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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.” (See 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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2013 was a year of fast-paced change and transformation for global IT leaders. Smart Enterprise magazine and Smart Enterprise Exchange have tried to ease the disruption with articles, blogs and actionable advice. To recap the year and ring in the new, our staff has picked a few of our best and brightest selections to highlight here for you.


We wish you a merry, mobile, social and healthy holiday season.

 

  • A critical mission for CIOs this year and next is to improve collaboration with business leaders so that customers are better served. In 5 Ways IT Can Win Back Marketing, Michael Schrage describes the real-world challenges that IT leaders face and offers simple, actionable tactics to remedy the situation.

May all your collaborations go smoothly in the New Year. Happy Holidays!
− Paula Klein

 

  • Transformation is the order of the day. By transforming IT, CIOs can provide better services, better business outcomes, even better leadership. This article, with examples from IT leaders at ANZ Bank and FedEx, shows how you can get started.

Holiday greetings to our loyal readers, and best wishes for a Smart New Year.
− Peter Krass

 

Happy Holidays from the Thought Leadership team at CA Technologies!
− Jackie Kahle

 

All the best to you and yours in the New Year!

− Lucille Deane

 

  • The Smart Enterprise article, “The CIO’s New Look,” really struck a chord with me. Technology on its own can be interesting, but the people driving innovation and changing how business gets done in the face of ever-evolving techs, tools and trends are where the real meat of the story is.

Wishing you the best holiday season and the brightest New Year from Smart Enterprise Exchange!
− Denise M. Dubie

 

  • 2013 has seen the explosion of data, and some organizations are using it to improve the way they do business with customers in mind. The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia is busy preserving and turning analog into digital to ensure the country’s history will be available for generations. As a result, massive amounts of data have to be managed and secured, and CIO Miriam Waterhouse shares best practices.

Happy holidays to our Smart Enterprise readers!
− Penni Geller

 

  • Tesco’s CIO paints a vision all about possibilities, limitless ideas and rock-solid execution in this article. And, it’s all about making the customer’s experience superior while returning value to the company/shareholders.

Wishing you holiday cheer!
− Tracy Hansen

 

  • Happy Holidays! The first issue of Smart Enterprise that I read, highlighting “transformers” in the industry, was so informative. The Transformers article really went into depth about the changes taking place in IT and the role of the CIO.

− Julian Collier

 

 

  • One of my favorite articles from 2013 was “Giving Government the Business,” our look at the public sector and how those CIOs are using the changes in technology to better the lives of their constituents.

Wishing all a very happy holiday season and wonderful New Year.
− Loni Frazita

 

  • For me, the videos with Tesco’s Mike McNamara really captured the zeitgeist of a lot of the CIOs I talk to, many of whom are fighting the same issues — especially the conflict between a legacy IT investment that still delivers mission-critical service vs. new disruptive technologies that answer the demands of consumer-driven IT.

Happy Holidays!
− Andi Mann

 

 

  • I’m a sucker for a good infographic — how it can tell a complicated story in a single frame. While it’s been out for almost a year now, our research into the state of IT innovation, was very informative, as typified by this piece. I wish our community a joyous holiday and a prosperous new year!

− Mark Hoffman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Why is it we say, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and not “A word is worth a thousand pictures”? Words are powerful, but an image has the power to move people in an instant. We are told that to get what we want in life, we should first produce an image, graph or chart of what we want that outcome to be. We consistently reinforce our words, thoughts, and actions through images. What would the image for your goal look like? Visuals can be very powerful, even in your mind.

Adam Famularo, a CA Technologies SVP and General Manager and friend, wrote a Time Management blog this year illustrating how he charts and maps out his work, family, and personal goals against time, including those spent giving back to the community. He recommends that others might benefit from this approach and get a “clear picture” of how much time they have available to achieve goals.

Visuals have increasingly been used to share ideas, content, and information in a bite-sized manner. Visual reports, common for decision makers, have expanded and are now more widely used  to review and collaborate about information , data and applications, and to help support decisions with organizational direction,. I’ve noted four ways that visuals are being used (what I call the 4 Cs) as follows:

Conversations

Have you recently had a conversation using visual aids? Often enough, while I’m at dinner, colleagues or friends will whip out their mobile device to show a visual – sometimes it’s a photo or video and other times a mobile app. As an evaluator and teacher, I used to sift through effective presentation styles and techniques. Imagine sitting through a 30-minute presentation filled with plain text! When I came across presentations like that, I said to myself, “OMG get me out of here!” Colors, images, fonts, design, and art used in presentations are so much more effective.

In your work environment, observe the interaction with your team and think about conversations around a new project. Would you agree as readily without visuals of the project schedule, resources, and financials?

Communication, Collaboration, Change Management

Looking further into projects, you’ll probably see that visual communication and collaboration around customer requirements have grown in popularity. Requirements can be for new applications, understanding of data flow, and/or improving the business performance. Think about some of the different visualizations that could be used to communicate and collaborate with employees, partners, and clients. For instance:

If you were a major financial or healthcare institution with Big Data initiatives, how would you detail the flow of data? Where does the data collaborate with marketing and IT? Who does it engage and is the data secure and private for compliance measures? What data is key for reporting? There is a lot of information to document.

My guess is you will most likely have to use a visual flow type of diagram to track the way that data travels; where to make changes, assess the impact and identify the root cause. If there is a conflict that needs to be resolved, being able to address it visually is extremely helpful when communicating and collaborating. Visual interpretation is also a convenient way to communicate and translate across different users in a company (executive, technical, sales) and even with an international audience. Keep in mind that the visual flow is only as effective as the ability of the viewer to interpret the design of the image.

Design and Art

First impressions are important, and so are visual designs. Why are some gaming applications more successful than others? The design that engages gaming users can be powerful – so powerful that they create an addictive habit. Successful mobile designers also use cognitive psychology to assess the human behavior, adaptability and friendliness of the mobile application. Social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram have gained popularity by associating images, graphics, or videos as a method of capturing inspiration, initiating visual conversations, and building community of similar interests through design. They even use a vision board for desires. Companies producing videos on YouTube or other sources can communicate their message-- sometimes in 3 minutes or less --through visual contact.

Visual icons, color, and other uses of illustrative elements are becoming a more common practice in corporate communication. Multiple icons can be captured into a single image to create instant messaging for corporate use. For example, of the many systems that help desks manage, one mission- critical system, case management, is alerting issues. There are a high volume of online incidents being logged in and phone calls from business users are rapidly increasing due to system downtime. How would you display this information into a single image? Here are a few icons you might consider:

  • Case Management System icon > displayed as a briefcase in red color showing alert status
  • Help Desk icon > image of a red help desk support representing rising incident tickets logged
  • Phone icon > demonstrated in red to represent volume of calls

 

Blog images.JPG

Similar to textual metadata definition, visual representation needs to have common definition, language and interpretation within the organization. When your company knows what these images characterize, a single image icon gets the message across expeditiously, as shown below.

blog image 2.png

 

Brain’s Perception and Cognition of Visual Origins

How does your brain process visual representations? When you see something – be it text, static image, moving object, etc. – the light stimulates the retina giving you a visual perception that is controlled by the visual cortex of your brain, which happens very fast. However, the process of interpreting what you saw does not stop there. The visual perception of what you saw and – note here – “paid attention to” then sends signals to the cerebral cortex of your brain. This is where the signals are processed and cognitive, conscious thinking of what you saw kicks in; it is then interpreted and stored in your memory.

Even though text is visual and goes through the same process of interpretation as visual objects, the interpretation of the message takes longer. In the previous example, when the case management system is down, causing high volume of incidents and calls, it takes longer to read and then interpret versus the same message displayed and interpreted using visual cues.

Decision Makers

To ease and accelerate the process for decision makers to interpret the data, don’t overcrowd with unnecessary visuals. Further, decision makers cannot achieve their goals just by visual perception and cognition. They need to put an actionable plan together based on their interpretation.

Upcoming

I will be covering more about collaboration at ERworld November 14, @ 12 PM EST – the day after my birthday! This is a virtual conference and it is FREE. Make sure to register now and join my colleagues and me for three days, Nov 12t – 14t online. Click here for the full agenda.

I am also excited to share that I have dedicated an entire chapter to my upcoming book ‘The 4 Intelligences of the Business Mind’ (Apress/Springer, 2014) on visualization. To stay up to date, receive more information and upcoming events about the book, please fill out the form here on my website’s homepage. Can’t wait to share more.

 

 

 

Valeh Nazemoff serves as Vice President of Acolyst where she works with executive clients, mapping and resolving their GRC & Legal matters through Business Performance Management. She helps them achieve their strategic initiatives such as cloud computing, mobility and business process improvement while bringing attention to organizational behavior. With a background in psychology and business management, she has taught several business courses for the University of Phoenix (UOPHX). Contact, ask your questions, and connect with her at valeh@acolyst.com.

 

 

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Business service reliability is simply the means by which IT departments deliver competitive business advantage to their companies and customers. Achieving it, however, is not simple at all. What’s needed is the right mix of traditional system management and quality of service to meet today’s user demands.

 

User experience—for an employee, a customer or a partner—is fast becoming the touchstone of most business strategies and the means by which IT departments are judged. Whether the user is accessing an internal application, a mobile app or a cloud service, they expect the interaction to go off without a hitch—and that’s the role of IT.

 

IT professionals are no longer responsible for just the servers, databases and applications within the data center, but for a myriad of complex systems that go beyond the firewall. As a result, while IT still must deliver 99.999% system uptime, it is also required to provide end-to-end service delivery and performance optimization.

 

Smart Enterprise Exchange contributor Karyl Scott recently spoke with Andi Mann, VP of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, about this topic. Mann is the co-author of "The Innovative CIO: How IT Leaders Can Drive Business Transformation" along with George Watt and Peter Matthews. Andi has more than 25 years of experience in enterprise software inside the IT departments of governments and corporations around the world. What follows are highlights from the conversation.UUXFITAndiMann-525x600px.jpg1.jpg

 

Q: How has service management changed in the past few years?

 

A: Service management has gotten increasingly more complex. IT organizations are managing hybrid services that span multiple organizations, cloud systems and public networks.

 

Application architectures have fundamentally changed from client/server models and are now being driven by cloud and mobile computing. Employees and customers are using smartphones and tablets to do business and they're invariably connecting through a cloud application of some kind.

These cloud applications may be running in your data center, on any one of multiple public data centers, or have components running in various third-party data centers -- or a combination of all the above.

 

Q: Do cloud services simplify IT management or add to the complexity?

 

A: If you are using a third-party software service, such as Salesforce.com to manage customer interactions such as CRM, then you're spending less time and fewer resources managing the internals of an application.

 

But when you're using cloud computing as a platform or infrastructure, you have all of the things that you used to manage in-house, plus they're in the cloud. That makes data security, application processing and system management much more complex.

 

 

Q: How are application architectures changing in this new hybrid environment?

 

A: Many applications are being delivered on mobile devices and over cloud environments and IT must monitor these application transactions from end-to-end.

To do that, IT might create a “synthetic” transaction to trace the topology of a given application. Or IT could inject a packet into a real transaction to also follow the application’s topology under the cloud service and detect where the transaction is slowing down.  Synthetic or simulated transactions, common in application performance management technology, can help users monitor performance down to the transaction level so they can understand the response time of components –such as servers -- supporting an application.


Q: How are analytics helping IT mitigate complexity and manage these hybrid environments?

 

A: CA Technologies has been tracking a form of big data for years -- looking at millions of transactions and analyzing that data to find the root causes of performance problems. We also track security data and use analytics to assess incoming threats, match patterns to guard against those threats, and we try to predict where the next threat is coming from. We also use data analytics to detect and adjust for quality of service. We've extended those capabilities into the complex world of cloud and mobile computing for our CIO customers.

 

Q: What role can IT professionals play in driving business performance?

 

A: IT professionals can bring technology expertise and a variety of best practices and technologies to bear on business situations. They can advise business users on cloud services and mobile apps that will work best in the enterprise environment.

For example, an IT person might recommend employees use Box.net instead of other public cloud storage solutions because it offers strong security and other enterprise features.

 

Technology is being democratized and consumerized and it's unrealistic to think employees aren't going to try third-party mobile apps. Nonetheless, IT can provide guidance and choices that will help IT and the business. As a result, IT will have more control over service-level agreements and service management, and business users will have the tools they want to be their most productive.

 

 

 

 

CA offers a range of Service Assurance Solutions that aggregate system data, provide analytic capabilities and visibility into the new hybrid system environment. You can find more details here

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For retail IT, a solid mobile strategy is no longer an option, it’s table-stakes.

 

This summer, Office Depot kicked off a campaign that encourages customers to shop in its stores with their mobile phones. With the help of pop band One Direction’s music video, the retailer has developed a youth-oriented app to help shoppers find an item and then bring it to life on their smartphone via augmented-reality technology. The retailer also uses mobile apps to help customers easily accumulate loyalty program points.

 

From my own experience, mobile apps are not only cool, they’re a big help to harried shoppers. While at Office Depot recently to buy my kids’ school supplies, I downloaded an e-coupon onto my smartphone while in the checkout line and immediately saved $20.

 

I’m not alone. In a 2012 study, research firm ComScore determined that four of every five smartphone users — 85.9 million in total — accessed retail content on their devices. And according to eMarketer, the number of U.S. mobile coupon users will jump from 31 million at the end of 2012 to 40.8 million by the end of 2013.

 

But the disruption caused by mobile devices in retail goes way beyond smartphones, coupon-clipping and 3D product descriptions. “Mobility has changed absolutely everything for the retail industry,” says Steve Rowen, an analyst with Retail Systems Research (RSR). “It has changed the entire pricing model, the inventory model, the supply chain, the way people shop. Everything from sourcing through to consumption has been completely disrupted for both consumers and retailers.” (See related article on Tesco’s digital strategy here.)

 

Retailers of all types are embracing mobile platforms full force — even to improve in-store and supply chain business processes. For IT execs, that means having a clear understanding of where mobile technology meets mobile marketing. They also need to convince top management just how critical mobile commerce is to the business, and then build interfaces between mobile apps and back-end systems. From there, systems must turn the amassed mobile data into actionable intelligence — that’s a lot of heavy lifting.

 

Boosting Sales at Nordstrom, CVS

In 2011, Nordstrom worked with Übermind (recently acquired by Deloitte Digital) on a fully functional, touch-screen compatible mobile website that the department store has continually upgraded since then. Not only can people use the mobile app to shop, but they can also use it to locate nearby stores, check product availability, scan barcodes and find specific items. According to reports, Nordstrom’s mobile capabilities accounted for $260 million in sales in 2012, representing 20 percent of its total $1.3 billion direct, or e-commerce sales. Just recently the retailer let shoppers share product information via auto-generated SMS feeds — expanding from the Facebook, Twitter and email abilities it already had.

 

Drugstore chain CVS is also leveraging mobile to boost brand loyalty and attract customers. In July, CVS unveiled its Drug Interaction Checker as part of its CVS Mobile app. It lets customers use their smartphones to check for potential drug interactions by comparing over-the-counter (OTC) products with their prescriptions and other OTCs.

 

Pairing Mobile with RFID

Behind the scenes, retailers are also bringing mobile devices in-house to improve inventory and supply chain processes. Dutch shoe retailer De Wolky Shop uses smartphones and tablets, paired with radio frequency ID (RFID) technology, to automate inventory processes, generating real-time reports on what’s in stock at any given time — a value that CEO Tom van Geemen says results in fewer stockouts and higher sales. The retailer has tagged several thousand pairs of shoes with RFID, and plans to tag its inventory across all its stores in the Netherlands and Germany by year-end.

 

Employees use a mobile RFID reader and an IoS-compatible app developed by Nedap. The reader communicates via Bluetooth with the app, and when tags are scanned, they are registered and processed by the mobile app. From there, it shares data with Nedap Retail’s cloud-based service. The data is correlated with inventory data in De Wolky Shop’s ERP system, and any differences can be investigated and reconciled. “The customer wants a product and wants it now, so our focus is on stock availability more than ever,” says van Geemen.

 

Challenges clearly remain. One RSR study, “The Impact of Mobile in Retail, Benchmark Report 2012,” indicates that insufficient resources inhibit about 66 percent of organizational mobile initiatives. Other notable challenges include: budgeting and ROI; the rapidly changing landscape of mobile technology, and executive teams that don’t yet understand mobile’s value.

 

Integration Challenges

Any successful mobile campaign ultimately requires strong ties to the core systems that run a retailer’s business—and to IT. De Wolky Shop, for example, tightly integrated its mobile app with its ERP system to ensure that on-hand inventory matches advanced shipping notices, purchase orders and invoices.

Another IT challenge is how to turn data gained from mobile channels into actionable business intelligence, something 26 percent of survey respondents cited.

 

Nevertheless, RSR’s Rowen says retailers can’t afford to let anything slow them down. “If you are a retailer and have the opportunity to try something with mobile — even something small with one store or just a small group of customers — do it. The worst thing you can do is sit on your hands and do nothing, because your competitors are doing something.”

 

What's your action plan?

 

More resources:

When Mobility Drives the Business, Well-Tuned Management Is Key

Engage and Protect

 


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IT management is dead. Long live IT management!

 

Managing IT will never be the same. The rapid rises of mobile technology, cloud computing, big data and DevOps (the convergence of technology development and operations) are challenging decades of IT best practices. They’re also changing what it means to be a CIO.

 

Smart Enterprise is changing, too. This is our 20th issue, a major milestone for our staff, our readers, UBM Tech and CA Technologies. Since the magazine’s launch in 2006, the IT world has changed, and changed again. Smart Enterprise, I’m proud to say, wrote about Software as a Service (SaaS) back in 2007, cloud computing as early as 2008, data center virtualization in 2009, enterprise mobile technology in 2011 and DevOps earlier this year.

 

To celebrate and provide a useful look back at where we’ve been, we’re adding two special sections to this issue. In “Where Are They Now?” we revisit three senior IT executives — David Guzmán, Albert Porco and David Blodgett — whom we had profiled in earlier issues. And in our Timeline, we graphically present our first 19 issues, along with selected industry moments, awards and quotations.

 

Celebrations aside, we have no intention of changing our forward-looking stance. So in this issue, we also dedicate several pages to what we believe is the single most important issue facing CIOs and other IT leaders today: the massive disruption caused by mobile devices in the enterprise, cloud computing, DevOps and other recent technology developments. In our lead feature, “The Disruption Advantage,” veteran technology writer Larry Lange reports on how these disruptions are affecting CIOs.

 

Those theories get translated into practice in our Up Close section. There, contributor Tom Farre profiles new efforts by Tesco, the U.K.-based retailer, to transform grocery shopping with technology.

 

How about you? Who’s driving your advantage — technology or you? Let me know by email or on our online community, Smart Enterprise Exchange.

 

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Smart Enterprise Magazine

View the full digital edition here »

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Even if you're not an aggressive user of cloud services, the burgeoning attention to cloud has a profound impact on the way you relate to your internal business clients (end users and business-unit executives) and how you budget for these initiatives.

 

IT has long been struggling with competitive pressures from decentralization and outsourcing; and it has had to learn to be customer focused, responsive, innovative, reliable, agile and more. Cloud is exacerbating these competitive pressures; but beyond that, it’s changing the way your internal business clients expect to interact with IT vendors — including you.

 

Even nontechnical clients are aware that Amazon sells storage; and most have heard of Internet vendors that sell the range of data center services, from rack space to applications hosting. They can see vendors' prices and how easy it is to do business with them. So they're coming to expect the same of their internal IT providers: They want an understandable catalog of products and services, published prices, and the ability to order what they need, when they need to. They want IT to be as easy to do business with as an “app store,” or they will go elsewhere.

 

In short, internal IT departments are now being forced — more than ever — to operate as businesses within a business.

 

It’s About Governance, Not Chargebacks

Financially, this does NOT necessarily mean that you should implement chargebacks, or charge the user a fee for service. You can gain most of the benefits of chargebacks without actually transferring money. Here's how:

 

First, with or without chargebacks, you need a catalog of products and services that truly represents what your customers can buy — not the tasks you do to produce those products and services. And the catalog has to be at the level of granularity of their purchase decisions — not big bundles that they're forced to buy. For instance, it should specify a standard workstation, a premium workstation or an email account, not bundled desktop services, take it or leave it. Note that cloud vendors post very clear catalogs on their websites at this level of granularity.

 

Second, you need to assign all of your product and service costs in a manner that's comparable to vendor offerings. This means that every product/service must bear its fair share of indirect costs, so that you're never asking for money for things clients don't buy (such as your overhead). But to ensure fair comparisons, you must not burden those rates with costs that vendors don't have, such as corporate-good services including standards and policies. And just as in the real world where cloud vendors live, funding for your infrastructure has to come from “loans from the bank” (i.e., from corporate treasury, repaid through depreciation), not from clients.

 

Your rates are the basis for fair comparisons with cloud vendors, and hopefully you'll make those comparisons before your clients do. Even if yours is not the better deal, rate comparisons permit you to make sensible use of cloud wherever it's technically and economically feasible.

 

Investment-based Budgets

This same cost model allows you to make another key change: submitting a budget that estimates the costs of the products and services you might deliver in the coming year — a budget for what you want to “sell,” not just for what you want to spend. Termed an “investment-based budget,” this transforms the dialogue, treating IT as an investment, not just a cost; and it allows executives to decide budgets based on the needs of the business. It also clearly explains what your budget does and does not pay for, setting expectations appropriately.

 

Third, clients must be empowered to decide what they buy from you. This means resource-governance processes that let clients control your priorities.

If you don't use chargebacks, think of your budget in a different way. It's not given to you to cover your costs; it's a "prepaid account" — money put on deposit with you at the beginning of the year to buy products and services from your catalog all year long.

 

Allocations — big lump-sum payments by business units to IT based on high-level cost drivers — are much the same. Instead of viewing allocations as a way to spread your costs to the business, consider them, too, as prepaid accounts that allow business units to buy things from you.

 

Those prepaid accounts create "checkbooks" that belong to the business. With that foundation, resource-governance processes can engage clients in deciding exactly what checks they'll write. They'll spend much of their money at the beginning of the year on keep-the-lights-on services and use the remainder for discretionary projects. And if there isn't enough in their checkbooks to buy all they want, they'll have to come up with more money — either by defending a budget increase for you, increasing their allocations or providing incremental cash (fee-for-service). Note that these are business decisions to buy more from IT, not IT demanding more money to cover its costs.

 

Internal Market Economics; Customer-focused IT

What I term “internal market economics” washes away bureaucracy and sets up straightforward, businesslike governance processes in several ways:

  • It aligns you with the needs of the business automatically and dynamically.
  • It manages clients' expectations.
  • It's the antidote to the unrealistic "do more with less" demand.
  • It's the basis for fair benchmarking.

And it makes you as easy to do business with as any cloud vendor or app store.

 

To compete with emerging technologies and competitors such as cloud — indeed, to take advantage of them — you need to run IT as a customer-focused business. Internal market economics is the foundation.

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N. Dean Meyer is President of NDMA Inc. and author of Internal Market Economics, available in hardcover and Kindle on Amazon. He can be reached on Smart Enterprise Exchange here. Chapter 3, the story of poor Robert, the CIO who followed “best practices” to his dismay, can be downloaded from this page.

Smart Enterprise Exchange members can also receive a discounted price of US$20 plus shipping; (retail value $28) when ordering the book directly from the publisher by telephone (1-203-790-1100). Just mention the “SMART ENTERPRISE DISCOUNT,” and let NDMA know if you’d like the author’s autograph.

 

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Mobile devices have been making efforts to bridge the business/personal gap for years. Once stonewalled by IT admins – kept away from sensitive network access points and critical files - the sophistication of these devices has increased to a point where users don’t need IT permission, or help, to run amok on company networks. IT departments, therefore, face a critical choice: Attempt to annihilate mobile devices in the workplace, or start appropriating this useful technology.

Bring Your Own Device

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is on a roll. According to a recent study, 96 percent of corporate respondents say the amount of personal devices connected to their network is on the rise, while almost half say they have five times as many personal devices being used in the workplace as they did two years ago. In part, this is due to proliferation – the ubiquitous iPhone has been supplemented by Samsungs, new Blackberries and a host of other smartphones and tablets, all ardently defended by their users. As a result, IT admins are faced with a changing landscape; executives may demand support for one kind of device, while employees encounter problems with another.

 

Cloud computing has also furthered the cause of mobile devices by democratizing access to resources. No longer are users chained to desktop environments for enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) or even business intelligence (BI) tools – all can be delivered via the cloud, and on mobile. In addition to ease of use through the cloud, the mobile intelligence of users is on the rise. Many are familiar with cloud-based document and email services, and are able to smoothly transition to similar business solutions. The result is a set of non-IT employees with the ability to ignore most IT directives if they choose.

Risky Business

Admins do have legitimate reasons for worry. As a June 11th Dark Reading article reports, 45 percent of small firms (under 1000 employees) have experienced costly mobile security breaches in the last year. Lost data is the biggest concern, far more so than a compliance violation or similar offense; the melding of business and personal use has created a hybrid with ease of use and substantial access, but often lacking in security.

 

It’s impossible to fully lock down mobile data, but strong device use policies, coupled with mandatory lock codes and the ability to remotely wipe data can help mitigate the risks. Employees may balk at some of these restrictions; however, meaning IT admins must become educators as well as enforcers, since appropriate use policies ultimately benefit all users. The sheer volume and type of data transferred via mobile devices means no failsafe security option exists; balancing this risk, however, are substantial mobile benefits for company bottom lines.

IT Can Play, Too

The benefits of mobile devices are substantial. Up-front advantages include advanced camera technology found on many smartphones, which allow service personnel to send back high-resolution images or video of needed parts to check for stock or diagnose problems. In addition, cloud-based document services let employees manipulate – and collaborate – on the fly, allowing spreadsheets and presentations to evolve even when getting to the office isn’t an option. IT admins, meanwhile, are also starting to see the benefits of moving their business to mobile. Several startup firms have developed software-as-as-service (SaaS) solutions designed to replace out-of-date paper processes – not with desktop programs – but with mobile apps. This opens the door for admins to build in their own functionality, and move beyond the role of mobile troubleshooters.

 

This kind of appropriation is the alternative to annihilation; efforts by IT departments to remove employees’ ability to use their smartphones or tablets in a business setting. Not only is this a losing war in a world of 4G network and wireless hot-spots, but alienation is the end result. Better to work alongside other users – as the voice of sober experience, perhaps – rather than as stern taskmaster.

The Future of Mobile

Mobile devices are now viewed as employee extensions rather than additions – many users aren’t comfortable without a smarthphone in their hand or tablet in their bag. Body-worn technology projects are underway by several big-name companies and more elaborate versions of familiar devices are released on a regular basis. These devices are firmly entrenched in business, and as recent data indicate, are experiencing rapid growth. Cloud computing, meanwhile, is helping to encourage mobile adoption, in part by enabling user ability and in part by increasing access speed.

 

There’s no going back; IT professionals are faced with a market more dependent on mobile than ever. Metered appropriation, therefore, is necessary to take advantage of substantial mobile benefits, and make sure employees use personal technology appropriately in the workplace.

 

 

Doug Bonderud is a freelance writer, cloud proponent, business technology analyst and a contributor on the Dataprise Cloud Services website.

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Everyone wants first-mover advantage; to be the early bird that catches the business worm. The rise of the cloud satisfies some of those competitive urges among business teams because it makes it easier to implement an innovative application faster and less expensively than in the past. At the same time, it addresses scalability, recovery and access concerns.  

 

“Cycle times are breaking down under the relentless demand for speed, agility and flexibility,”  Michael P. Gregoire, CEO  of CA Technologies, told attendees at CA World 2013 at his keynote address in April. Peter Griffiths EVP of CA Technologies also told conference attendees that enterprises are becoming a hybrid mix of IT devices, on-premises systems and data, external cloud services, and new applications developed by the enterprise and also deployed in the cloud. As a result, IT has to be more efficient in managing and ensuring business performance across cloud-spanning applications.

And that is often easier said than done.

cagraphic.JPG

 

Speed Adds New Pressures

Accommodating business users’ need to move fast, while ensuring service stability, has always been a tricky proposition, even when operating within the confines of the internal data center and under IT’s full control. Now, the increasing need to leverage external resources and to rapidly implement new applications and services could spell trouble for the uninitiated. If senior IT leadership — under pressure from the business units to hurry things along — fails to solidly negotiate Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with providers, performance and service delivery will suffer. In addition, CIOs might become the targets of complaints if they delegate service assurance to their internal business partners without providing effective guidance into their requirements.

 

Agreeing to a service provider’s standard terms — which, not surprisingly, slant to its own strengths — or just letting a business unit deal with the process on its own, is understandable given what IT often is up against. But it’s not sufficient. “The business should set the criteria of what’s acceptable,” says Ian Hayes, founder and President of Clarity Consulting, which advises clients on areas including outsourcing, performance metrics and service level management. Then, IT can translate those business objectives into technical language for the service provider.

 

In practice, business users aren’t always good at explaining their objectives, and IT isn’t always proactive at working with them to fully understand their requirements and negotiate with service providers. If the only clear goal of the business customer is to get an application running now, reliability problems could easily surface over time.

 

Business users also may have unrealistic expectations for the particular application scenario — such as 100 percent uptime. Indeed, a business unit, unfamiliar with cloud services, may just assume that downtime won’t be a problem since it is accustomed to high uptime levels from applications that are internally hosted by the IT department. Users may have very little understanding of the high costs and monitoring that enable such high reliability. “Since business users can’t say, ‘Here’s what I need, and here’s the business impact of not getting it,’ it’s hard to establish an SLA that’s meaningful,” Hayes says.

 

It’s difficult, but not impossible. A little innovative thinking and collaboration with the full team may be all that’s needed to draw up SLAs that work for the business and also keep IT’s hard-earned reputation intact. In Part 2 of this blog, I’ll offer specific ways to ensure reliability and performance in the cloud.

 

Meanwhile, what are your tips and best practices for cloud SLAs? Please share them with me and your peers.

 

 


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This blog originally appeared on the CA Technologies’ Perspectives blog.

 

Recently at CA Technologies we released our top IT predictions for 2013. There are, of course, many other interesting predictions from industry experts, colleagues, and competitors alike.

 

As I was about to close the book (or the browser) on that for another year I began to think about why we are predicting what we are predicting. What's the driving force behind it all? I came to an encouraging conclusion. "It's peeeeeeeeo-plllllllllle!"

 

As Charlton Heston declared in the 1973 movie "Soylent Green" -- "It's people!" I might add, "finally!" Or, perhaps, "again!" It's all about the customer. About the consumer. About the employee. While the consumerization of IT has been a trend for a while now, it's much more than that. In fact, in 2013 it might be stated that the consumerization train has left the station. You can now choose whether you want to be on, or under, it.

 

crystalball.jpg

 

In 2013 companies will begin to focus on engaging consumers (and employees) in compelling ways. In fact, I predict that engagement will begin to drive changes in our approach to IT, that the approach to managing security moves from one of prevention to one of service enablement, and of course, that the consumer’s experience will stay front and center in every industry leader’s mind throughout these transformations.

 

I’ve only scratched the surface on this, so I encourage you to read my full post on the CA Technologies Perspectives blog to prepare for the changes ahead.

 

*Image used courtesy of vjeran2001 via stock.xchng.

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Businesses have made it clear that they want IT to provide more services at lower costs and with less complexity. This is not surprising given the crushing recession and its lingering effects, as well as heightened expectations of newer platforms such as cloud computing. It’s a good time to introduce IT automation solutions and services that promise reduced downtime, improved IT staff productivity and the agility to adapt to changing business demands.

 

Nevertheless, while IT budgets decline or remain flat, making the business case for IT automation requires more than promises. IT must demonstrate that automation will transform daily, often-manual IT tasks — ranging from maintenance and change management, to security policy enforcement and software upgrades — into intelligent, proactive management practices. “IT automation enables an IT organization to move toward a services-oriented model, where IT spends much more time helping drive the business forward,” Peter Christy, a Principal at Internet Research Group, a Silicon Valley-based market research and consulting company, told me recently.

 

Cruising into Automation at Royal Caribbean

And that’s good for businesses such as Royal Caribbean International. With a fleet of 22 ships that will carry thousands of passengers to 233 ports in 71 countries this year, Royal Caribbean has made customer service a focus of all of its IT initiatives. As such, the IT department has invested in next-generation technologies, including pervasive Wi-Fi and interactive flat-panel televisions, that deliver excellent customer experience — from booking an excursion on one of its cruise ships, to faster and easier boarding processes, to enjoying the many amenities on its ships.

 

BillMartin0612.jpg“We are modernizing across the board,” says VP and CIO Bill Martin, “and IT is becoming much more standardized. IT automation tools will optimize our approach and make IT that much more efficient.” For example, Royal Caribbean is using CA Client Automation to track networked assets and deploy software upgrades remotely. This will help minimize the need for IT staff to travel around the ship to ensure that devices remain continuously available. If less time is spent on day-to-day tasks such as software patches, IT can get new services out to customers at a faster clip, Martin says.

 

Less Complexity, Better Productivity

Perhaps the best argument for IT automation is that it reduces the complexities associated with running today’s IT environments. When Forrester queried senior decision makers at 267 large enterprises in the U.S. and Europe last summer, 78 percent said IT environments are getting more complex, and only 17 percent say they are coping well.

 

Customers want a unified cloud-automation service that controls and orchestrates applications and infrastructure, noted Michelle Bishop, Principal Consultant with Forrester, in a recent webcast hosted by CA Technologies. Such a model “frees up administrators to deliver innovation, not babysit the IT infrastructure.”

 

With greater automation, there’s a better chance that computing resources are put to work for the business more efficiently, agrees Christy, at Internet Research Group. 

 

Tools to Help Management

IT automation tools are emerging to streamline management. The CA Automation Suite for Data Centers from CA Technologies lets enterprises and service providers create complete business services in an automated, repeatable and reliable manner. In early October, CA Technologies released a new version of the suite that supports the modeling of multitiered applications (including their underlying infrastructure) so they can be easily and quickly provisioned. Additionally, it supports the sharing and deployment of services on different platforms, such as VMware vSphere and CA AppLogic® grids, as a single entity.

 

Automation is a win-win proposition. IT reduces downtime, cuts the number of infrastructure errors caused by misconfigured servers, and improves error recovery times. In turn, hardware costs are lowered because servers and storage are more effectively utilized, and software development and staff productivity increase.

 

With these benefits, making the case for IT automation may be easier than it seems, even during tough economic times. Christy likens IT automation to server virtualization, saying: “With virtualization, the operational costs have gone down substantially, and the quality of operations and services is going up. IT automation is similar. The more [processes] you do manually and differently, the more expensive and the more error-prone” they will be.

 

Are you ready to bring automation to the business? Share your experiences with me and your peers.

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As IT services move off-premises, the number of environments that need to be managed is greatly compounded. Yes, third parties -- cloud providers, managed service providers (MSP) and niche providers -- take on the day-to-day management responsibilities of the contracted services, but as IT leaders already know, “the ultimate responsibility falls to the CIO,” Amy Larsen DeCarlo, Principal Analyst, Security and Data Center Services, at Current Analysis, told me.

As most of us well know, IT still must maintain the performance levels of its business services and ensure that critical business assets are protected, available and affordable to end users regardless of where they are hosted. 

Often, that’s easier said than done. “Even though we see a lot of commercials about the cloud that make it sound as if it’s a mature technology, a lot of companies are using it for the first time,” says Bill Wilkins, Principal at Navint Partners, a consulting firm specializing in IT deployment,  strategy and technology integration. Many “are concerned about security and performance.”

Service-Level Assurances

How can enterprise IT leaders verify that service level agreements (SLA) are airtight? When I spoke with Mike Sargent, General Manager, Enterprise Management, at CA Technologies, he explained that CA Infrastructure Management  tries to ease some of those concerns. “Enterprises want to know if the service provider is really delivering to service level agreements,” he says. “Our ‘IM’ solution helps both enterprises and service provider organizations more proactively watch and manage their infrastructure’s performance and capacity.” The native multi-tenancy “lets providers view their enterprise customers’ unique data in a highly secure way.” (Read the related article here.)

Simac ICT Belgium, a managed service provider, is nearly three-quarters of the way through its deployment of CA Infrastructure Management at its network operations center. The goal is to more seamlessly support its own operations as well as the requirements of its service customers. Today’s IT environment “is more and more complex. It’s not just servers, routers and switches; there is a need for insight into virtual environments, application performance and cloud deployments,” says Herman Van den Broeck, Senior Consultant, Business Management Solutions at Simac ICT Belgium.

One of his VAR customers for example, recently claimed that it could not invest more time and resources in a do-it-yourself approach, Van den Broeck reports. Like most businesses, his customer wanted to focus on its core competency instead of “figuring out how to monitor and manage its huge worldwide IT environment.”

Van den Broeck expects that CA Infrastructure Management will help Simac ICT Belgium better support many of its clients. The new solution’s unified vision of operations streamlines management by converging information typically found in disparate tools that manage different, but co-dependent, aspects of infrastructure into a single dashboard. With fewer clicks and fewer separate screens to navigate, it claims to operate up to 25 times faster, on average, than alternative solutions. As a result, IT operations and engineering teams can spend time less managing their environment and more time adding value to the business.  Van den Broeck agrees. “Because of one solution and vision, we can find and troubleshoot problems very quickly,” he says.

As Ronald Willems, Business Services Consultant, Simac ICT Belgium, notes: “When you take over tasks from the customer and deliver them as a service, you need to agree with the customer about roles and responsibilities.” That’s why his firm spells out responsibilities up front in the SLA, he says.

It seems that only when responsibilities are clearly defined and shared, can infrastructure management as a service be a true partnership.

How are you making MSP relationships work? Let me know and share tips with your peers.

Jennifer Zaino

 

 

 


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We intuitively understand that IT automation should boost business operations and speed processes. But as someone who has worked in operational excellence and business strategy for 20 years, I also know that definitions often vary widely. For the purpose of this discussion, I define automation as the linking of disparate software or systems into one homogenous environment. The goal is to bring together the related, unrelated, new and legacy in ways that manage resources more effectively, reduce cost, drive innovation and simplify business processes—all while maintaining agility. If it sounds like a tall order, it is.

 

That’s why I offer five critical steps to take before embarking on the actual automation effort—or any major initiative, really. They are to: ensure strategic alignment; establish strong business needs; challenge and optimize the process; choose the vendor that best meets your needs; and create strong governance. Here are more details on each of these steps:

1.      Ensure Strategic Alignment

 

The resources needed for any business efforts must align with corporate strategies. Put simply: Without alignment, there won’t be any new resources—or current resources will most certainly dry up. Linking strategy to an initiative has a cascading effect, much like dominos set up to fall on one another. 

Strategy(ies) ð Initiative(s) ð Program(s) ð Project(s)

 

How does automation fit into your business strategy? It might be transformational and part of a business reengineering effort. It could be part of an Inquiry-to-Order or Order-to-Remittance initiative, optimizing processes and systems across multiple departments. Because many initial ideas tend to start off fuzzy and at a high-level, if you can clearly articulate your automation goal and the subsequent business impact out of the gate you’re in a better position than most.

 

Notice I said goal, not solution. The detailed solution will come from the team charged with understanding the business needs and how they intersect with current business capabilities.  First ask: If my automation goal is met, what benefit will be realized by the business? Faster time to market, greater capacity and head-count reduction are all potential outcomes—and all can have a positive impact to the bottom line. That’s strategic alignment.

 

2.      Establish Business Needs

 

Next, consider what your business needs most. This exercise is like peeling back the layers of an onion; you have to get to the core of your stakeholders’ needs.  How can you know what will have the most impact unless you get to the root of it? Go to where the work is being done and observe. What are the businesses’ requirements that are critical to quality?  How is business being done?  What are the pain points?  Armed with this information, you can optimize and automate something that has real value. 

 

3. Challenge and Optimize the Process

For all its potential, IT automation is not an isolated effort. If you don’t simplify and standardize relevant business processes, you will be expediting and automating broken activities. Challenge the status quo. Don’t just ask why an activity is performed; challenge the entire process.

 

I consulted with a company that was producing literally thousands of daily reports for the business, straining human and system resources. We didn’t ask how we could optimize the generation of these reports, our first question was: “Why are the reports being generated at all?” Our analysis revealed very few users ever made use of the reports. While this project aligned with a broader business strategy and addressed business requirements, there was little value optimizing and automating that process!

 

Understanding the business needs will help ensure you are automating the right opportunities. As a result, business partners will see benefits, helping to promote your work internally. The cost of operations will decline from minimizing time-consuming and resource-intensive processes.

 

4. Choose the Right Vendor

Evaluate solutions for the best fit. Once you document the business-critical quality requirements, use them to evaluate potential solutions and providers. Turn subjective criteria into objective criteria by creating an evaluation matrix such as the one below. 

 

Sample CTQ Matrixv3.jpg

 

 

 

 

In this example, a cross-functional team including finance, operations, solutions architects, developers and business analysts rated the importance of a business requirement and how well a solution or vendor could satisfy that requirement. We used these ratings to calculate weighted scores, which helped identify a short list of real contenders for further review.

 

5.      Create Strong Governance

 

Strong leadership engagement is critical for the success of any major effort, as are managing scope creep, timelines and budgets. To stay focused, I’ve had very good success establishing a steering committee of business leadership representing all relevant functions.

Automation also can dramatically impact employee workflow. To ease disruption and misunderstandings, ensure participation of those affected. Keep internal customers informed, too, so that when necessary, they actively participate in decision-making.

 

Although IT has been implementing automation for years, today’s environment is demanding even greater scrutiny to cost, efficiency and effectiveness. Data consumption, storage and need for analysis are all growing exponentially, and businesses—not just IT—understand the significance and opportunity automation represents.

 

Strategic IT automation is an essential tool when used correctly and for the right purposes. And IT leaders must identify those cases and make automation work seamlessly for the organization.

 

 

 

Craig M. Miller is a performance optimization/operations consultant in Philadelphia. He focuses on customer-centric solutions that transform business process and meet financial objectives. Previously, he was Director, Operations/Lean Six Sigma at Wolters Kluwer, a global information services and publishing company, and before that, held multiple roles at General Electric. Craig earned an MBA in finance from Drexel University. Contact Craig  on Smart Enterprise Exchange or at www.craigmillerconsulting.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Every four years a number of things happen.  New wrinkles, a few new pounds, newfound wisdom -- if you are lucky-- and the Olympic games.  Nations come together, the world watches and it seems we are all, at least for two weeks, engaged and working towards the same goal, an Olympic Gold.

This year, for the first time, I was wondering if our goal should be Olympic Green instead of Gold.  I am happy to say that the Olympic arenas in London are some of the greenest ever.  Energy.gov   reported that the Velodrome-- one of the most iconic and sustainable buildings ever built for an Olympic Games,  contains the indoor cycling track. It can hold 6,000 people and keep them cool with a completely natural ventilation system using outside air and no air conditioning. In addition, the Velodrome uses natural lighting during the day to supplement fluorescent lighting, saving a lot of energy.  In addition, it collects rainwater for its main water usage with its sloped roof.

Another efficient building is called The Copper Box. It is used for various exciting court-worthy events like handball or badminton. The boxy building has 3,000 square meters of copper (mostly recycled) on its exterior faces, giving it a nice bronze sheen. In terms of sustainability and energy efficient design, the Copper Box has 88 pipes that bring in natural daylight, saving an annual 40 percent on lighting costs. Also, much like the Velodrome, the roof collects rainwater for the use of waste management (toilets), which will cut water costs by 40 percent per year.

Besides energy efficiency, the park will attempt to get a gold medal in the toughest event of the games ---recycling.

Recycling-an-Olympian-effort-at-London-Games-L61UMU2D-x.jpg

According to usatoday.com, spectators at the Olympic venues will be bombarded with messages to sort their trash into the right containers. Sports fans will be exhorted to recycle by signs on vending machines, posters in food-sales areas, announcements over the loud speakers and messages flashed on the big screens inside the venues, as well as printed information included with all tickets. Staff members will be stationed at some trash areas to help people confused about the difference between "compost" and "recycling."

The all-enveloping propaganda is needed to help the Games organizers meet their goal of recycling or composting 70 percent of the trash from spectators, a rate that is considered extremely ambitious for an event of this size.

Just how does that compare to other events in London?  Seventy percent is a "massively high" rate, says David Stubbs, sustainability director for the Games, adding that big events in Britain typically recycle 15 percent of their waste, while the best achieve a recycling rate of roughly 30 percent.

To help meet the recycling goal, every company providing food at the Games must use compostable plates, cutlery and food packaging. Among the few food items on sale in the park that don't have a compostable wrapper are the candy bars manufactured by one of the Olympic sponsors.

Food packaging will be marked with colored labels corresponding to the color of the container it should be thrown in: bright orange for food and compostable materials, lime-green for bottles and cans and black for non-recyclable items.

The contents of the bins at the Olympics also will be sorted after disposal, Stubbs says, to ensure the Games meet their recycling targets.

As a Green Building Captain for CA Technologies in Islandia, NY, I am going to go for the Gold or Green in my own arena.  Are you?  Tell us if your company has plans to “go green” in your building.

 


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Dealing with new technologies, fast-changing business needs, tight budgets? Everything as a Service is just what the doctor ordered.

 

For most CIOs, what’s being called the “new normal” must seem anything but normal. The relationship of IT with the business is being radically transformed, thanks to the confluence of several new technologies, increased expectations from the business, and the tough global economy.

 

The key technologies of today’s new normal are cloud computing, virtualization and consumer-driven devices. The business wants IT services that are fast, secure and available anywhere, any time, on any device. And the worldwide weak economy is limiting IT budgets just when CIOs are pressured to implement these new technologies and keep up with the fast-changing demands of the business. More like the new abnormal!

 

Yet help is on the way. As IT and business services move increasingly to the cloud, CIOs will gain both speed and agility. New IT services become not only possible, but also highly desirable.

 

Where’s it all heading? Why, to Everything as Service! XaaS (pronounced “zass”) promises new ways of empowering the business, meeting the demands of users, securing data and applications, and ensuring compliance — and doing so quickly and under budget.

 

This issue’s cover story, “Everything as a Service,” explores this development, showing how CIOs need to select the right cloud services, evaluate suppliers, ensure security, and evolve their own roles and skill sets. Our case study on InterContinental Hotels Group shows how mobile technology, virtualization and the cloud can enable big gains in productivity — and in business results. And in Smart Practices, you’ll find seven ways to get ready for the new XaaS world.

 

We at Smart Enterprise not only talk the talk, but walk it, too. Appropriately, this issue, our 16th, is also our first that’s digital only.

 

How about you? Are you delivering IT and business services? Moving to the cloud and virtualization? Or waiting on the sidelines for some new, new normal? Email me your responses and comments, or post a comment on our online community for IT leaders, Smart Enterprise Exchange.

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