SupportWorld, Jan/Feb 2013

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The David Michael: Innovation has been a part of our culture for a long time, and innovation is always a group effort. Enterprise innovation usually comes down to whether you have a culture of innovation—so that when good ideas come to fruition, people listen—and a culture of collaboration, where people want to rally around good ideas and turn them into experiences that delight customers. Daly: That suggests a very tight connection between all the business units and the IT organization. How would you characterize that relationship at UBM? Michael: UBM has been on a very exciting journey over the past five years, under the leadership of CEO David Levin, who really changed the way we operate. We're no longer discrete business units that go off on their own separate missions. Our new organization now encourages, rewards, and supports people working together, creating products that engage our customers. Technology has enabled that. The Hub, our corporate internal collaboration platform, is a good example of an enabling technology that makes it easier for people to share and work together on new ideas that ultimately turn into better products and experiences for our customers. Daly: Many IT organizations struggle to identify their value propositions and are pegged as barriers to innovation. What's your perspective on that struggle? Michael: All companies struggle with innovation. I think there are very few companies that would say they don't struggle with innovation, because it's really, really hard. Innovation costs money. It carries lots of risk. There's no guaranteed profit. It can dilute your margins. It requires people to go above and beyond. It requires people to work together who, historically, may not have worked together. So, there are a lot of things that can get in the way of innovation in a company. Innovation is more than just coming up with an idea. It's taking an idea and making it a reality, a profitable business venture. For a company to succeed with innovation, it needs several things to work together harmoniously. I suspect that a lot of people who say they're struggling with innovation, who feel they're either responsible for or a barrier to innovation, probably have larger problems at hand. Unless everybody rallies behind how they are going to make innovation work in their enterprise, it's going to be really tough to make it happen. Likewise, if you have silos in your organization, you're going to have an innovation problem. And a lot of companies have silo problems. | Daly Interview Daly: Innovation breeds innovation, demanding agility and flexibility from every layer of the IT services organization. From your seat, Illysa, how you are adapting the service management organization in this press toward innovation and collaboration. Illysa Ortsman: On a day-to-day basis, we're trying to free up our resources from doing what legacy IT organizations do—keep the lights on, maintain hardware, manage operating systems—so they can be directed toward helping the businesses innovate. As new ideas take hold, our ability to support them obviously comes into play. But we want to understand and partner more with them on the business needs, to move things forward rather than just maintain the back-end infrastructure. We're the technology experts, but the people in the business units are obviously the business experts. We're actively meshing that together. Daly: Customer expectations are high, and demands to move farther, faster put a real strain on the technical support organization. What do you expect from your team as far as keeping pace or even getting ahead of the curve? Ortsman: Listening to the business and understanding its needs are the main requirements, and not just at David's level. A really good working relationship between IT and the business is key. The only way to get that is by staying constantly in touch with the business, with the guys in the trenches. Everyone wants that latest and greatest gadget. That's fine. But ultimately you have to understand the business benefit of that gadget. Then, if there is a business benefit, we can determine how to support it within our current environment while also maintaining some type of structure. So, for us, it's about being open, being agile, and having the tools and ability to adopt and adapt quickly. Daly: The skills your people need to keep the lights on, as you say, are quite different from the skills they need to function as a business partner. In fact, in The War for Talent, our research project with Robert Half Technology from earlier this year, we learned that business, communication, and customer service skills are among the top five skills technical support professionals need to be successful. Technology expertise, while in the top five skills for desktop support, doesn't even hit the top five skills list for managers. It's clearly a different mix today. How are you addressing that skills shift? Ortsman: Obviously, we need very highly technical people. But it takes a different skill set to build relationships in a business partnership, understand the needs, and develop business solutions. We're not completely there yet, but we A Professional Journal for the Technical Service and Support Community 11

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