Monday, August 30, 2010

Four Myths Surrounding IT Self-Service

Of all service desk contact volume, as much as 40 percent could be solved through IT self-service, but only 5 percent of issues actually are solved by IT self-service, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2015, the majority of IT organizations will have less than 10 percent of the contact volume managed by IT self-service.

Following extensive client research, Gartner analysts have identified four common myths that organizations have regarding IT self-service. Gartner believes that these myths and the associated realities, in combination with low IT service desk maturity, are the factors that prevent IT organizations from successfully delivering IT self-service.

Myth: IT self-service reduces costs.
Reality: IT self-service will reduce Level 1 support.

IT self-service does have the opportunity to reduce the cost of IT service and support by moving end-user issues to a lower cost level. However, self-service works well only for specific record types (mainly how-to requests, FAQs and password resets), so organizations should understand that implementing self-service will reduce volume only for those call types. Some issues will still require a call to the IT service desk and/or the assistance of a support technician.

Myth: IT self-service is a one-time investment.
Reality: IT self-service requires constant care and feeding.

IT self-service is not a "set it and forget it" option, and IT leaders need to constantly understand how IT self-service is being leveraged, and whether end users are getting value from the offering. End users can be aware of the existence of IT self-service support and still not understand how it functions, how it can and should be leveraged, or the benefits it can provide. This requires marketing efforts, specifically to users who may not be aware or users who do not find value in the offering or prefer calling the service desk.

Ongoing efforts also include the maintenance of the knowledge base where articles need continuous updating. Articles that do not fix the problem or that are difficult to understand do not lend themselves well to the credibility that IT self-service portals need to establish. Also, the wider the range of services supported, the more difficult it becomes to keep these knowledge articles up to date.

Myth: End users will flock to self-service.
Reality: End-user acceptance varies greatly.

Understanding the adoption of IT self-service by end users is critical in developing a successful IT self-service strategy, and most organizations will find that the first-year adoption rate can be very low. End-user utilization is the primary objective, so the time and cost investments that are tied to building a world-class self-service portal will not yield favorable returns if end users are not inclined to log their own tickets or attempt to solve their own problems.

Factors that can provide insight into this include an organization's demographics; groups like engineers or young people may be able and willing to leverage self-service, but end users who are stuck in their ways or who are not sophisticated computer users may not be as willing.

Myth: IT self-service is easy to implement.
Reality: The right "companion" tools and processes are prerequisites for a successful implementation.

End users want an IT self-service portal where knowledge is readily available, where passwords are easy to reset, and that is very intuitive to use. It is not the responsibility of the end user to dig through knowledge if it is not stored correctly, or care about any processes or roadblock issues that prevent the support organization from keeping the site fresh and up to date.

The two most frequent call types are how-to requests (how to access or operate IT resources) and password reset (establishing or regaining the privilege to access IT resources). Because password problems make up 20 percent to 30 percent of all IT service desk volume, with most of those issues resolvable by password reset tools, automating this function can save organizations the costs of supporting this type of request.

More information on IT Self-Service can be found at

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gartner Says Worldwide Enterprise IT Spending on Pace to Grow 2.9 Percent in 2010

Worldwide enterprise IT spending across all industry markets will grow 2.9 percent in 2010 and surpass $2.4 trillion, according to Gartner, Inc. Analysts said that all industries are continuing to return to growth after a challenging year in 2009, when IT spending by vertical market totaled $2.3 trillion, a 5.9 percent decline from 2008.

Gartner recommends that technology and service providers target high-growth industry segments through 2014, as well as undertaking further analysis of large, slow-growth segments for unusual growth opportunities at the subindustry segment level. However, Gartner advised technology providers to exercise caution with regard to the economy and its impacts on enterprise IT markets.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Investment in Open Source Software Set to Rise

The open source software market has reached a turning point, with organizations in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland now committing to clear strategies and policies for open source software development. According to the findings of a survey released by Accenture, more than two-thirds of organizations (69 percent) anticipate increased investment in 2010, with more than a third (38 percent) expecting to migrate mission-critical software to open source in the next twelve months.

The survey of 300 large organizations in both the private and public sector found that half of the respondents (50 percent) are fully committed to open source in their business while almost a third (28 percent) say they are experimenting with open source and keeping an open mind to using it. Furthermore, two-thirds of all respondents (65 percent) noted that they have a fully documented strategic approach for using open source in their business, while another third (32 percent) are developing a strategic plan. Of the organizations using open source, almost nine out of ten (88 percent) will increase their investment in the software in 2010 compared to 2009.

Quality and improved reliability cited as key benefits
When it comes to the benefits of open source, the cost was no longer viewed as the key benefit, with respondents focusing instead on other aspects:

• 76 percent of respondents in the UK and US cited quality as a key benefit of open source
• Two-thirds overall (71 percent) cited improved reliability
• Better security/bug fixing was cited by nearly as many (70 percent) across both countries.

Cost control with open source
Although cost savings are not the primary driver for open source adoption, half of the respondents (50 percent) do cite open source as contributing to an overall lower total cost of ownership. When asked about the greatest cost savings in open source, the vast majority of organizations surveyed believe they can be made on software maintenance costs (71 percent), initial software development time (33 percent) and initial development costs (33 percent).

Open source software development on the rise but companies still not so open to sharing
The volume of open source software development is set to rise over the next three years. In 2009, 20 percent of software developments were in open source. This is expected to rise marginally to 23 percent in 2010 and to 27 percent by 2013.

One notable finding, however, is that less than a third (29 percent) are willing to contribute their own solutions back to the community.

Lack of senior management support, training and insufficient open source alternatives hindering further adoption
Despite a very encouraging picture, some organizations still remain hesitant. The biggest challenge, mentioned by 35 percent of all companies, is still around training developers how to use open source. Furthermore, lack of senior management support appears to be a key reason given for not using open source software among organizations that have looked at it but ultimately chosen not to use it. Those yet to make the transition to open source also cite insufficient open source alternatives compared to proprietary software suites that would enable them to use open source confidently across their business. 

More information can be found at

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gartner Says the World of Work Will Witness 10 Changes During the Next 10 Years

The world of today is dramatically different from 20 years ago and with the lines between work and non-work already badly frayed. Gartner, Inc. predicts that the nature of work will witness 10 key changes through 2020. Organizations will need to plan for increasingly chaotic environments that are out of their direct control, and adaptation must involve adjusting to all 10 of the trends.

1. De-routinization of Work
The core value that people add is not in the processes that can be automated, but in non-routine processes, uniquely human, analytical or interactive contributions that result in words such as discovery, innovation, teaming, leading, selling and learning. Non-routine skills are those we cannot automate. For example, we cannot automate the process of selling a life insurance policy to a skeptical buyer, but we can use automation tools to augment the selling process.

2. Work Swarms
Swarming is a work style characterized by a flurry of collective activity by anyone and everyone conceivably available and able to add value. Gartner identifies two phenomena within the collective activity; Teaming (instead of solo performances) will be valued and rewarded more and occur more frequently and a new form of teaming, which Gartner calls swarming, to distinguish it from more historical teaming models, is emerging. Teams have historically consisted of people who have worked together before and who know each other reasonably well, often working in the same organization and for the same manager. Swarms form quickly, attacking a problem or opportunity and then quickly dissipating. Swarming is an agile response to an observed increase in ad hoc action requirements, as ad hoc activities continue to displace structured, bureaucratic situations.

3. Weak Links
In swarms, if individuals know each other at all, it may be just barely, via weak links. Weak links are the cues people can pick up from people who know the people they have to work with. They are indirect indicators and rely, in part, on the confidence others have in their knowledge of people. Navigating one's own personal, professional and social networks helps people develop and exploit both strong and weak links and that, in turn, will be crucial to surviving and exploiting swarms for business benefit.

4. Working With the Collective
There are informal groups of people, outside the direct control of the organization, who can impact the success or failure of the organization. These informal groups are bound together by a common interest, a fad or a historical accident, as described by Gartner as “the collective.” Smart business executives discern how to live in a business ecosystem they cannot control; one they can only influence. The influence process requires understanding the collectives that potentially influence their organization, as well as the key people in those external groups.

5. Work Sketch-Ups
Most non-routine processes will also be highly informal. It is very important that organizations try to capture the criteria used in making decisions but, at least for now, Gartner does not expect most non-routine processes to follow meaningful standard patterns. Over time, we believe that work patterns for more non-routine work will emerge, justifying a light-handed approach to collecting activity information, but it will take years before a real return on investment for this effort is visible. In the meantime, the process models for most non-routine processes will remain simple "sketch-ups," created on the fly.

6. Spontaneous Work
This property is also implied in Gartner’s description of work swarms. Spontaneity implies more than reactive activity, for example, to the emergence of new patterns. It also contains proactive work such as seeking out new opportunities and creating new designs and models.

7. Simulation and Experimentation
Active engagement with simulated environments (virtual environments), which are similar to technologies depicted in the film Minority Report, will come to replace drilling into cells in spreadsheets. This suggests the use of n-dimensional virtual representations of all different sorts of data. The contents of the simulated environment will be assembled by agent technologies that determine what materials go together based on watching people work with this content. People will interact with the data and actively manipulate various parameters reshaping the world they’re looking at.

8. Pattern Sensitivity
The business world is becoming more volatile, affording people working off of linear models based on past performance far less visibility into the future than ever before. Gartner expects to see a significant growth in the number of organizations that create groups specifically charged with detecting divergent emerging patterns, evaluating those patterns, developing various scenarios for how the disruption might play out and proposing to senior executives new ways of exploiting (or protecting the organization from) the changes to which they are now more sensitive.

9. Hyperconnected
Hyperconnectedness is a property of most organizations, existing within networks of networks, unable to completely control any of them. While key supply chain elements, for example, may be "under contract," there is no guarantee it will perform properly, not even if the supply chain is in-house. Hyperconnectedness will lead to a push for more work to occur in both formal and informal relationships across enterprise boundaries, and that has implications for how people work and how IT supports or augments that work.

10. My Place
The workplace is becoming more and more virtual, with meetings occurring across time zones and organizations and with participants who barely know each other, working on swarms attacking rapidly emerging problems. But the employee will still have a "place" where they work. Many will have neither a company-provided physical office nor a desk, and their work will increasingly happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In this work environment, the lines between personal, professional, social and family matters, along with organization subjects, will disappear. Individuals, of course, need to manage the complexity created by overlapping demands, whether from the new world of work or from external (non-work-related) phenomena. Those that cannot manage the underlying "expectation and interrupt overloads" will suffer performance deficits as these overloads force individuals to operate in an over-stimulated (information-overload) state.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

IT Markets Beat Expectations in First Half of 2010, But Double-Dip Recession Might Spoil the Party

IT spending rebounded quickly in the first half of 2010, led by capital spending on new hardware infrastructure as businesses, governments, and consumers took advantage of a stabilized economy to work off pent-up demand for new PCs, servers, storage, and network equipment. Emerging markets led the way, with the economic recovery driving a new wave of intense IT investment in countries such as China, India, Brazil, and Russia. As a result, the International Data Corporation (IDC) has raised its projection for annual IT spending in 2010 to $1.51 trillion, representing growth of 6% in constant currency. Hardware spending will increase by 11% to $624 million, while software and services spending is set to rise by 4% and 2% respectively.

Amongst mature economies, the U.S. is set to record IT market growth of 5% this year, recovering from the 4% plunge in 2009. Western Europe, where economic recovery has been slower to materialize, is expected to post IT spending growth of 3% in constant currency, while Japan is on course for growth of 0.5%. The real strength of the IT rebound has materialized in emerging markets, however. Growth in China this year is now expected to reach 21% in constant currency, while other fast-growing IT markets include India (13%), Brazil (14%), and Russia (17%).

This caution is rooted in economic uncertainty, with many economists still concerned that the debt crisis in Western Europe, the waning of government stimulus spending ,and the persistently high levels of unemployment in mature economies, including the U.S., might yet translate into a double-dip recession in the second half of this year or the first half of 2011.

IDC uses a scenario model based on more than 40 years of historical correlations between IT spending and economic growth, along with other inputs, to predict the potential impact of alternative economic scenarios on its projections for IT market growth. Based on a double-dip recession scenario, IT market growth in 2011 could be effectively flat with less than 1% growth (versus the baseline forecast of 6% growth, which is based on more optimistic economic assumptions). Recovery would then be sluggish in 2012 as mature economies, in particular Western Europe, struggled to emerge from the impact of another recession. Emerging markets would recover more quickly.

More information on IT can be found at 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hewitt Analysis Shows Steady Decline in Global Employee Engagement Levels

While the economy is slowly recovering, a recent analysis by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting and outsourcing company, shows employee engagement and morale in the workplace are not. Almost half of organizations around the world saw a significant drop in employee engagement levels at the end of the June 2010 quarter -- the largest decline Hewitt has observed since it began conducting employee engagement research 15 years ago. This highlights the growing tension between employers -- many of which are struggling to stabilize their financial situation -- and employees, who are showing fatigue in response to a lengthy period of stress, uncertainty and confusion brought about by the recession and their company's actions.

Historically, Hewitt's research shows that about half of organizations improved their engagement levels in a one-or-two year period, while only 15 percent had experienced a decline. However, the past two years have been more challenging: the percent of organizations with declining engagement has been steadily growing. This trend is particularly notable in 2010. Hewitt's research shows that 46 percent of organizations experienced a decline in engagement levels in the quarter ending June 2010, while just 30 percent saw an improvement.

Hewitt's analysis suggests a clear link between employee engagement levels and financial performance. Organizations with high levels of engagement (where 65 percent or more of employees are engaged) outperformed the total stock market index even in volatile economic conditions. During 2009, total shareholder return for these companies was 19 percent higher than the average total shareholder return. Conversely, companies with low engagement (where less than 40 percent of employees are engaged) had a total shareholder return that was 44 percent lower than the average.

In its work with organizations around the world, Hewitt has uncovered key factors that differentiate organizations that improve their engagement from those that are not. According to Hewitt, companies with improved engagement levels:

-- Focus on the long term: While many of these organizations did cost-cutting and reductions in staff, they made changes consistent with their principles and values and without losing sight of their overall goals.

-- Obtain buy-in from leadership: Engagement is a top priority for leaders at companies that saw improved engagement scores. Leaders at these organizations were visible and provided ongoing updates to reduce employee uncertainty and stress. They also created excitement among employees about the future of the organization (82 percent compared to 51 percent at other companies).

-- Implement measurable actions: Successful organizations use employee information as a call to action rather than an assessment. They define specific and measurable actions and take steps in areas where the organization will see a clear impact.

-- Involve all stakeholders: Organizations with improved engagement understand that creating a "high engagement" environment requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders -- the organization (leadership, policies and program), managers and employees. They communicate to these stakeholders to ensure everyone is clear on their role in the process and on the employment proposition.

-- Understand key employee segments: Successful organizations understand that not all employees are necessarily equal. They focus on key segments and critical talent so that they're able to engage or re-engage them once the job market improves.

-- Utilize a broader array of information and analytics: Hewitt's analysis shows that 34 percent of organizations help employees through the on-boarding process to minimize the dip in engagement most organizations see in the first year of employment. Additionally, almost three quarters conduct exit surveys to understand why employees are leaving and proactively identify potential hot spots.

More information can be found at