Your average corporate IT user is in essence an animal living in IT captivity. For decades corporate (or enterprise) IT has spent countless dollars on, for the best part, downgrading the computing experience of its users - all in the name of standardisation and efficiency. The poor captive at the heart of these ‘efficiencies’ has had little or no choice.
The recent advent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives has at least given users more choice in what device they use to access corporate applications and services; and whilst users are waking up to the possibilities of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions the average corporate IT user is, for the best part, still getting the same old computing experience.
What needs to happen is a shift in thinking and culture in enterprise IT. I’ve worked with plenty of organisations whose idea of operational excellence was getting hardware, software & services into some sort of service catalogue, defining processes almost no-one uses and wrapping (often meaningless) Service Level Agreements (SLAs) around the whole lot. All of which results in (if you are lucky) the same captive user experience.
What if the users weren’t captives? How would you adjust your products and services if your user population was ‘at risk’? What if every time you engaged the user the business was yours to lose? How would that affect your service delivery?
The trick is how to transform ‘old school’ enterprise IT to this brave new world model? Change is welcomed by everyone as long as it doesn’t affect them. Internal resistance to such change could potentially be huge.
Most case studies of this more contemporary approach are organisations which are relatively young and had no legacy to shed. Often their leaders/founders have had experience with enterprise IT and understand why, from a user perspective, it often sucks.
So is enterprise IT an endangered specifies? As more tech savvy users hit the workforce will the role of enterprise IT be diminished to the point where, from a business perspective, it’s irrelevant?
The lesson for enterprise IT is clear - change the way you think about your users, they won’t be captive much longer.
We recently moved house, which can in itself be pretty stressful, but our telco decided to add to the stress by ‘forgetting’ (their words) about us moving.
Now to set the scene; we have been with this particular telco for over 5 years getting out phone, broadband and TV services via them at about $150 NZD+ per month - over 5 years that’s in the order of $10,000NZD.
So about 3 weeks before we moved I contact the telco provider and advised them we would be moving. At that stage they explained that the cable-based service we had was unavailable at the new house. After talking through the options it became clear that to keep our TV service we would need to move onto a fibre based connection which was slightly more expensive and would require a two step provisioning (first onto ADSL for phone and internet and then a move onto fibre to add TV) which I was happy with as long as we had phone and internet on the day of our move. I had it very clear that we needed a phone & internet and was told that was no problem.
So 3 weeks pass and the day of the move comes – stressful as expected – and by the early afternoon the movers had moved everything across to the new address. We had already received an account statement to the new address, which made me think everything was on track with the move. As mid-afternoon came around I clicked that I hadn’t seen anyone arrive to sort out the phone and internet so gave my friendly (this is before they gave me the run around and generally f*cked me around) telco provider a call to see when someone would show up.
After being on hold for 30+ minutes I talked to someone who seemed to get quite flustered and kept needing ‘to check something’ and who eventually told me we had been ‘forgotten’ and that no-one was coming to get the phone and internet up and running. Now I was surprised given the 3 weeks notice but these things do happen so I asked that someone call me back with an update on when things would be installed. After several more calls to their call centre - and a few tweets their way – someone eventually rang me back and apologised saying that a work order was raised to get it done urgently. The next day was Saturday and he said he’d try to get it installed then but realistically it would be Monday. Whilst not pleased with that I accepted that these things take time and thanked him for stepping up to sort out the stuff up on their part.
So Monday morning arrived and I almost chocked on my toast when I got an SMS to say the install had been booked for 2 weeks time! So I got on the phone – again waiting forever on hold – to figure out what had happened. The lovely lady on the other end confirmed that the text was right and then proceeded to go round and round the issue whilst in essence saying that there’s nothing she can do about the situation. When I asked to speak to a manager she put me on hold and then came back saying there were ‘no managers on the floor but someone could ring me back within 24 hours’! At this stage I was not amused and suggested that our, thus far great, customer-provider relationships might have to cease to exist which they didn’t seem to give one damn about.
I got put through to the disconnection department who seem to equally give less of a toss about me as a customer. I gave them one last chance to speed things up but they simply rang back and blamed Chorus who told them they had ‘too few technicians in Wellington’ to get onto my request.
I got tired of being told that ‘nothing could be done’ and that everyone had the same problem. As an aside I had dealt with the telco in my professional capacity and I can tell you that corporate customers get the same great levels of ‘service’ from them – over promise and don’t deliver.
We rang Telecom and they were far more helpful. They explained they needed the current telco to clear the move house request (so I rang the telco and got them to do that ) and then usually within 48 hours they can get us up and running. Excellent service – clearly explained the options and reasons for things. At that stage that was the best customer service I had experienced in ages!
We then ran Sky about the TV – they were helpful and said they’d be here the next day to get us connected up. That took all of 10 minutes to get sorted – great service.
So the lessons for the telco in question (even though I doubt they will learn anything from this experience) is:
I’m looking forward to a long and productive experience with Sky TV and Telecom - here’s to the next $10,000+!
I don’t usually do New Year’s Resolutions however I’ve spent quite a bit of time on professional and personal development in the past year and it felt right to set up some resolutions for the year to come. My resolutions for 2014 are, in no particular order:
It’s a lengthy list but the next year will be one of action and focus on my part. Countless studies have shown that agreements and resolutions made in a public forum are far more likely to be effective, so here are my public declarations for 2014 - it’s going to be the best year yet!
Happy New Year and bring on 2014!
“Theories abounded that if you paid attention to what your customer wanted, you couldn’t go wrong. But the truth is that customers often ask you to do wrong things, not because they’re difficult to deal with but because they just don’t know better. The distinction is moving from customer-focused to user-centered, and the ability to understand the users of their products is a cultural shift that corporations have to make.”
Read the rest of the article here - http://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/news/pdfs/hemispheres_1.pdf
The last few years have seen a renewed interest in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) concept - its been around for a long time in different guises. There’s been plenty of talk - whole forums have been held about it - but its not materialised as this huge groundswell, as far as I can tell.
The reality is that I think most people don’t want BYOD per se, they just want a great user experience. Evernote CEO Phil Libin put it well when he said: “They’re willing to go to so much trouble to have non-crappy experiences that they’re willing to drag their devices to work.”
Sure, you’ll always have propeller heads who want to tinker and will have their own devices but your average user just wants an experience that, quite frankly, doesn’t suck.
The focus needs to shift from trying to manage a myriad of end device (laptop, desktop, tablet etc.) to creating a great user experience and managing/securing data.
The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) is a model for describing and managing competencies for ICT professionals. The framework is intended to match the skills to the needs of the business.
We have been dabbling with the SFIA framework and I can definitely see the value a common skills framework can bring to both the individual as well as organisations. It allows people to clearly articulate their skill-set and provides a tool for organisations to ensure they have the right skills (at the right levels) and helping to clearly define development opportunities for its people.
I’ve spent a bit of time outlining my key skills using SFIA. Given my management experience I’d say that most of these are at levels 6 and 7 of the framework.
You can find out more about SFIA over at the SFIA Foundation Website
A few times in my career I have applied for a role that was about as good a fit with my skills and experience as you could probably get. I missed out on a few of those roles because I didn’t have the right string of job titles on my CV, which always left me perplexed and bewildered. There seems to be this pervasive belief that if you’ve ever held a role with a similar/same title as the advertised position then you must be a good fit ?!? Is it simply a lack of experience/acumen on people’s parts?
Leadership is contextual - success in one context is no guarantee of success in another yet so many people cling onto that debunked bit of conventional wisdom. I have been fortunate enough to work with great people across many different organisations and have built a track record of delivering significant, measurable results irrespective of what my job title might have been. Surely it’s those results people should be matching against their requirement for a role, instead of playing job title bingo with my CV?