Met Office reduces (software) forecast errors

The Met Office has to implemented a new software release and deployment automation solution to reduce the number of software planning, delivery, deployment and execution errors it needs to handle on a day to day basis.

A weather
Image credit: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

The UK national weather and climate services authority has worked with specialist partner in release and deployment management solutions Cachet Software to implement the XebiaLabs Deployit product.

This installation is intended to enable the Met Office to save time, with tests already showing a substantial reduction in deployment times compared to their in-house solution.

It will also help reduce errors and increase efficiency of preparation and deployment.

Overall, the solution is hoped to increase accuracy, speed and scale for the Met Office’s deployments of new applications and services — the organisation had previously confirmed that it needed a flexible solution that could better scale and support continuous delivery of primarily web-facing services to millions of customers.

NOTE: The team at the Met Office manage hundreds of projects and services across dozens of servers — until recently, release preparations were manual, meaning each step would be subject to time-consuming checks to ensure it was planned and executed properly.

By applying deployment automation best practices with Deployit, the Met Office will be able to reduce the risk of deployment errors whilst enabling an increase in the number of deployments. Deployit will also ensure more efficient performance and deliver the ability to keep track of deployments and report on deployment results, leading to a substantial improvement in efficiency of the service delivery process.

Alan Morbey, Configuration Management Team Leader at Met Office, commented: “At the Met Office our deployments were both increasing in volume and complexity whilst staff resources were limited.   Deployment automation using Deployit has allowed us to cope with both of these issues, minimise deployment errors and helped us to further safeguard our production environment, key to delivering services to our customers. Deployit is  already showing some very encouraging results, with deployment times being substantially reduced .”

NOTE: The Met Office uses more than 10 million weather observations and a supercomputer to create 3,000 tailored forecasts daily. These briefings are delivered to the general public, Government, businesses, the armed forces and other organisations.

Stuart Kenley, MD at Cachet Software Solutions, added: “Customers today expect up-to-date services at all times, which means IT departments need to deploy more, faster and accurately. Continuous delivery is becoming a must-have for all companies. We are delighted to be working with the Met Office, having been able to help them through the process of selection by conducting a due diligence to choose the best fit for their specific requirements.”

Teleopti Shines With 4 Star SDI Certification

Swedish WorkForce Management (WFM) and Telecom Expense Management (TEM) company Teleopti has been awarded a “coveted” 4 star Service Desk Certification maturity rating from the Service Desk Institute (SDI).

The company had held a 3 star certification since 2010. Teleopti’s service desk joins a select group of worldwide teams who have achieved a 4 star certification including those from Telefónica, Sodexo, tickets.com and Vocalink.

Performance spanning all concept criteria

Providing support to customers in over 70 countries, Teleopti’s multi-lingual service desk, situated in Sweden and China, was praised by SDI for “raising its performance across all concept criteria” during a period of rapid expansion in to new global markets.

Düring: 4-star performer
Düring: 4-star performer

The most notable areas of improvement were:

  • certification concepts of processes,
  • partnerships and resources,
  • customer satisfaction and,
  • social responsibility.

NOTE: The SDI’s SDC audit evaluates service desk operations against an internationally accepted global standard for best practice, providing companies with a benchmark to form a baseline for service improvements.

Based around ITIL and ITSM frameworks, this certification evaluates companies in the following areas: incident and problem resolution; change and release management; service level management; availability and capacity management; configuration management; business continuity and financial management; knowledge management and customer relationship management.

 “We are delighted to receive this recognition from SDI for the continuous investments in providing an exceptional level of support to our customers and partners. Closeness is an important company value and Service Desk is the corner stone in fulfilling this. In the annual customer survey, year after year, more than 9 out of 10 customers state they would recommend Teleopti as a vendor to other companies” says Olle Düring, CEO of Teleopti.

Service Desk Manager at Teleopti Maureen Lundgren expands upon Düring’s comments saying that increasing the firm’s Service Desk Certification maturity rating is the result of a company culture where the customer always comes first.

It is also down to a dedication to defining, refining and documenting roles, responsibilities and processes,” she said.

Howard Kendall, Master Auditor at SDI summarised by saying: “The 4 star Service Desk Certification rating is an excellent achievement and testament to the well-structured programme of continuous improvement that Teleopti has in place. Coupled with this, we have evidenced exceptional leadership and excellent communication to staff who in turn are consistently motivated and developed.”

CGI/Logica gains 5-star Service Desk Institute accreditation

Tessa Troubridge, Managing Director, SDI
Tessa Troubridge, Managing Director, SDI

Logica is positively beaming with a friendly welcoming smile this month after receiving news that it has been awarded 5-star certification by the Service Desk Institute (SDI) for its UK service desk.

Now part of CGI Group Inc. as a trading entity, this is apparently the first time that any organisation has achieved the 5-star standard.

The CGI/LogicaUK service desk team, based in South Wales, supports more than 180 clients across the public and private sector. To award the 5-star certification SDI carried out a four day audit incorporating feedback from clients and staff, and worked alongside members to understand the how the team provide services to a broad range of organisations.

NOTE: In terms of form and function, the 5-star service desk certification (introduced by SDI in 2012) is said to be a definition of the “ultimate levels” of quality and delivery for world-class service desks.

It found true integration of the service desk with the wider service management functions demonstrated combined strength and committment to delivery excellence.

Tim Gregory, UK President, CGI, said: ”The SDI Service Desk Certification is testament to the hard work of the team and their commitment to providing outstanding levels of service. We invest a lot of time in our members with in-depth training upfront so they have the skills to best help meet client’s diverse needs. We also encourage the team to spend time with our clients to greater understand their overall objectives and how their business works. Investing this time from the outset, allows us to offer our clients an unrivalled level of service and, as is proven by our accreditation.”

Tessa Troubridge, Managing Director, SDI, said, “Achieving 4 star on two consecutive occasions for the SDI Service Desk Certification programme is a tremendous accolade in its own right and to be recognised as a 5* world class service desk is a truly outstanding achievement. I am delighted and proud that we have been able to certify CGI/Logica as the first 5* world class service desk.”

Troubridge also said that the service desk here is extremely impressive with a remarkable people culture. Every team member displays a tangible passion, enthusiasm and drive to deliver not only excellent customer service but to provide added value as part of every single customer engagement.

Talking of Logica’s WOW factor, Troubridge says that the culture here is evidenced throughout the fabric of the organisation, the processes in place and the unique approach to team work to enhance the customer experience.

“It is in the DNA of each of the team members, their team leaders and across all levels of management and is driven both top down and bottom up.  This exceptional people culture is one of the real WOW factors of the service desk of which they should be extremely proud and which all other service desks should aspire to achieve.”.

The BYOD battle… and the ITSM war

The BYOD battle.... and the ITSM war
38% of respondents think the IT department should be supporting any personal device, regardless of how much it is used for work purposes.

Pat Bolger is chief evangelist at Hornbill Service Management.

Bolger writes in this guest post for the ITSM Review to underline the big picture that exists across the BYOD landscape and how this use case model has affected and continues to impact the IT service manager’s current set of challenges.

BYOD is an increasingly inevitable feature of the business landscape and its reach is only set to grow. In this current scenario IT departments are under growing pressure to support devices which fall outside of their traditional remit; whilst this presents a challenge, the alternative is a serious impact on the productivity and bottom line of an organisation.

Better the BYOD you know

It shouldn’t be a shock that people prefer using the smartphones, tablets and mobile devices that they know and are familiar with at work. What is surprising is the number of businesses that are failing to deal with BYOD.

Corporate IT departments that do not support the movement risk becoming divorced from both the needs of the business and the expectations of users.

An unwillingness to get to grips with BYOD not only reduces the effectiveness of the IT department; it is also costing UK enterprise (as a whole) dearly. Hornbill recently sponsored an independent study of 1500 UK office workers.

Those surveyed estimated that being able to use their personal device in the workplace would save them two hours a month. When this figure is applied nationally it shows a staggering total of £2 billion in lost productivity across the UK; a stark example for those businesses who are not embracing BYOD.

Taking the Law Into Their Own Hands

“The consensus among the corporate workforce itself summarises the situation best:  53% of office workers said IT departments are failing to keep pace with business needs. Because of this failure, some 40% of employees are taking matters into their own hands and using their personal devices without the permission of the IT department, an issue that will only worsen without intervention.”

The results were even more pronounced amongst workers in the 16-34 years old category; with 49% of 16-24 year olds and 48% of 25-34 year olds saying they would use their devices regardless of IT’s knowledge. The longer businesses fight their employees by failing to offer support, the greater the likelihood they will lose out on potential productivity benefits and further expose themselves to other risks around data security and governance, especially as younger generations enter the workplace.

Who Runs What?

The research also had interesting implications for ITSM teams trying to decide when exactly a device becomes their responsibility. A total of 38% of respondents think the IT department should be supporting any personal device, regardless of how much it is used for work purposes. Whilst this is unfeasible for many ITSM teams, it emphasises that personal devices have become so intrinsically linked with both the work and personal lives of UK workers that many do not draw a line between work or pleasure use.

“Setting employees’ expectations by introducing concise and clear policies around the use of personal devices will help ensure the IT department is not over-stretching itself?”

Patrick Bolger, Hornbill Service Management
Patrick Bolger, Hornbill Service Management

Despite this apparent insistence from employees that IT departments should be on hand for any device, one of the most thought-provoking findings concerns who workers turn to with a problem. A whopping 82% said they would ask a colleague for help with simple IT questions or problems, rather than going directly to the IT department. This willingness to use peer-to-peer (P2P) or community knowledge can work in the favour of the IT department; fostering this kind of activity, offering self-service tools and hosting discussion forums, means IT departments can save a significant amount of time in dealing with ‘utility’ or ‘fire-fighting’ issues.

Ultimately, reticence in getting behind BYOD is damaging both the reputation and effectiveness of IT departments; businesses need to start looking at BYOD as something which can actually be of benefit, rather than just an operational and technical headache. In short, BYOD must be a movement which supports the ITSM team, rather than holding it back. The consumerisation of IT may not yet be complete, but IT departments can still reap the benefits of a much needed upgrade.

Pat Bolger is chief evangelist at Hornbill Service Management.

Protecting the perimeter: social media asset safety

Social media truths

There are several risks associated with social media, but attempting to stop the use of external social media web sites is counterproductive and, in any case, impossible. The IT industry is realising that if it fails to embrace social media and define ways to use it productively, safely and securely then we may lose the opportunity to shape employee behaviour appropriately going forward.

In this article by Intel security VP Malcolm Harkins we analyse the state of the social media landscape and address the fact that social media does not create new risks, but can increase existing ones.

Recognising this truth as we indeed should, Intel says it has created policies and training tools to manage social media… and then, subsequently, the firm has deployed internal social media capabilities, such as wikis, forums, and blogs.

This article examines the effort to find the balance between protecting through restrictions and through cultivating a sense of personal commitment and security ownership among our employees.

Car crash methodology metaphors

To try to reduce driving accidents at a dangerous curve in Chicago, the city painted a series of white lines across the road. As drivers approached the sharpest point of the curve, the spacing between the lines progressively decreased, giving the drivers the illusion they were speeding up and nudging them to tap their brakes. The result was a 36 percent drop in crashes, as described by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in the book Nudge.

This traffic-control method succeeded in making drivers more aware, improving safety, while keeping the traffic flowing with minimum disruption. I think this example provides a useful metaphor for information security.

Some security controls are like stop signs or barriers: we simply block access to technology or data. But if we can shape the behaviour of employees rather than blocking them altogether, we’ll allow employees and therefore the company, to move faster.

Roundabouts are often safer than intersections

To use another traffic metaphor, a roundabout at an intersection typically results in more efficient traffic flow than an intersection with stop signs, because drivers don’t have to come to a complete halt. The roundabout increases drivers’ awareness, but they can proceed without stopping if the way is clear. Statistics have shown roundabouts are often safer than intersections.

“Of course, we need to block access in some situations such as with illegal web sites. But there are cases where it’s more efficient and productive to make users aware of the risks, yet leave them empowered to make the decisions themselves. For example, it might make sense to warn users visiting certain countries that they may be accessing material that is considered unacceptable.”

A hypothetical example…

A U.S. employee traveling on business might be working in a local office of a country with strict religious guidelines. The employee has a daughter who’s in a beauty pageant – so it would be natural to check the pageant web site from time to time. But the images could be offensive in the country, so it makes sense to warn the employee to exercise caution. At Intel, we’ve found that when we warn users in this way about potentially hazardous sites, the vast majority heed the warnings and don’t access the web sites.

In the case of information security, there’s an additional benefit of making controls as streamlined as possible. We all know if controls are too cumbersome or unreasonable, users may simply find ways around them.

We kept this concern in mind when developing a social media strategy at Intel IT.

We were well aware of the risks associated with social media, but attempting to stop the use of external social media web sites would have been counterproductive and, in any case, impossible. We realised that if we did not embrace social media and define ways to use it, we would lose the opportunity to shape employee behaviour.

As part of our initial investigation into this area, we conducted a social media risk assessment. We found social media does not create new risks, but can increase existing ones. For example, there’s always been a risk that information can be sent to inappropriate people outside the organisation. However, posting the same information on a blog or forum increases the risk by immediately exposing the information to a much wider audience. We also determined that we could reduce risk by implementing social media tools within the organisation.

The social media strategy toolbox

In light of our findings, we developed a social media strategy that included several key elements. We deployed internal social media capabilities, such as wikis, forums, and blogs. Initially, these were mostly standalone tools and employees used them mainly to connect socially rather than for core business functions.

Since then, our use has evolved to include more enterprise-focused tools, and we have integrated the tools into line-of-business applications to achieve project and business goals. We’ve also added social media tools tailored for specific business groups, such as a secure collaboration solution used by design teams to simplify real-time sharing of confidential project information across geographically dispersed teams.

As we designed our internal social media capabilities, we also worked with Intel’s human-resources groups to develop guidelines for employee participation in external social media sites.

Intel then developed an instructional video that was posted externally on a public video-sharing site. The video candidly explains Intel’s goals and concerns, as well as providing guidance for employees. It explains that Intel wants to use social media to open communications channels with customers, partners and influencers and to encourage people to adopt the technology as well as closing the feedback loop. The information also includes guidance about how to create successful content and general usage guidelines such as the need to be transparent, respect confidentiality, distinguish between opinion and fact, and to admit mistakes.

We also use technology to help ensure that employees follow the guidelines. We monitor the Internet for posts containing information that could expose us to risks, and we also monitor internal social media sites to detect exposure of sensitive information and violations of workplace ethics or privacy.

“In general, people are likely to take better care of their own possessions than someone else’s. They feel a stronger connection to their own car than to one provided by their employer. If people are using their own computing device, they may take better precautions against theft or loss. Also they may feel the same way if they are storing personal information on a corporate device. At Intel, we allow reasonable personal use of corporate laptops and therefore many employees store personal as well as corporate information on their laptops. Because of this, they have a personal stake in ensuring the devices don’t get lost or stolen.”

Many organisations, including Intel, use disk encryption on laptops to protect data in the event the laptop is lost or stolen. Adoption of disk encryption accelerated when states began passing privacy protection laws, and the consequences of data theft increased as a consequence.

Penetration during hibernation

However with some disk encryption software, the latest data isn’t encrypted until the user shuts down the PC or puts it into hibernate mode. If users simply put the PC into standby by closing the lid, the system may contain recently created data that is still unencrypted and vulnerable. If the PC is stolen at that point, the thief still has to penetrate the usual login access controls, but that’s much easier than figuring out how to decrypt the data.

When our security group analysed this data encryption issue, we decided that we needed to be careful about how we addressed it. We wanted to ensure data on laptops was protected, but we didn’t want to disrupt users’ experiences by forcing them to shut down their laptops more frequently, and then endure the subsequent lengthy reboots.

So we adjusted the system settings to initiate encryption whenever the laptop was left unused for a specific length of time. Now, if a laptop is lost or stolen, we can determine the likelihood that it contains unencrypted data, based on the time that elapsed since the employee last used it. While making this change to technical security controls, we also increased our efforts to educate employees about secure behaviour.

Insider threats

It’s an unfortunate reality that many intentional threats originate within the organisation. Among the 600 organisations participating in the 2011 Cybersecurity Watch Survey, about 20 percent of attacks were attributed to insiders.

The damage can be substantial. One employee working for a manufacturer stole blueprints containing trade secrets worth US $100 million and sold them to a Taiwanese competitor in hopes of obtaining a new job with them.

Insider attacks also cause additional harm that can be hard to quantify and recoup such as damage to an organisation’s reputation. Insiders have a significant advantage because they can bypass physical and technical security measures such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems that were designed to prevent unauthorised access.

Yet surveys have also suggested that many insider attacks are opportunistic, rather than highly planned affairs. Many insiders take data after they’ve already accepted a job offer from a competitor or another company and steal data to which they already have authorised access. In some cases, misguided employees may simply feel they’re entitled to take information related to their job.

It may not be possible to thwart all insider exploits, but we can take action to deter the more opportunistic attacks. Perhaps the biggest step we can take is to try to instill a culture of commitment. But we can also use technology to help against insider attacks.

“As part of our security strategy at Intel, we’re implementing monitoring technology that tracks users’ logins and access attempts. At many companies, IT organisations treat such login data as information that should be closely held and not revealed to users. However, our strategy is to make login information available to users so that they can act as part of the perimeter, helping to spot anomalous access attempts.”

Let’s say an employee’s log indicates that he accessed the network from Asia yesterday, when in fact he was in Europe. The security organisation might be unaware that anything untoward has occurred. But it’s obvious to the employee that someone stole his smart phone or his access information, and he can alert us to the breach.

Providing this login information to users can also help deter insider attacks. If unscrupulous insiders know they’re being watched, they’re less likely to take advantage. It’s like the corner store that invested in a CCTV camera; when you walk up to the counter, you see yourself in the display. Now consider the store on the next corner that lacks a camera. Which one is more likely to be robbed?

Striking the right balance

Whether we like it or not, people are already part of the perimeter. Technical controls alone are no longer able to keep pace with rapidly changing attacks, especially when those attacks are combined with sophisticated social engineering. It’s up to us, as security professionals, to recognise that people, policy, and technology are all fundamental components of any security system, and to create strategies that balance these components.

Above all, we need to create a sense of personal commitment and security ownership among our employees. If we succeed in this goal, we will empower employees to help protect the enterprise by making better security decisions both within and outside the workplace.

=========================

This article is based on material found in the book  “Managing Risk and Information Security” by Malcolm Harkins to be published by Apress, Inc.  To learn more about this book go to:

http://noggin.intel.com/intelpress/categories/books/protect-enable

Also see the Intel Recommended Reading List for similar topics: www.intel.com/technology/rr

About the Author

Malcolm Harkins is vice president of the Information Technology Group, and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and general manager of Information Risk and Security.  The group is responsible for managing the risk, controls, privacy, security, and other related compliance activities for all of Intel¹s information assets.

Before becoming Intel¹s first CISO, Harkins held roles in Finance, Procurement and Operations.  He has managed IT benchmarking efforts and Sarbanes Oxley systems compliance efforts.  Before moving into IT, Harkins acted as the profit and loss manager for the Flash Product Group at Intel; was the general manager of Enterprise Capabilities, responsible for the delivery and support of Intel¹s Finance and HR systems; and worked in an Intel business venture focusing on e-commerce hosting.

Harkins previously taught at the CIO institute at the UCLA Anderson School of Business and was an adjunct faculty member at Susquehanna University in 2009.  In 2010, he received the excellence in the field of security award at the RSA conference.  He was also recently recognised by Computerworld magazine as one of the top 100 Information Technology Leaders for 2012.

Harkins received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California at Irvine and an MBA in finance and accounting from the University of California at Davis.

Rackspace highlights billion hour ITSM drain

With its newly refined corporate label as the “open cloud” company, managed hosting specialist Rackspace is championing open truths both good and bad by highlighting what it describes as inadequate customer service that is allegedly costing UK businesses more than one billion wasted man (and presumably woman) hours every year.

On The ITSM Review’s radar this week then is Rackspace’s IT Industry Service Report — the “first” annual snapshot of IT service quality in the UK.

The report found that in 39 per cent of companies… IT staff are estimated to be losing around one working day or more per week on tackling IT problems and chasing suppliers. However the problem is not isolated to technology teams, with general employees also losing an average of almost five hours per week due to IT service issues.

This is a huge amount of wasted productivity, so why hasn’t it been flagged before? Is this survey just corporate showboating for the sake of brand reinforcement… or perhaps there is real substance and real concern here.

ITSM issues on the rise

This waste of resources has huge productivity implications, making it unsurprising that that IT customer service is now a key issue for CIOs. Almost half (48 per cent) of respondents reported that customer service has become an increased priority over the last 12 months, while over a quarter (27 per cent) already regard customer service to be a top priority.

Taylor Rhodes, managing director, International at Rackspace said,

“A staggering amount of man hours are being wasted by UK businesses as they struggle to manage and control IT service issues. CIOs are taking note however and it is encouraging to see service being acknowledged as a crucial factor in procurement decisions along with parameters such as price, security and uptime guarantees.”

Man hours and woman hours both, this service-based wastage is now being highlighted and brought to the fore more prevalently than ever. Perhaps this is because of the cloud computing model, which is essentially (of course) a service-based proposition.

NOTE: Rackspace also found that UK businesses switch providers if customer service is not up to scratch.

Although the average score for IT service satisfaction amongst enterprise IT decision-makers interviewed was a relatively high 7.2 out of 10, a total of 69 per cent of respondents have dropped IT suppliers in the past 12 months because of customer service shortfalls.

“Our report shows that ‘satisfactory service’ is no longer good enough. Seven out of 10 of the respondent UK companies have voted with their feet in the past year and changed suppliers because of poor quality service,” continued Rhodes.

“In today’s highly competitive business environment, customer support is a crucial factor, which is precisely why Rackspace champions a culture of ‘Fanatical Support’. The results revealed today prove that many IT suppliers in the UK today are not rising to the challenge and are quite rightly losing out on business as a consequence.”

Inadequate level of interaction

The most common causes for complaints relate to IT suppliers having an “inadequate level of interaction” with their customers, rather than issues of a technical nature. A poor response time to faults (32 per cent) and a low quality of communication (32 per cent) were the most commonly reported customer support failings.

Moving forwards, it is clear that IT organisations need to take a customer-centric approach if they want to win and retain business. This view is supported by Stephen Mann, senior analyst, infrastructure & operations at Forrester.

In a recent blog post Stephen stated:

“Forrester’s research shows what a difference customer experience can make to a company’s success. Rackspace is such a company – it has differentiated itself through service. Rackspace exemplifies the benefits of employing the right kind of people (‘obsessive’ about what they do) and shows how this competitive differentiator has translated into business success. They rely on capable people, not limited and rigid processes operated by “scriptbots,” to support their customers.”

NOTE: The average number of hours lost by an employee due to an IT failure as used in this release is calculated by taking a fixed mid-point for each range indicated by the respondents in the survey (for example, the fixed midpoint for the range 2-6 hours is 4 hours), multiplied by the respective percentage of respondents who selected that range, with the resulting amounts for each range then added together (this was equal to 4.75 hours).

The sum was then multiplied by the 4.5 million employees who use IT at work in companies within our size range (> 250 employees) based on ONS figures (this was equal to 21.38 million hours). The resulting number was multiplied by 47 weeks, a typical number of weeks worked by UK employees in a year.

The itSMF UK 2012 Awards, Real Stars & No Backslapping

As the UK’s largest service management user group with over 12,000 members, the itSMF UK is no doubt resolutely proud to be announcing details of the finalists for this year’s Service Management Awards. The group’s “glittering” awards dinner is held as part of the annual itSMF UK Conference, which will be held at the Novotel London West on 5th and 6th November 2012.

Not (we are told) just an industry backslapping and glad-handing exercise, the iTSMF UK awards are designed to honour the “real industry stars” in Service Management and to recognise the achievements of those who have shown real leadership, imagination and skill in addressing service management challenges within their organisations.

“It’s very satisfying to see people recognised for their hard work and inspiration. It’s also important to showcase real-life projects that have been completed – hearing about the issues that member organisations have faced and the strategies they have put in place to improve customer service can really bring the details to life and indirectly solve problems that other organisations may be battling,” said Colin Rudd, chairman of the itSMF UK.

There are nine categories this year, each of which has been precisely described as “highly competitive” in nature.

Service Management Project of the Year – Finalists: Vodafone, The Co-operative Banking Group, Avis Budget Group

Service Innovation of the Year – Finalists: Stockport Council, Sunrise Software, Fife Council, Telefonica UK Ltd

Service Management Team of the Year – Finalists: The Co-operative Banking Group, HM Land Registry, Foster & Partners

Submission of the Year – Finalists: Ian Macdonald, The Co-operative Banking Group; Kevin Holland, Independent Consultant; Andrea Kis, Macmillan Cancer Support and Matthew Burrows, BSM impact

Trainer of the Year Finalists: Peter Saul, Smatra, Duncan Anderson, Global Knowledge

Contributor of the Year Finalists:  Stuart Wright, Severn Valley ITSM; Jane Suter, Red Tiger Consultancy; Martin Neville, Audit Commission; Mike O’Brien, ILX Group; Alison Cartlidge, Steria; Steve Straker, Fujitsu Services

NOTE: The Paul Rappaport Award for Outstanding Contribution to ITSM Service Management is presented to an individual who has made a sustained and outstanding contribution over a number of years to the field of IT service management. Finalists are not publicised for this award.

Student of the Year – ITIL Finalists: Peter Mullett, Identity and Passport Service (EI – BCS); 
John Hyde, Emerson(EI-APMG); Paul Williamson, RFI Global Services (EI – PeopleCert)

Student of the Year – ISO/IEC 20000 – Finalists: John Griffiths, Fox IT; Richard Stone, Fox IT; Martin Lee Hall, ITSM Consulting; David Lucas, BT;  Paige Lattimer, Capita; Michele Campbell, Capita.

The event’s  dinner is being hosted by Dave Gunson who is a renowned after-dinner speaker “famed” for his confessions of an air traffic controller talks and written work.

Germany’s first dedicated ITSM showcase: SITS Europe

A new German trade show for the IT Service Management (ITSM) market and tech support industry has been announced by Diversified Business Communications UK, organiser of SITS, the firm behind the Service Desk & IT Support Show in London.

SITS Europe is the latest addition to Diversified UK’s trade show portfolio. The event will take place on 24-25 September 2013 in Berlin and the organisers describe it as the “first dedicated industry showcase” for Germany’s ITSM sector.

Service desk Mecca

The show will be run in partnership with Messe Berlin in Germany and modelled on Diversified’s SITS event in the UK, which has been running for 19 years and attracts over 4,500 service desk and business professionals annually.

“Germany is the largest economy in Europe and has one of the largest markets for the ITSM sector in the world.  Yet incredibly, until now, it hasn’t had a dedicated trade show for this ‘mission-critical’ industry,” said  Laura Venables, event manager of SITS UK.

“The driving force behind the idea has come directly from the industry and it has been tailored specifically to meet the needs of the German market.  The organisations we’ve been working with for the past six months all agree there is a huge gap for an effective event like this, which is much more business-focused than the more traditional conference models.”

Deep learning resources

Positioned as a highly focussed event providing businesses of all sizes with the opportunity to source new technology, services, suppliers and solutions, SITS Europe will also provide its visitors with an unrivalled opportunity to learn from some of the industry’s leading experts and subject specialists in a first class conference and education programme, consisting of keynotes, seminars, workshops and round table discussions.

“We are very excited to be working with Diversified UK to create a strong task force using both of our expertise to provide the European ITSM market with a high profile market place,” said Dr. Christian Göke, chief operating officer of Messe Berlin GmbH.

More info at http://www.servicedeskshow.com/sits-europe

Majority Of Service Desks Not Supporting BYOD

Dell KACE claim the majority of service desks can't or don't want to support BYOD

Dell KACE has released a survey this month which claims that “a majority” of IT support team help service desks are unwilling to support employees who want to bring their own device (BYOD) to work.

This UK-based survey suggests that as many as 56 per cent of IT professionals believe their IT service desk is ill-equipped to deal with user-owned tablets entering the network.

Why the #FAIL here?

Dell KACE says that this is either because they:

  • can’t or
  • don’t want to support them

But is there much value in analysis of this kind with “loaded” questions to a mere 149 survey respondents?

Some 27  per cent of the survey respondents said that while their service desk can support traditional devices, they cannot support tablets. Furthermore, 18 per cent said their helpdesk can’t easily support any user-owned devices and 11 per cent said they don’t want to support any new devices.

“I find it worrying that organisations have a ‘can’t or won’t’ approach to BYOD, this growing trend across organisations places additional pressure on IT to provide support,” said Seann Gardiner, sales director, at EMEA Dell KACE.

“It is critical that IT is able to easily manage the practice of more devices coming inside the enterprise from outside the organisation. An effective BYOD strategy supports employees. It can increase individual employee’s productivity, which can have a positive effect on an organisation’s performance. Companies should be looking closely at how they manage employees’ BYOD attempts, in order to boost their organisation’s overall productivity.”

On the subject of whether their service desk is integrated with the rest of their systems management tools, 20 per cent of IT professionals said their companies have still not integrated their systems and a lot of other tasks are carried out manually. The research also reveals that more than a third (36 per cent) of IT professionals say IT problems are tracked using spreadsheets and emails, or a ‘home-grown’ system.

  • Some 52 per cent believe the service desk is seen as ‘the face of IT to the business – so our service levels matter’.
  • A further 20 per cent said it was not seen as a strategic part of IT and 17 per cent said ‘users only see us when they have an IT problem’.

Gardiner said, “Service desks need to be more integrated with other system management tools in order to have a strong overview of all their IT. Manual tracking of IT issues using spreadsheets and emails introduces a big cost overhead as well as taking a lot of time. If you can’t see all IT problems, you can’t fix them. To help organisations perform well, IT must automate systems management tasks which will save time and money. Integration is absolutely key in an environment where the application and device landscape is diversifying”.

Our survey said…

The firm confirms that participants here included front-line IT professionals, IT managers, IT executives and others – all taken from what is claimed to be a “wide range” of company sizes and industry verticals in the UK.

Does Dell KACE have an agenda to push here? Perhaps so, but not to the degree that the firm is trying to also plug a product as its system-management solutions and family of appliances are designed to work at a higher level in most senses. That being the case, we may well have more BYOD dangers on the road ahead than we even realise as of now.

TFT12: Tomorrow's IT Service Future

The first 24-hour global ITSM virtual conference will be held courtesy of the Service Desk Institute and calls for speakers have already gone out as of August 1 this year.

Topics covered will be pertinent to customer service, IT support, best practices, social IT, people management and ITSM processes — and online interactivity will govern much of how the content here will be presented.

This global IT Service conference will stream live to YouTube via Google Hangouts and feature a total of 24 ‘crowd-sourced’ speakers who will be specifically selected based upon their industry expertise and their ability to captivate the audience.

All around the ITSM world

TFT12 will start its virtual journey in New Zealand on 5 December 2012 and FOLLOW the SUN until it finishes in Hawaii. Each presentation will be 30 minutes long and will feature an additional 15 minutes for Q&A interaction.

The speakers will span three different time zones – 8 in Australasia, 8 in EMEA and 8 in The Americas. We will hear from futurologists, IT experts, service gurus, industry analysts, thought leaders in social IT along with ITSM practitioners with relevant and practical experience within the industry.

Notes from a related Service Desk Institute post detail the following, “A question that we are frequently asked at SDI is — “what processes should we be following?” Like many good questions, there is not one straightforward answer. Much will depend on the service that you are delivering, who your customers are, what you do/do not do as a service desk.  What is clear however is that processes drive everything that service desks do and their importance cannot be overstated. They are an essential component of any service desk and they perform an invaluable function that enables the service desk to deliver optimal levels of support.”

Rachel Botsman

Proposed speakers at the TFT12 event include Alex Hocking, a trainer & consultant at Marval, a leading IT Service Management software solution;

Ian Aitchison LANDesk who is involved with many initiatives where information and knowledge is already shared in the LANDESK customer community; and (to name just three of many) Rachel Botsman whose TED Talks At TEDxSydney are well known. Rachel Botsman says we’re “wired to share” — and shows how websites like Zipcar and Swaptree are changing the rules of human behaviour.

You can follow the event on social media as it takes shape on Twitter @FutureITService #TFT12