Archive for Sierpień, 2010

Quantifying the benefits of ITIL

By admin, 31 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

By Allan Dickson, Consultant at Compass Management Consulting

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library, more commonly known as ITIL, is currently in its third iteration, offering a common language as well as best practice guidelines for IT service management processes.

ITIL is designed to help organisations achieve the execution of  strategy and improve performance, and many organisations have made significant investments into such initiatives. However, while following recommended guidelines according to ITIL may produce benefits, the majority of enterprises that have implemented these practices struggle to quantify the benefits in terms of cost savings and improvements in quality.

This is a major challenge in today’s business environment, where accountability and demonstrating the impact of various initiatives is of paramount importance due to factors such as King III and the new Companies Act.

A successfully implemented ITIL initiative can deliver significant improvements in efficiency, which can translate to cost savings, especially in areas such as service support and systems delivery. This makes it possible to improve internal customer service (in other words service to people working within the organisation), which in turn helps to improve external customer satisfaction, as employees are able to better service customers.

For organisations with multiple IT locations, especially those which are expanding internationally, ITIL also provides a common language and vocabulary to help pull IT operations together into a coherent force.

One of the reasons that these benefits are difficult to quantify is the traditional strength of IT in articulating the costs, but not the benefits of projects. Business cases are presented that emphasise cost but are at best ‘woolly’ when it comes to  benefit analysis – and as a result the benefits of an initiative are difficult to measure and often left unknown.

The benefits of an ITIL implementation are not necessarily purely in terms of cost but rather in terms of how the customer has been affected and how service has been improved. IT departments therefore need to focus not only on delivering projects on-time, on-budget and according to specifications, but also need to have effective metrics in place to judge whether the stated business benefits are being delivered.

One of the traditional ways of measuring the benefits of ITIL and IT service improvement is to take a tower-specific approach. However, this is by its nature a technical approach that does not take the users into account, which makes its flaws in the instance of ITIL immediately obvious. Optimising one specific tower may give an improvement from a technical perspective but this is not necessarily a process improvement and may not improve the end ‘product’, which should be the customer experience.

Another method of measuring improvement in services with ITIL is to take a pilot approach -in other words launching a test or ‘pilot’ in a specific area of IT. This can be effective if it is deployed in an appropriate area of the business, since ITIL offers many best practices and not all of these will be relevant and appropriate for all organisations.

The best way to conduct a pilot is to focus on the pain points of the business, specifically something with a tangible internal customer touch point, and launch a pilot on one of these. A good place to start is to look at incident management and how the experience can be improved by applying ITIL in this area. Other areas such as change management and the cause and effect relationships between problems can also be effective.

Narrowing the focus and delivering quick wins such as improving incident management or handling change management is an effective way of proving the success of an ITIL initiative, something which is important for buy in from the entire enterprise.

In order for ITIL implementations to be effective the application of metrics is essential. There are three broad areas that can be measured, namely cost, productivity and quality, and metrics in support of each of these need to be built.

Cost can be measured in terms of the impact to unit costs, for example; whereas in terms of productivity, the increase in the number of incidents handled per day and the impact on overall productivity can be measured.

Service quality too can be measured, for instance measuring how long it takes each agent to resolve an incident, highlighting skills level deficiencies, which if addressed can further improve service delivery.

ITIL is a proven methodology for improving services, customer satisfaction, productivity and ultimately the bottom line. However, in order to obtain and maintain buy in from the enterprise it is vital to measure the benefits of an ITIL implementation. And in order to measure implementations it is necessary to have metrics in place that are developed and put in place from the start.

Not only will this help with buy in, it will also keep the implementation on track and it will be possible to see if the stated benefits are being achieved or not, which can only make the project a greater success and lead to greater returns for the organisation.

Vox Amvia offers world first in faxing market

By admin, 31 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

Vox Amvia has created a world first by offering a full turnkey faxing solution built on RightFax technology as its core. This incorporates RightFax servers and associated services, SLAs and managed services, hosted fax solutions such as fax to email, bulk fax and pay as you use RightFax and fax traffic solutions  which dramatically reduce Telco costs.

According to Craig Freer, MD of Vox Amvia, there are a number of advantages of partnering with a complete faxing provider. “The most obvious one is cost; by working through one supplier your economies of scale improve, resulting in significant savings particularly for larger organisations.”

“Security is also improved as one company is responsible for safeguarding your information; this, combined with the benefits of the RightFax server, whether it is owned or outsourced, will ensure that your organisation remains corporate compliant.”

However, the major benefit is choice, in that companies now have access to best of breed technology, albeit with a business model structured to their requirements. “As a business you should have the option to choose a service that suits your needs and, more importantly, your budget. Clients may want to access fax through software as a service, while others may prefer to outsource the entire process,” adds Freer.

“Faxing is business critical and is still the only corporate compliant form of document transfer; so before you choose your fax supplier, make sure that they can offer a solution geared to your exact business needs.”

Self-service can help cellular industry

By admin, 30 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

By Kevin Meltzer, Business Development Director at Consology

Just a few weeks ago, Cell C launched a massive brand campaign where they admitted what every telecommunications subscriber in South Africa already knows: the country’s cellular industry has a real problem with customer service.

Consumers in South Africa are crying out for a customer service champion who will finally do something about the service issues that plague the telecommunications industry. Whatever reservations one may have about the actual execution of the campaign, publically recognising the problem and promising to do something about it was a great idea on Cell C’s part.

Inconsistent and even poor customer service is perhaps the single biggest issue that South African telecommunications operators face in a market where it has become difficult to compete on price, network coverage or technology. It’s a problem that isn’t just limited to one of the country’s mobile operators. Indeed, it isn’t a uniquely South African problem.

Across the globe, mobile operators face the same challenge: efficiently servicing a massive customer base as their average revenue per user (ARPU) comes under increasing pressure. Their call centres are struggling to keep pace with the flood of calls they get from customers querying bills, looking for technical support or reporting faulty handsets.

Often, the call centres are understaffed for the call volumes they handle and are backed by legacy systems and fragmented processes. Added to the mix is the complexity of providing standard service levels for complex telecommunications products. Most networks face a stark choice: make unsustainably large investments in call centre infrastructure and staff, or let service levels slip.

As customers keep holding on for an attendant, their anger and resentment towards their providers grows. The problem is compounded by the fact that a customer who is calling into the call centre is generally doing so because he or she already has a problem, be it a dispute about an amount on the bill for the month or a service that is not working as advertised. It’s the one direct, human interaction the customer may have with the operator in a year, and it is seldom a great customer experience.

One of the ways that telecommunications operators and service providers should be looking at solving this problem is by introducing online Self-Service into their mix of channels. Self-Service systems could be used to allow subscribers to pay bills, research product and service offerings, apply for handset upgrades, activate services such as international roaming, check and change account information, initiate and track bill disputes, and more.

A Self-Service system can take a lot of the pressure off the call centre, freeing agents up to deal more efficiently with complex queries that the Self-Service system can’t address or to help customers who don’t have access to the Web. Most customers would love Self–Service from their Telco providers because it could spare them from visiting a dealer or holding for a call centre agent to carry out a transaction. Instead, they would be able to interact with their providers whenever they want to. And many customers now have direct experience of better service levels and 24/7 access from companies that employ Self-Service such as those in the banking industry.

With Self-Service options, customers wouldn’t need to wait for someone to post or fax them an account – they could pull up invoices online and print them. They could initiate and track a bill dispute or activate international roaming from their desks at home or work. That level of customer empowerment would make for a far happier relationship between subscribers and cellular networks. Self-Service portals are also great for engaging in customer relationship management applications, for example cross–and–up–selling. Telecommunications operators could use them to inform customers that they are eligible for an upgrade, market new services or advise subscribers to migrate to new contract packages.

Of course, there are massive cost-savings to be achieved by automating customer service processes. But the real potential lies in using Self-Service to take customer intimacy and satisfaction to a whole new level. Self-Service won’t solve all the challenges in the cellular industry but it’s certainly a big step in the right direction and could help to bring about the customer service revolution the industry needs so badly.

Nashua Mobile supporting SA’s future sporting champs

By admin, 30 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

The Nashua Mobile Future Stars initiative, which gives young sporting stars from disadvantaged backgrounds a boost in their careers, is helping new sports talents such as Wandile Mjekevu to rise to prominence.

Mjekevu is a winger for the Super 14 Lions rugby team. Under the Future Stars programme, he benefitted from financial assistance and guidance in developing his sports ability. Mjekevu was selected as a beneficiary for the programme, when he was a scholar at KES, because Nashua Mobile saw in him the potential to become a major provincial and perhaps even national rugby player in the years to come.

Says Doug Mattheus, marketing director at Nashua Mobile: “Nashua Mobile is a passionate supporter of sport because we believe that it has an invaluable role to play in uplifting individuals and communities. It’s not enough to support and sponsor sport at the provincial and national level – we also want to play a role in developing the talent that will represent our country in the future.”

“Nashua Mobile’s support through the Future Stars programme has really given my rugby career a boost,” says Mjekevu. “Thanks to this opportunity, I have been able to focus my energy on my rugby and on developing my ability in the sport and have recently been selected for the SA under 20 team.”

Mjekvu’s achievements to date include:

-    Vodacom Super 14 Lions squad (2010)
-    SA Under-18 High Performance squad (2009)
-    Golden Lions Under-19 (2009)
-    SA Schools colours (2008)
-    Part of SARU’s High Performance Programmes (2008)

Dimension Data boosts Microsoft services offering

By admin, 30 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

Clients benefit from Microsoft-approved best practice service delivery templates

IT Services provider Dimension Data has bolstered its Microsoft offering to big business clients with a major investment in Microsoft’s Services Ready program, a set of best-practice consulting packages around key technology areas.

Microsoft launched Services Ready last year to help partners accelerate their services businesses with proven guidance and resources on deploying Microsoft products in “bleeding-edge” services. Dimension Data has since achieved certification in the areas of collaboration, desktop management, systems management, unified communications, and virtualisation.

Carlos Gouveia, Sales Manager for Microsoft Solutions at Dimension Data South Africa, says the new offerings will save his team the time and expense it would have taken to ramp up their own consulting practices on these services.

“We’ve got an excellent track record, of planning, deploying, and managing Microsoft solutions for our clients, and Services Ready gives us the ability to enhance our area of specialisation, better mitigate risks and manage projects and help our clients exploit each solution to its fullest,” said Gouveia.

“By the same token, we can fold the Services Ready capabilities into our own unique offerings, enabling us to constantly innovate for clients by applying proven tools in ways that are closely aligned with our particular specialisations.”

In a study commissioned by Microsoft, a leading analyst firm IDC, estimated the current market opportunity for services on the Microsoft platform to be $383 billion and expects it to grow to more than $490 billion by 2012. Much of this growth will be fueled by businesses looking for ways to improve their performance while also reducing costs.

Microsoft South Africa’s Services Lead, Steve Morgan, said being Services Ready means that partners are equipped to lower client risk by using best practice verified in the field and reusing client assets.

“Services Ready goes a long way toward ensuring our customers have a consistent, high-value experience with partners who are armed with Microsoft’s own tested and proven tools,” said Morgan.

“This is all about making it as easy as possible for clients to get the full value from their Microsoft products, both in terms of enabling business innovation and reducing the risk of IT implementations and the subsequent reliance of a business on its IT systems.”

Microsoft Services Ready areas of specialisation include systems management, identity and security, virtualisation, portals and collaboration, unified communications, business intelligence, application lifecycle management, software development, and application integration. Partners are certified on a regional or global basis, enabling regional offices of global organisations such as Dimension Data to offer market-specific solutions.

Businesses missing out on social media opportunities

By admin, 28 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

Companies failing to use social media to reach their customers and employees do so at their own peril, according to a new study on the importance of social media in business and customer communications.

Nashua Communications’ partner Siemens Enterprise Communications, and leading research analyst firm Yankee Group, recently found in an independent study that the vast majority of employees and consumers would prefer to use social networking for business communications.

The study revealed that 70% of consumers want access to company experts and support through social media channels, and trust company information provided to them through their social networks. It also indicated that nearly 60% of customers feel company outreach, through social media, would improve their loyalty to that company, and found that 50% of respondents use social media daily or several times a day.

This study further revealed that average customer satisfaction with current business interactions though social media is only 65%, while one third of businesses have no formal social networking policies, do not allow the use of social media at work or are not aware of their company’s participation in social networking.

Nashua Communications Director: Technology Management, Fred Maurus says that the importance of social networking in improving both business output and employee performance should not be underestimated.

“Our research shows that customers are increasingly demanding that business talk to them in the communications platform of their choosing, whether it is Twitter, Facebook, blogging, or the latest social networking tool. Therefore, overlooking social networking tools for business communications will result in lost opportunities to improve customer collaboration and employee productivity.”

Nashua Communications is helping customers integrate social media capabilities into their current communications and business processes through the innovative and highly functional offering called OpenScape Fusion Social Media Integrations, in combination with the award-winning OpenScape solutions.

These new integration service solutions enable companies to tightly weave both public and corporate social media tools into enterprise customer contact centres, and unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions.

Employees subsequently find it simpler to collaborate and monitor customer or partner activities, as social media tools and contacts are mechanised and combined with existing desktop communications capabilities.

Customer concerns are resolved easily as social media dialogues such as multi-party audio or video conferencing are only “one click” away. The integration of social media and UCC into contact centre processes can also improve average call time, first contact resolution rates and customer loyalty.

Information sharing is also streamlined through integrating UCC desktop resources such as blogs, corporate wikis and chat groups. This then improves team collaboration, while automated updates to presence status, and conferencing abilities through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, results in easier connectivity with colleagues and customers.

Maurus concludes that social media represents the communications wave of the future, and businesses have to get on board.

“Social media is changing the way businesses, customers and employees interact, and it is this change that creates significant opportunities for contact centres and the enterprise as a whole to leverage the integration of these tools into business processes.

“It is another way of delivering a better and faster service to clients, and to this end, businesses simply must improve their ability to serve consumers by meeting them on their preferred platform.”

Technology professionals key to business success

By admin, 27 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

Frank van Rees, HP South Africa’s Country Managing Director and Enterprise Business Lead

Economic conditions over the past two years have forced organisations to look for creative ways to stay competitive. Even as organisations recover from this era of unpredictability, many CEOs are asking information technology professionals to do more with less funding. However, business executives increasingly view technology professionals as key to driving innovation. In fact, a global study conducted by HP in 2009 revealed that more than seven out of 10 business executives indicated that their technology department was a fundamental enabler of their business success.

The innovation gridlock

“While business executives and IT professionals alike agree that technology can drive overall business benefits, the challenges of rigid infrastructures and aging applications have presented significant roadblocks. Both continue to eat up the bulk of IT budgets in operations, severely restricting the amount that can be spent on driving innovation to address the constant change faced by organisations today,” says Frank van Rees, HP South Africa’s Country Managing Director and Enterprise Business Lead.

The result is “innovation gridlock,” a situation where the technology organisation is blocked from driving new business innovation because the majority of funding is consumed in operating the current environment.  Thus, a critical challenge for CIOs today is finding ways to break this innovation gridlock.

According to March 2010 global research commissioned by HP and conducted by Coleman Parkes Research Ltd., CIOs indicated that they spend 40 percent of their budgets on mission-critical systems, 30 percent on legacy systems and 30 percent investing in new technology.

Successful CIOs are able to break the innovation gridlock by shifting operational money to invest in innovation. In cases, these initiatives can be “self-funding,” meaning that with these projects CIOs are freeing up funds that can then be invested in innovation.  To do so, CIOs should look for projects that allow transformation within current budgetary constraints and have quick paybacks like application retirement, creative financial arrangements and ways to reduce licensing requirements.

How to stay competitive

Increasing investment in innovation will give organisations the ability to adapt to constant change so they can create new opportunities or capitalise on those that present themselves, and therefore stay competitive.

To create an efficient infrastructure, CIOs should turn to technology vendors that can not only help organisations self-fund, but also create technology environments that are architected for change. Architecting new solutions for change allows IT departments to quickly and easily add new functionality as the business requires it. This ensures that today’s innovation does not become tomorrow’s legacy and reduces the on-going operational cost of the new solution as compared to its predecessor.

Van Rees points out that by utilising technology services and infrastructure consulting, many companies can create cost-efficient technology infrastructures that are reliable, readily scalable and secure. “In addition, projects that modernise the applications infrastructure can increase responsiveness to business priorities, improve productivity and reduce costs, eliminating the complexity inherent in legacy systems,” he says.

Drive new business innovation

Regardless of the route chosen to break innovation gridlock, the key is finding a strategic partner who can bring together the skills, knowledge and capabilities to help technology executives drive new business innovation.

“The rapid rate of change in the business world continues to escalate. Organisations that are unable to harness that change will continue to rack up big disadvantages from the cost of lost – lost time, lost effort and lost opportunity. Breaking innovation gridlock is tantamount to success,” concludes van Rees.

APC NetShelter VL enclosure available in SA

By admin, 27 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

With an enhanced focus on the cost effectiveness of the range, APC by Schneider Electric, a leader in critical power and cooling services, has announced the immediate local availability of its NetShelter VL enclosure.

With a continued focus on the cooling, power distribution and cable management features that users have come to expect from the company, the APC NetShelter VL enclosure provides a reliable rack-mount environment for mission-critical equipment. It also offers additional optional features such as side panels, casters and rear cable channel, all of which aid in reducing the cost of the base enclosure.

This is according to Paolo Miglietta, vice president of APC by Schneider Electric South Africa, who says that while the range has been designed for use in low to medium density server application environments, the features inherent to it make it comparable to most high-end enclosure offerings.

“The NetShelter VL is highly integratable with APCs InfraStuXure cooling, power distribution and cable management products, all of which work seamlessly with the enclosures to provide a complete IT infrastructure support system,” he says.

“Vendor neutral mounting guarantees compatibility with all EIA-310 compliant 19-inch equipment and APCs ‘Fits Like a Glove’ money back guarantee provides peace of mind for its customers knowing that compliant equipment will fit the enclosure.

The NetShelter VL offers a variety of side panel options, all of which make for easy and safe handling with the added security of being lockable, but it is in its abilities in cable management where the range truly shines.

“With large cable access slots in the roof providing access for overhead cable egress, and a bottom design that allows for unobstructed cable access through a raised floor, the NetShelter VL enclosure enables the effective organisation of data cables within a rack environment.

“Further, the roof, side panels and front and rear doors are grounded to the frame of the enclosure and eight additional grounding inserts are located on the frame for external grounding. Perforated front and rear doors provide ample ventilation for servers and networking equipment and the front door can be moved to the opposite side or interchanged with the rear doors with is simple lift off design.”

In closing, the NetShelter VL enclosure provides users with a cost conscious, customisable and secure housing solution, which integrates seamlessly with a broad host of products and equipment while reducing the risk of electronic damage, concludes Miglietta.

Get your head around the cloud

By admin, 27 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

By Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration

Cloud computing is one of those IT buzz phrases that you may think means nothing to you as a marketer. In reality, cloud computing can help you to leverage marketing automation technology at a low cost, roll it out quickly and start experiencing its benefits within weeks.

In a world where marketing automation software is no longer a nice to have, cloud computing is fast becoming the key differentiator. Cloud computing can be loosely defined as a technical architecture where business applications are hosted by a service provider and then accessed by end-users over the Internet.

All the computing infrastructure and intelligence (software applications, data and servers) are owned and managed by a third-party service provider and accessed via the Internet using a web browser. Google Mail is a good example of cloud computing. You access your email via your web browser. Your email is stored ‘in the cloud’ and you don’t need to download any software.

Cloud computing allows you to pay for software-as-a-service (Saas) rather than needing to buy licences and install software on your own infrastructure. Many CRM and marketing automation software vendors now offer their applications in the software as a service model alongside traditional licence sales.

Herewith a few reasons why it makes sense to host marketing automation applications in the cloud.

It’s cost-effective, flexible and easily accessible

SaaS applications are subscription-based, so that you pay only for the features you need. Since there is no licence fee, your initial costs are lower. The service provider also manages the infrastructure, which decreases your reliance on an already over-extended IT department and it also means lower total cost of ownership. Your software becomes an operational expense rather than a capital investment.

It gives you control over your data
You can store all of your valuable data with one service provider, and allow multiple agencies to access the information that they need. No longer do you need to have your data spread across systems hosted at the various marketing and advertising agencies you use – you can provide them all with access to the same cloud-based applications. You will be able to provide them with access to data and functionality according to your business needs.

Most SaaS systems also have open data centres that allow for easy data transfer and migration that ensures you the ability to integrate the systems and data that matter. This provides insights and the ability to deliver deeper, more meaningful insights.

It gets you to market fast

A SaaS deployment should be complete in weeks rather than the months or years traditional software deployments take. Time to productivity is fast, which means you start to see a return on investment in months, not years.

It’s less risky
Because there’s no software to download, no software licensing to negotiate and the IT infrastructure is taken care of, it’s much easier for the marketer to make a business case to the IT guys to give a new SaaS marketing application a try. It’s flexible, easier to escape from, has a lower cost and, overall, is a lower risk option for the organisation.

It’s automatically updated
The service provider takes responsibility for adding new releases and feature enhancements to the system. All of your users will always have access to the latest version of the software without your organisation needing to waste the time and take the risks involved in updating the software.

Call in the experts
Today there is a SaaS tool for every critical function that you might need to increase revenue, build customer loyalty, improve conversion rates and test or personalise everything. Assess your SaaS options carefully and use the expertise of a third party consultant to help get it deployed correctly, first time. Within a very short space of time you’ll be able see the value in your business.

Microsoft names top partners

By admin, 27 sierpnia, 2010, No Comment

Nearly 50 of South Africa’s top ICT companies have been named as finalists in Microsoft’s Partner Network Awards 2010, which will be handed over at a gala dinner at Sun City on Thursday 2 September.

The awards, across 30 categories, recognise Microsoft partners that delivered exemplary solutions for their customers during the past year across a range of categories. The finalists were chosen from hundreds of entries submitted by partners across the country.

The awards coincide with Microsoft’s annual Partner Summit event, which runs from 1-3 September. At the event, the software maker lays out its technology and business roadmap for the coming year to its partners, and highlights areas of innovation that will benefit end users.

Mark Reynolds, head of the small business and partner division at Microsoft South Africa, said the standard of entries received for the awards was among the highest ever. The judging process was also more stringent and transparent than in previous years, with finalists having to come through a grueling two-round process that included face-to-face presentations to a panel.

“We’re in the middle of a massive wave of transformation in the technology industry, but one thing remains constant for us: our partners are the core of Microsoft’s business model. That will never change,” said Reynolds.

“What the list of finalists shows us that partners who put in the hard work and commitment are generally the most successful in their fields. The industry is an exciting place to be right now, which was highlighted by the fact that Partner Summit was sold out some time ago, and we’re looking forward to a great event,” he said.

The full list of finalists can be found at

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