All posts by Ray Ross

User created/updated on 11/30/2012 by automated script.

End Users Are People Too

Companies are finding that the traditional approach of a four-year, one-size-fits-all technology refresh cycle no longer works for today’s tech-charged workforce. For some employees, that cycle is too long and limits their ability to be productive by keeping them from the latest hardware and applications that they’re accustomed to in their personal lives. Other workers are less demanding, and a refresh may arrive years too early for them, resulting in unnecessary system downtime and wasteful spending.

In theory, surveying employees about what technology they use and need to be most productive would result in harmonious unions between people and technologies. However, this ideal scenario breaks down pretty quickly when you consider the time it would take to process that feedback at the enterprise level. And, even if you could, does the user really know best? The average user isn’t going to be able to name every application they’ve interacted with, provide an unbiased portrayal of their system performance, or be willing to disclose their use of Shadow IT. Not to mention that people change job roles and leave companies frequently, which immediately nullifies the project of matching resources to those individuals.

Thankfully, there is a better approach that will allow you to make purchasing and provisioning decisions based on facts rather than user perception. While the basic concept behind this approach may sound familiar to you, the addition of collection and analysis of real user data makes all the difference between a time-intensive effort with minimal returns and an ongoing way of tailoring end-user experience improvements to employee workstyles.

A Personalized Approach to IT

Continuous user segmentation, also known as personas, is a way of grouping users based on their job roles, patterns, behaviors, and technology. Personas provide a meaningful lens for IT to understand what different types of users need to be productive, allowing IT to optimize assets accordingly.

Workspace analytics software for IT automates the segmentation process and continues to assess user characteristics and experiences to update groupings based on quantitative metrics. As a result, once persona groupings are defined, IT can focus on addressing the needs of different groups and let the software do the work of updating the populations within each persona. This functionality is key to any Digital Experience Monitoring strategy.

It Pays to Segment Users Right

Overlooking personas can lead to over- or under-provisioning assets to a job role. This can be costly to a company in several ways. Over-provisioning licenses can be wasteful of a company’s money while under-provisioning can become a nightmare for IT administrators. Under-provisioning encourages users to install their own applications and allows their user profiles to be personally optimized. However, all the miscellaneous applications can burden IT administrators with the multitude of unique problems for each user and application. Applications that users installed might also not be compatible with each other. Additionally, users may use applications not compatible within the workspace, disabling the ease of sharing files.

Optimizing assets for a company with the aid of personas can enable an increase in productivity. With the use of personas, job roles can be catered to uniquely, but with the provisioning remaining consistent. Each job role, based on real user data, can be provisioned unique licenses and applications that cater to their needs. This prevents users from feeling the need to install their own versions of missing applications, ultimately allowing IT administrators to limit any potential application or license errors.

Segmenting Users in Practice

Using common persona categories, a company may have deskbound users who are provisioned with expensive laptops when a desktop would do, or they may have knowledge workers with expensive i7 CPUs when a PC with an i5 or i3 makes more sense. We have also had customers report that they found that their power users needed to be refreshed every year because of the productivity improvement, while their task workers didn’t need a refresh for as long as five years.

Using personas to segment the end-user environment for a targeted refresh allows an enterprise to provide the right end-user device for a given end user based on their CPU consumption, critical application usage, network usage, and other key metrics. The benefits are numerous and include reduced cost, higher end-user productivity, better security, and a device custom-fit to the end user’s needs.

Learn more about Enterprise Personas

Using SysTrack for Windows 10 Migration Project Management

The Problem for Companies: Legacy Applications

Many companies that migrated from Windows XP to Windows 7 struggled with transforming both desktops and applications, and often found themselves with budget for one and not the other, forcing them to forklift their application portfolios. As a result, they still have an application inventory that includes multiple versions of applications, as well as seldom used or unused applications. I’ve seen beleaguered IT groups that are supporting an end user application inventory which exceeds 30,000 executables and where they’re maintaining as many as 10 versions of the same application. While companies that opted for a forklift migration saved money on the front end, they are now paying the price in additional support cost, greater complexity and risk, as well as degraded user experience. Migrating to Windows 10 presents an opportunity to right the ship.

The Problem for Transformation Project Managers

As a program office director and program manager for many years for extremely large and complex transformation projects, I constantly struggled with developing a well-conceived, detailed project plan. These types of plans are almost always based on estimates that are overly optimistic and can rarely account for the myriad of unexpected problems that inevitably crop up. To counter this, project managers build assumptions into their project plans. These assumptions can often run on for pages. As Jeff Sutherland points out in his book, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, “The trouble is, once that beautifully elegant plan meets reality, it falls apart.”

Transformation projects involve a massively changing complex and dynamic system. Within that system, there is constant movement and flux – new hires, layoffs, people changing locations, new application releases, patches, changes in business leadership and priorities, external changes. Existing project management tools rely on manual updates that constantly lag behind what’s actually going on. Project managers make decisions based on what they think or hope is the existing state, when the objective reality can be quite different. There is no substitute for accurate, real-time data.

Using SysTrack as a Project Management Tool

SysTrack can be a huge help for transformation project managers leading migrations to Windows 10. SysTrack compliments existing project management tools and allows the project management team and company stakeholders to monitor and audit the project in real-time, making sure it’s tracking in the right direction. SysTrack allows the management team to see problems, often ahead of time, and gives them the real-time and analytical data to make rapid decisions and take corrective action, thus saving time and money.

Understanding how to migrate 50 users may be trivial. Understanding how to migrate 50,000 users in over 100 countries with multiple locations in each country is extremely difficult. Leading a migration with a cluttered application portfolio compounds the complexity and the risk.

In a recent post on the Lakeside blog, Dick Murphy provides a number of examples of how SysTrack can help with a Windows 10 migration. At the outset of a Windows 10 migration, project managers need to do a thorough discovery including a complete hardware inventory by user. This will help identify whether some users require a hardware refresh prior to migration. Because a completely refreshed desktop is typically a dependency for an image migration, they will also to need to know when these users have actually been refreshed.

Just as important as knowing that the application was launched by a user is the knowledge of knowing that the application was in-focus and actually being used versus running idly in the background. In addition, having an accurate application inventory by actual usage versus installed and/or idly running applications delivers a much deeper understanding of what applications are seldom used or not used. Tying this data to how many versions of each application are being used, versus those being maintained in an outdated application library, ultimately leads to rationalization and better support moving forward. Spending the time now to go through your application portfolio, and investing in a rationalization exercise with SysTrack will help to rapidly determine which applications should remain, or be replaced, rewritten or retired.

SysTrack Image Planner (IP) is a decision making engine that helps consolidate down to the optimal number of images. It can do that automatically but most teams will use a combination of IP recommendations and their own analysis. IP speeds the application rationalization process, and the resulting images with all of their associated software packages can be imported into SysTrack Transform or the tool of your choice.

SysTrack Image Planner
SysTrack Image Planner

Projects can then be created in SysTrack Transform. Projects are typically created around a use case: for example, the set of users using an image or a set of images. SysTrack allows the project manager to wait until the last minute to lock down users to a particular project. This allows for last minute changes where someone might change roles or move to a different location.

Transform monitors the readiness of images, software packages and users, and it automatically updates projects based on application and usage changes. For each of these, project management and stakeholders can monitor what’s planned, when each is ready for packaging, what’s in progress, and when packaging has been completed. Once users are ready, images can be created using Microsoft MDT, SCCM or 3rd party Image management tools and deployed. Once deployed SysTrack can monitor the applications usage tied to the users experience and also provide a health scoring. Transform manages the planning of delivery mechanisms for entitled applications. Delivery mechanisms are completely configurable and include Citrix XenApp, Microsoft SCCM and App-V and VMware ThinApp.

SysTrack Transform
SysTrack Transform

The SysTrack Transform Overview Dashboard above shows the status of all projects in a given program, a list of all the program’s project and the status of the various delivery mechanisms being used. You can drill down on each project and see an overview of that project, as well as see a wide range of up-to-date status reports that cover everything from the readiness of every user associated with the project to what applications have been retargeted.

Summary

Traditional project management approaches are not optimized for desktop transformation. Project plans fall apart as soon as they hit reality. Undertaking a Windows 10 migration, especially if the portfolio needs rationalization, can be particularly challenging. SysTrack complements existing project management tools by providing objective data, real-time updates, reports and visualizations of the critical path components needed for a successful migration. This enables better decisions and more accurate planning, while keeping the project on track, reducing cost and minimizing risk.

Co-create Innovation Opportunities

Customers today want to be actively involved in value creation with their vendor partners.

The key to joint value creation is having a platform around which customer and partner resources can identify and jointly create innovation opportunities.

What is Co-Creation?

In their book The Co-Creation Paradigm Venkat Ramaswamy and Kerimcan Ozcan provide numerous case studies in co-creation. For example, they explain how Nike has used NikePlus (http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/running/nikeplus/gps-app) as a running experience platform. A key step for NikePlus was Nike’s collaboration with the Apple iPhone which was launched in 2007. Nike used the iPhone’s built-in Accelerometer and GPS to build its iPhone app. Nike not only involved Apple but also coaches, trainers, runners and Nike employees to build a community of NikePlus devotees who eagerly contributed their feedback, recommendations and innovative ideas which has led to a whole series of innovations not just with NikePlus, but also across the whole Nike product line.

Using Lakeside SysTrack to Co-Create Value

Similarly, Lakeside Software’s SysTrack is being used by partners and customers as a value creation platform. Lakeside’s partners such as VMware and Dell are using SysTrack to develop a number of new solutions and services. VMware recently announced their Horizon cloud-based desktop assessment service in order to simplify the process of moving from a traditional desktop environment to virtual desktop. Customers are working with Lakeside to speed the problem resolution process. They’re looking to integrate their Service Management systems such as ServiceNow or BMC Remedy with SysTrack in order to accelerate Mean Time to Repair, increase worker productivity and reduce Service Desk costs.

Within the workplace infrastructure environment, SysTrack makes visible what was invisible. When that visibility is provided, we continually see IT managers realize that what they are managing is a very dynamic, rapidly changing, highly complex system in which they have no chance at being successful using their existing approaches and methodologies. Jointly working with their partner and Lakeside, customers can use the real-time insights, trends, patterns and rapidly delivered knowledge created by SysTrack to help resolve problems, improve user experience, improve existing processes and suggest new ways of thinking about long running problems and issues. This collaborative effort not only provides value for the customer, but loops back to both the customer partner and Lakeside with new insights into how to provide improved services and functionality.

To illustrate the point: until recently, SysTrack made information available through a series of dashboards, views and reports that were provided in SysTrack’s visualizers, but customers wanted custom dashboards often populated with real time data, giving them visibility to key metrics and problem areas that were targeted at their specific needs.

With SysTrack 7.0, new dashboarding capabilities were provided that allowed customers to develop custom views and even integrate data from external databases. As this information has become immediately available, problems are more quickly resolved, end users are happier, and management is suggesting to their partner and Lakeside value creation opportunities around areas like Security Operations Management, Power Management, Asset Optimization, Health Checks, and Self-Healing Services.

In short, the co-creation process is alive and well with Lakeside, its partners and its customers. In the coming months we’ll be highlighting some of the new functionality in SysTrack resulting from this process. We may even take the Co-Creation Process to a whole other level.

Creating a Data-Driven Workforce Model

In most companies workforce costs average about 70%. These costs are the single biggest expense of any company and companies have struggled, particularly in the economic environment of the last few years, to gain workforce efficiencies. Many of them have used the sledge hammer approach – hiring freezes, layoffs, company reorganizations – because they’ve lacked the visibility and the tools to effectively manage and optimize their workforces.

Companies have financial models, and models of key supply side and demand side processes, but what they have struggled with is creating credible workforce models. By aggregating SysTrack data with data from other workforce applications including HR, Finance, Operations and Business Unit data, we see the opportunity to create a data driven workforce model.

By undertaking this effort, we believe companies can systematically assess and gain visibility to workforce patterns and insights. We see this as a game-changing opportunity to solve workforce problems that have remained allusive due to a lack of complete worker information, as well as an opportunity to better align company strategy with workforce plans. The immediate results would be better decisions, improved productivity, reduced cost, and a more competitive company. We further believe the costs of integrating the data and doing the analysis will pale in comparison to the benefits gained.

Here is just a sampling of the questions that could be addressed by this effort:

Demographics

  • What is my mix of full time, part time, temporary and contract workers?
  • Where are my workers located?
  • How mobile are my workers?

User Experience

  • What is the user experience of my employees, contractors, temporary workers?
  • Which employees are most impacted by user experience issues? How does their user experience compare to those of the most productive workers?
  • How are my workers using the web? Which web applications are most used?

Roles

  • What are my most critical job roles?
  • Who are my innovators, knowledge workers, mobile workers, process workers, and executives?
  • What distinguishes their work?
  • How do employee work styles compare to their formal roles?
  • Do we have role duplication?

Competencies

  • What are the competencies of each of my employees and where are those employees located?
  • Do we have the right competencies in the right place?

Productivity

  • Who are my “known” most productive workers, (i.e. workers whose work and output maps to their role)?
  • What are the work patterns of my most productive workers? How long do they work? Where do they work from? What applications do they use – from where and when?
  • Based on those patterns, who are my “unknown” most productive workers (i.e. workers whose work and output exceed their roles)?
  • How productive are my workers based on type of site?
  • From an IT perspective (h/w, s/w, network, apps) how are my most productive workers equipped versus my least productive workers?

Collaboration and Communication Flow

  • What collaboration devices and applications are productive teams using? How are my workers using email, messaging, Unified Communications, the portal(s), project management, document management, video conferencing, web conferencing, calendaring and other collaboration tools?
  • What collaboration devices and applications are my most productive teams equipped with versus my least productive teams?
  • How and when do they use they tools?

Compliance, Risk Management, Security

  • How does knowing who my employees are, how they work and where they work impact existing business continuity plans and what needs to be changed?
  • What security issues exist within my worker environment?
  • What external applications are my workers using?

Workplace

  • How do flexible hours and alternative work places affect hiring and retention of employees?
  • Based on work styles which workers could productively work from home and how would that impact my existing real estate costs?
  • How much power and energy does my workforce consume and what are my savings opportunities?

Furthermore, we believe there is a game-changing opportunity to use SysTrack, in combination with other databases, to build a data-driven workforce model resulting in significant competitive advantage for the enterprise.

Check out our new white paper and learn how a CIO can escape the “80/20 trap” by freeing up funding heretofore locked within the run budget and use the freed up funding to not only innovate within his/her own organization but also foster innovation across the enterprise.

Data-Driven Selling: How to take Guessing Out of the Conversation

One of the best business books I have ever read is Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig.

From the authors’ perspective too often sales people go into a client with a solution without fully understanding the client’s problem or need. For a variety of reasons, clients are often less than transparent in providing information about the problem. This is not a recipe for success for either party.

In the book, the authors advocate an entirely new selling paradigm. The authors strongly believe that trust is the keystone for any successful buyer/seller relationship. On the seller side, trust is built on listening and asking the right questions. Among other things, the authors advocate a process of skilled inquiry where the sales person better understands the client’s problems and values and the client better understands his own situation. The authors emphasize that during pre-sales sales people do the “critical spadework to uncover the issues the solution is supposed to resolve.”

We believe that using Lakeside Software’s SysTrack as early as possible in the sales effort will significantly improve the rigor of analysis and the breath of the inquiry process. The information gathered can then be used to provoke a rich, focused series of discussions with the client in a process where both sides work together to derive the best possible solution for the problem.

As the authors point out, too often proposals are put forth and solutions are offered based on guessing. We all have seen proposals with multiple pages of assumptions. We’ve also seen vendors run into major problems because they were blind to the complexity of what they were trying to solve or significantly underscoped the problem.

The authors believe that a key component of getting real is eliminating the reliance on guessing:  “Let’s not guess what problems clients are trying to solve and/or what results they want to achieve. Let’s not guess about how those problems are defined and how we would recognize when the results are achieved.”

According to the authors, what we want to do is make the undiscussable discussable, and get “the underground above-ground so that the unmanageable can become manageable.”

This is what Lakeside Software is all about. Our goal is to provide high-quality insightful data to solve previously unsolvable problems. You can’t propose, design, build and run what you can’t see and you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Our role is to help you see and measure from pre-sales through the entire life-cycle process of any workplace solution. Our role is to provide the data and the information that will allow the seller and the buyer to communicate clearly with one another using the same language. Our role is to facilitate an alignment in the seller buyer relationship that will lead to mutual success.

Eliminating Waste in Your Run Budget

The number one issue for most CIOs today is how to move out of the keep-the-lights-on-trap in which as much as 80% of their IT budget is being spent on run-the-business capital and expense costs, and move that money into their Grow and Transform budgets. In many businesses the only budgeting being done for Innovation is in some Business Units. Moreover, CIOs will privately tell you that they know at least 10% of the money in their Run budgets is waste. They know the waste is there, but they are flying blind because they lack the data to clearly identify where that waste is and how to eliminate it. Following the Gartner “Run, Grow, Transform” model, CIOs need to free up money in their existing Run budgets and move that money first to their Grow budgets and then to their Transform budgets.

As Gartner has pointed out, along with a number of other authors and analysts in the IT space, there are three kinds of IT spenders out there. There are the Late Adopters who are primarily focused on running the business with minimal risk, the Mainstream Adopters who wait until a technology or innovation is proven and the Early Adopters who are continually innovating, want to be leading-edge and are looking for Transformations that will lead to significant competitive advantage. According to a March 2012 article in the Journal of Accountancy by Dorothy Shimamoto entitled, “A Strategic Approach to IT Budgeting, “ – http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2012/Mar/20114439.htm – spending for these three types of organizations typically breaks out like this:

IT Budget Run Grow Transform
Late Technology Adopters 80% 20% 0%
Mainstream Adopter 60% 30% 10%
Early Adopter 50% 30% 20%

As the Journal of Accountancy article points out, the key difference between the Mainstream Adopters and the Early Adopters is that the Early Adopters are spending twice as much on IT Transformation initiatives as the Mainstream Adopters.

Based on our experience, Lakeside Software estimates that at least 50% of an IT organization’s Run budget is spent in End User Computing. So let’s take a look at the End User Compute environment to understand how a CIO can shift her IT spending and free up money in the Run budget so it can first be allocated to the Grow budget and eventually to the Transform budget.

Using Lakeside Software’s SysTrack, the process of freeing up Run money budget and making it available for your Grow and Transform budgets is very straight-forward:

  • Assess the existing End User Environment to fully capture the health and inventory of the End User Environment – users, their locations, the devices they are running, the state of those devices (MIPs, Memory, IOPs, storage etc.), application inventory and usage, application license information, print and network environment.
  • Run the various out-of-the-box reports provided by SysTrack to determine waste, such as resource-consuming service desk issues, infrastructure sprawl, unused or redundant applications, anomalies in the environment, and opportunities to improve end user productivity and the quality of IT services delivered
  • Identify the areas of waste and potential savings
  • Prioritize the list based on the amount of waste based on savings and the ease by which the waste can be eliminated
  • Develop a plan to eliminate the waste
  • Execute the plan
  • Move the savings to your Grow and Transform budgets

The goal is to move IT from being a drag on the business (which is often the perception) to delivering business value, from flying blind and being analytically impaired to providing a competitive advantage. Lakeside’s goal is to empower you with insightful data so you can solve previously unsolvable problems. We think escaping the Run budget trap is a great way to get started.

Check out our new white paperand learn how a CIO can escape the “80/20 trap” by freeing up funding heretofore locked within the run budget and use the freed up funding to not only innovate within his/her own organization but also foster innovation across the enterprise.