One thing I discovered from talking to vendors and CIOs in attendance at this week's Midmarket CIO Forum in Miami, an event sponsored by my employer IT Business Edge, is that midmarket companies have a healthy interest in technologies once largely associated with enterprises. I'd put both business process management software and IT service management software into that category.
I've already shared a customer success story from Waterton Associates, a real estate investment company that uses BP Logix's Process Director software to streamline its due diligence process for companies it wants to acquire. I thought it was a great example of a business process management application delivered via a mobile device, a trend BP Logix Vice President of Development Joby O'Brien said is growing among companies of all sizes.
In addition to mobility, O'Brien told me companies are looking for BPM software that gives business users more direct control over their processes, something his company supports with its Process Director product. Process Director allows users to define and manage business rules and reports through a Web-based graphical interface, so no coding is required.
Tools like Process Director empower users but also free IT professionals to devote the majority of their development time to strategic applications. They also help foster a stronger relationship between business and IT pros because they help IT respond more quickly to business requests, O'Brien said.
I also heard an interesting customer case study from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian aid organization serving more than 40 countries. The IRC uses software from Service-now.com to improve the service management processes of its global distributed workforce. In addition to service improvements, the software has enhanced communication and helped create an increased sense of community among the individual country service organizations, said David Goodman, the IRC's chief technology officer.
Though the IRC isn't yet using the new social features Service-now.com includes in the latest versions of its software, it is interested in them, said Goodman. Mark Hamilton, Service-now.com's vice president of marketing, told me his company has been using the social features internally for about six months now. One of the features is a live feed that can accept posts from people or from objects such as devices or open incidents.
Hamilton said the feature comes in handy in situations such as one he recently experienced when the company's email system briefly malfunctioned. Because he "follows" the system, he got a notification when the problem first occurred and when it was resolved. Noting that organizations might experience several similar incidents throughout the course of a day, Hamilton said the software saves time both for business pros whose work is impacted by outages and for IT pros tasked with notifying them about such issues.
Another social feature is an online chat tool that can be employed by users to contact the service desk or by IT pros to collaborate on service issues. All conversations are recorded and integrated into the IT service management system, Hamilton said, so folks can include a link to chats when an incident is opened.
During his presentation Goodman also said the IRC is interested in using Service-now.com software as the underlying platform to manage and monitor different types of service requests, ranging from human resources to facilities to procurement. Hamilton said he sees growing interest in this type of consolidation, with companies seeking to reduce the numbers of platforms they are using to manage different systems.