Never Mind BYOD – What about BYOA?

Bring Your Own Device, Build Your Own App?

Lots of chatter happening around ‘Bring Your Own Device’ and the ‘Consumerization’ of IT.

These issues seem to represent the convergence of a number of growing trends:

  • Consumers being increasingly IT savvy
  • Consumers being used to instant internet gratification and on-demand ‘Apps’
  • Smart efficient toys
  • Productivity and GTD in a world of infinite choice
  • Cloud based apps eating the lunch of enterprise software dinosaurs

The result? Support departments are either having to support a plethora of new platforms or are facing increasing pressure to loosen up corporate standards and traditional ways of thinking.

Some interesting figures published this week, firstly from LANDesk:

“(the) influx of mobile devices in the workplace, viewed by 96 per cent as vital to productivity, is resulting in huge pressure on service desks. Service desk managers are finding themselves swamped with calls to support mobile devices yet underequipped to deal with them.

The survey found that a massive 76 per cent of service desks claim that the extra support required has had a negative impact. This is due to the fact that the uptake of new devices has necessitated a rapid accumulation of knowledge and expertise to support them.”

This raises an interesting point; who says the service desk has to know everything? Shouldn’t the service desk be about support rather than encyclopedic knowledge of every device? If the service desk is to avoid collapsing under the burden of these devices organizations need to learn to work in partnership or participate in communities.

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it.” Samuel Johnson.

The second piece of research came from systems management appliance vendor Dell KACE:

Key findings from the research are:

– 87 per cent of companies have users with personal devices that are being used for work purposes

– 62 per cent thought that they don’t have the tools to manage personal IT devices coming onto the network

– 64 per cent don’t think they know about all the devices that are coming onto the network

“New Research Reveals Growing ‘Consumerisation of IT’ Trend Fuelling Security Fears and Highlights Lack of Strategy to Manage Personal Devices.

According to the research, security needs top the list for IT managers when it comes to managing external mobile devices with 82 percent citing their concerns about the use of personal devices for business use, and another 62 percent specifically concerned about network security breaches.”

In terms of security, vendors such as Good Technology are providing some interesting technology in this space. It’s about securing the data on the device rather securing the device. So the choice of device becomes less of a security headache.

BYOA?

Discussions to date have been device centric. The bigger issue, which dwarfs BYOD, is Bring Your Own App (BYOA?)– When users become bored and frustrated with the glacial pace of enterprise software and use their own Apps to get the job done. One browser, one credit card, bye-bye dinosaur.

What do you think? How should organizations address BYOD and BYOA?

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How to Segment and Prioritize Vendors and Suppliers

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Vendors and suppliers need to be managed. Some will require more management than others. How do you go about differentiating between them and managing their delivery to you?

Vendor Segmentation

Vendors can and should be segmented within a supplier relationship framework, as it is important to recognise that the method of engagement and measurement of performance is different dependant upon their relative importance to your business processes.

For example a disposal program may be considered a commodity service, but actually the value to your reputation, environmental and legal liabilities is considerable and should require considered management of their service.

To segment your vendors the first aspect is to consider two variables; how aligned is the vendor to your business model and how difficult / costly would it be to extract exit the relationship that you have with that vendor? The framework is represented in the image.

There are four potential areas where your supplier can sit; tactical, emerging, strategic and legacy.  It is perfectly feasible that your supplier will flow through each of these in turn, indeed some parts of their delivery to you as an organisation will exist within the separate sectors.  The important aspect overall though is to recognise that the model should be applied to the relationship rather than the delivery of aspects of the service.

Tactical Vendors

A tactical vendor has low alignment to your business, they provide transactional commodity to you and it should be easy to switch to an alternative supplier.  Similarly they probably represent a low spend relationship or provide in a market that is saturated with competitors.

The effort expended in managing these relationships should focus on the efficiencies of the particular supplier both in the speed / processes utilised in servicing your business requirements and also how competitive are they in their market place.  If they were delivering a poor service or uncompetitive pricing it would be very simple to lift and shift to an alternative supplier.

The aim of the tactical relationship should be to understand how to drive towards an emerging supplier relationship, or even if this is appropriate.

Emerging Vendors

An emerging vendor is one who aims to service a need in a market where competition is low.  They should be looking to drive innovative solutions into your business, giving your organisation competitive advantage through early adoption in an unsaturated market environment.  Their aim should be to become more strategically involved with you.
Management of these relationships should be through collaboration to identify innovation that they can bring to you.  There should be a commitment to a long-term relationship and naturally within this framework competitive pricing / benchmarking of the vendor’s offerings is one of the key methods of defining who is truly remaining in the emerging space.  It is possible for an emerging vendor to lapse into a tactical position if there is not a continued focus on how to leverage the relationship knowledge to drive continued growth.  Indeed as their competitors catch up, their product may well become a commodity.

A tactical supplier who wishes to become emerging should be attempting to understand how their external partnerships can be brought to enhance the capability and positioning of your organisation.

Strategic Vendors

A strategic vendor is one with whom there is excellent alignment to your business requirements and with whom you have a deeply embedded set of services (e.g. asset lifecycle, enterprise software) and often they are identified by the size of your company’s spend with them.

They will have a deep understanding of your business requirements, so it is incredibly important that they are managed effectively and that you understand all their touch points.  Perception is important in measuring these vendors, but metrics on performance should also be reported upon, as should their staff turnover on your account.  The lower the staff turnover, the likelihood is there is a greater commitment to your organisation’s needs.

An emerging vendor should be looking to become more valuable and enhance their delivery to you such that it is a difficult choice to terminate the relationship.  Conversely a strategic vendor who begins to lose touch with your requirements and begins to lose commitment to your service delivery will begin to fall towards a legacy vendor.

Legacy Vendors

A legacy vendor is, as described above, one where the services provided support potentially critical aspects of the business (maybe a critical, legacy software system), but the drive and commitment to continue developing the relationship and business model is waning (their attentions may lie elsewhere).  With such a vendor it is costly to move away from them, but if the opportunity were to present itself then it is likely the exit strategy would be implemented.  As such it is important to ensure that the vendor is still focussed on servicing your needs as a customer.

Summary

Each vendor should be considered and segmented according to the values of each of the four segments and then managed in accordance with that segment’s consideration.  For those readers who manage supplier relationships, it is best to focus on one or two of the strategic vendors and expand from there.

The ITSM Tool Pricing Ouch-O-Meter

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One thing that has surprised me during my initial exploration of ITSM tools is the simplicity of some SaaS based pricing models.

Software licensing options offer vendors the ability to flex their competitive muscles, adapt their solutions to different customers and maximize revenue.

Microsoft is particularly good at this, if you are a left-handed student living in Outer Mongolia – Microsoft has a SKU code with your name on it! To the other extreme, Salesforce.com licensing is remarkably straight forward, if you have fifty users and you want Enterprise Edition – everyone must be on Enterprise Edition.

The counter to this simplicity is that customers might end up paying for development of software that they don’t use, but I think this is easily outweighed by simplicity and predictability. No hidden surprises and endless fiddling about with licensing scenarios.

Moreover, for a SaaS based subscription model it is in the interests of the vendor to ensure you are a happy customer, rather than the vendor constantly trying to sell the next upgrade or option. Vendors are more interested in longevity and retention over winning the big deal, in theory at least.

The KISS Principle

I was pleasantly surprised to see some SaaS based ITSM vendors offering one simple price per user per year. For everything. I’m not the sharpest tool in the box so I’m all for keeping things simple when the opportunity presents itself. KISS.

Being this crystal clear over licensing represents a significant paradigm shift for some traditional ITSM tool vendors. It is difficult to wean yourself from high margin professional services revenue when you have grown used to it – how will that revenue be replaced if we simplify everything for our customers? Similarly some vendors position relatively low cost ITSM tools specifically to generate new business for their consulting business.

Eyes Wide Open

I believe pricing simplicity should be a serious consideration when choosing a tool vendor. I have compiled a quick pricing ‘Ouch-O-Meter’ to help during the tool selection process. Click on the image above to enlarge it.

I’m not saying that SaaS is the only way to go, nor am I anti-consultant (being one myself) – I just like the simplicity of the licensing model. I believe how things are priced moving forward should be a serious consideration when exploring a new vendor relationship, there is nothing worse when securing a great deal than to find the hidden extras.

Am I entering into an ‘all you can eat’ license or a ‘We’re going to nickel-and-dime you every time you breath’ relationship?

Have I missed anything here? What else should be considered when it comes to vendor pricing?