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Multi-Party Support – the Emergence of a Dynamic Support Network

When I ask IT executives how happy they are with their external support providers (outsourcers, vendors, etc.) invariably they express deep frustration. They look to these vendors to be real partners – to collaborate effectively and seamlessly, to do their job efficiently and transparently, and to bring real innovation to the table. Instead, they feel like they go into combat every day with these supposed “partners”. And, they say, it’s getting worse. But what has changed?

Over the past several years the number of support providers IT organizations deal with has increased exponentially (one analyst firm estimates a 400% increase over five years). Moreover, the complexity of the relationships is growing – no longer are support transactions limited to just one partner, in many cases incidents bounce between several different partners before they are resolved. Then there is cloud. Cloud makes consumption easy, but hidden behind this “easy on” experience is a highly complex support reality. Cloud services might look like one unified solution when they’re purchased, but in reality cloud services incorporate software, hardware, data centers, and networks from dozens of providers – when something goes wrong, it isn’t easy to even figure out where the problem is – let alone get it fixed.

But the paradigm for managing these relationships has stayed basically the same for decades.  At the end of the month vendors provide reports on their own performance. Most IT organizations have teams of people that sift through these reports, consolidate them into spreadsheets, summarize and analyze. This reactive, long lag time model doesn’t support the business need for flexibility and agility.

Cisco believes what IT needs is a “dynamic support network” – whereby IT organizations have real time connections to support providers – all linked back to the system of record IT relies on to manage support. It shouldn’t be sufficient to find out at the end of the month that target SLA’s have been missed – IT needs to know if the SLA on the incident that is open NOW is going to be missed, allowing it to proactively ensure it meets the SLA.

Interestingly, when I talk with external support providers like outsourcers or managed service providers, they have exactly the same requirement. They want to see the incident they are working on from the point of view of the person who originally opened the ticket, not just from when they were brought into the process. They truly do want to partner – and in fact to delight – their customer. They recognize the customer is ultimately the end user, and it is the end users expectation they want to manage to. To accomplish this, they need to be integrated with their customers – their own dynamic network – with real time visibility and transparency into when the incident was raised, the original SLA, what has already happened on that incident, etc.

Cisco ServiceGrid is designed to solve this problem. With a “connect once, connect all” approach, ServiceGrid integrates all participants in the support process to the cloud platform only once, instead of integrating everyone one at a time. It allows companies to collaborate in real time to deliver services to a single customer. All information, data and workflows are shared in an automated way, eliminating manual practices and bottlenecks. From a customer perspective it looks like one company, even if two or more companies are working together to solve a case.

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Cisco’s Palestine Investment Commitment Featured in Forbes Magazine

August 13, 2013 at 7:30 am PST

The August 12 issue of Forbes magazine features Cisco’s investment to fuel job creation and economic development in the Palestinian information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

Cisco CEO John Chambers on the cover of Forbes

After visiting Ramallah in 2008, Cisco CEO John Chambers pledged to help develop the ICT sector in the Palestinian Territories.

“We do this because we want to change the world. And we don’t do it on a small scale. It’s nice to help a village, but the key is how do you help a country?” Cisco CEO John Chambers says in Forbes.

In 2008, Cisco began outsourcing projects from its Israeli office to three companies in the Palestine Territories. Those firms have since reported a 65 percent increase in their workforces.

Forbes contributor Richard Behar writes, “Cisco’s efforts created a ripple effect, bringing in other American tech giants, which also use their Israel offices to work across the border. And as U.S. companies got Palestinian companies comfortable with working with entities based in Israel, large Israeli tech companies have been able to establish relationships, too. … HP now outsources some of its research and development to the West Bank. Microsoft Israel has started putting Palestinian engineers in Ramallah on its payroll.”

Indeed, according to a June 2012 report on the Palestinian Investment Commitment by Mission Measurement, Palestinian ICT firms reported a 64 percent increase in international client work from 2009 to 2012.

Cisco ultimately contributed US$15 million to the initiative, including millions of dollars in incubation, venture capital, and equity funding for ICT companies, and a capacity building program for entrepreneurs.

Read the complete Forbes article featuring Cisco’s Palestine Investment Commitment.

In a separate piece, Behar describes Cisco’s Tamkeen.net capacity building program for Palestinian entrepreneurs, which provides training and mentoring for CEOs and managers. Behar attended two of the training sessions “in rooms filled with Palestinian CEOs and mid-level managers being coached by Israeli Jewish tech experts.” Seventy Palestinians from 24 different companies have participated in 100 days of trainings since 2011.

Read about the Tamkeen.net capacity building program in Forbes.

The video below features Tareq Maayah, founder of Ramallah-based Exalt Technologies, one of the three companies that undertook outsourcing work from Cisco.

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Government Cloud CIO Roundtable (February 27, 2013)

March 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm PST

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Two weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting a TelePresence roundtable for 46 Public Sector CxO-level executives from 20 locations throughout Europe, Middle-East and Africa (see map below). The event was moderated by Jens Mortensen (Director Central Government & Healthcare, Cisco EMEAR) and the main objectives were:

  • To present and debate on 3 perspectives of Government Cloud Governance: Policy, Insourcing Model, Outsourcing Model
  • To share best practices and alternative governance models with peers in different countries
  • To help shape, plan and implement a proven strategy for government cloud

The CTO of a central ICT agency in Europe reported: “I valued the pragmatic approach (presentations from people in the public sector who actually have a service running) and the possibility to ‘network’ with very relevant people for the cloud project [my organization] is working on).”

The CEO of an ICT Provider for Government agencies reported: “I enjoyed the discussion very much. Clearly there are very many different approaches to implementation of domain cloud solutions for both public and private sector needs based on local supply structures and government culture.”

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The 5-5-5 Rule That Helps Cisco Outsource IT Implementation Successfully

Almost every weekend, Cisco implements 25-30 projects upgrading our core network infrastructure, involving sites around the world. These network projects run from simple office moves and partner connections to complex technology upgrades and acquisition integrations. They also include all the changes that are part of the Cisco IT fleet management program, where we regularly review the network infrastructure at each of our 500+ sites for needed upgrades, and schedule the upgrade cycles. This upgrading work is distributed, detailed, and involves repeatable processes, which makes it ideal for outsourcing:  but there are tricks to handing off responsibility while maintaining extremely high standards.

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Managed Services Mean Big Benefits for Small Businesses

March 8, 2012 at 10:13 am PST

Outsourcing IT support lets you reduce IT costs and focus your efforts on what your company does best

Small companies are proliferating in every industry, from health care to hospitality and financial services to technology. But regardless of their industry, all small companies face similar challenges when it comes to their IT networks. Despite a lack of in-house IT resources, small businesses must keep their networks running reliably at top speeds. At the same time, they need to watch their budgets by reining in IT operational costs and limiting IT investments. For an increasing number of small businesses, the answer to these problems is relatively simple: managed services.

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