations have to be able to have honest answers to the following questions:

  • Why are we purchasing a new tool in the first place?
  • What can we do with a new tool tomorrow that we cannot do today?

Essentially, you want to understand if you need to enter into a new relationship in the first place. Failing to do so results in a combination of the following events:

  • The tools are purchased for the wrong reason
  • The tools are never implemented properly (likely because proper budget wasn’t set aside for professional services)

To reiterate, relationships fail because expectations aren’t met, partly because expectations are never clearly established. What nobody wants to hear is that the common denominator in all failed relationships is you.

This is a relatively solvable issue, and it doesn’t let the vendors off the hook. Yes, they can be horrible, and some flat out are, but I will say ITSM vendors tend to be the scapegoat more often than they should be. And yes, vendors should be held accountable when they promise capabilities that they or their partners fail to deliver. But as a virtue of human nature, it is easier to blame the tool for your organization’s inability to  define and achieve a long-term I&O strategy that is in sync with the needs of the business.  The real work — of developing well understood roles and responsibilities and maturing your day-to-day processes — takes effort, and contrary to popular belief does not come in a box. So in these cases, when the breakup occurs, I&O organizations have to say “it’s not you, it’s me” and mean it.

In breakup scenarios, I propose taking the following steps before getting back on the ITSM dating wagon to find a new relationship to dive into.

  • Articulate your goals and objectives at the forefront of your search. Know who you are and what you bring to the table, and have an honest discussion about what process maturity gaps exist in your organization. In determining your value, and challenge potential vendors to align solutions to your roadmap, as opposed to just handing over a functional requirements list.
  • Never compromise your goals or objectives to be with a vendor. A vendor has to recognize your path in terms of where you have been and where you are going to get you to your desired outcomes. Any vendor who tells you they can take you somewhere without knowing where you are trying to go is just trying to get in your portfolio. It’s one thing to tell you they will never treat you like your last vendor, it’s another thing for them to show you.
  • Play the field and know your options. There are over 100 ITSM solutions available, almost over half of which are offered in a SaaS licensing model. The key to understanding how to leverage SaaS after a break up is to think beyond a licensing and financial model and more around SaaS as a delivery model. SaaS isn’t just the way something is paid for; it’s a means to reduce the cost of innovation. That’s why we are seeing customers extend the value of their ITSM solutions and create business solutions that affect the bottom line. SaaS licensing can be the means to let you date around, but can also be something you end up forging a lasting relationship with. Just be careful to recognize the fact that the initial costs can be lower than perpetual licensing, but more expensive over time.
  • Talk to Your Friends/Talk to My Friends. Friends can be great in a break up, because they’ll call the vendor a jerk and tell you how you were way too good for them. Where they can be a detriment is where they don’t tell you all the things that you did wrong in the relationship. My analyst and industry friends don’t want to beat you up too bad, but we do want to give you an honest take on setting better goals and objectives with respect to constraints and organizational obstacles, and put you in a better position regardless of whichever vendor choice you ultimately end up making. While it may be therapeutic to put together “Do Not Date This Vendor” lists, you have to consider the roles and expectations of both parties in a relationship.
  • Begin Again. Lastly, don’t bring the baggage from your old relationship to your new one, most often manifested in the customizations you made with your previous vendor. New selections should be based on how well the tool matches your requirements with as little customization as possible, and rarely should requirements change to conform to a tool’s inability to do something. Customizations require costs, time, resources and sometimes services, so in vendor evaluations build better requirements and re-evaluate whether or not customization is still required. For example, you may have customized your last instance because a function wasn’t provided or there was a unique business need for a specific integration. At the time it may have been difficult to do, but it’s likely that your potential new relationships have that missing function or have a wider range of APIs to leverage. Here, keeping a clean install and an open mind can be very important.

Even with some new relationship guidelines established, I still see a buying market where over 85% of organizations have yet to reach a Level 3 in I&O process maturity, and will continue to lean heavily on tools to carry them over the threshold. With SaaS licensing being a more viable option, I actually see a scenario where the average churn rate moves from 5 years to 3, primarily driven by lower switching costs.

Regardless of which vendors and licensing models you choose, I just want to see you in happy and healthy relationships. At the same time, I will still be your should to cry to on if and when another vendor breaks your heart.

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