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How can you really tell if the executive you just hired is meeting your expectations? Some executives are experts when it comes to smoke and mirrors, especially in IT, where incompetence will impact the businesses supported through sales. This usually happens when customers are unable to withdraw money, place orders or the orders get lost once placed, experience slow response times, get double charged or the wrong item is delivered and a myriad of other issues usually caused by IT, but blamed elsewhere. Incompetence in IT isn't always apparent in IT. In many instances the blame gets shifted to the business divisions supported, who ultimately pay the price through lower revenues and profits.

 

Signs to look for that may just save your job:


  1. Nothing changes: no massive reorg within the executive's organization. Everything stays as is, aside from the reports that begin coming out showing how great everything is.
  2. Your executive immediately hires someone to do the job he or she was brought in to do, causing the organization to grow for the first year or two.
  3. Employee moral goes down. Employees usually understand staff cuts and while moral might go down for that reason, eventually it goes back up. With smoke and mirrors, moral goes down and stays down, because workers know exactly what's going on and have lost faith in management.
  4. Costs keep increasing. No matter how much the company trims expenses, profit margins remain below industry average. With smoke and mirrors in IT, productivity across the entire organization goes down, with no apparent cause. Development teams that spend a good portion of their time fighting fires have no backing when smoke and mirror reports show problems going down, or no problems at all. As a result, new product development is either non-existent or constantly misses deadlines.

 

An executive who's an expert with smoke and mirrors will have you believing things couldn't be any better. They will give you daily, weekly and monthly reports showing improvements no one else had been able to achieve, not even you. Improvements that exceed the targets you set for them. Improvements that make you smile each morning as you tell the CEO and the business division heads how wonderful things are. Improvements that cause you to show off your new superstar and offer his or her services to the business divisions that are wondering why revenue and profits have suddenly gone down.

 

WHO TAKES THE FALL?

In reality, things are falling apart deep down in the trenches in IT, while your executive gives you a rosy picture using smoke and mirrors. They'll produce reports showing problems decreasing while demand and productivity are increasing. Eventually, IT will take the hit, if the business is still viable. When that happens, it is you who gets blamed and shown the door, with your superstar executive getting your job. When that happens, do you know the first thing they'll do? Hire someone competent to do what they should have been doing, without the smoke and mirrors.

 

Abdul Jaludi is the CEO of TAG-MC and the co-winner of Citi's innovative future of banking idea contest. He recently authored Command Center Handbook: Proactive IT Monitoring, the only handbook for executives on designing, managing and optimizing command centers.

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More than automated software testing, intelligent testing goes beyond the isolated approach to software testing, it brings together the components to deliver a smarter outcome. Our Smart Enterprise editor discusses with Siva Ganesan, Vice President and Global Head, Assurance Services for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the value and what’s new in intelligent testing. 

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Smart Enterprise: TCS refers to its QA and testing arm as ’Assurance Services’. Could you tell us why the emphasis is on ’assurance’ rather than testing?



SG: I’m sure you’ve heard the famous parable about the person who believed he was laying a brick wall and the one who believed he was building a cathedral. For us, the word ’assurance’ denotes a mindset. Testing today is not just about ’testing’. It’s about ’assuring’ the business through comprehensive, smart and, may I add, intelligent testing. Quality assurance and testing represent value waiting to be unlocked, and not just defects waiting to be discovered!

 

 

 

Smart Enterprise: You have been highlighting  the parallel between Formula 1 racing and assurance. Can you share more insights on this parallel?



SG: It is amazing how, in milliseconds, pit stoppers come out, change spare tires, check whether they work and say it is a go” and off goes the car and the driver, perhaps to even win the race!

Everybody wants things faster, cheaper and better, and just as in the case of Formula 1, everyone wants to reach the podium first. The sheer velocity at which these cars hurl themselves down the race track is perhaps akin to the speed at which most businesses need to hit the market to attain (or maintain) competitive advantage. And just as in Formula 1, a single defect at that speed could be disastrous for the system, the enterprise and indeed, the brand.

The high velocity, the need for agility, the need for supreme quality and the need to be as defect-free as possible - testing, assurance and Formula 1 are all dependent on world class, sophisticated engineering and instrumentation.

 



Smart Enterprise: Can you share some insights on the future outlook for Assurance Services?



SG: There are many exciting developments that are taking place in the assurance and testing space. In the context of test automation, the future lies in intelligent testing. A smart, intelligent quality assurance and production handshake, encompassing holistic operations and leveraging engineering - quite sophisticated and different from what is currently available. Creating a virtuous cycle between production, test and dev is the future – a huge, paradigm shift from the way traditional testing is currently done.

 

 

 

Smart Enterprise: You mentioned intelligent testing.  What in your opinion is ‘intelligent’ about intelligent testing?



SG: Conventional ways of testing look largely at automation of test ‘execution’. Historically, a lot of effort and tooling has happened around automation of test cases. When we talk about intelligent testing, it is about automation being extended across the full lifecycle: across demand management, test case generation (straight from requirements); automated provisioning of test environment; test data creation and management; and then, automation of test execution.

An intelligent testing system is all about bringing an intelligence arising out of automation across the full life cycle as opposed to it being siloed in just execution. Now that’s a big change from what’s been happening in the past and how we see the future to be.

 

 

 

Smart Enterprise: How does intelligent testing differ from regular test automation?



SG: Intelligence comes about when you look at automation across the whole value chain. When we talk of intelligence coming about in the way we do testing, it is about the ability, in a very automated and engineered way, to have the environments provisioned correctly; to have the test data created; to have the test components and the harnesses to be instrumented in such a manner that there is a lot of agility baked into the testing processes.

The intelligence lies in the superior engineering which looks at automation from an assembly line perspective.

 



Smart Enterprise: How can intelligent testing deliver value to the business?



SG: The value comes from the assembly line approach to testing. If you look at parallels from other industries such as manufacturing, the automation process is all about how engineering and fabrication happen in an assembly line in an automated way. And if you draw a parallel to the world of testing, what we are trying to do is to ensure end-to-end automation from a test assembly perspective across requirements, the whole act of test case generation, test data generation and environment provisioning. The idea being: the more you automate, the less you have chances of error and therefore, more certainty, more value in terms of improved time to market, lower cost of quality and greater production stability.

 

 

 

Smart Enterprise: Interacting with many global organizations, what do you think are the drivers for intelligent testing?



SG: Over the last few decades, we have studied the market and have found common concerns that enterprises have shared with us. “How can we have the environment set up done without a wait time?”; “Can we look at ways to reduce the tremendous amount of time taken by my testers to create test data?”; “How can we automate our testing cycle?”; “How can I minimize risk by protecting my data from my service?”; “We need to ensure cost reduction with almost no rework”.

Intelligent testing was conceptualized to address these concerns in a holistic, end-to-end manner.

 

 

 

Smart Enterprise: How will intelligent testing become indispensable for organizations in the future?



SG: The whole market we live in today is about better, faster and cheaper. And everyone wants to get there first. Everyone wants to launch everything real-time at least once a week, if not five times a week. In this era where we live in such fast refresh cycles, it is inevitable that one has to regress and automate in a hurry. And for that, end-to-end automation, which is holistic and intelligent, is inevitable.

 



Smart Enterprise: What are some of the key considerations for enterprises in the context of test automation?



SG: Enterprises need to be able to question whether they are exploring the frontiers of assuring value to customers; whether they are assuring that all applications are error free; that everything is being done right the first time; that despite increasing IT complexity, they can always deliver faster and better to end customers at the lowest optimum cost.

They need to see whether their test automation systems are helping them assure error-free business applications and transactions; whether they are able to deliver change into production every time, five times a week, as opposed to waiting quarters on end to launch the basic functionality into production. And, most importantly, whether they are viewing testing as a lever to positively impact the balance sheet.

And, of course, despite the complications in today’s architecture comprising social, media, cloud, analytics and more, are enterprises able to ensure that the best is always delivered to their end customers?

 

 

 

 

 

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To stay competitive, IT has to stay focused on the customer. At the first sign of trouble, customers no longer hesitate before going elsewhere, and taking their friends with them after posting about it on social media. Businesses are no longer taking all of the blame for poor customer service and are beginning to hold IT accountable.

 

For IT, monitoring provides the opportunity to identify and correct issues before they’re visible to customers. Monitoring tools are getting better at detecting and reporting on anomalies, however, if not properly implemented and used, can be rendered ineffectual.

 

Here are a few important ways to ensure monitoring is effective:

 

Eliminate alerts caused by approved changes during a business specific change period (Greenzone).

 

Eliminate acceptance testing alerts from the production screens by implementing a monitoring staging environment for applications and systems that are in pre-production state.

 

Ensure alerts are acted on by automatically creating a trouble ticket for every critical alert; just make sure filters are in place to prevent excessive tickets for any event.

 

Reduce outage time by using a system to automatically notify the on-call support person via cell or home phone for each critical alert.  Have the system automatically call the next contact as needed, then notify the monitoring center if support doesn’t respond, ensuring  that no alert is missed.

 

Eliminate nuisance calls to the monitoring center, which detract from the monitoring function, by implementing a self service process to manage calls, emails, faxes and requests going to the monitoring centers, tech support and scheduling for common repetitive tasks.

 

In addition to reducing the cost of monitoring and supporting the environment, the benefits include:

Improved service to the customer

Reduction in the number of business outages

Reduce the duration of unpreventable business outages

Improve the change management process

Improve weekly change activities

Improve recurring weekly activities

Improve contact list management

Improve Alert Documentation

Reduce the number of un-actionable (false) alerts

Reduce the number of calls to technical support and development, allowing them more time to perform their primary jobs.

Reduce calls to the monitoring center, allowing proactive monitoring of the environment

Reduce time required for development and testing.

 

Abdul Jaludi is the author of Command Center Handbook: Proactive IT Monitoring (www.commandcenterhandbook.com)

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One of the leading cloud ERP companies in the world today – NetSuite – recently organized a SuiteWorld conference to discuss the future of ERP, CRM and eCommerce. During the discussions, CEO Zach Nelson made a few important points regarding the product offerings of NetSuite vis-a-vis competitors like Salesforce. Nelson noted that while Salesforce operated as a pure-play CRM service, they still do not handle one critical aspect of customer relationship which is order capture. Similarly, services like Workday that offer human capital management solutions do not carry all the features that a typical ERP system containing a human resource module would offer.

 

While Zach used these points to highlight the comprehensiveness of NetSuite's offerings in the ERP and CRM space, it is also interesting from another perspective – what are the distinct features that distinguish an ERP system from a CRM or a HCM product? What's the fine line that determines the business worthiness of an ERP product?

 

In a blog on her website, Cindy Jutras, an expert analyst on enterprise applications notes that while the distinction between ERP and CRM might seem blurry, it is not a factor that should contribute to classifying solutions as ERP or not. These terminologies exist so that vendors who are shopping for a business solution know where to start their search from. As she puts it, they cannot search for “something to run my business.” Products classified as ERP or CRM, regardless of how close or far away they are from one's definition still gives these vendors a benchmark against which they can compare products and pick one (based on their requirements).

 

But this question also needs to be answered from a cost optimization perspective. As a decision maker in an enterprise, one must look at what the various requirements are in their organization? Do they own two different products for ERP and CRM? Have they customized their ERP product to take care of the CRM functions as well? If so, is it due to budgetary constraints or because of cost optimization? Have you purchased directly from a ERP or CRM provider or have you hired one of the NetSuite ERP partners to help you with the installation? Answering these questions will give you an exact answer to where your business is heading.

 

Quite often, it may be the case that your business does not need all the features offered on an ERP product. Also, in a lot of cases, you may have been subscribed to a pricier version of an ERP or CRM software simply to avail yourself of one or two additional features. Ultimately, you might realize that your business does not require an ERP or a CRM product, but just some features from them all to run your everyday business.

 

This is the case with most of the businesses, even larger enterprises. ERP and CRM might appear to be fancy terms for feature-packed products. But in reality, you may not need all the features. What a business needs are specific solutions from a suite of resource planning and order management software. That will happen when ERP and CRM providers radically change the way they operate by allowing specific solutions within their products to be sold a la carte. This is only possible when ERP and CRM are not classified as separate products but are merged to be termed one product that offers holistic planning and management solution.

 

What do you think? Would merging ERP and CRM into one category and selling features a la carte prove beneficial for users and the service providers? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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Among retail customers, Microsoft is best known for its Windows operating system, Internet Explorer and the suite of productivity software tools like MS Word and MS Excel that are sold under the Office brand. In the enterprise segment though, Microsoft's reach is far beyond just simple software tools and it includes vital services to handle servers, networks and data.

 

Apart from the applications that were built in-house, Microsoft has also been an aggressive buyer of related businesses and products. In the recent past, the company purchased the enterprise collaboration tool, Yammer, for a whopping $1.2 billion dollars. This has since been integrated with the larger collaboration software, SharePoint which the company launched as a secure file sharing service back in 2001.

 

Since then, SharePoint has undergone a great deal of change. Today, SharePoint 2013 integrates content management, intranet management, document management and collaboration in one tool. Given that Microsoft has ended support to its older version from 2003, and the fact that the latest version offers a lot of newer features, businesses have now been migrating from SharePoint 2010 and older to SharePoint 2013. Microsoft now faces an interesting dilemma – not only does SharePoint enjoy widespread enterprise support, but the other subsidiary tools like Yammer and MS Office too enjoy high levels of patronage from business customers. Consequently, MS has continued to market these tools as independent products while providing integration to enterprise customers.

 

While this strategy is okay for the short term, the defragmentation that this causes could spell trouble in the long term. For instance, as a startup, Yammer positioned itself as a collaboration tool. Parallely, Microsoft continued to build SharePoint as an application that would offer elaborate collaboration among other purposes. With file sharing being a vital aspect of collaboration, SharePoint today stands integrated with Skydrive. Add to this, the real-time collaboration on documents from Office 365. In a few years down the line, we are likely to see many more modern and efficient collaboration products. We could ultimately reach a phase where Microsoft would continue to own multiple brands, each offering different forms of collaboration that are integrated to the master collaboration tool called SharePoint.

 

This could be a marketing nightmare. An enterprise customer seeks one solution to all their collaboration needs. Requiring integration with multiple tools and services, even if it is out-of-the-box, makes marketing cumbersome and communication inefficient.

 

It is high time Microsoft looked at SharePoint, Office and other tools from a utility standpoint and brought them under one umbrella. Although it might only require a superficial change in marketing communication, it's extremely important and will ensure their message reaches unequivocally to all the potential customers. 

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The global economic meltdown post the 2008 recession has given companies a reason to take a hard look at all of their cost components so that the areas for cost optimization could be identified. One area where a lot of investment has been made through these past 6-7 years is in the area of technology infrastructure. Pre-2008, most of the infrastructure investment was defragmented and independent. This is typically inefficient since enterprises expend money on redundant infrastructure for multiple requirements.

 

A converged infrastructure is one where multiple IT components like data servers, storage services, networking equipment and software are packaged into one product. Since there is a lot of commonality in the underlying elements, converged infrastructure makes the product more efficient from a business perspective. For instance, networking company Comcast offers a converged telecommunication package that integrates business phone and internet plans for their customers. Similarly Hewlett-Packard launched OneView last year that simplifies and integrates the common basic steps among all of an enterprises' data centers that drastically improves the operational efficiency and reduces costs.

 

The advantages that converged infrastructure brings to enterprises has catapulted it to become one of the popular new developments in recent times. A recent study conducted by IDC has projected CI to grow from a $2 billion market in 2011 to nearly an $18 billion industry by 2016. That's a CAGR of a whopping 54.7%. The IDC study has also estimated that CI will constitute 12.8% of all server, storage, networking and software spending by 2016. Another study conducted by Wikibon predicts the converged infrastructure to have a total market available of $402 billion by 2017. These are terrific numbers for a market that did not exist until a few years back.

 

At the moment, converged infrastructure is largely prevalent among industries that are tech oriented. This includes hard-core technology companies where there is a 28% prevalence rate and telecom companies where 9% of businesses own CI. Other non-tech businesses like healthcare, education and finance still have not invested a great deal in this area and less than 8% of enterprises in these segments today have CI deployed on their tech infrastructure.

 

That should change soon, however. With rising inflation and an overall pressure to reduce the operational cost-centers in business, more and more enterprises are now considering investments in technologies like CI to help them fight budget limitations in an era of heightened competition. CI could well become the only way enterprises do technology infrastructure by the mid of the next decade. What are your thoughts on this?

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Three types of customers are empowered by new technologies. CIOs must respond to all three. Here’s how.

 

 

 

Technology is transforming the customer experience, empowering both internal and external customers and raising their expectations about what their customer experience should be. External customers can use social media and the Web to learn about products and services. Internal customers can allocate and use IT services in the cloud, without IT’s help. And all customers expect these services to be available on any device, anywhere, anytime.

 

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CIOs must respond to these changes — or risk becoming irrelevant. Internal customers can turn to on-demand suppliers for their IT services, essentially doing an end-run on the IT function. External customers can turn to competitors, thereby draining revenue. So how can CIOs prevent these moves and help keep customers in the fold? By improving the customer experience.

 

 

But first, CIOs need to understand that what we call the “customer experience” is actually three customer experiences:

 

 

   Internal customers: Business-unit managers and end users who rely on the IT organization for computing power, storage, applications, cybersecurity and more.

   Current external customers: Organizations and individuals that have already acquired a company’s products and services.

   Prospective external customers: Those that have not yet acquired a company’s products and services, but may in the future.

 

 

Because each of these customer groups must be accommodated uniquely, let’s examine them separately.

 

 

Internal customers: The big trend here is the shift of power from IT to the customer. Until recently, IT would dictate which systems internal users could use, which data sets could be shared and much more. Not today. Business people now know they can directly access infrastructure services and applications from third parties operating in the cloud. They can also bring their mobile devices to work. All this means CIOs must become IT services brokers. Their main job is no longer just running IT, but helping the business achieve its strategic goals.

 

 

Current external customers: Social media gives customers a new megaphone. If they’re unhappy, watch out! But technology also empowers an organization to provide better customer service. Companies can use big data to serve customers better; provide an intuitive user interface on their websites; and offer self-service features.

 

 

Prospective external customers: When it comes to reaching new customers, costly and time-consuming in-person sales calls are no longer the only alternative. Now companies can offer information and services via the Web, social media and mobile devices. This not only offers a better fit with how customers want to buy, but also lowers the cost of selling, which opens up new customer segments that were not addressable via higher cost routes to market.

 

 

Until only recently, to say an IT service was consumer-grade was a kind of an insult. But today, that’s exactly what companies should strive for: a consumer-grade experience for internal users, current customers and prospective customers alike. With all three of these bases covered, IT organizations can offer a great customer experience, stay relevant and help the business meet its most important goals. For today’s CIO, that’s a triple win.

 

 

 

Paul Pronsati is Senior VP of Global Operations and IT at CA Technologies.

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There are hundreds, if not thousands of books on the market that offer up advice on how to sell more, better, faster and win big in business. These books have a lot of great insights to offer, but over the past several years, there has been a major shift in the art of selling, as the customer has taken control with information readily available in the palms of their hands. The customer is doing his or her own research and engaging with a sales person much later in the process.

It’s not news to anyone that customer relationships are the foundation for any successful business. You want to keep the customers you have and lure the ones you don’t. But never before in my years in enterprise software have I seen the customer become such a focus, and not in the traditional way.

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There’s a big shift taking place today, and it’s all around the customer experience (CX). Customers now have access to more information and know more about the products and services available to them than we’ve ever seen before. We can first thank the internet, then social media, and now mobile devices for placing more of the power in the hands of the customer. As industry professionals, need to figure out how to engage with and excite our customers in light of this shift and use that to our advantage – perfecting the customer experience is an essential ingredient to success.  

Let’s take a closer look at how businesses are adapting to this recent change. A recent article published by “Direct Marketing News” lists the top 14 predictions for Customer Experience in 2014.

One that really jumped out at me was the prediction that customer experience will play a much larger role in product development in 2014. As a consumer and as a software sales executive, this excites me; trends in crowdsourcing, VOC (Voice of Customer) data collection, and software-as-an-experience have amazing potential to generate new ideas for product developers as well as positively impact customer satisfaction and business results as a whole.

The article also predicts that there will be a greater emphasis on educating employees in topics related to customer experience, citing a new CX Certification course that will be launched by the Customer Experience Professionals Association later this year. This is incredibly important as companies in every industry begin to increase their focus on the importance of customer engagement and satisfaction. In fact, this article, which cites a recent Gallup poll found that companies that can successfully engage their employees as well as their customers, can see up to a 240% increase in business outcomes.

So, in addition to a greater focus on customer experience, we as industry leaders need to encourage a stronger focus on employee engagement. Things like the Net Promoter Score and CA Communities help this process in soliciting input from active customers and encouraging an open and honest discussion between customers and employees. These types of tools help to broaden our influence as a company and empower customers by giving them a say in the aspects of the company that matter most to them.

Now that customers can immediately share their experiences and their opinions – good and bad – with a few taps on a smartphone screen, we have more insight into our success or failure, than ever. That information is a goldmine for companies because it’s full of feedback and great ideas about making your product or service “sing” – if we’re willing to listen.

Adam Elster is Executive Vice President and Group Executive of Worldwide Sales and Services at CA Technologies.

 

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Customer_experience_small.jpgTraditional enterprise infrastructure management tends to focus on the components of software and hardware systems. It may include Web and application servers, databases and various network infrastructure components. Unfortunately, this siloed approach to measuring availability doesn’t provide a complete view of the user experience. It can indicate database server uptime, or average transactional latency, but it doesn’t tell you about the customer experience.

From Servers to Users

Business Service Reliability (BSR), or service assurance, builds on these key application parameters but also measures the holistic customer experience, ensuring that every customer interaction is successful. I recently asked Tony Davis, VP of Solution Strategy at CA Technologies, about how he approaches BSR.

 

“Let’s say I’m running an e-commerce site,” he explained, “and a customer makes a request that goes to a cluster of servers. Assume one of those servers is having a slight problem. If I’m monitoring the cluster, it may show 100 percent availability, but to the customer whose request went through the troubled server, service was degraded or even unavailable.” With BSR, Davis said, availability is measured by analyzing each user transaction.

A 3-Part Solution

When tailoring a program for a client, CA Technologies uses a master formula. The first part measures availability based on very granular criteria, as in the example above. The second part measures performance, again with stricter criteria than most companies use today. For instance, if a specific transaction typically takes less than a second to complete, but with an occasional outlier, the entire transaction is marked as defective. The third part of the formula is accuracy. This measurement varies case by case, using key parameters from an application’s workflow that are continuously measured in real time.

 

Combining these three components results in an application grade -- a percentage that measures the level of service reliability you’re providing customers or end users. That grade is continuously reported to IT so that improvements can be made. More than 60 organizations use CA Technologies’ BSR methods, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, BBVA Compass, Lexmark and EMC.

The Human Factor

Also key, Davis said, “is looking at how a human being experiences an application. We measure every transaction against the three variables of the formula. If they fail on any transactions, we mark the entire customer experience as imperfect.” BSR measures both the frequency of a good user experience with an application as well as whether the user got the desired results.

 

In other words, metrics deal with more than numbers. “If your application deals with 1 million requests per day and 4 percent were ineffective in some way, that means 40,000 humans you did business with had a bad experience,” he said.   This can lead to poor customer relationship and even loss of customers and revenues. 

 

Samir Datt, Managing Director at Protiviti Inc., a global consulting firm that helps manage risk and optimize the technology driving critical business processes, describes his approach to BSR as going beyond server utilization and network latency. “We have helped our clients identify, measure, and mitigate the risk factors that can disrupt revenue, internal processes, and business overall.” (Coming soon: related Q&A for more details.)


Protiviti, a CA Technologies systems integrator that uses BSR methods, works with its clients to define thresholds and take proactive measures on performance issues before they impact end users. DevOps, which encourages better collaboration between app-dev and production, is part of the solution to “drive improvement upstream and better enable BSR and improved coordination,” Datt said.

Tools and Support

Once the three stages of the master formula are in place, specific tools--such as CA Customer Experience Manager --are introduced to measure end-user experience. CA Application Performance Management may be recommended to gain deep insight into application performance, and CA Application Delivery Analysis for end-to-end application analysis. The CA LISA Suite, which supports a DevOps approach when monitoring with BSR, and custom dashboards to gain instant insight into the user experience, might also be part of the plan.

 

How much do these tools and practices improve user experience and reliability? “If you’re really good, you would be 99.5 percent perfect,” says Davis. “And then you would have to figure out how to tweak that last .5 percent of defective customer experience,” he says, only half joking.

 

(Additional case study details can be found at www.ca.com/bsr.)

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Andi:           Hi, Everybody. Welcome back to TechViews Unplugged.  From CA Technologies, I’m Andi Mann. I’m here with my colleague, the ever amazing George Watt. How are you doing, George?

George:       I’m amazing.

Andi:           I know you are. Hey mate, let’s get into this. We know about the Internet of Things right? So how about the Internet of Cars? There’s been a couple of really cool articles I saw this week. Volvo is putting Internet-connected sensors into its cars. They communicate with each other so that they’re all going to help you understand road conditions, what’s happening up ahead, traffic conditions and so forth. Alerting other cars, this is where the Internet comes in and the communication. I think this is fantastic. There was another article I saw which looked into the future of the Internet of Cars, this was in Dezeen magazine, talking about how cars are just a collection of moving sensors these days and it cites each car generating 25 megabytes of data every hour. Now, we’ve spoken before about NCAR, the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, putting sensors into the cars so that they can better understand micro-climates, and this is an extension and this is actually in my mind a lot more useable extension because we’re talking about cars communicating with each other, alerting drivers to road hazards, to weather conditions. This is really interesting. I love the Internet of Cars.

George:       Absolutely. It’s a mobile mesh network of sorts, right.

Andi:           Yeah.

George:       At least that’s one of the things one of the articles was talking about. Well, you know, that’s cool. But, Andi, Cloud Walker Pie is also cool, right.

Andi:           Ah, who doesn’t love pie, right?

George:       Who doesn’t love pie, especially if it’s Raspberry Pi, right?

Andi:           Yeah. I love Raspberry Pi.

George:       I love Raspberry Pi. So a while ago we spoke about a cool, a very cool 64-node Raspberry Pi super computer that Simon Cox and his son assembled using Lego for their enclosure and I’ve got to admit it’s really hard to beat a Lego super computer but an engineer named David Guill, G-U-I-L-L, so apologies if I mispronounced it, he may have risen to the occasion. He’s created a 40-node Raspberry Pi cluster that not only serves a very practical purpose but the very cool-looking acrylic enclosure that he created for his Raspberry Pi cluster has my propeller spinning at Nerd Con One here. It’s not just a fun hobby though for him. The machine was built to test distributed software and it packs 40 Raspberry Pi computers just like this one, five terabytes of hard disk, just under a half terabyte of flash, an internal LAN, an integrated wireless access point into that nerdtastic 22 inch high, 22 inch wide, 10 inch deep case. You should check out the pictures. They’re awesome. Now what’s really cool about this is that we’ve been saying that people will start putting these to use at work in very useful ways and I think this might be one of the most obvious examples of that to date. But we shouldn’t forget that there are plenty of other documented uses of Raspberry Pi that aren’t necessarily any less valuable, right, home automation, we talked about radon detectors once, I think, all sorts of cool use cases and there’s some other really cool arguable green projects which involve recycling things for use in Raspberry Pi projects. I’ve even seen someone reuse their magic mouse case as a Raspberry Pi enclosure.

Andi:           Oh, I saw that.

George:       It’s very, very cool. I might actually give that a shot. I dug mine out. But lots of cool things going on with Raspberry Pi and you’ll find the how-to notes for David’s project and many, many others online. It’s definitely worth checking out. And again, it’s not just for hobbyists alone. So, actually, if you’ve done something cool for business with Raspberry Pi, or even anything cool, how about send us a tweet and let us know what you’ve done.

Andi:           Yeah. In fact, I would love to hear from our audience, especially on things like Raspberry Pi which is such cutting edge stuff. I’d love to hear about what people are doing. Tweet us @techviews @georgewatt @andimann. Hey George, let’s get on to news. I’m going to let you go first. What you got in the news space?

George:       Well, you know, so we started today with small-size consumer computing, so let’s get even smaller, right, maybe we can spend this time talking about wearables. Can I convince you to talk about wearables?

Andi:           Oh, well, look, it will take you a have a millisecond to do that. I’m convinced.

George:       Yeah, I figured it would be difficult. So, we’ve talked about wearables in the past, especially those wearables that have been branded smart watches, and I think that maybe we’ve agreed that what we’ve seen today, they necessarily weren’t that smart and they arguably weren’t watches and in fact, you’ve mentioned several times in the past that the biggest issue with many of those wearables is that they’re just plain ugly or goofy looking and I think you referred to Google glass once as a Segway on your face

Andi:           Segway on your face, yup. You’ve got it.

George:       Right. But, we also agreed that that would change and that the functionality would become better and more useful and that the form factor would become hip and maybe even fashionable and I think we’re beginning to turn the corner here. Have you seen the Moto 360?

Andi:           Oh, I have, I have, I have, yes. Talk about that.

George:       Yes. The Moto 360 is reported to offer some very cool features via touch and voice command, many of which it seem like will be provided by Google Now but what’s really cool about it, I think is how it looks. The Moto 360 has a very nice-looking round face, which designers say, apart from being cool looking, it also lets them display maximum display size without compromising comfort, right, without poking yourself with the corners.

Andi:           Yeah, that’s been an issue.

George:       But, from what I’ve seen in the photos, it also appears to have a very nice looking smart watch display but also a very nice analogue watch display when you’re not using the smart phone features. It’s actually pretty stylish and it automatically adjusts the display so you’re looking at it right side up whether you’re wearing it on your right or left wrist which, of course, is probably an issue for many as well. So, if you haven’t seen the Moto 360, I strongly suggest you check it out. It’s definitely something you could use for one function in the day, perhaps a more smart watchy type stuff, but it would be stylish as well if you happen to just throw on your jacket and go to a play or something at night. I think they’re really on the right track with it. I’ve never had the desire to own a smart watch, but this one’s got me thinking hard so it’s something that I’m going to keep an eye on. But you know, in the world of wearables, smart watches really aren’t the only thing here. We’re seeing other areas make great steps forward.

Andi:           Yeah, you see that’s actually where I’m really excited and I get this new watch. A, it actually really works like a watch, which is one of the big problems with things like Gear, for example, when you go to reach down and turn it on and stuff like that, and you don’t want to do that with a watch. You just want to look at it. This is the use specific kind of use cases that they’re finding. Instead of having general purpose computing on your wrist, you find the right use case. And that’s the thing with, I’ve been playing around with sports wearables recently. So I went on a ski trip and I’ll post along a longer blog about this but I took a bunch of stuff. I took this, this is the Garmin Virb. This is a camera with a GPS and an accelerometer, so it actually tracks you all over the mountain as well as your speed, things like air time and you wear it like a camera, right. You can wear it any way, you can put it on the end of your stalk. You can do all sorts of stuff. I obviously took my Go Pro, a dumb wearable, if you will. All it does is do video. This is the first generation one. So, I took that, what else did it, oh, I took my Garmin, so this is off my cycle computer. This does your classic heart rate monitoring, speed and acceleration, GPS tracking as well. I paired that with a sensor for my heart rate to make sure I’m not having a heart attack. What else did I have? Oh, I had my smart phone as well so I downloaded an application called Ski Tracks. You can’t tell that I’m a bit of a data geek, can you?

George:       NASA sent people to the moon with less stuff.

Andi:           They did. It’s true, they did and it was really interesting and I found that the use case specific wearables, especially that Garmin Virb, much better use case for it, especially, one thing, I’m wearing great big thick gloves, it’s got a big easy button. Right? Compared to, for example, the Go Pro, with its little fiddly button on the top. It’s about that use case specific. The Go Pro is trying to be one camera for all people. Right? The Garmin Virb is actually targeted at people who want to ski and cycle. Very different use cases. The smart phone didn’t have the accuracy because it’s trying to do general purpose computing. It’s sort of interesting. And I read an article about this that talked about wearables, the use case-specific sort of stuff, having a real sort of physical limitation in terms of size and so forth. I mean we’re talking about physical, I’m not getting as hard core as this guy I read about this week, Chris Dancey. Did you see this guy?

George:       Yes.

Andi:           Between 300 and 700 systems on his body and in his body running at any one time and embedded sensors, the guy’s got wires sticking out of his face. It’s freaky, man. But, I don’t want to go that far but the use specific wearables, I am actually loving.

George:       Yeah absolutely and it’s not necessarily just for fun although it’s an awful lot of fun. But we’ve seen a lot of creative uses for things like sports wearables. In cases like the Cardiac Clinic that uses the Fit Bit to help        in recovery and diagnosis and so forth, and I can actually tell you from my own experience, using a Fit Bit, just carrying one in my pocket, has really improved my lifestyle in healthy living. So I think these things are much more useful than maybe is apparent on the surface.

Andi:           Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the big issue that is see is that wearables are very small, right. We’re not at the point in Moore’s Law where we can pack a full size computer into the form factor of a watch or a camera or a Fit Bit. You’ve got to be selective about what you do. The one thing that I have seen though is the idea of wearables playing a role in mobile. So you think about these watches, they’re smart enough, they’re too small to do general purpose computing but they’re plenty big enough to do mobile payments, for example. Store value, loyalty recording, multiple systems. We’re starting to see little, little devices like the Coin credit card you’ve probably seen, the electronic credit card. That’s not a wearable, but gee, it’s small and it could be wearable and so we’re seeing in the Disney resorts, for example, people paying for everything using a wristband. I think that sort of thing is going to be pretty interesting.

George:       Yeah, yeah. And, of course, what’s behind all that? It’s cloud, right? Cloud is providing the most cool functions here and that’s enabling the devices, if you will, to function beyond their internal capability.

Andi:           Yeah, look, it’s always cloud with you, isn’t it? But, you’re not wrong.

George:       You can take the boy out of the cloud…

Andi:           It’s always going to come back to cloud, and rightly so. Okay, Hey George, we’re right down to the edge here and so I want to get into the rapid fire round, and I’m going to ask you a question because I’ve already got an opinion on this but your time starts now. George, Facebook bought Oculus VR out for $2 billion but I can’t see the upside in this for gamers though. Can you?   

George:       Well, Facebook also bought a drone company so my spider senses are tingling a little bit there. Andi, recent studies show that 97% of malware is on Android. What are you doing to that ecosystem?

Andi:           Look mate, though it’s the most popular platform for mobile on the planet, it’s going to attract hackers, but it’s just a reminder you’ve got to be secure, always and often. George, the apps economy is booming in Canada, with Ontario specifically leading the way. So George, what apps are you building?

George:       Well I think it’s fantastic. Right now there’s a reason to set up your cloud and your app development here. Andi, a recent study found your employees don’t care about data security. Should we care about that?

Andi:           Oh mate, this rings true, right? It’s the same for consumers. Look at Snapchat Play Station. I blogged about this recently. They’re as popular as ever, despite massive data breaches. What can you do? Oh, George, a buzzer question. I saw a picture of a skimmer overlaid on top of an ATM keypad. It was indistinguishable from the original. How can we ever be secure with this stuff around, George?

George:       Yeah, that’s very clever and very sinister, right. We probably should have featured it in new and creepy.

Andi:           Yeah.

George:       But, it’s just another reason to beware, to avoid machines you’re not sure you can trust and to keep an eye on your account. But it may suggest that we need to move beyond pin codes as you mentioned earlier and perhaps even beyond passwords. Do you think it’s time?

  Andi: Oh George, it is beyond time. I tell you, I can’t tell you how sick I am of explaining to snooty French waiters why I haven’t got chip and PIN in my credit card, let alone we’re using essentially the same technique to do identity and access as we used to do to get into the vaults of a castle in the 13th century, challenge and password response, right? I’m well over it. We’ve got to move one. George, talk about moving on, that’s all we’ve got for TechViews Unplugged today. Hope you’ll join us next time. My name’s Andi Mann from CA Technologies. I’m always joined by George Watt, also from CA Technologies. We’ll see you next time on TechViews Unplugged. Bye, bye.

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There are only a few reasons why CIO’s are ousted or forced to resign: among the top of the list are the failure to meet budget and spending objectives for an extended period of time, the failure of a major IT initiative and the other is the occurrence of a major crisis where there are many questions but few timely answers.

 

The occurrence of a major crisis, that catches everyone by surprise, usually leads to the ouster of the CIO and many others down the chain of command when coupled with a large financial impact and the lack of timely and accurate information. Some of these become major news events like Target’s hacking crisis while many never make the headlines, but the results are still the same: management cleans house.

 

A fourth and not so newsworthy reason is when customer service degrades due to an increasing number of technology related issues, with few or no reliable answers as to the cause or the resolution.

 

The last thing any executive wants is to be surprised with bad news and this is usually one of the first things addressed when taking on a new role. The first six months or so into a new role is usually spent performing a thorough analysis of the environment, formulating the proper strategy and filling any gaps that are found. The problem is most executives perform this analysis only once, when first hired and perform another only after a crisis. Once all the gaps are filled, many executives then rely on regulatory, internal compliance and industry standard tests, and their staff to give them peace of mind.

 

When do problems appear?

 

Over time as the environment changes and adapts to meet business challenges, many of the problems initially resolved begin to reappear. Decentralizing, moving functions to meet business requirements without maintaining centralized oversight, monitoring and reporting is one cause. When oversight and reporting is moved along with the units, over time, only good news and bad news attributable to others will be reported. Consolidating certain functions has the same effect: moving incident and problem management into the division they are responsible to manage will create a conflict of interest such that over time, only good news will be reported. Ordinarily, some of these consolidations would result in a conflict of interest and an audit finding, but to mitigate that risk, some executives implement co owners – two leaders responsible for different aspects of the same unit. While this means the unit will pass most audit tests, it doesn’t mean the problem is gone. These types of moves result on no clear lines of ownership and much finger pointing when problems do occur.

 

Across the board budget cuts without implementing process improvements usually results in overworked and unmotivated staff whose behavior is unpredictable. For workers who remain motivated there’s less time to pay attention to communications, solving problems or business strategy. Problems which may have been caught and addressed when there were enough workers become harder to detect and even more so to address when everyone’s busy trying to meet workload demands.

 

Over time, executives and managers lose sight of the original problems and risks. Middle managers, wanting to remain in good standing, fail to communicate worker concerns to their seniors. An assumption is made that everyone is on board with current strategy, but as communication lines begin to disappear, workers lose sight of, or fail to understand, business goals and strategies.

CIO’s who frequently move from job to job are usually long gone before anything happens. It’s the next CIO, or the one in for the long haul, who get caught by surprise.

 

Re-examine your environment  

 

One of the biggest mistakes most executives make it to take action to correct a problem only when it reaches certain levels, for example, when business division executives start complaining and the CEO wants answers. The next mistake is to address and correct the cause of the complaints, rather than taking an overall view of what else might be broken. Chances are if something is broken in one area, other processes and oversight controls will be broken as well. 

 

As an organization changes in order to keep pace with business requirements, chances are anything implemented years ago to protect the organization is no longer in place and needs to be revisited. Time, staffing changes, and budgetary constraints if left unchecked have a way of transforming an organization from proactive and responsive to reactive and out of touch.

 

A good way to begin is by implementing a proactive strategy, which includes formalizing the operational review performed when you first took on your role and having it executed on a regular basis, perhaps every two or three years. There are certain things every CIO knows should be in place, and assuming they are still there five years after implementing them could be a costly mistake. These should be the first things looked for as part of the operational review.

 

Abdul Jaludi is the CEO of TAG-MC and the author of: Command Center Handbook: Proactive IT Monitoring.  He is a contributor and member of Smart Enterprise Exchange and can be reached on the community site.

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Small business is not anything like what mainstream media makes it look like. Publications like Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur and TechCrunch focus on startups that are often VC funded and many times have more money than they need. But for 90% of new businesses out in the real world, bootstrapping is the only option available. That’s because most of these businesses are built with personal savings and bank loans. When there is a debt that needs to be repaid, businesses have no choice but to run their operations on shoestring budgets.

 

Unfortunately in doing so, most businesses avoid investing in technology infrastructure that is critical in pushing their company forward. There is a good reason why this is the case. A study conducted by Panaroma Consulting last year showed that over 50% of ERP implementation projects shooted high over the estimated budget with 60% of the respondents reporting that they saw less than half of the expected benefit from such an implementation.

 

Given this background, how do small businesses plan their IT deployment strategy? The solution lies in finding choices that does not require too much investment and where the return on investment is accelerated. Here are some ways to boostrap your business IT infrastructure.

 

Adopt Cloud Over Legacy Systems

 

Cloud technology has been the buzzword in the tech industry for close to half a decade now. It basically refers to software and tools that are hosted on remote servers and are made available to users via an internet connection. For instance, you may either setup your own email server or make use of the service provided by Microsoft Outlook. The former has been the traditional setup while the latter is cloud-based. The advantage with using cloud based solutions is that it minimizes the need for any sort of capital investment (since you do not have to buy and setup your own servers) and can instead use by paying nominal monthly subscription fee.

 

Replace Traditional Phone Lines With IP Telephony

 

If you are medium sized business with several dozen employees, you may be considering the set up of a PBX system to handle all the phone lines. This is an expensive proposition that is not really recommended for bootstrapped businesses. You may instead opt for SIP trunking systems that replaces all your voice circuits with a single IP connection that is nearly 40% cheaper.  If you have very few employees who need elaborate communication lines, you could also choose to go with VoIP connections like Skype.

 

Explore BYOD

 

A recent study conducted by network security firm Fortinet showed that nearly 42% of the surveyed employees between the age of 21-31 years were willing to break corporate rules that banned the usage of personal devices at work. In another related survey conducted by Gartner, it was revealed that nearly half of all employers may require their employees to bring their own device to work. This concept of ‘Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)’ serves a dual purpose of letting employees contribute with devices that they are personally comfortable with while allowing employers to reduce capital expenditure on hardware purchases by letting employees bring their own device. A large chunk of the corporate world today employs BYOD in some way or the other. Consequently, your small business may not really feel out of place if you asked your employees to bring their own device. Not only will this boost productivity as several studies have shown, but will also help you bootstrap your business further. 

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One of the hottest trends in IT as of late has been the ever increasing number of wearable, mobile devices to help you always stay connected. This trend is still in its infancy as companies are just discovering new ways to have the consumer wear their mobile technology. I was able to attend Mobile World Congress in February, where I was able to see firsthand the growing number of innovative wearable, mobile devices. These mobile devices now far exceed the “simple” smart phone sitting in your pocket and with this growing number of wearable, mobile technology items, it is important to protect yourself so that all of your information doesn’t become someone else’s data.

 

There are dozens of new wearables technologies that allow you to remain connected throughout your day. These devices can enable you to stay on top of your busy work schedule, keep up with your new found fitness, or even document your day in a series of pictures.

 

With all of these great new mobile technologies helping us manage our lives it is easy to forget about all of the information these devices are gathering and where that information is going.

 

FitBit is a great example of new innovative wearable, mobile technology that is recording and tracking your every move. FitBit tracks numerous behaviors including your sleep patterns, how long you’re active during the day, calories burned, and your location. FitBit also gives you the opportunity to track and share your fitness progress. This kind of technology is great for people who want to take control of their fitness and learn their progress, but do they know where their personal fitness data is going?

 

I did a little digging into their privacy policy and the information is consistent with many wearables device privacy policies. They are able to store and use any information that you are storing on the device and are able to access all social media profiles that are active on the device. This information is to be used for improving the customer experience, but the information can also be shared with some of the FitBit partners to better the experience for their customers.

 

Although this doesn’t come across as an invasive act or an abuse of the information you’re making available, it does raise some flags. This is just the beginning of the wearable, mobile device revolution. As I saw at Mobile World Congress, this is a growing industry with new ways to help you connect coming out every year. Soon almost everything we wear will be tracking and storing data on your habits and actions. The potential is there for all of this information to no longer exist on a two way street between you and the device provide, but rather your data might end up traversing the immense data highway between many different companies.

 

So as you contemplate purchasing that new hot smart watch, Google Glass, or fitness wearable, make sure to keep in mind that everything you do while using the device can be stored and used by someone you were not expecting.

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Balancing the need for IT innovation with the needs of patients and hospitals has been a healthcare stumbling block for many years. And even determining which innovations will truly propel healthcare transformation — and how — was a topic at the recent meeting of The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT in Washington, D.C.

 

During a panel discussion on ways to spur innovation, Polina Hanin, Community Director at StartUp Health, said that “startups are definitely paying attention to how they can empower the patient” and how to offer preventative care options to hospitals and doctors.

 

There’s no shortage of bright ideas, but innovators also need to think holistically about their technology visions. As one example, Jacob Reider, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at ONC for Health IT, told the panel he heard about an automated blood pressure cuff that interfaces with a user’s iPhone. It’s a great idea, he said, as long as the developer takes into consideration standards for how that information is communicated to healthcare professionals. It would be unreasonable to expect a physician to log in to multiple websites every day to check the blood pressure readings for patients using different, and proprietary, versions of such devices and software. “That doesn’t scale,” he explained.

 

New Standards Emerging

Leveraging standards not only helps the physician, it can also accelerate development of innovative products. But disconnects remain. Businesses “don’t know we can help them, and they are surprised [that] we are helpful. And we [ONC] are surprised that they don’t know what is buried in 2,000 pages of regulations,” Reider joked.

 

It’s not really surprising that in the healthcare sector, progress is slow. “Healthcare, by definition, is risk averse,” Reider noted. “That’s why technology iterates more slowly in the healthcare domain. Providers do need to be thoughtful and careful in adding IT to their practices,” he said.

 

But the pace may accelerate if a new risk-based regulatory framework for health IT takes hold. It is designed to promote innovation, protect patient safety, and avoid unnecessary and duplicative regulation, Reider said.

And one panelist even found an upside to the long wait. Said Bijan Salehizadeh, Managing Director of healthcare-focused private capital firm NaviMed Capital: “Things do take a lot longer in healthcare … but once you get that customer, [the relationship] tends to be extremely sticky.” —Jennifer Zaino

 

 

See my full blog here about how healthcare companies are coping with new federal regulations.

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The U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA) hasn’t had the smoothest launch in history, and IT had its share of problems. Initial glitches with the operation of the Healthcare.gov website were widespread, and more recently the Department of Health and Human Services has had to address concerns that the “Obamacare” computer network might be vulnerable to Belarusian malware.

 

Still, sign-ups to get health insurance through the federal government’s website, or state-run exchanges, are up to 3.3 million people nationwide as of Feb. 1, according to new federal enrollment data. Despite the early IT difficulties, “President Obama is committed to modernizing our healthcare system,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, at a January meeting of The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Obama “believes, as you all do, that digitizing records and data can save lives in addition to resources,” she said. (See related article for more on innovation in healthcare IT.)

 

Like other insurance carriers, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, has had to adapt to the changes resulting from healthcare reform, and that includes ensuring that internal and external customers continue to enjoy strong service. In support of its various contracts in South Carolina and nationally, the state BlueCross processed more than 1 billion claims in 2013 -- more than 6 billion production Customer Information Control System (CICS) transactions last year.

 

Service Pressures on the Rise

Not surprisingly, trickle-down pressures are increasing on the monitoring team in the IS department at BCBS South Carolina, which is led by Jimmy Cunningham, Senior Manager, Tech Support, Enterprise Monitoring. The group must guarantee that business service reliability doesn’t falter as the new processes take hold, he told me recently. Service assurance extends to internal businesses users who depend on the BCBS South Carolina Web pages and desktop apps to process claims and help customers. It also includes external insurance providers not affiliated with the BCBS Association that leverage its systems to register clients and review policy payments. And perhaps most important are the consumers who rely on the website to look up claims information and check for doctors and coverage details. http://beta.ubmdesigncentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/jimmy+head+shot+2a.jpg

 

Responsive, reliable apps are critical “whether it’s to help our call center employees resolve issues in a certain time window,” or ensuring that customers are satisfied with their service, Cunningham continued. Healthcare customers are already stressed out by all of the changes taking place, he said. “We don’t want to add to that by taking a long time to respond to their queries,” and have them “watching the clock on the screen tick along.”

Long before the act became law, the app dev team updated its website and systems to reflect the law’s new requirements and Cunningham’s team worked to adjust its monitoring efforts accordingly. “The customer experience is always important, but now it’s a little more important because we want to be seen as a friend of the insuree,” Cunningham added.

 

Monitoring, App Dev in Lockstep

The team needs to produce the right metrics “so that BlueCross as a whole is providing a helpful and positive experience to our customers. We’re making sure we are in lockstep with app dev when [the developers] add new things, so that both the app dev team and my team can see how a new page is working and [how] new information is being presented,” he said.

 

IT consolidated the monitoring function and tools into a single group a few years ago, which has helped to generate meaningful, reliable and proactive reporting in contrast to discovering problems only when customers called about them. “We built a toolkit that monitors from the click all the way to the back end,” Cunningham said, so that BCBSSC is no longer trying to respond to multiple alerts about the same problem.

 

That toolkit includes the CA Application Performance Management technology to monitor live traffic and Java JVM metrics. It also handles monitoring of the customer experience and highlights metrics on the services and programs that support BCBSSC applications and desktops. And even though customers are happy with the service and response time, Cunningham’s team is constantly running gap analyses to ensure a positive experience as customers traverse across functional silos.

 

Moving forward, the next challenge will be “integrating the information that comes out of the tools.” Additionally, culling the data from the monitoring tools and feeding it back into the system to do capacity planning and preventative diagnostics are also thorny at such a large scale, he added.

 

Cunningham is proud that BCBS of South Carolina is leveraging IT in a way that improves the customer experience and keeps intact the “affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act. “We’re a low-cost claims processor, and always have been,” he said. And that’s one goal IT doesn’t want to change.

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