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5 steps to better search with RightNow Answers

I’ve been working on an interesting project with a higher education institution. They have Oracle Service Cloud Enterprise, which ships Knowledge Foundation as standard. Knowledge Foundation is what used to be known as RightNow Answers. They came to me with a need to fix their knowledge base—the search returned irrelevant results, there was a lot of outdated and incorrect answers, and there hadn’t been a knowledge manager role in the organisation for more than a year. The platform was good enough to do the job, but their previous workflow had a built-in bottleneck and the state of the knowledge base had only gotten worse since that one person left.

Knowledge Foundation allows you to serve knowledge articles to different audiences via interfaces and respective access levels. My client had three interfaces, each with a matching access level, set up to serve separate and distinct audiences—current students, prospective students, and internal …

Support: the wild west of documentation

Earlier this year, I was listening in on the Twitter stream for #writethedocs—a conference for technical writers—when one of the  speakers mentioned turning documentation from passive to dynamic.

 

Support: the wild west of documentation. — @gkoberger Fantastic #writethedocs talk. https://t.co/ZQc11NH3ad
— Aprill Allen (@knowledgebird) May 19, 2015

Gregory Koberger is a developer and founder of ReadMe, a documentation tool for developers. It’s intended to fill the need that developer communities have for up-to-date API documentation, but I could see a fit for DevOps in the enterprise, so I went digging some more, by way of hitting up Gregory with some questions.

 

Developers are notorious for hating on documentation. Can you explain why that is?

The biggest reason is probably that it feels like busy-work. If you think they hate writing documentation, though… it doesn’t compare to how much they hate how bad other people’s documentation is.

Programmer’s live in a very logical world. An out of …

An open letter to software vendors

Dear Vendor,
I saw a tweet today and it made me think of you.

Profound @landesk customer review: “You need the headspace and time as an organisation to fully exploit it.” http://t.co/cLwcXZ9h75 #itsm
— Martin Thompson (@itammartin) July 1, 2015

We could say this about anyone, couldn’t we? The truth is, people have limited time and as long as the new tool meets the basic business-as-usual needs, your customers are unlikely to go exploring the boundaries without provocation.

Too often, customers’ purchase decisions will be influenced by the length of your feature list or your responses to a spreadsheet. This isn’t sticky marketing, because you’re all addressing those same BAU capabilities. Where’s the magic? Where’s the value?

Remind me of those features I’ve forgotten about. Design email marketing campaigns with protips for my use case. Uncover and share those customers like me who are already doing innovative things with your solution. It doesn’t even need to be all that innovative, …

ITIL as Dr Seuss: A challenge

One of our biggest challenges in service management is explaining what it is and why it’s useful. The ITIL definition is dry and completely unsellable.
A set of specialised organisational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services.
It’s a problem ITIL has more broadly—it’s dry and bureaucratic in its worst form. It’s the nature of most best practice guidance, though, so don’t blame ITIL.

A recent thread on my Facebook wall prompted James Finister to challenge us to Seussify ITIL. Perhaps he thought it couldn’t be done, but Phil Green stepped up and posted a response. Following on nicely from my Return of Service post, here’s Phil’s representation of the definition of service, Dr Seuss style.
An outcome to achieve is what I desire,Today, tomorrow, is what I require,Will you help me achieve the outcome I require?Can you, could you, should you be my provider?I’ll help you achieve the outcomes …

The Return of Service

You know, it’s funny. In this app economy we’re working in, you can buy just about anything as-a-service. And yet we—the makers, the designers, the writers, the product marketers, etc—are trying out all kinds of different marketing and pricing recipes to build a package people want to click the buy button for. Freelancers, consultants, and software developers have productised their offerings. We’ve abstracted the value of the person out of the sale, even though it’s our particular expertise and contexts that is the basis of what we’re selling. We’ve distilled what we DO down to things people can put in a shopping cart—a transaction.
You need a product
I know how this happened. It’s the revolution of the Four Hour Work Week, and the desire to make passive income; to make more money from less time/effort.
 
But, even if you’re an affiliate marketer making coin from selling the work of others, (not that there’s anything wrong with that; …

Knowledge is not understanding

I watched a video on YouTube last week and I want to share it with you. Destin, of @smartereveryday, did an experiment that shows how those things we do every day that are just like riding a bicycle, are actually complicated. And when we introduce even a minor change, it’s hard and we won’t necessarily be able to do it straight away.

Watch this video and tell me how this backwards-bike experiment makes you feel about your organisational change initiatives.

 

How do you solve a problem like enterprise search?

 

The final KMLF meeting of 2014 was a panel discussion about enterprise search. Brett Matson, Managing Director of enterprise search provider Funnelback, revealed some interesting insights that I wanted to capture in this interview. Brett used to work in the search industry as an engineer for the CSIRO, before starting Funnelback in 2006, so he knows a bunch about search and how people use it.

1. Where Google has succeeded, the enterprise still struggles. According to APQC research, only 53% of firms rate their enterprise search as effective or very effective. What do you think is happening with the rest?

The 53% in the APQC research relates to federated search, which is the idea of having a search engine query third-party search engines and combine the results. This is generally ineffective because it’s difficult to rank heterogeneous results against a common baseline, and you also can’t use tools such as faceted navigation.

However, …

The cloud has screwed you

Subscription software has been hailed the hero of the enterprise. There’s “best in class’ everything, promising freedom from vendor lock-in and infrastructure upkeep; savings in time and money; clever integrations and exciting roadmaps. But all this freedom of choice has screwed the enterprise up in one significant way.

Modern enterprises have information assets in places like this:

Google Apps for mail, calendar, docs, chat/hangouts
Box or Dropbox for storage
Subscription apps to solve a particular problem
Subscription apps that solve a particular problem plus parts of other ones
Some legacy software hosted in-house
A collaborative platform like Confluence or Basecamp
An enterprise social network like Jive or Yammer
Communication apps like Slack and Flowdock
Local computer storage
People’s heads

It’s not uncommon for organisations to have all of these, where many of them double-up on functionality found in others. This is a problem. Because in most cases, the native search engine is a bit crap; and if I can’t remember where …

From customer experience to employee engagement

Recently, I was lucky enough to be a voluntary participant for a customer experience study at a cafe. (The things one can do when one is between contracts.)

I hadn’t been to a STREAT cafe before, so I was the ultimate “potential customer”—able to play the role of the person who was walking in for the first time. STREAT want their customers to understand how every mouthful helps youth homelessness and disadvantage, but they also want their customers to keep coming back and to know about their other services. As a first-time customer, there’s a lot of information STREAT would like me to take in—the difference I could make to a young person’s life by buying my coffee there, the locations of other stores, where the food is sourced, how the program works, how I can contribute more, catering services, the cook book I could buy, and the menu.

The customer …

205 year old organisation meets the future head-on

Coming up this week in Melbourne is the Innovating IT Service conference. The final interview in this series is with Cameron Gough, General Manager of Australia Post’s Digital Delivery Centre. Cameron will be appearing on the discussion panel and delivering one of the opening keynotes on Wednesday. He’s been with AusPost since 2012 and brings extensive experience with agile and lean methodologies to an organisation under pressure to find new ways of providing value.

 

1. As the General Manager of the Digital Delivery Centre for Australia Post, can you describe what your typical day looks like and the kinds of projects you’re involved in?

Someone recently told me that they saw my role simply as food, water and alignment.  I was at first a little offended but when I thought it through, it kind of made sense.  Most of my time is about ensuring our teams in the DDC are set up …