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The quantified enterprise

Revolutionizing the way we work

By Chris Dancy, Director, Office of the CTO, and Jason Frye, Senior Director, Office of the CTO, BMC Software

As you know, some of your personal and social interactions may be captured in cloud-based social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. You may use apps that help you track what you eat or drink, how many steps you take, and the places you visit. Your digital “existence” can even provide you with information that you can use to alter your physical self. How? Well, you can use data tracking to adjust your diet, increase your exercise, monitor your vital signs, and otherwise help improve your health and overall well-being. Now, think about how a similar approach to data tracking can shape the way you work. We call this concept the quantified enterprise.

A deeper look at the quantified enterprise

The quantified enterprise represents the relationship you have to the data you create within the enterprise. That data comes from many places, such as the electronic relationship you have with other people. It also comes from the data the enterprise creates, such as your relationship to a specific project or communication. It might include how you interacted to a marketing campaign by tracking whether it was something you “liked” on Chatter or Facebook. It could also measure how many people “liked” or commented on content that you created and how those interactions influenced your digital reputation.

You’ve probably heard the term SMAC, an acronym for “social, mobile, analytics, and cloud.” Those innovations continue to grow in importance in 2013. The quantified enterprise represents the meeting of SMAC and quantification at an individual level. It tracks your footprints through the social sites you visit, what you download on your computer, the pages you search, and the cloud services you use to access information. While some people may consider this a bit Orwellian, think about the positive implications. What if you could track your work day with minimal effort and analyze that information to see how you are using your time? If Socrates was right in saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” the ways in which we will soon be able to examine our work lives could be truly transformational.

The quantified enterprise has another side, which is how the enterprise itself views each of the employees who are working toward delivering a product. For example, an employer could use an app to monitor work and the time spent on a project by taking snapshots in time as work is being done. You can’t quantify everything that employees are doing, but you can know how much time they spend using their computers.

To put this in perspective, this concept is simply a high-tech version of how Henry Ford, of the Ford Motor Company, quantified each of the actions performed on the assembly line to build the Model T. He knew down to the minute or second how long it took to perform each action. He was focused on measuring those processes and observing them.

Measurement matters

What’s one of the biggest challenges for IT today? The enterprise doesn’t fully understand how to most effectively measure what’s being produced. The measurements can be so antiquated that they actually stymie some workers. For some people, their entire work-life quantification may be about how many emails they have received and sent. That's just not a very valid way to measure what we're producing or how we are producing it.

Enterprise activity is like the weather. It happens all the time, but new tools are frequently introduced to measure it. It’s one thing to measure the weather; it’s another thing to see snow in the summer. You need to measure what’s meaningful.

Salesforce.com provides a good example of the quantified enterprise. Your salespeople can track many activities in Salesforce.com — every email they send, every meeting they have, and so on. A sales leader can see very quickly how many meetings were attended, how many emails were sent, how many contacts were made, and how much time was actually spent with a customer within a certain timeframe. He or she can correlate the amount of effort with the amount of revenue that was produced.

Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” Technology is now empowering us to say, “I measure, therefore I am.”

MyIT and the quantified enterprise

New tools are taking the quantified enterprise to the next level. We’ve introduced MyIT, which enables IT services to fit seamlessly into your users' lives for a more productive, empowered workforce. It gives users control of the services they need — anytime, anywhere, on any device. MyIT also tailors services to users based on their location. Users can see the services — Wi-Fi, printers, hot desks, and more — wherever they are and start using them faster. They get more control over when, where, and how they get help, with access to remote IT support and the ability to schedule an appointment with IT.

The MyIT platform comprises a unified interface with a consistent look and feel across multiple end-user devices. The interface consolidates many information sources and provides a single access point to execute the service interactions that matter most to IT service users. MyIT is very much focused on location awareness. It knows who and where your users are, and it presents them with options based on their identity and location.

The quantified enterprise ultimately will come from this type of relationship between workers and technology. Think of the way you leave a data trail behind that can be measured and utilized to help you in your personal life. You can see all the restaurants that you have been to on Yelp, all the locations you have been to on Foursquare, and how much people like your reviews on Trip Advisor. You may also visit those sites to determine places and restaurants other people recommend and use that information to make decisions about new places to visit.

Many companies came late to the social movement, and they are putting features in their products now that make them appear more social. But the quantified enterprise goes further. It’s all about your relationship to your data. Right now, your end-user’s relationship with IT is focused on opening and closing tickets. Quantified enterprise work is a step toward looking at productivity value. Today's knowledge worker is defined by emails, documents, slides, spreadsheets, and calendar appointments. In the enterprise of quantitative knowledge work, the data created in a normal day’s work is used as a timeline for employees to understand how they work. Further development of the quantified enterprise will create what is like a knowledge-work GPS, where employees, teams, and departments plug in goals, and the quantified data will create the steps to steer the culture and work products.

Make data-driven decisions

These days, people want the type of relationship with their data that they couldn’t have even imagined just five years ago. For example, one type of information you can glean from Facebook is about what people do with your posts. Right now, you can see what you created and then what the world did with it by just clicking a checkbox. When you have this kind of sophisticated feedback, you can use it to make better business decisions related to your use of social media going forward.

Your social community will be interested in measuring not just how many people clicked on an article, but also how people interacted with that piece. For example, a blog might have 4,000 reads, but maybe only two people retweeted it and one person posted it on LinkedIn. The quantification of more powerful actions — sharing, referencing, or creating a new body of work around your content — tells us more about the value of that writing to the enterprise than mere page views or “likes.”

Looking ahead

Where are we headed over the next few years with this data, and how will it impact our lives? Our relationship with the enterprise and the data that we create will be transformational.

The involvement of business in many forms of social networking will only grow, and the impact of that involvement will expand exponentially. According to Mark Zuckerberg, one of the cofounders of Facebook, every year we share twice as much as we did the year before, a phenomenon known as “Zuckerberg’s Law.” This growth in the willingness to share information accelerates the evolution of the quantitative enterprise.

In business, MyIT will play an important role in the quantitative enterprise by providing a foundation for tracking, gathering, and quantifying the data generated by all that creating and sharing. This wealth of information will help employees be more productive and empowered by giving them greater control over the services they need, anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

For more information about MyIT, visit http://www.bmc.com/products/myit/it-self-service.html.

About the authors

Chris Dancy, a director in the Office of the CTO for BMC Software, has been working in IT support for 20 years, with experience ranging from help desk level 1, service desk manager, ITSM process consultant, software product manager, corporate marketing executive, and entrepreneur. Most people know Chris as @servicesphere on Twitter and as the host of the U.S. edition of ITSM Weekly, the Podcast, syndicated to 30,000 listeners monthly. His name and avatar are synonymous with social media for IT, “edutainment,” and his futuristic visions for IT.

Jason Frye is a director in the Office of the CTO at BMC Software, with particular emphasis on mobility and cloud computing. Previously, he was responsible for all technical marketing functions across BMC’s Enterprise Service Management portfolio. He has served as a senior product manager for BMC’s Cloud Lifecycle Management solution and BMC’s partnership with Cisco for Unified Computing. Prior to joining BMC, he was the director of systems engineering for Voltage Security, an encryption, privacy, and security management vendor. He has also held positions with the United Stated Department of Defense, specializing in artificial intelligence and systems management. Jason is a graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Business runs better when IT runs at its best. Tens of thousands of IT organizations around the world — from small and mid-market businesses to the Global 100 — rely on BMC Software to manage their business services and applications across distributed, mainframe, virtual, and cloud environments. BMC helps customers cut costs, reduce risk, and achieve business objectives with the broadest choice of IT management solutions, including industry-leading Business Service Management and Cloud Management offerings. For the four fiscal quarters ended December 31, 2012, BMC revenue was approximately $2.2 billion. www.bmc.com

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