Tuesday, December 13, 2011

No one wants a Service Oriented business, we want an Outcome oriented business

Why is it that IT experts are so focused on HOW something is achieved and not WHAT is achieved?

I was just reading this article by James Urquhart, VP of Product Strategy at enStratus, "Why it’s so hard to talk about cloud"

Some good points were made between James and Andi Mann, VP of Strategic Solutions at CA.  However, the real gem in this post, as with most posts, were in the comments.   IT at this critical point needs clarity in terms, not confusion.   Unfortunately product companies are perpetuating the confusion.   Why?  Because they are struggling to hang their hat on a differentiation that they can sell.

IT must not embrace these selling points into their value proposition.   It's a value trap.   I'm not saying that as a buyer you should not see value in CLOUD/SaaS/Private, whatever....  You should consider all the key elements of their services and support.   However, do not bring this as a value proposition to management....  THEY DON'T CARE

Services deliver an outcome.  Applications and infrastructure facilitate that outcome.  I think "Service Management" IT people work too hard to shy away from appropriate and fitting terms like applications, infrastructure and systems to use the term service in immature and confusing way.  I.E. Email as a Service.  Email is a system that is part of the employee communication services, like Phone systems, and mail systems, and IM systems, that facilitate the outcome of people sharing information with each other. If the employee communications team was in place instead of the email team, the intranet team, the phone team, the IM team, the portal team, etc..  someone would have realized "Oh our outcome is not very good".  (It also would have marketing and HR staff as part of the team)

STOP THE MADNESS,  this is not that hard.  In order for a Service to exist you must have a clear and present service consumer and a definitive service provider, that delivers an outcome to that consumer.  With out either of these it is a system, and that's is OK, systems are good.  They help us manage smaller components in a meaningful and easy to call out way.  You should also have a Service Owner (the person paying for it, not ITIL's IT self commissioned guardian.)  You also have Service Enablers. Key sourcing relationships (internal and external) that are required to help facilitate that outcome.

So like I've said many times on the ITSMWP podcast, unless you are an IT business, you really don't need IT Services.  You are making more work for yourself, frustrating your culture and breeding confusion.

But if we don't have Services, how can we manage ourselves? You have Services, business Services.  Manage yourself based on the outcomes of those Services.

If the Outcome is bad - your services stink.
If the Outcome is good - your services will do...  for now.
If the Outcome is great - some lied about the metrics...  J/K (sort of)

So if an application, or an infrastructure, or a system is in the cloud, does management really care?  Of course they don't.  They just want the systems in place to ensure speed, security and availability of the overall service they are receiving.  If a cloud provider can be a better Service enabler than internal IT, than an Outcome oriented culture will leverage it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Oooh... shiny!

It is said that Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  What one finds as a crafted masterpiece, another sees as a big pile of junk.  Well this past month I've had a bit of a revelation.  Technology value is also in the eye of the beholder.  Having spent a majority of my career in IT and Tech Marketing trying to understand the science behind value  (Utility and Warranty to the ITIL geeks in the house), I go back to a presentation I did 2 years ago where I proposed a third value point, aesthetics.  Well a few recent events have confirmed my belief that the way something looks and engages the physical senses (sight and touch in particular) heavily influence the value perception.

Example 1: New phones for the family.
Recently we made a trip to Best Buy, where my wife, 2 older children and I picked out super cool Android Smartphones.

    Upon arriving home the family was all excited about the shiny new phones... until I had to go and put stop to the joy.  "Guys, the phones are going back!", you would have thought I had just shot the family dog (if we had one).   Stared down with looks of trying to figure out whether I was joking or brave enough to take on a revolt, my Ludite wife chimed in "Why, what's wrong?".
    No Bars!  That's right, not a single carrier signal in my house.  No one even noticed that their new new shiny phones actually work as phones.  As cool and feature rich these phones were, I had to introduce my family to the value point of Warranty, specifically availability.  Happily, Best Buy took the phones all back, no questions and we were able to get on a carrier with a great signal.  However, no simple phone for the former Ludite, she had to have the iPhone now that she got a taste of coolness.  :)

Example 2:  Recent release of SMAK
A week and a half ago, we released two major features our Alpha testers were screaming for:
A) A message counter on each of the life mode tabs, so you could see which aspect of your life needed attention.
B) A simpler easier way to assign your active relationships into your life mode categories (work, home, friends, etc...)

Right after we released these new features, we were all so excited about the new look and feel and the great new features that we didn't realize that the system was starting to crawl to its knees.  So time for another lesson on the value point of Warranty, this time on performance.  Yet, despite the performance issue, no one wanted to take out the new shiny alerting feature.  What? You can not go to market as the best productivity enhancement tool since the wheel, if your technology crawls, it's just that simple.  Yet, the crowd spoke clearly, we want Shiny and Fast, and Usable.

Needless to say, my revelation is this.  Regardless of all the science and market research on Value creation, excitement does not come from functionality (utility) and performance (warranty) alone.  Utility and Warranty maintain excitement and the emotional attachment to the technology which influences perceptions and prejudices people use to measure on-going value.  However, if you really want to get people excited enough that they want to become advocates for your success, you better make it a great user experience, simple, tasteful and crisp.

Expect some real upgrades on SMAK's User Interface over the next few weeks.  Also, check out our latest video:

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'll take Triangles over Circles anyday

I've been inundated over the past few weeks with emails, DM's and messsages.  "Hey, is Google+ like SMAK".  Yes, Google+ has some very similar features of SMAK, and we are pretty disappointed we were not out of private Alpha so that people could compare the two.  What can I say...   well, here is what I can say.  Here are just a few reasons why we didn't release:

Security and Privacy - Google+ launched and quickly realized that people didn't like it when you stuck 20 of your connections in the "Annoying" circle.  So, of course they shutdown log-ins and scrambled for a fix.
Usability - The most popular question on Google+ so far is "why am I here?" followed by "where is everybody?".
Intelligence -  So far Google+ makes a lot recommendations of people you should connect with.  Too bad you don't know any of them.  Really, do you need to be managing 500 new avatars?
CASH  & Klout -  Google has a lot of both.  They can afford to make mistakes.

So the long and short is, hang with us!  We are working hard to bring you a solution that will work not only with Google+, but all of your already invested relationship networks.  We don't you wasting time, being frustrated or feeling exposed by a new tool.   Your security, ssage and already established network is our biggest focus.  And unlike Google, we can't afford to make a mistake.

Well, if for nothing else Google+ validated that we like to drag and drop our friends avatars around.  It sort of makes us feel like puppet masters.

I really do like some of the features.  I just see it making my life even more complicated, and yet another channel to check.

How do you feel about it?  Would love to hear your comments.

PS: don't forget to register for SMAK www.mysmak.com