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Category: Features

 

AR/VR | How AWS Sumerian Change Digital Experience in Healthcare

POSTED: 2nd August 2019
AWS Sumerian
Image: Queensland Health

In the last few years, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are starting to play an increasing importance in our lives. Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, anticipated the need and potential demand of AR and VR and developed AWS Sumerian, a set of smart tools that creates high-quality digital experience.

I experienced first-hand on how Sumerian played a big role in providing highly immersive and interactive 3D experience when it comes to solving one of the most popular customer enquiries at Queensland Health: password reset.

But can AR and VR optimise the digital experience?

AR and VR| The New Digital Experience

With Sumerian, anyone can construct an interactive 3D scene without any programming experience, test it in the browser, and publish it as a website that is immediately available to users.

Queensland Health saw this opportunity and used Sumerian to build a digital experience that interacts with other AWS services within a workflow. With Sumerian, it is quite easy to create all the building blocks needed to build highly immersive and interactive 3D experiences including adding objects (e.g. characters, furniture, and landscape), and designing, animating, and scripting environments.

What’s also great is that it doesn’t require that big of a learning curve — Sumerian does not require specialised expertise and you can design scenes directly from your browser.

My first-hand experience

I have seen the ability of AR and VR as tools to optimise digital experience through “Russell,” A Sumerian built and developed as a workflow where actions on the browser allow you to interact with it regarding resetting passwords. The task can be perceived as minute, but see how these technological advancements have changed the service delivery game. 

In addition to providing an experience through a browser, Sumerian provides a development platform for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality applications. In this example, we have Russell appearing in the Entrago office through an AR application on my phone.

As I walk around Russell, you see that he stays in the same place in the room as I move the phone around the room.

Looks really cool, isn’t it?

When “Russell” is activated, the workflow starts and I, the user, build actions to happen with each step of the workflow. These actions can happen within the scene or run scripts (called Lambda in AWS land) that can access other applications.

When you see the video, you can see the process diagram and this represents how the actual workflow is built in the Sumerian. The Sumerian workflow does go to further detail allowing you to control the scene when a specific key is pressed as one action and another when it is released.

More than just an AR/VR Experience

While a human can help with specific issues, often a Sumerian can perform a number of common support requests. Imagine walking up to a virtual concierge who recognises you through facial recognition, digs into ServiceNow and then looks in Nexthink to establish what has been happening on your favourite UX in the last 24 hours. Nexthink can see that Pokemon has crashed a few times and there is an update available on iTunes.

All this and only 2 seconds have gone past. What you would see is Russell saying “Hi Dave, I can see Pokemon has been crashing, would you like me to fix it?”.

So how does AR and VR tools like Sumerian fit into the Service Management world? Sumerian definitely is great, but it would not be up to its full potential if there is a lack of maturity and capability of your organisational processes.

Your managed support services and processes should be able to leverage technological advancements like Sumerian to bring ServiceNow delivery to the same level as other modern enterprise platforms like Agile, DevOps, Automated Testing, and others. And lastly, your managed support services should have regional capacity with enough scale to execute on large projects, but still enough agility to deliver strong business value.

Get help integrating the latest digital service tools like Sumerian to ServiceNow and Nexthink by scheduling a strategic ITSM Review and Establishment today. Learn more here.

 

Defeat into victory

POSTED: 3rd June 2019

The Road to Transformation as told by Bill Slim

Part 2 of the discussion around digital transformation

Digital transformation is everywhere these days.  Everyone wants it, and every CEO, CFO, CIO, CXO, Head of Digital Disruption & Head of Customer Experience all promise it.  But what is it really, and how can we do it? Or how can we do it faster, better, stronger?

This article is Part 2 of a series around digital transformation.  In this article I want to share some parallels between Digital Transformation and one of my favourite books called Defeat into Victory, written by Bill Slim.

The book talks about:

  • The need to have clear goals, set from a senior level but delegated effectively to the right level within the organisation.
  • Goals need to be small and able to be achieved in a short timeframe, ideally starting with easier targets.  This allows the team to see progress and allows you to build towards the bigger and more difficult components that will undoubtedly follow.  But you can’t start with the hard bits, or you risk never starting.
  • The need to build capability in the team.  Give them the right tools for the job and trust in their ability.
  • It talks about the need to build confidence in the team.  The team need to be confident that they are going to be able to deliver.  It identifies the best way to do this, is to bring in additional and experienced capability, especially early on.  For many organisations they lack the inherent confidence to change the way they have operated previously. So bringing in additional skilled and capable resources means that, right from the beginning, you will be successful.  Yes it may mean that you throw more at the first couple of goals, but this will build confidence in the team and the broader stakeholders, certainty of process and repeatability – all of which are essential to deliver the long term goals.
  • Celebrating success.  This is essential as it provides the reward for the effort the team has contributed.  It helps cement the learnings and the confidence.
  • Taking the first small successes, and building from there.  Learning and repeating the process over and over again.

All of these things are essential to digital disruption.

Like I said in Part 1 of this series, ServiceNow is built to be a digital transformation engine.  If you aren’t using it for that, then you are missing out on a power toolset that can deliver significant value to your IT department, to your internal customers (esp finance, HR, field services, legal, risk, customer engagement) and your external customers.

The entrago team bring significant experience in driving digital transformation using ServiceNow and other associated technologies (digital user experience, IoT, AI, etc).

By the way, if you look for the book, Bill is just a nickname.  His full title is Field Marshal William Joseph Slim, 1st Viscount Slim, KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC, KStJ.  The book is actually about the huge transformation that he led in the 14th Army. So, it wasn’t really a digital transformation, but the change in team outcome was enormous and led to the defeat of the Japanese army in Burma in 1944.  It is, nonetheless, a great book, and the lessons are absolutely relevant. If you want to turn a team around, deliver on large scale goals and reshape the way things are done, history confirms that these points work.


 

Self care for your IT Department

POSTED: 27th May 2019

Is your IT department pouring from an empty cup?

Every IT department has a heap of things on their to do list.  But many are so spent from what they have already done, that their ability to continue to lift their game, embrace new opportunities and continue to make the quantum changes that their users and their leaders expect, is severely constrained.  

You cannot pour from an empty cup.  Yet plenty of IT departments try to do just that.

Every IT department has a long list of new functions, new features, new solutions, new hardware and new ideas that they are being expected to deliver.  Like a caregiver who is always being asked to provide support for other people, sometimes IT departments need a little self care.

Stepping back and taking stock of internal IT strategy, approach, processes and performance can often reset the focus for IT.  Often the frustration and fatigue experienced within IT is because every effort is made to meet the growing needs of the client and of the broader business.  But remediating core IT processes, getting foundational data squared away and properly sequencing your maturity development plan keeps getting postponed.

A good way to reset is to do a quick review of your IT business.  Compare it to industry practice and get a clear roadmap to resolve some of those internal improvements that are hamstringing your business.

 This roadmap should be able to not only identify what needs to be sorted, but also give you the business case that justifies the spend.

So if your IT business is feeling like it doesn’t have the extra gears needed to deliver on everything you need for next year, maybe it is time to talk to entrago about doing an IT business services review.  This will set you a roadmap for how to make your IT systems more efficient, more effective and allow you team to catch its breath.

entrago offer a focussed 4 week IT business review that looks into every aspect of your IT business, compares it against industry norms, talks to some of your key stakeholders and then provides a personalised roadmap to build the internal system maturity that you need to be able to deliver your ever increasing targets. Contact us to schedule a review now.


 

Digital transformation simplified

POSTED: 20th May 2019

Part 1 – Using ServiceNow to drive a culture of digital innovation

Every organisation you talk to these days talks about digital transformation.  Everyone from the CEO down is hanging their hat on digital transformation to make their service better, to make their staff happier, to improve efficiency and effectiveness.  But many organisations struggle to convert that desire into something that is real, tangible, affordable and sustainable.

Some organisations look to a mega project or a program of works that sees lots of changes planned out and committed to in advance.  While others struggle to get past concepts heard about in boardrooms, airport lounges, articles and sales pitches.

For those organisations which are actually doing digital transformation in a meaningful way there are a number of key attributes that they all seem to share.  Some of these appear straight forward, but it is useful to recap:

  • They start.  While this seems obvious, many organisations get lost trying to plan perfection and getting everyone to agree before they start.  They focus on getting lots of feedback and engaging with stakeholders and prioritising their long list of ideas. Those that succeed, start.  Yes, engage with Stakeholders, but don’t try and sell them the world. Start with a small, incremental change and focus on getting it done. Pick one app, one form, one process, one problem and then start.
  • They know they aren’t perfect.  No change and no solution will be perfect.  Acknowledge that and don’t try to make it perfect.  It just needs to be better than the old way and deliver an incremental improvement and a positive return on investment.
  • They build a culture of success.  Culture has many facets and requires time and focus to develop and maintain.  Key elements for a culture of success include having delegated responsibility – people need to be clear about what is expected and they have to own it.  There needs to be space to fail – no one and nothing works to plan every time. So don’t over invest, fail and learn fast and support your people throughout.
  • They build a team.  Innovation is a team sport and disruption requires innovation.  In a modern workplace the team can be virtual and can, and probably should, include key partners, especially during the early stages.  
  • Learn as they go.  They don’t try and get everything perfect before they start.  They have a go, they improvise, they learn and correct as they go.  Yes, this one is a summary of the points above.
  • They rinse and repeat. They don’t do it once and stop.  They learn and do it again. And again.  Because disruption is not a simple journey.  It is lots of little steps taken one after the other.  This allows for the culture to build and for the success to breed more success and pretty soon, your team has earned the right to start tackling the bigger, harder and more complex problems.  But you have to earn your right to that.

ServiceNow is built to be a digital transformation engine.  The ability to easily deliver new functionality quickly, repeatedly and to a high standard is unprecedented.  Many organisations completely miss this huge opportunity to take what they already have and make it into the thing that improves external customer experience, improves internal experience, improves service delivery, automates workflows, operates securely, is natively mobile, is easy to develop on, is highly flexible and delivers sustainable solutions.

Use ServiceNow to demonstrate success quickly

Using ServiceNow means that you can move quickly, deliver in manageable chunks and demonstrate success quickly.  This is absolutely key to any successful transformation. This can be using out of the box functionality – there is so much functionality there that you probably paying for and not using.  Or you can develop something – using the ever improving Now platform (now with native mobility app development), you can custom build amazing apps, often with minimal coding.

Using an experienced partner to help you get going can not only give you the confidence you need, but can greatly reduce the risk.  An experienced team that can partner with your team brings knowledge, capability, experience and confidence. They can often help get you started and build your internal capability.  So if you need to look at ways to drive more digital transformation easily and using tools that you already have, call us at entrago. We have done this before and we can show you how to tackle the beast of digital transformation.

 

Frankenstein IT

POSTED: 6th May 2019


So you are about to merge
with another organisation…

When businesses merge there is often a lot of talk about ‘synergy’ and the cost benefits that can be gained from shared systems and streamlined work practices.  The unfortunate reality is a lot different.

Frankenstein IT is where there are bits of old systems cobbled together with questionable interfaces, or where different parts of the business use different systems for the same function, or there just isn’t consistency in how things are managed.

We see with many of our clients, ongoing vestiges of poorly managed amalgamations or mergers, even many years after the event.  This Frankenstein IT represents years worth of lost efficiencies, often because the technology integration was done poorly at the time, or not done at all and there was never any budget to come back and fix it up later.

Where it often comes unstuck is with the basics.  Insufficient due diligence and insufficient planning.  Which means that a complete view is not properly gathered on the target’s IT solutions.  Without a complete view, the plan will always be short of requirement and then, with a hasty implementation and no time or budget for culture change along the way, the end result is even less again.  And that is before we even talk about the end user experience and the nightmare that comes from having different people on different technology standards and process expectations, now working together and expecting a new but consistent approach to technology.

The key is to use modern tools that not only tell you exactly what is happening with technology, but that frames it from the perspective of the user.  Because at the end of the day, that is the perspective that matters.

At entrago, we deploy Nexthink onto the target systems.  That way we can see exactly what is happening on every device.  We don’t have to rely on out of date data, we capture the reality in real time and use that as the basis of planning and decision making.  This gives us unparalleled data for end user due diligence – every PC, every laptop, every Mac, every system, every version, every patch level, all of it.

Planning for transition needs to then be built not just around moving data sets, but around setting new operational expectations and deploying an interactive engagement toolset that monitors and manages the new policies and procedures.  This means seeking to normalise and standardise technology as quickly as possible. Nexthink provides ongoing real time data throughout the transition to monitor what is actually happening, rather than just what was planned. This means that as systems are migrated out or replaced, you can readily track what is happening and provide regular notifications and support to individuals as they learn the new ways.

This focus on better due diligence, smarter planning and real-time monitoring during transition, is the key to avoiding the expensive Frankenstein IT situation.

If you are about to embark on a merger, contact entrago.  We can work with you to merge your IT businesses quickly and effectively.  The due diligence can generally be done in less than a week, even for very large organisations.


 

Orchestration

POSTED: 21st March 2019

Orchestration is the automated arrangement, coordination, and management of computer systems, middleware, and services.  In other words, it’s about automation.

One of the common orchestrations we at entrago have implemented is the Add New User process.  In simple terms the process works like this:

  • The requestor completes a form to request a new user
  • Someone completes an authorisation
  • The new user is automatically created (in ServiceNow and Active Directory or elsewhere)
  • The new user and requestor are advised that the work is complete

There are a range of common requests which can be automated via orchestration.  Password reset, changes to group membership, and requesting software are commonly orchestrated.  By automating these common requests, companies can ensure that all process steps are completed correctly each time, and the end users can be provided with additional information such as links to user guides or knowledge articles.

The benefit of automating these common processes, is the people who would normally complete these requests are freed up to complete other tasks, such as improvements and upgrades.

If you have been wanting to automate some of your common processes, please get in touch and let’s get orchestrating together!

 

Automated Test Framework

POSTED: 4th March 2019

ServiceNow introduced the Automated Test Framework (ATF) in part to simplify their own comprehensive testing which is required for every ServiceNow upgrade.  

At entrago, we recommend that you utilise ATF as you are building new forms and applications as you can quickly tell that any changes are working as expected, without having to manually type in data.  This is a great timesaver.

The range of tests completed after an upgrade can expand to include every form.  Tests can be set up to pass or fail depending on your requirements. The tests can also confirm that applications are available to the roles you were expecting, thereby testing the ACLs are still working as expected.

Diana Gaskin from entrago recently completed a range of ATF test scenarios at a manufacturing company in Brisbane.  The tests were used following an upgrade to London, and ensured that a range of complex forms could all be tested in a short period of time.  The tests were documented by Rochelle McCullough together with a test plan for use by the customer.

A number of tests have been added by ServiceNow with the Madrid release.  These tests can be modified to suit your own instance and process requirements. The tests start with impersonating a user of your choice.  At the end of the test, the record is automatically deleted, however screenshots are captured as well as the actual test results.

ServiceNow don’t recommend running ATF tests in production.  Consider what would happen if you tested the P1 incident process, sent out text messages to senior management, and then the incident record could not be found.  That could cause a lot of confusion. After completing tests in Development and Test environments, that should be enough. We recommend just completing some post verification testing manually in Production.

We recommend installing the ATF before your next ServiceNow upgrade.  The time and money spent doing this will pay for itself as future upgrades will require less time and people to complete them.  The majority of organisations would complete ATF testing using just one person over one to two days. By comparison, some large organisations can have a team of 10 people completing manual testing over a two week period.

If you are interested in adding ATF to your ServiceNow environment, please contact us now.