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What IT pros need from an advanced analytics tool

Everything You Need to Know About ITSM Analytics
By Sridhar Iyengar, Vice President, Product Management, ManageEngine

ManageEngine conducted a survey to understand what IT pros need from an advanced analytics tool. The survey looked at the critical areas of analytics and reporting for service desk management around incident management, asset management and change management.

Here's what they had to say:

Who needs reporting the most?

76.6 percent indicated CIOs and service desk managers.

Service desk managers and CIOs are key decision makers who need insight from their data to formulate better strategies. For instance, by tracking including technician performance, service desk responsiveness, IT user preferences, customer satisfaction, SLA violation rate, and other critical metrics, they can better analyze costs, trends, manage resources, and improve overall service quality.

How is service desk activity tracked?

42.6 percent of respondents prefer to track service desk activity on their own by building custom reports based on the information needed. And 38.7 percent use live dashboard to check data, while 18.8 percent use pre-built reports.

One size of reporting does not fit all-everyone wants to create reports based on need. Self-service business intelligence (BI) tools provide more flexibility in this regard, as users can create personalized reports, get real-time insight on the data you care about, and make quicker decisions. The best part is that self-service BI tools can do all of this without relying on a data expert, which makes them more popular than traditional BI and analytics tools.

How often do IT staff create reports?

33.5 percent of respondents said they create custom reports as needed, while 27.7 percent preferred a monthly report.

Businesses are in a constant state of evolution and, to stay ahead of the competition, need to predict changing trends. Adhoc reports tend to be more popular as they provide answers to particular questions and analyze specific data.

How challenging is it to create the needed reports?

48.6 percent said that reports take between 30 minutes - 1 hour to create, while 41.4 percent said that they can create reports in 15 minutes.

Complications defeat the purpose of self-service BI tools. Reporting is not a primary task for most IT users, so they need to be able to create reports quickly and share them with other stakeholders. If it takes a long time to create reports, it could mean that there's a lack of intuitive and easy-to-use tools.

Do IT pros prefer custom or standard reports?

Respondents preferred custom reports. When asked how many custom reports they created, 34.7 percent reported that they had more than 10 custom reports in hand, while 33.3 percent had five to 10, and 24.7 percent had less than five.

Compared to standard reports, custom reports can address specific questions and data. They do a more thorough job breaking down data to uncover the root of a problem and identifying hidden patterns for in-depth analysis. Different teams have different reporting needs, and custom reports can help personalize them for each team's individual requirements. They also provide more insight into why certain strategies work and others do not.

Which ITSM modules do users require insight on?

22.5 percent of respondents preferred to start with analytics for incident management. 17.5 percent felt that they needed more reporting information on asset management, and 13.2 percent preferred customization for their change management module.

Incident management is the foundation of any ITSM system, used to reduce the impact of an outage on service operations and recover from outages quickly. Building specific dashboards with in-depth analysis (e.g., finding the root cause or determining trends for particular incidents) allows for better planning. Most organizations start with incident management and then add other ITIL processes such as problem management and change management as they evolve and mature.

When it comes to asset management, one major requirement is license compliance. Any non-compliance could mean paying penalties and running into high software costs. With an efficient asset management system, it is easier to plan license purchases in advance and to only purchase software that adds value to the organization.

Finally, we have change management. A change in your infrastructure (e.g., software upgrade or virtualizing servers) can have a ripple effect on your business applications. If these dependencies are ignored, this kind of change can cause unplanned downtime and drastically affect your business.

Building intuitive reports and monitoring metrics such as the mean time to resolution (MTTR) and the frequency of downtime will identify crucial failure points, evaluate the impact of changes, and aid in change management. This means that IT pros can formulate an action plan to handle emergency situations.

Building reports: Which is the preferred method?

42.6 percent of users prefer UI-based options. 29.6 percent prefer to use query reports, while 10.7 percent use third-party reporting software. However, 8 percent of respondents contact product support desks to view query reports.

A visually driven, intuitive user interface adds more context to your data and lets you instantly view, interpret, and analyze important information. Although query reports seem to be the second most popular option, for non-technical managers, it's a challenge to manually type in queries to produce reports. Those dependent on this method may need to hire a data expert or depend on other sources to get the data they need.

Driving factors for reporting needs?

One important use of a smart reporting tool is to detect inefficiencies and gaps in the ITSM process, and 36 percent of our respondents agreed. But, 30.1 percent felt that reporting helped them identify problem areas and tackle issues. 19.5 percent felt that it was a good way to measure customer satisfaction, while 12 percent felt that reporting helped them drive budgetary or financial decisions.

Clearly, monitoring to improve help desk efficiency, identify problem areas, and ensure customer satisfaction are the top three driving factors behind the adoption of reporting and analytics tools.

In conclusion: The road ahead

From studying the survey results, it is clear that respondents prefer a user-friendly and responsive BI tool that can deliver information accurately and as needed. To increase user adoption, BI vendors need to offer a solution that is easy to deploy and maintain, identifies and resolves outages or performance issues quickly, and does not require any expert assistance.

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Sridhar Iyengar is the Vice President, Product Management at ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corp. He has spent two decades building IT Management Solutions for mid and large markets. For more information on ManageEngine, the real-time IT management company, please visit www.manageengine.com; follow the company blog at http://blogs.manageengine.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ManageEngine and on Twitter @ManageEngine. Follow Sridhar on Twitter @iSridhar.

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  • Showcase exhibition during our new extended dedicated expo hours
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  • Capitalize on our Comprehensive Marketing efforts leading up to the show with print mailings, e-newsletters and extensive online media coverage
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ManageEngine believes IT management can be simple and affordable. Our authors share insights and how-to tips for SMBs and large enterprises. Over 120,000 companies around the world – including three of every five Fortune 500 companies – trust our products to manage their networks, data centers, business applications, and IT services, and security. We take a straightforward, customer-centric approach to IT management software. Our customers' needs drive our product philosophy. And we've built a strong, in-house R&D team to support our product team and turn customer requests into product realities. We look forward to hearing from you.

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