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  1. Reaching out to anyone that has completed or is in the process of a corporate services full implementation across the platform. We are about to embark on the same journey and would love to bounce ideas and approach info with other Hornbill users. We have started with a Digital Services (IT) deployment which went really well. Looking to learn from others experiences of implementing large scale deployments for; - HR - Security - Finance - Estates & Facilities We have structured our config in a way that should allow us to easily onboard other corporate services but its more the "you don't know what you don't know" that concerns me. Would be great to learn from others that have gone through the same journey. Thanks in Advance.
  2. We have gone live across our group of three hospitals with service manager for the digital services team (IT), this has allowed our staff base from each employer to function as one service before the organisation has progressed with a legal merger. This has benefited our service delivery and allowed us to define and create single processes where possible. As a result of this success the organisation is looking at other departments/services to on board the platform and start benefiting from the same efficiencies and create a "one-stop-shop" for our staff base (15,000+ staff). I am looking to engage with anyone that has either done this across all of their corporate services/back office functions especially those in public services or preferably a healthcare environment. Being in a group model of hospitals makes our environment very complex and challenging to structure and merge so it would be very beneficial for me to engage with other Hornbill customers or Hornbill team Experts and discuss to the right approach for this and compare with real life case studies. Our Estates & Facilities Management (EFM) Team are looking for a single solution (if possible) now and I would be grateful for any EFM customers of Hornbill to share knowledge and lessons learned. This applies to all functions in truth, Security, HR, Finance etc so I would be grateful to hear back from anyone this relates to.
  3. Hornbill Service Manager improves IT performance at the Victoria & Albert Museum I visited the Victoria & Albert Museum recently to record a short video with Grant Fettis (Change Manager) and Chris Nutt (IT Service Desk Manager) about their experiences of implementing Hornbill Service Manager. It was clearly a smooth experience, as Grant said, “I don’t think I’ve been through a simpler process of changing from one tool to another.” Because the tool is so easy to use, it is now being adopted by other business units within the museum. Progressive Capture has simplified the way that data is collected from customers, so teams can respond faster and process more work. IT management is making extensive use of Dashboards to focus on areas for improvement and to support better decision making. The collaborative features of Hornbill Service Manager have greatly improved the flow of work and communication between teams. The V&A IT teams are reaping the benefits of a native-Cloud solution and Hornbill’s continuous deployment approach, as new features arrive frequently, without any of the pains (backups, tests, broken customizations, etc.) typically associated with software upgrades. I was delighted to hear Grant explain the difference that Hornbill Service Manager has made to his role as Change Manager. Grant uses the Boards feature within Hornbill Service Manager to run their CAB meetings. With full visibility and transparency of the change backlog, activities can be programmed tightly, so change management is more agile, and more work gets done. At the end of the video, Grant says, “I can talk about how much easier it has made my life…it’s significant…I love it.” Thank you, Grant and Chris, it’s fantastic to hear that we’ve been able to make such a difference to how people and teams work together to deliver more value for the V&A museum.
  4. SPOTLIGHT: Leica Microsystems Unifies Global Service Management with Hornbill One of the best things about my job is getting the opportunity to work with great companies who are doing interesting things, and at Hornbill I am really blessed to have such a pro-active community of customers that are willing to share and be part of the Hornbill community. I have recently been working on some integration ideas with Keith Bage over at Leica Microsystems to help them support some automation needs around their very large SAP deployment – that’s still ongoing so don’t have much to say about that just now, but in the mean time I asked Keith if he would be kind enough to give us some insights in to how they are using Hornbill within their organisation globally, this is what he had to say. Can you give me a brief background of who you are and what your role is at Leica? What Service Desk tool was in place at Leica before you deployed  Hornbill Service Manager? What were the business drivers and reasons for implementing a new solution? What was your first impression of Hornbill Service Manager? What other solutions did you consider/shortlist before choosing Hornbill Service Manager?  What was your impression of Hornbill during the  selection process? What would you consider your biggest personal success coming out of the project? Since you went live with Hornbill Service Manager, how has it gone? Can you highlight three things that you love about Hornbill? If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change about Hornbill right now? Is there anything else you would like to mention in relation to Hornbill? Keith and the team at Leica are very progressive and have truly embraced the continuous delivery approach we have adopted. I know that Keith is presently looking at some interesting IT automation initiatives so hopefully he might have a little more to share with us in the near future. Thank you Keith for allowing me to share your story.
  5. INTEGRATION: Hornbill Open Integration Approach When I first conceived our Hornbill Platform I knew that the key to being successful was the ease in which it could be made to interoperate with other systems. In theory, the Hornbill Platform could be used to implement pretty much any business application with its many capabilities. However, for now at least, we have chosen to focus our go-to-market efforts on Collaboration, Service Management and Customer Management application areas. Any business system needs to be able to “play nice” with other systems, and not only should it work well but it should be easy to achieve comprehensive levels of integration without complexity. First of all, a little integration history. All systems have some form of API, everyone knows that, but APIs are generally not interoperable. In the enterprise world for example, an attempt by a working group sponsored by Microsoft to create a standard for exchanging information was created called SOAP, using XML technologies, specifically XML Schema to describe the information structure being exchanged. SOAP was adopted by Microsoft and Java SDKs and so the dream of seamless interoperability was being sold to the enterprise developers. Truth is though, the standard was too flexible, and too verbose in its representation, a classic outcome of a committee driven approach to standardise something. With the flexibility came interoperability issues as different systems took different approaches to represent data within the confines of the standard and it became clear that SOAP actually was not going to deliver on the promise of solving interoperability issues, it was actually going to create just as many. Since then, web technologies have really taken hold while browsers have never natively supported XML, instead a simple data representation scheme known as JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) which, along with REST has become the defacto standard for implementing API’s simply because its compact, easier to read and browsers support it natively. There are many variations of these schemes as well as some obscure schemes that use things like ASN.1 or other serializations so the integration landscape is not without its challenges. Now while we wanted to do as much of the heavy lifting as possible in terms of integrations so our customers don’t have to (see our iBridge for example), we also recognise that there will always be that one thing that we did not think of, integrating two systems always requires what I call “glue code” which is simple code that transforms a message from one format to another. So early on we adopted a strategy of providing a fully open and documented API for the Hornbill Platform and an open source integration approach. Every integration we build outside of our “everything is done for you” schemes are built and published as open-source projects under the Hornbill Community License, all projects we create are made available to our customers on GitHub, we fully support and maintain these projects, although our customers are also free to fork these projects and make them their own too. Here are some of the projects we have published with a brief description of their purpose dotNetApiLib – a library that makes integrating any .NET application with Hornbill simple and intuitive goApiLib – a library that makes talking to the Hornbill Platform easy from the Go Programming Language pythonApiLib – a library to use the Hornbill Platform API’s with Python phpApiLib – a library to enable you to integrate with the Hornbill Platform API from PHP goSWRequestImport - Supportworks Request Import Tool for Hornbill Service Manager written in Go goServiceNowRequestImporter – Import requests from a Servicenow instance into Hornbill Service Manager goDbAssetImport – A tool written in Go to import assets from a database source into Hornbill Service Manager CMDB goDb2HContactImport – A tool written in Go to import contacts from a database source into Hornbill goDb2HUserImport – A tool written in Go to import user accounts from a database into Hornbill goAzure2UserImport – A tool written in Go to import user accounts from Azure AD to Hornbill goLDAPUserImport – A tool written in Go to import user accounts from an LDAP source rPowerBIHornbillDataSources - Data Source scripts written in “R” that enable Power BI to use the Hornbill Reporting and Trend Engine APIs as data sources SCOrchHornbillIntegration – Runbooks that allows Microsoft System Center Orchestrator to integrate with Hornbill goApiScheduler – A simple tool written in Go that can be used to schedule the invocation of Hornbill APIs goHornbillCleaner – A tool to clear down test data in a Hornbill instance powershellHornbillAPIModule – A module that enables you to easily interact with your Hornbill Instance We are committed to providing a rich and diverse set of tools and integrations to enable our customers to gain the maximum value from using Hornbill in their organisations. All systems should be built to be interoperable but not all systems are built by people that understand this – I am pleased to say that at Hornbill we truly do understand this and embrace the idea of integrating with anything.
  6. INTEGRATION: Integrating with Microsoft Power BI Although we provide powerful analytics, dashboards and reporting capabilities built into the Hornbill Platform, that capability only caters for reporting on data held within Hornbill. We know that customers often need to report across data sets from multiple systems which is where Business Intelligence tools come in. Many of our customers have requested integration with Microsoft Power BI Data Visualisation Tool, it’s a simple yet powerful tool that allows you to manipulate and visualize data sets, linking and cross-referencing multiple data sets, even data sets from different systems creating dashboards with drilldown capabilities. Microsoft has set a new benchmark in the BI space because not only is this tool powerful, there is a free edition and Pro subscriptions start at a mere $9.99/user/month which is not very expensive considering what you get for your money. We have created an integration between Hornbills Analytics Engine and Power BI which is essentially a data source provider to Power BI. The integration its self is developed in “R” and we have made this available as an open source project under the Hornbill Community License (HCL), the integration is provided completely free of charge, and we can even help you set it up if you need us to. The integration can be downloaded from our GitHub here You can find out more about this integration by watching the video attached to this post or by viewing our documentation here or searching our community forums If you have suggestions for other integrations with Hornbill please let us know, we are on a mission to be the most well connected Service Management and Business Collaboration platform on the planet!
  7. INTEGRATION: Hornbill iBridge - Connecting the Cloud Following on from my previous post Not All Integrations/Automations Are Made Equal I want to share with you how we tackled the problem of esoteric and unmaintainable integrations for our customers. I felt very strongly that non-technical business process users could easily use these integrations without the need to have a deep technical understanding of APIs, coding and authentication schemes. Hornbill has the ideal canvas in its business process tool, its an intuitive, graphical canvas that allows you to draw diagrams of your business process so Hornbill can orchestrate the flow for automated and human tasks. Expanding this capability to also be able to orchestrate automated tasks on other systems seemed like the next logical step for us to take. Now as a general rule there are real technical challenges when trying to integrate with other systems. I am not going to go into too much detail here but I would like to highlight the key points. Most API’s now days on modern systems use HTTP as a transport for their API’s, this is a good thing. However, this is also a very flexible, so while some use JSON as a payload, others use XML, some XML implementations are relatively simple and others are just ridiculously over-complicated for no good reason. (Yes Microsoft, you should be better than this). Modern software systems like to call their APIs RESTFul which is supposed to be a simple alternative to things like XML-RPC and SOAP. But every implementation is different, some use custom HTTP Verbs, others try to fit their business logic into some pre-defined standard verbs. The bottom line is, every RESTful API is created with slightly different philosophical design approach. Interoperability is where things go very wrong. Yes, XML, HTTP, SOAP, JSON are all “standards” but they are foundational standards, none of them tell you how to represent data for a given system, primarily because every system is different so these things have to be “glued together” Stateless or Stateful, yes this is yet another layer of complexity. Some consider it to be more secure to establish and maintain a state (log in, keep session and log out when done) while others advocate stateless, for example using tokens or API keys. Authentication is probably the single biggest headache when building integrations, its security so by nature its complicated. There are many competing standards, which are also complicated, some examples are OAuth1, OAuth2, SAML, WS-Security, API Keys, Basic, Digest and a whole range of product-specific schemes too. Even worse, things like OAuth and SAML often require three phase authentication processes which need you to interact with the services own UI when trying to connect and authenticate. If you have ever tried to integrate with something yourself you will recognise some of these difficulties for sure. In order to solve these problems for our customers, we started by trying to understand what problems our customers have when trying to do this. We looked at the use cases for integration and we looked at many systems that have API’s to enable integration, we looked at tools that can integrate with other things and we looked at tools in the cloud that are specifically designed to integrate one thing with another thing. In almost all cases there was a common theme, things get VERY technical VERY quickly, and almost exclusively there was the “get out of jail free” coding environment that one would need to use a lot! There is no escaping the need for “glue code” when connecting systems together, when transforming messages and data from one system or another, the only real practical way is to use code, which left us with a dilemma, we either relax our “No Code in the BPM” policy and make our customers responsible for creating the glue code, or we take on the responsibility of creating the glue code ourselves so our customers don’t have to…. Care to guess which path we took...? Enter “Hornbill iBridge” (meaning Hornbill Integration Bridge), and it does pretty much what it says on the tin, it’s the bridge between our very powerful BPM tool and a large (and ever growing) number of pre-canned integrations ready to use. The iBridge is a containing execution environment that hosts and runs our glue code, each and every integration has been built and tested by us. Under the hood there is an integration development environment that allows us to rapidly build and test integrations. The iBridge requires that integrations are exposed to the BPM in a business-friendly and non-technical way, and finally, the iBridge solves the problem of authentication. KeySafe is a new security feature of the Hornbill Platform that allows a complete de-coupling of security credentials and business process design. Imaginatively named based on the fact it’s a “Safe” place to store digital “Keys”. In essence, you can setup your credentials to the various systems you want to integrate with in KeySafe, giving each credential a name, within this environment you can do whatever two-phase or three phase authentication process is required by the service you are connected to, and once authenticated the credentials are safely locked away, encrypted, secure and safe. These keys can later be used within the BPM environment without ever exposing the details of the credentials. KeySafe+iBrdige even handles the complications of refresh tokens completely automatically, logging every security even for full audit purposes. The Hornbill iBridge was introduced at our recent customer event Hornbill Insights 17 and because of our “Priced for Life” policy and commitment to customer loyalty, all existing customers get full access to the iBridge for free for as long as they remain a subscribing customer. We have also opened up a community forum to take requests for new integrations which we have committed to build as we are keen to expand our integration portfolio. As of right now we have over 400 built and tested integrations with 30 of the most common authentication scheme variations fully implemented and tested ready to use by our customers. Here is our sticker portfolio of systems we have pre-built integrations for. You might have noticed from the above stickers, we have also committed to integrate with any system without commercial or competitive prejudice so we have even built integrations with competitive products including Jira, Servicenow, BMC, Freshservice, ZenDesk and Salesforce. We have even built an integration with Hornbill so one Hornbill Customer can easily integrate with another Hornbill Customer instance if required. One of the more exciting things our customers have reported is our integration into infrastructure and Tier 1 cloud solutions like Office365, Azure and Amazon Cloud making it possible for organisations using these services to automate provisioning of users, accounts and servers. Now these are big claims and I can understand why you might think that too, we have all heard this before, its never that easy right - well the best way I can think of convincing you is to show you some short videos so you can see for yourself how easy we have made this very complicated task, you can integrate with things in a few minutes without any technical expertise - watch and see for yourself... Integrate with Twitter Integrate with Slack Integrate with Trello Integrate with Servicenow Integrate with Microsoft Azure, Salesforce and Hornbill Integrate with Twillo SMS and Microsoft Azure We have only just got started with integration, we have a lot more to come so watch this space. In my next article, I will be talking about our integration with Microsoft System Center Orchestrator for behind the firewall IT automation.
  8. Innovation: Why does Innovation matter? Around seven years ago I took a long hard look at our business, our products and the Service Desk tools market. I was trying to make sense of why it was progressively getting more difficult to differentiate. This was a time when there were 100’s of helpdesk and Service Desk tools a customer could choose from, functional requirements were being defined by ITIL rather than customer needs. The infamous “PinkVerify” tools list had expanded from just a few to over 50 vendors and Gartner even retired their IT Service Desk Magic Quadrant citing “lack of innovation” in the industry – so what was happening? Well the behaviour of the customer changed considerably and to understand why we need to look back a little further. IT organisations were looking to become “ITIL Compatible” or “ITIL Certified”, IT teams were looking for new ways to succeed within their organisations. The “industry pundits” had done a great job a convincing everyone that ITIL was the magic pill that would solve all the problems that IT were facing. The idea was by adopting ITIL, IT would become less of a reactive “fix it when it breaks” cost centre and more strategically aligned with (and therefore more valuable to) the needs of the business. However, the reality with what was happening was quite different; Innovation in the consumer space had really taken off – for example, your average person could walk into a computer store, buy a laser printer for not much more than the cost of a weekly shop, take it home plug it in and start printing. Yet at work, the same experience would require lots of paperwork and bureaucratic cost justifications and would require a cost sign-off of ten times as much money to get the printer three weeks later. As executives started to experience this, they were rightly starting to question the value that IT was bringing to the table. Another great example of this happening was the initial explosion of BYOD (remember that little nugget), where execs and managers would buy their own iPad or Notebook and use it at work, simply because it was easier than trying to go through IT and the by now established security police. IT still had a value so it could not just be outsourced (although lots of organisations tried that too) but no one really knew what ITs value was and so the need for IT to prove itself was created. It is hard for a function that has previously not had to justify itself to suddenly have to demonstrate business value, and for executives it is hard to give direction to IT when it's them who are questioning the value of IT in the first place, so something was needed to fill the void – enter ITIL… It’s a framework, its best practice, its proven and it has been around 20 years, every podcast, pundit and consultant is saying ITIL is the answer and so the direction from the execs down was “Just do ITIL” – and so they did…and the industry created ITIL consulting, training services and vendors created ITIL products to meet that demand. Of course, history now tells us that the dogma surrounding ITIL ultimately made the situation a lot worse and not better, and when it went wrong and everyone who previously was pro-ITIL was suddenly seeking to disassociate themselves with it, but that outcome is what ultimately killed innovation in the industry, that’s what led Gartner to scrap the MQ for Service Desk tools in 2011. So what really happened? Well I am describing this from a vendor perspective; the truth is we lost the ability to innovate. In fact, innovation transformed into “how many ITIL processes can I get certified on PinkVerify." The truth is products were being defined by what the PinkVerify (and other benchmark type reports including the Gartner MQ) set out, and that was almost exclusively NOT what customers actually needed. Customers had stopped driving innovation because instead of asking for what they actually needed, their RFI’s and RFP’s were pushed out asking about what ITIL processes your tool supports. To compete in this landscape and win business, vendors behaviour changed too. Instead of differentiating by innovation, vendors would focus on getting more processes into their products and making them more "ITIL compatible". It stopped mattering that there was no innovation because customers stopped demanding it, they wanted ITIL and that was that. Of course, when customers got their ITIL compatible tool and sent everyone on their ITIL foundation training they could tell their bosses that they are now “doing ITIL” and for a short time there was congratulations and jubilation for all concerned – that was until the same execs with the same consumer experience were not seeing any value improvement from IT. In fact all they were seeing was a big investment in ITIL and nothing really changed – no ROI. And to make things worse, by this time, while IT was being misled by the dogma of the industry movement that surrounded ITIL, the next wave of innovation had taken hold and was in full flow, once again threatening IT – THE CLOUD (that’s a whole other article). So back to the question “Why does innovation matter?” The truth is that as consumers, we rarely know what we need until someone has shown it to us. Who knew that we all needed smartphones? But when we see something that can change our work or personal lives for the better, we know it is what we need. Innovation is the thing that makes this happen. For me and for Hornbill, I looked at where we were and what the industry was doing, and I decided to change things and set a course to transform Hornbill to put innovation in front of everything we do, which meant taking some pretty big and uncomfortable steps. For a start, we set out plans for a brand-new product that facilitated rapid innovation by enabling continuous deployment so we could push features daily. I changed our organisation by removing old-ways of thinking and behaviours and re-structured to underpin this new approach. I stopped our organisation being led by the tune of industry reports and benchmarks like PinkVerify or being put into the nicely contained box that the Gartner MQ would impose on our thinking. Instead I switched our entire focus on what the customer needs to succeed, what can we do to make things better for our customers and the innovation we could drive on behalf of our customers. Now, our product roadmap is defined only by that thinking. The truth is, to innovate you need to be prepared to do things that not everyone agrees with. You also need to be prepared to put yourself on the line and to lead and not be led, and you absolutely should to be prepared to fail every now and then too. Of course, to lead you have to have something to say. You need to have good ideas, and in the case of a company like Hornbill, you also need to have extraordinary people to execute on those ideas. Innovation is important because innovation is simply another manifestation of leadership, and its only leadership that takes people forwards. If leadership is important, then so is innovation.
  9. Hornbill is launching its Global Partner Program At the beginning of 2015 Hornbill launched Hornbill Service Manager, a Collaborative Enterprise Service Management solution that brings something fresh, innovative and new to the ITSM and ITIL solution market. Our technology is intuitive, modern and easy for customer to adopt while offering an exceptional level of very powerful functionality. We deliver features continuously and our platform is always up to date so our customers never need to worry about upgrading or the cost and disruption that upgrade projects bring. No code is required to customize the solution and all customizations are guaranteed to work after every update. Our solution has proven to be very disruptive with No Contract Tie-In, scale up and down as you need and Priced for Life means once subscribed our customers never need to worry about price increases and the icing on the cake - Free Implementation! We designed our platform with the international community in mind. Our cloud platform is global with our front end applications being served locally on all continents in 49 countries and 100 unique cities delivering local performance globally. Our platform and our applications handles language, translations and localisation exceptionally well which makes it easy to bring global teams together seamlessly through our powerful collaboration foundation. Our initial product launch has been focused on our flagship application Hornbill Service Manager and via a direct sales channel led out of the UK; we have gained good traction with the solution now being actively used every day in many countries. The graph below (not to scale) was generated from our cloud platform user data representing all subscribed users, so gives you a sense of where in the world our solution is already being used daily. With a proven foundation of customers, a proven business model and a unique market proposition, we are now seeking to expand our footprint globally. Our strategy is to identify and work with just a small number of strategically aligned partners to represent our technology, brand, values and our open and transparent ethos. Our partner program starts with two levels of partnership: Solution Partner is vendor agnostic/multi-vendor reseller where they typically offer a choice of competing products and have the capability of delivering services and first line support wrap arounds as well as having the expertise to advise customers on best product fit in the pre-sales phase of the customers buying cycle. There are many of these kinds of organisations that may wish to add our offering to their product portfolio so we have designed a program that fits. Strategic Solution Partners have the same sales and services capabilities as a Solution Partner but are strategically aligned with one vendor and do not offer other competing products/solutions. We think about SSP’s as an extension of Hornbill and as such have greater access to our internal systems and people including insight into our technology and product future roadmaps and so on and of course more generous revenue share structure. Our business model is quite unique which offers some very compelling commercial advantages to our customers. Our offering is very disruptive but when we talk about innovations like Priced for Life, No Contract Tie and Free Implementation it may be difficult to understand at first glance how a partner can make money. Our proposition is disruptive and does not “just work the old way”, we have developed a revenue share model that enables partners to build good revenue streams while still being able to offer customers all the benefits of our unique offering. We are still in the early stages of our partner program development which we will be formally rolling out during the first half of 2017. In the meantime, I am particularly interested in finding a small number like-minded organisations who would like to consider joining our strategic partner program and even helping us shape our partner strategy. I am particularly interested in organisations that could represent us in North America, Canada, Australia and of course the EU (especially Germany, France, Italy and Spain and the Nordics). If you want to find out more, please get in touch Click Here
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