Monday, 18 March 2019 21:14

Give your own staff the full customer experience, BMC CIO says

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Running the vast infrastructure for digital operations software company, BMC, affords its chief information officer Scott Crowder a perspective on the customer experience that extends to the company’s employees, whom he dubs customer zero.

BMC’s network is no small one, with more than 30,000 virtual machines on its private cloud. Crowder and his team enjoy the benefits of working with BMC’s research and development team to get all the business’ products to work with, prior to their general availability research. In turn, not only can he run BMC’s product suite to manage BMC’s own network, but provide feedback to help shape the product.

Once, the term for using your own software within your business was the delightfully visual “eating your own dog food”, but Crowder has coined a better term, derived from his more than 30 years’ experience in, and reflections on, IT operations, five in the BMC CIO chair.

To Crowder, the internal business is "customer zero", and it is his view a customer service mindset affects how your IT or other team delivers service to the rest of the business.

"For me there are two Cs – the external customer is big C, and the internal customer is little c. I've been associated with providing customer services associated with SaaS or IT in general for a lot of my career. Ingrained in my DNA is you always take care of the customer," he says.

Meshing the two concepts together, Crowder explains "my customer is my internal customers, the little c vs. the big C external customer, and what I try to do is take the same approach to my internal customers as we do to our external customers".

While helpdesk ticketing systems around the world already promote the terminology of fellow staff being the customer, it's not merely a word to Crowder, but a mindset.

For example, he explains, when bringing a new employee on board you make sure the experience of how they interact with the IT team and its technologies are all "top notch and first class".

BMC adopted a strategy of moving 85% of its business systems to the cloud, allowing employees to work anywhere in the world, increasing their business effectiveness through technology. This project underscored the importance of IT in understanding the customer and providing them with excellent service as well as empowering employees to do their best work possible using new technologies like AI and cloud-native.

Crowder’s perspective on staff as customers extends to strategy - “Empathy and understanding of how your employees work with the various systems they have is helpful with regards the longer-term strategic direction of where you want to be,” he says.

“In many cases, it's very easy for people to have their wish list of things they want to do, and everybody has things they want to do, so when you look at your overall portfolio of IT initiatives have to take a critical eye to what you're trying to accomplish.

“The analogy I use when looking at IT initiatives is projects are dogs and cats. There are lots of dogs and cats out there, but the more meaningful projects are elephants and lions - these are the key strategic business initiatives you aspire to do. If you just do the dogs and cats you won't have the money for the elephants and lions, the big initiatives that change the needle from a corporate perspective.” 

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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