IT best practices for delivering business value

 

Today I read a new paper published by the Intel IT team that discussed the strategies and best practices we use in managing the wide area network  (WAN) capacity across more than 200 Intel sites in 66 countries.

WAN Capacity.JPG

 

Honestly, I have to admit that 2 years ago, I'm not sure I would have even known what a WAN was ...  let alone understand how important it is to a global enterprise business.  It is effectively the glue that keeps us connected with each other, with our customers and with the world.  In today's work environment, the business requirements to collaborate, share, interact and back up data are all driving growth in a variety of ways across our network.

 

Intel's WAN capacity is growing at an average rate of 10% annually and while that does not seem like a lot, consider that this is average and that the growth is not linear at each site ... and if capacity is not available at any one site to meet associated business demand, the consequences can be business limiting.  On the flip side, building out and managing excess WAN capacity can also be business limiting due to cost inefficiencies.

 

WAN growth drivers affecting Intel IT range from a variety of sources including:

 

  • More business group use of social media
  • Increased use of virtual tape for backup storage
  • DC consolidation increases remote server access (note we have reduced the number of global DC by 26% since 2008)
  • Increased use of video conferencing and video training
  • Rich media application usage increase
  • Intel silicon design complexity
  • Private cloud implementation and BYOD (more devices on our network)

 

Intel IT has had to embrace multiple strategies to address this WAN growth and manage business costs while maintaining or improving customer service levels.  The strategy I found particularly interesting was the capacity forecasting and network management tools we are using to predict demand vs capacity (below) giving us valuable business intelligence to ensure our WAN capacity at any given location is sized properly to meet future demand.Intel IT WAN Capacity Forecasting Process.JPG

 

I invite you to read more about Intelligent WAN Capacity Management at Intel

 

Chris (@chris_p_intel)

Chris wrote about the evolution of social computing at Intel in last few years, I would like to add to his post and share how we fared on Enterprise 2.0 in 2011.

 

In 2011, we saw a jump of 64% in using the enterprise 2.0 platform. Almost all visited the platform at least once, and 30K+ users actively contributed content. Another significant achievement was the use of the platform more for the business purpose than just socially connecting. It was demonstrated by the fact, out of the top 10 most active groups, 7 were related to work. We saw communities helping each other on technical issues, without having to go to the service desk.

 

We also added a few capabilities like Enterprise RSS and Enterprise Video Platform (pilot) to make the platform more complete. Social bookmarking was another feature we encouraged employees to use for knowledge management.

 

One of the challenges we faced is still the social computing matrix of 1-9-99, i.e. when 1 person writes a post, 9 persons reply to it, and 99 just view the content and do not respond. On our platform, there were many users creating content, and the viewership has also been impressive (9+ Million page-views in 2011). However,  there was less participation in the discussions by commenting and replying to the original content. This is an area we plan to focus on to improve effectiveness of the platform as a communication and collaboration capability

 

To increase the use of the platform for true collaboration, we are trying to build a pool of Enterprise 2.0 champions. These champions, who would be volunteers and passionate about Enterprise 2.0 are expected to be adept in using the Enterprise 2.0 tools and help others build the expertise – similar to train the trainers exercise. The idea is to provide tools and trainings to the champions, so that they encourage other employees to use the platform for the business needs and participate more in the group discussions.

 

We are expecting Enterprise 2.0 champions proliferate Enterprise 2.0 tools by identifying "Enterprise 2.0 patterns" and "anti-patterns" so that the business groups can model the workflow that is optimized for their business needs. We are planning to have a face-to-face event where the volunteers get together and share their success stories and pain points. We would like to we make 2012 truly the year of E2.0 champions!

Security Budget.jpgAccording to a study and blog by Enterprise Strategy Group, over half the organizations surveyed will increase their security budgets in  2012.  Spending more does not equate to spending  smarter.  There is not a guaranteed relationship between security spending and risk reduction.  Investment is an important indicator that infers organizations are not satisfied with their current or future stance on security and risk management. But it is just as important to wisely spend those dollars for a meaningful benefit.

 

Organizations should ensure they have a solid security strategy, are tracking effectiveness by measuring tangible results, and focused on maintaining an optimal level of security, one which achieves the right balance of spending and risk reduction resulting in an acceptable level of residual risk.

 

According to the report, some will increase security budgets by 8% or more.  This can be a significant windfall to strapped security departments, but will likely come with lofty expectations.  Before committing to a long term resource increase, executives should review the security strategy.  Ask the tough questions.  Here is a good start.

 

Security practitioners will need to justify the spending and more importantly show results.  Metrics, although difficult in the security world, are necessary and should be focused on tangible improvements.  Here are a few measurement methods which may be considered.  For those using the Threat Agent Risk Assessment (TARA) methodology, show how spending will reduce risks of loss for the most critical threat agents and be sure to update your baselines accordingly.  This will help in determining the positive cascade affects in other risk assessments.

 

Lastly, it is a good time to remind security teams and especially senior management that the goal of security is not to be impervious to loss.  Rather it is to achieve and maintain an optimal balance of security to manage the risk of loss to an acceptable level.  Be forewarned, at some point before the end of the year, don’t be shocked if management comes calling to scrutinize how the investment will pay dividends.  Expect some iteration of the dreaded four dirty security value questions and be prepared with sound answers for next year's justification of budget.

 

 

Is Security Spending a Necessary Evil?

Online Retail.jpgLooking past the $3.4 billion stolen in 2011 from online revenues, reported by CyberSource, the numbers show real success for computer and information security practices.  Online revenue growth outpaced the increase in dollar losses for a positive net result.  On average, merchants lost about 1% of total online revenue to fraud. 

Compare that to traditional retailers who experience shrinkage figures of about 1.45%.  That is a tremendous difference to the benefit of online retail and the trend shows it will continue to grow.  Online fraud as a percentage of revenue is moving lower, while global retail shrinkage went up in 2011.  Shrinkage consists of theft, both internal and external, fraud as well as accounting errors.

The data shows the effectiveness of online security practices in thwarting theft and fraud.  Even to the point of exceeding the longstanding history of traditional retail security technology and best known methods. 

I will go ahead and say it: doing business online is now more secure for the retailer than the traditional brick-and-mortar model.  All thanks to advances and efficiency gains in computer and information security.  

With all the fears and threats running rampant, this shows how an industry can embrace security to make real traction in protecting their assets.

We recently formulated a new data center strategy to help us deliver improved IT services at lower cost.  At the center of our strategy is a new decision making model called "Model of Record".  This model is based on an approach Intel uses in its highly regarded and world-class Manufacturing environment.  We benchmark each of our data centers against a best achievable model which allows us to address the gaps that deliver the greatest improvements in velocity, quality, efficiency, and capacity.

 

In this paper we also describe a new set of key performance indicators and a new unit-costing model that better assesses and identifies where to deploy new technologies to deliver the greatest return on investment.  The 3 key goals we are striving towards include: 80% effective resource utilization across our environment, 10% annual improvement in cost efficiency, and meeting a tiered service-level agreement model.

 

Learn more about our new data center strategy in this white paper.

 

@ajayc47

Increasingly IT organizations are spending the time and effort to publish end of year reports which help communicate the value that IT orgs provide to their respective businesses. 

 

Last year, Gartner analyst Lee Weldon reached out to Intel to understand why and how Intel IT produces an annual IT performance report – now in it’s eleventh year. Along with input from several other IT organizations who also create IT end-of-year reports, Lee has published his research report titled “Promote Your IT Success Stories Through End-of-Year Reports” for Gartner subscribers.

 

Does your IT organization publish an IT end-of-year report? ... please share your thoughts (and a link if you have one) with this community below.

 

The 2011-2012 Intel IT Performance Report was published earlier this week and is available on Intel.com/IT along with other Intel IT best practices for creating business value.

 

Chris (@chris_p_intel)

jghmesa

Safety in Your Project Plan

Posted by jghmesa Jan 3, 2012

As the New Year starts off, project teams are being formed to manage the planned work ahead.  Most organizations are hierarchical meaning people report to a more senior person and the progression continues up to the President/CEO who reports to the Board of Directors, commonly referred to as the Board.  The Board reports to the company stockholders comprised of employees and public shareholders alike.  With each management level there is increased scope (span of control) and responsibility which can usually be identified by job title and can be clearly defined by signature authority.  The word ‘manager’ somewhere in the job title is the cognizance that any/all issues should be addressed, however there are some responsibilities such as ‘Safety’ that every company employee shares equally by contributing to a safe work environment.  The manager cannot do it alone neither can anyone else.

 

The ‘staffing’ manager has that first level responsibility for safety in the area or with the persons reporting to them or both.  If a potential safety concern is identified, it’s an expectation the staffing Manager will address it and resolve it accordingly.  Let's not forget that Safety also includes Ergonomics so a computer monitor placed to low or too high in reality requires the same attention and due diligence as a large coffee spill in the middle of a tile hallway.  Both have the potential to injure an employee causing lost time and medical attention.

 

In the first paragraph where I stated, the word manager somewhere in the job title’, did you put the words program or project in front of it after reading it.  Did I imply that the program or project manager, who typically manages a team who’s members are comprised from various hierarchical departments also responsible for the team safety either in the area or by individuals.  Some might argue ‘yes’ the program and/or project manager though perhaps not having direct reporting authority of the team members is still a manager and should act upon a safety item or anything else serious the same as a manager should?  The other view could be that the program/project manager advises the team members’ direct manager of the issue as they should handle it.

 

Each situation can be different and the earnest goal should be for all persons involved to resolve and eliminate the safety issue.  For program/project managers we can apply a simple logic or think of it in this context:

a)      It is the Program/project managers responsibility to ensure the project meets/exceeds chartered goals

b)      The project has a better success rate in meeting those goals if the project executes/runs as smoothly as possible.

c)      Risk management and mitigating risks as much as possible will contribute to a more smoothly run project.

d)      People (team members) getting injured (ergo) is a real risk and should be managed as part of the project.

e)      The longer the project duration, the daily work hours, and/or the higher the pressure for the project completion timing, the higher the risk can be for  people to get injured.

f)       If the risk is realized – people/resources may become unavailable therefore impacting the project.

 

It makes sense then that the “people” portion of managing this (we don’t want our people getting hurt) is the staff manager and the program/project manager’s equal responsibility.  The program/project manager can also contribute to workplace safety by initiating proactive safety measures during the project lifecycle as follows:

1)      Treat all team members as if you were the reporting or direct manager. In other words if a team member reports a safety problem then stop and act upon it.  This can be as simple as a conversation stating their hands are hurting from typing a lot (possible indication of carpel tunnel syndrome) to observing work from a too low or high placed computer monitor.

2)      At the initiation or explore phase of the PLC (Project Life Cycle) the Program/project manager can add ‘Safety’ along with other key areas.

3)      As project plans are developed, a ‘Safety Plan’ can also be added.  Sure a construction project most likely would have one but a software development project most likely would not.  However if the project work to be performed is developing code then should not the PgM/PjM ensure all computers are set up ergonomically correct, there are no wire management issues, and any other safety concerns are addressed.  Safety could also be incorporated into the project risk management plan.

4)      A safety review is a part of all program/project phase gate decision approval reviews.

5)      At the start of each project team meeting, the PGM/PJM or by team member rotation could do a brief 5 minute safety subject presentation.  It can be one slide and appropriate by season i.e. ice safety in winter and swimming pool safety in summer.

 

In conclusion the program/project manager needs to ensure a ‘channel’ to the project team members  is available for safety communiqués and awareness.  Though probably over reactive to ‘pepper’ safety checks into PM working documents and devote a lot of agenda time in team meetings but include safety / ergonomic reminders where it might be most beneficial to keep safety awareness/conscious high throughout the project.  Program/project managers need to partner with the staffing managers to ensure a safe work environment for all.

Today as I read a Harvard Business Review article on the value of social media, I found myself agreeing with the six principles offered by the author that center around faciliating and stimulating mass collaboration in support of business goals.

 

Social computing is no longer a nice to have capability, but rather a core business tool - this is what we have found to be true at Intel.

 

Recently, as the Intel IT team looked back on our key investments that created business value for Intel in 2011, our journey with social media made the cut for the 2011-2012 IT Performance Report under the Employee Productivity section (pg 8).

 

Intel IT started embracing social media for both internal (employee to employee) and external (employee to industry and customers) usage models back in 2005 and gradually expanded our solutions over time.

 

Embracing Social Media At Intel.jpg

 

At first, our internal solutions were basic one-size-fits-all solutions, offered as nice to have optional service to help employees connect with each other more socially than for any targeted business reason. However, over time, we have continued to expand our solution offering to include a broader mix of capabilities including enterprise wide global collaboration tools, corporate wide communication forums, technical support communities, and line of business specific solutions. Today, most Intel users of our social media and collaboration tools, state they support core business objectives.

 

During this time, we have had to adapt our platform and business processes to accomodate social media - looking differently at enterprise security and mobile platform usage inside our organization.  Some useful insights and IT best practices can be found below:

 

 

I hope you find these resources helpful.  I invite you to share your experiences, best practices and insights with enterprise social computing below.

 

Chris (@chris_p_intel)

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