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The Digital Transformation of Information in the Application Economy: Part 5 of Five

Before we can manage data, we have to understand and define it. Here we’ll highlight a couple of aspects of data management across these lifecycles. Our new book, ITIL and the Information Lifecycle, gives more detail.

IT organizations need a clear understanding of what data means to its users. Whether data comes from a tablet, smartphone, or even a mainframe, data definition needs to be obvious and meaningful to everyone concerned.

The Big Picture: Your Application Portfolio

Apps are written to manage and transform data into knowledge. When designing data for an app, developers work from a vision of the data that the app will use. For example:

  • A customer orders a tee shirt online
  • The customer registers a complaint online: the shirt arrived in the wrong size
  • After the customer returns the shirt, the customer service rep initiates the process to send a new shirt in the correct size

A data model—a blueprint of an app’s entities, attributes and relationships—helps us visualize those entities, attributes, and relationships and communicate how the data work together:

  • Entity: an object such as a customer, product (the tee shirt), or flight reservation
  • Attributes: the entity’s characteristics, like the shirt’s size
  • Relationships: associations among entities, such as between a customer and the online customer service rep.  

The challenge is designing apps that integrate with and add value to a company’s app portfolio. When one app’s business rules or end-user requirements differ from another department’s, the apps’ data models are incompatible.

That’s when developers need to step back to gain a broader vision and establish corporate-wide data definitions, which are essential in enforcing standards that facilitate application integration. A data model can provide a relatively simple abstraction of a real-world environment—in this case, your app portfolio.

Application Data Models and IT Service Management

Data models are stored in database management systems. Objects (“entities” in databases and “services” in CMDBs) run in memory in web and application servers; they are secured and distributed across the infrastructure. IT departments manage and deliver these assets in the form of services.

To manage service quality, IT departments use best practices known as IT Service Management. For instance, if the service desk needs to assess a change’s impact on an application, it uses a service-level configuration model, a specific type of data model in a CMDB that aligns relationships and attributes to services.

Since the model is at the service level, it helps IT assess the change’s impact, plan releases and orchestrate migration of apps across environments.

So data models help us visualize and communicate a real-life application environment and configuration models help us understand relationships among services, applications, and infrastructure. Data flow across application development and IT Service Management help us meet service-level targets, capture changes to an application or service, improve adherence to standards, and identify costs.

In case you missed it, here are the links to part one, two, three and four.

Questions? Comments? 

The Digital Transformation of Information in the Application Economy: Part Four of Five

 

New apps support business strategy and provide valuable mechanisms for interacting with users. The knowledge management challenge they present is that IT has to track, process and manage the data—yet another way the app economy has changed the info lifecycle.

Management needs this data at their disposal, since they have to be more nimble in responding to users. But management doesn’t need data, per se; it’s knowledge. With that in mind, let’s agree on these definitions:

  • Information=Structured data
  • Knowledge=Information in context

You Need Plan A—and Plan B

IT has to ensure that management gets the knowledge they need to make nimble business decisions. In formulating a knowledge management plan, answer these questions:

  1. Does IT understand each manager/department’s knowledge needs and enterprise-wide knowledge needs?
  2. Is the knowledge being delivered current? Is that evident to the knowledge users?
  3. Can management readily get the knowledge when needed?
  4. Is knowledge delivered in a format that best supports management?
  5. Is mission-critical knowledge securely stored and accessed, well defined and backed up frequently?
  6. If the IT infrastructure fails, do you have a Plan B for accessing critical knowledge?

Perhaps Even Plan C

We also need to remember that individual departments retain department-unique knowledge that may not be mission-critical enterprise-wide. Such repositories are usually met with almost immediate adoption, but unless a skilled knowledge manager is identified, and that role is in their job description, most departmental repositories become large files of artifacts that accumulate with no logical plan.

Things don’t need to unspool like that. When IT provides guidance and support for department repositories, they will likely provide value: information in context that is accessible when needed, so departments can be nimble enough to contribute to the bottom line.

The World is Your Audience

In the app economy, we also support external end users who conduct business via smart phone: banking transactions, purchasing goods and services, arranging travel—the list goes on.

Users expect the right data, delivered in protected mode, to be readily visible and understandable on a small screen. They also expect their responses to be accurate and secure.

When IT gives users information in context, users can readily make informed decisions, and the company will be an industry leader.

Next, we’ll look at the underlying technical details of managing data. Until then, we’d love to hear from you if you’ve encountered knowledge management challenges other than those discussed here.

In case you missed them, here are the links to posts one, two and three

The Digital Transformation of Information in the Application Economy: Part Three of Five

 

We all know that sound business decisions require a single version of the truth. And anyone who has worked on large-scale enterprise data warehouse projects knows that capturing data presents numerous challenges.

Data from business units don’t necessarily provide sufficient context because the data aren’t centrally managed. Another challenge: Shadow IT departments in separate business units often lack governance and serve only unit needs.

Of course, the ultimate goals are a targeted, enterprise-wide growth strategy that works for all units, ensuring efficiency across all units and aligning to corporate data standards, quality and sources.

 

Compliance with Data Regulations is Key

Another challenge is regulatory compliance, a critical requirement for most companies. Because non-compliance may mean financial penalties, all units, including IT, need to adopt compliance policies.

Data privacy challenges are especially daunting, and the data privacy discipline is experiencing a digital transformation. Smartphone apps capture personal identifiable data that app creators must protect; encryption safeguards can be established, but collection and storage are in digital format by default.

 

Data’s Business Value Can Change the Game

Organized data drives the strategic analysis and decision-making that fuel growth. Business leaders must understand their entire service portfolio and draw the line on what’s in and what’s out.

Decisions should emphasize market conditions, the demand for services, and the cost of business assets. The challenge, of course, is in the details—the data we need to collect, store and analyze.

In the first blog in this series, Rob Zuurdeeg and I wrote that success in the app economy depends on managing the information that powers our apps. Our second blog concentrated on information lifecycle design. Next, we’ll discuss data organization and knowledge management best practices.

 

Until then, we’d love to hear from you if you’ve encountered challenges other than those discussed here.

CarolPiccus

Updates to Aging Ideas

Posted by CarolPiccus Employee Apr 7, 2017

As part of the ongoing updates to the Idea backlog, we will be moving several Ideas to the "Not Planned" stage due to lack of support across the Service Management community. As such, we have determined that Ideas still in a "New" or "Under Review" stage that have not been updated since 2015 and have a score of 10 or less will be moved to "Not Planned".

 

If you find that an idea that is moved to "Not Planned" should be reconsidered, we welcome you to create a new idea but ask for you to please consider searching the community first to find a synergistic idea and vote on it. If you need to create a new idea, please be sure to document the business problems that would be solved, the use case, the type of user, and the business value expected from having this feature.

 

Thank you!

In my last post, I defined the problems inherent in blurring the lines among the domains of IT asset management, systems management and service/configuration management. 

You can help your organization avoid the confusion by clearly distinguishing among the three goals—and the groups responsible for meeting those goals. I know—it’s easier said than done—but here are some tips:

Assign a person or team to handle financial IT asset management—to account for each IT asset the organization owns. They need to receive all records of IT purchases from Purchasing and all records of discovered and managed computer systems from Systems Operations. A solution such as CA IT Asset Management, which compares the two sets of records and documents lifecycle data such as make, model, location, and status for each computer system, will be invaluable to the team.

and

Assign a person or team to handle systems management—to ensure that all network systems conform to policies. They need to coordinate with the security team for security policies, the operations team for standard configuration policies, and the software distribution team for required/allowed software, patching, and reporting. A solution such as CA Client Automation is essential for supporting these activities and discovering computer systems on the network.

and

Assign a person or team to handle services and configuration management—to minimize downtime, outages, and operational errors by governing the configuration of business-critical applications and services. They need to coordinate with the application, release management and change management teams to model the authorized configurations of new applications and services when they come online and throughout their lifecycle. A must-have for this team is a solution such as CA Service Desk Manager, which captures the authorized configurations and relationships among the components that support the application or service. Another must-have is a solution like CA Configuration Automation, which discovers the configurations and relationships of the components (such as web servers, database servers, and application servers), compares the discovered configuration with the authorized configuration and identifies gaps.

Yes, this effort requires discipline—but it can be done. Your organization will thank you.

Trap? What Trap?

The term "IT asset management" is inherently confusing. 

To some people, it might mean:

I want to manage IT assets from a governance perspective: I want to make sure the assets (desktops, servers, etc.) have a common configuration, meet my basic security policies, and have a standard set of software. (A better term for this is "systems management.")

To others, it might mean:

I want to manage IT assets from a service perspective: I want to make sure my business-critical applications are up and running, that we’ve recorded their current configuration and relationships, and that we can detect configuration changes that could affect their function or availability. (A better term for this is "service/configuration management.")

And to still others, it might mean:

I want to manage IT assets from an accounting perspective: I want to know what assets I own, if there’s a gap between the most recent inventory and my records of owned assets, and the location and status of all assets. This is “pure” IT asset management.

To recount, there are three domains: IT asset management (ownership of IT assets), systems management (governance of IT assets) and service/configuration management (governance of services/applications). 

Here's a typical breakdown of the data divisions among these domains.

In some circles and contexts, all domains are called IT asset management, which always leads to confusion and often to deployment of inappropriate software solutions.

A frequent example of this confusion is that many shops confuse a CMDB with an asset repository. A hardware asset repository should contain only physical items that have been purchased, while a CMDB contains configuration items (CIs) that represent a virtual server, a service or a process. The CMDB should contain only CIs that support a service or application, yet I often get requests from clients to include everything we can discover on the network in the CMDB.

To add to the confusion, the three domains contain overlapping data. For instance, a particular server could be an asset under financial control, a system that needs to comply with software, security and configuration policies, and a component of an application or service. So from a data perspective, it makes sense for these domains to share data, but that leads to blurring the lines among them.

The negative consequences of blurring the lines among these domains can be serious.  For example, using all of your discovery data (from systems management) to populate your CMDB (configuration management) can cause your CMDB to become unmanageably large. The CMDB will include items that don’t support critical services, and it won’t include undiscoverable components that support your services, such as processes. Using the same discovery data to populate your asset database (IT asset management) makes it impossible to audit your owned assets against inventoried assets, because you have made your database of inventoried assets your master list of owned assets. As a result, the main function of IT asset management, IT asset governance, fails.

Now that I’ve laid out the problem, you’ll want a solution. Tune in to my next post, coming soon, for my recommendations.

In the meantime, if you’ve experienced other negative consequences of blurring the lines among these domains, feel free to leave a comment.

If you’ve ever worked for, supported, or were a customer of a managed service provider, you’re probably used to reviewing service level agreements, objectives, critical success factors, KPIs, and related reports. Most customers examine recent performance, compare results to their objectives or service level agreement, and provide a historical view as to how the provider has managed the service.

 

In this post I’ll share how to go beyond stating known historical facts and metrics of a service and leverage them to achieve value realization.

 

When you look at service management proactively, you may think about knowledge, problem, and change management—but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated to the point where you need to reexamine your existing processes or methodologies. All you need to do is collect your current report types—all of them—and move from a “prove” perspective to a “show” perspective.

 

Prove: Demonstrate the truth or existence of something by evidence or argument.

Show: Allow a quality to be perceived; display.

 

Confused yet? Stay with me.

A common report you may be used to seeing is an incident response report. With this typical report, you might prove that specific support groups or individuals are (or aren’t) meeting expectations—and it could stop there. Look beyond response data to information such as categorization, time of day, and volume.

 

Categories

Since categories allow us to track and monitor areas of risk or improvement for the service, you can use category information to find areas where your service provider can add considerable value. All ticket types should be aligned to a specific category ; request and incident categorization by month and quarter should take precedence. For example, you may notice that 50% of incidents are related to the reporting category across one or more report sub-categories. That should be a red flag to take a deeper look into those tickets. To do that, engage an architect or support resource to explore workarounds or enhancements that could potentially lower the number of report-related incidents.

 

Ticket Volume

Ticket volume and time of day information can help you correlate burn rate and work effort. It can also help you correlate known environment activity such as bulk onboarding or a new release due to short-term ticket spikes. For contracts that limit the number of incident or request tickets the provider should handle during a set period of time, you and your service manager should monitor ticket volume closely. As far as burn rate is concerned, the service manager can investigate ticket volume by assignee vs. the assignee's time entry for a specific period. This is more of an internal control process to ensure that the service provider is not overcharging the customer or burning through a fixed price contract too quickly. Controlling these areas and forming a plan to combat these trends will lead to value realization over time.

 

Value Realization

Shifting from proving that objectives have been met to showing customers value by helping them mature and improve their service demonstrates that the service provider cares about quality, professionalism, and going beyond the delivery standard towards reaching long term business objectives. If your service manager doesn’t follow the above steps, your awareness of the importance of these steps can help you collaborate with him/her to deliver added value to your company. If your service manager does follow the above steps, he/she is a leader who may quickly become indispensable to your company. Show your customer value and you will both inherit the success.

The Digital Transformation of Information in the Application Economy

The end goal isn’t deploying apps—it’s successfully executing a business strategy. Traditionally, after an enterprise defines its strategy, the IT organization delivers an information lifecycle that meets business needs: an effective infrastructure (especially apps) and information and services that will meet strategic milestones.

The information lifecycle design needs to cover all aspects of the service, notably:

  • An app that supports business requirements and the app’s design lifecycle, which is its complete lifetime, from conception to decommissioning.
  • Information to feed the app, which generates additional information. The information lifecycle is the process of planning, harvesting, organizing, retrieving, using, securing, distributing, changing and disposing of information.
  • A data management lifecycle, which organizes data into tiers based on data criticality, cost and speed. Policies help automate data migration between tiers.

 

You may be thinking, “We have a well-thought-out IT service management (ITSM) strategy supported by ITIL 2011. Doesn’t that cover the business strategy and information lifecycle strategy?”

As mentioned in our previous post , the lessons of the past don’t always apply in the application economy.

The ITSM strategy differs from business and information lifecycle strategies in that most infrastructure services support the business of IT, not the larger enterprise, which demands effective processing of information captured by applications. Companies that leverage this difference are industry leaders.  

A key way that the app economy has changed ITIL and the information lifecycle is that managing information is key to delivering successful apps. As a result, ITSM strategy owners need to actively identify and develop new business services.

Because enterprises rely on IT operations, failure to involve IT from the get-go yields inadequate support of the services/apps in use or—worse—major roadblocks when testing reveals that the service/app doesn’t support business strategy.

ITSM strategy owners who want to lead their companies to app economy success need to ensure that their business unit counterparts are aware of IT infrastructure capabilities and the impact of changes to the information lifecycle.

Next steps

Next time we’ll talk about data capture and its challenges: privacy, optimization, cost, compliance, and big data. Until then, let us know how you have adapted the information lifecycle to meet your app economy needs.

The application economy is all about customers interacting with your brand through apps instead of passively experiencing traditional messaging and venues. One early lesson of the application economy is that app users rightly expect accurate, useful information.

 

Brian Johnson, Nora Osman, @RobZuurdeeg and I have co-authored a new IT service management book, ITIL and the Information Lifecycle. The book discusses information as the lifeblood of the application economy, explores ITIL’s impact on the app economy, and examines how the app economy has changed ITIL and the information lifecycle.

 

This is the first of several blogs that will give you a taste of information’s digital transformation across agile management, DevOps and security in the application economy.

 

A Reintroduction to Information Management

Consumers like apps that are simple to download, install, use and update—no training necessary. Information—an app’s engine—is processed through a lifecycle adapted to the needs of application economy companies. Information management governs lifecycle activities: planning, harvesting, organizing, retrieving, using, securing, distributing, changing and disposing of information.What we sometimes forget is that the lifecycle is the reason information management technology was created—not the other way around.Without reliable, consistent information, transactions would be inefficient. Performing standardized, repeatable actions with inconsistent or unreliable information results in untrustworthy outcomes and ill-informed decision-making. That’s why information management is so crucial in the app economy.

 

Enter the IT Service Management ITIL version 2011 lifecycle. ITIL is a framework that provides guidance on delivering IT services by walking practitioners through several stages.

 

Why Is Information Management So Important?

In IT service management, we consider information in the form of business processes (banking, manufacturing, government) and IT services (the actual apps): The process is what a company does, and services are what the company delivers.

 

A Reintroduction to Information Management

  1. Strategize (the information’s business purpose, demand, cost, value)
  2. Design (performance, security, availability)
  3. Transition (deployment, testing, change management)
  4. Operate (security access, event management, incident management)
  5. Continuously improve (reporting, monitoring)

 

Because information management is important, it’s crucial to understand the impact of the information lifecycle and ITIL on the app economy and vice-versa. As we’ll discover together, lessons of the past don’t always apply. Companies that leverage the differences will be industry leaders.

 

Next Steps

Next up, we’ll talk about how information flow affects business strategies. Until then, we welcome comments on how you’ve adapted the information lifecycle to meet your app economy needs.

One of the more complex and important business processes for most organizations is employee on-boarding. Organizing and accounting for all the tools and assets new employees need is an important step in making new hires comfortable and productive. Proper execution of the process leads to satisfied new hires and huge cost savings for your organization.

Many of my customers tell me they want to use CA Service Catalog to help with on-boarding, whether it’s for permanent new hires, part-time consultants to be on-boarded for a defined period of time, new students at a university or interns starting out at a medical facility.

A well-defined service catalog, which includes all services required by a business to run day-to-day operations, can help with on-boarding. The catalog provides a consistent method for employees to select and receive the services they need to perform daily operations.

While each organization has its own requirements and processes for bringing new people into their organization, all well-defined service catalogs share some foundational requirements. Your first priority is to define and build simple services before tackling more complex services. However, your team should define requirements for more complex services from the outset, even if they will be phased in after the foundational services are built.

Seven key requirements for efficient on-boarding are:

  • Provide new hires with the necessary resources and tools from day 1.
  • Ensure that dependencies between services are taken into account so that provisioning takes place in the proper order. For example, employees need a corporate network account before they can request/receive access to business applications.
  • Establish logical and efficient approval cycles that comply with corporate guidelines.
  • Include activities not related to IT, such as new hire training, office space requests, badge access to employee-appropriate facilities, corporate credit cards and business cards.  
  • Leverage base service catalog foundation services (ordering a new laptop, requesting mobile devices) as part of a bundled on-boarding process.
  • Institute well-defined SLAs and escalation processes for services not fulfilled within a specified time period.
  • To take your organization higher on the maturity ladder, you would expand the deployment using process automation tools to integrate CA Service Catalog with HR and security systems, thus streamlining these processes and making them repeatable and consistent.

In a future blog I’ll discuss issues to consider when planning an initial service catalog implementation of a Service Catalog.

 

Today, CA Service Management's xFlow user experience received the Silver Medal for the prestigious Pink Elephant 2016 ITSM Innovation of the Year award. The honor was presented to CA Technologies at the Pink Elephant Conference in Las Vegas. Per Pink, "This award recognizes a product or service developed by an IT services vendor that has taken an innovative approach to address a specific business problem or opportunity." CA Service Management was well represented at the award ceremony and show; we were a Gold Sponsor with a large booth and session slot.

 

Adam Henrich of CA was there to receive the award on the main stage where they played a video of xFlow before presenting the award. Since its release in June 2016, CASM's xFlow user experience for support analysts has received positive recognition from industry analysts, customers and now this prestigious award. For those of you who saw our recent Community webcast detailing the CASM Vision and Roadmap (view recording), you know there is more to come as we bring differentiation and innovation to a market many considered to be commoditized.

Hello Community Members!!

 

Yes, we heard you loud and clear -- and we LIKE hearing from you. So, we are putting renewed focus on reviewing and updating the Ideas that you share, comment, and vote on. While it will take a few months for us to update the backlog, you will start seeing regular updates on the Ideas you are submitting. Attached you will find a letter outlining our updated process and goals in regards to Idea management for Service Desk Manager (to include CMDB), IT Asset Manager, and Service Catalog. Also attached is a letter regarding our process and goals around Idea management for Business Service Insight.

 

Please keep the great ideas coming!

 

April 2018 Update: minor clarification on when ideas move to "Not Planned"

ITSM professionals eagerly gathered at CA World in Las Vegas to hear how CA is bringing Agile Transformation to our ITSM customers. We are proud to say that once again we had a large contingent of almost 450 attendees with an interest in ITSM or ITAM. Attendees were there to learn from pre-conference educational sessions, breakout sessions and tech talks delivered by customers, product management and other product leaders. We hosted many customer one-on-one sessions with CA management so we could hear firsthand about your ITSM goals and how we can work together to achieve them.

 

To make sure our broader ITSM customer base, user community and industry in general can leverage the great content presented at CA World, we have posted most presentations on our SlideShare channel (please note more presentations, where applicable, will be uploaded throughout December). This includes presentations from PPM, Service Management and Agile Central channels, all aggregated within the Agile Management section of our CA World SlideShare. Here are just a few of the highlights:

 

The top attended ITSM pre-con education sessions:

  1. What's New in CA Service Management (PPT link)
  2. Building an Awesome Catalog of Services People Will Want to Use  (PPT link)
  3. Making Better Sense out of the World of CMDB and Change Management (PPT Link)

 

The top attended ITSM customer and CA led sessions:

  1. CA Service Management: Vision and Roadmap
  2. Case Study (Woolworths, SA): Integrating ITSM Processes to Improve Systems Stability and Reduce Outages and Downtime (PPT link)
  3. Customer Panel (Belk Inc., Blue Cross/Shield of Alabama, AXSOS): Get With the xFlow – CA Service Management Customers Tell Their Stories About the New xFlow User Experience
  4. Case Study (Cerner, Inc.): ITSM - Process Automation @ Cerner: We're All In! (will be posted to above SlideShare soon)

 

The most popular ITSM demo pods:

  1. Service Desk & xFlow Support Analyst Experience (CA SDM)
  2. Request Management & Self-service (CA Service Catalog, Unified Self-service)

 

We hope you enjoy the content we are making available throughout the month. If you have questions or suggestions, please leave us a comment below and we will get back to you with a response as quickly as possible.

 

Thanks!

 

Allen

Business

UBI Banca is one of Italy’s leading banking groups, made up of eight banks operating through 1,560 branches.

Challenge

UBI Banca wanted to improve help desk efficiency and reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) without changing the company’s processes.

Solution

UBI Banca replaced its three existing tools with CA Service Desk Manager, which is today used by 17,000 employees and more than 400 operators and analysts.

Benefit

The number of tickets is down by around 10 percent, with quicker response times and lower total cost of ownership.

 

Read the full story here: UBI Banca Optimizes Help Desk Management with CA Service Desk Manager - CA Technologies 

No one is more important than our customers. That is why we need your feedback on the CA Service Management solutions.

We recently launched a Customer Feedback Survey for the CA Service Desk Manager product. This one to three-minute survey enables us to gauge your satisfaction with the product and our support of it. Thank you to those of you who have already filled out the survey. But we need to hear from more of you! 

Our CA Service Management product team, including Product Management, Product Marketing and Support, reads each and every survey submission to help make our solutions and support better. We may even reach out to you to get deeper understanding of your comments.

So please take the few minutes it takes to complete this survey by clicking on the Survey icon below. The survey is open through January 13, 2017.

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Make sure to, click the "Finish" button at the bottom of the last page of the survey to submit your responses.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!