Autumn 2017 Release Announcement

We've been working hard over the summer to bring our customers a range of new features, here's an overview of what CatalogIQ customers are already getting benefit from.

Introducing Quotes

CatalogIQ now has the ability to produce and manage quotes for all those times an end user wants to price something but may not be ready to place an order there and then. Quotes can be saved and managed, with expiry and validity periods. It goes hand-in-hand with our checkout improvements below.

Checkout Improvements

To make life easier for our end users, we have simplified the checkout process so that it is configurable by customer. For example, if you have a customer that can supply you with a detailed purchase order document, you can remove unnecessary steps such as ‘Payment Details’ from the checkout process making the ordering process simpler and more effective.

Impersonating Users

From the back end management console, administrators can now log in as end users to validate that they can see the right products and categories. This a great way for making sure that any changes you have made are working as expected without requiring anyone to share sensitive login details.

 Order API

The Order API has been extended to list all the details you could ever need about an order plus allows you update the status of orders in line with downstream processes. Look out for a future blog detailing how the Order API can be used to integrate with just about anything.

Most Requested Items

We've enhanced the intelligence behind the the most requested items page so that customers will login and see the most relevant items for them.

If you're an MSP, IT reseller or service provider and would like a personalised demo of what CatalogIQ could be doing for your business contact us today.

5 considerations for device choice management

We all know how important devices are in our lives – but with all the acronyms around concerning devices in organisations, you could be forgiven for thinking that devices control organisations too.

We have bring your own device (BYOD), choose your own device (CYOD) and, more recently, the Corporately Owned and Personally Enabled (COPE) device.

Before we get any more tortuous acronyms, let’s look at five considerations that underpin any prudent approach to software and device management, whatever you choose to call it.

1.  INFORMED CHOICE EMPOWERS PEOPLE

People are happier when they have a choice.  Having the power to choose a device to use in the workplace was initially a simple case of determining a preference for one style of device over another.  With technology moving ever-faster, choices may be guided by considerations of form, factor and specification but they are also influenced by trends driven by the profession and peers.  Employees need tools and guidance to make an informed choice about all manner of specifications based on their personal preferences and professional needs.

2.  MULTIPLE OPTIONS DEMAND AGILE MANAGEMENT

Throughout 2016 we will see the release of an ever-increasing range of devices and software, spurred on by major launches of smart watches from Apple and Samsung. This trend of escalating options is set to continue with some pundits suggesting more than two in three employees will be more productive using so-called ‘wearable’ technology. Managing this multitude of devices and options requires a sophisticated and agile approach.

3.  SECURITY DEMANDS A HOLISTIC APPROACH

IT departments tend to focus on technology to solve security concerns. Mobile device management solutions from leaders such as Good, MobileIron and Microsoft with Intune dominate this approach. But the key to effective security relies on connecting at the personal level, where the appropriate policies and practices can be promoted as part of the process of selecting productivity tools.

4.  STAKEHOLDERS EXTEND BEYOND IT

Choice management needs to extend across the enterprise to engage with HR, Finance, and Procurement, as well as IT. While IT may determine the devices approved from a technical standpoint, the range of roles or level of seniority necessary to access some choices could be influenced by policies driven by the HR department. The choice management system also needs to defer to budgetary limits set by Finance, fit within defined procurement procedures, and coordinate the necessary approvals to synchronise the process.

5.  SOCIAL AND ‘CONSUMERISATION’ IN THE ENTERPRISE

People like people just like themselves. It’s a big factor in the rise of social and the ‘consumerisation’ of IT. Employees are influenced in their choices by trends in their profession and among their peers. A by-product of this is personal peer-to-peer support. Employees are comfortable seeking advice, guidance, and support directly from people just like themselves. The IT department may contribute to these forums and communities, but there is no expectation that any one entity is the source of support for any contingency across a multitude of devices.

In BYOD, CYOD and even COPE the emphasis is on the device.

Enterprise choice management is a new approach that manages the technology, policies and compliance to return the focus to choice.

CatalogIQ: A value-add for resellers, system integrators and managed service providers

CATALOGIQ Simplifies End-User Computing

Managed service provision, system integration and end-user-computing (EUC) is no longer just about resellers, managing laptops and desktops. Ever-shrinking margins mean that you need to be more efficient – and creative – in the services you provide.

How do you better integrate client users into the new world of IT, increase the productivity of your clients’ businesses and save both you and your client cost, thereby differentiating yourself further from your competitors?

CatalogIQ simplifies EUC. It is the next generation IT service catalogue. CatalogIQ is a self-service portal that replaces your tired, old client interface with something powerful and intuitive. Clients get a familiar, easy-to-use online shopping experience.

The product vision came from our own experiences as IT and Service Delivery Managers, implementing various service management tools into organisations over the past six years. We have been through this journey a number of times, each time engaging consultants – at a considerable cost to our organisation – to build the same front-end systems for our service management tool. There was nothing ready-made on the market that we could simply implement. So instead of continuing this pattern, we decided to build a better product ourselves.

Here’s a Quick Overview

CatalogIQ is an enterprise catalogue platform, for IT services, software and devices, which draws inspiration from the best consumer online experiences and brings them into the enterprise.

  • It’s enterprise choice management at its best.

  • CatalogIQ changes the face of IT - the focus is on users and their experience.
  • Creating the best end-user experience is key; your managed service is more streamlined, more beautiful, and more appreciated.
  • We have thousands of devices (PCs, laptops, phones etc.) pre-configured in our master catalogue, so it’s only a few clicks to create a customised catalogue for your client. Software and services are also easily added to your unique catalogue.
  • Clients can keep their current ITIL based service management platform in place. Integration is ridiculously simple.

Devicedesk - Building an Australian ISV

As originally published here in ARN

ARN: Devicedesk - Building an Australian ISV

Software innovation is top of agenda in Australia today, with a host of new businesses emerging to service a blossoming market.

 

Holly Morgan (ARN)
08 December, 2016 10:53

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When documenting the rapid rise of a technology start-up, the cutting-edge creativity of an entrepreneur is best captured through the flickering glow of new ideas.

Yet for Anthony Stevens, in building an Australian-made ISV, Devicedesk was not a light bulb idea.

Rather a process of working through parts of a jigsaw puzzle, wondering what can and should be different in IT.

“There are always challenges when starting a business,” Stevens acknowledged.

Founded in late 2014, the Melbourne-based company creates process and productivity analytics software for businesses of all sizes across Australia, striking key vendor partnerships with Microsoft, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Workday and Zendesk along the way.

Despite being young at heart, the Devicedesk team has collectively spent decades assessing how to instigate fundamental enterprise change, utilising emerging technologies such as hyper-scale computing, big-data and machine learning.

Essentially, Stevens is tapping into the industry’s insatiable appetite for cloud application services, with software-as-a-service (SaaS) forecast to grow 20.3 percent in 2016, reaching $US37.7 billion globally.

“We have seen big changes in how organisations use SaaS vendors such as Salesforce, Workday and Microsoft,” Stevens said.

“Through the advancements in new technologies, we believe there’s an ongoing opportunity to allow organisations to better understand its use of software across the entire business.”

Targeting the “more progressive CIO”, Devicedesk represents a new breed of Australian start-ups, start-ups built from the ground up with software innovating from the epicentre.

Operating as an enterprise catalogue platform for IT services, software and devices, Stevens said Devicedesk draws inspiration from leading consumer online experiences, before bringing them into the Australian enterprise.

“Organisations sign up for licenses with different providers, deploy these licenses internally but then struggle to assess usage rates which subsequently makes it difficult to attach value to the investment,” he explained.

Insightcentr

Underpinning Devicedesk’s offering is Insightcentr, which marks the company’s entry into the IoT and analytics market.

As a recently released SaaS solution, Insightcentr is designed to allow businesses to better understand software utilisation and workforce productivity by providing time-oriented reporting into web or desktop software usage.

The software has been developed in partnership with Microsoft and leverages Microsoft Power BI for analytics and reporting.

“Insightcentr is a proprietary software designed to run on PCs to understand the level of usage of any software that is running on the computer,” he explained.

“The software understands what the user is actually using versus what is running.”

Leveraging the Microsoft Azure platform, Insightcentr works through the use of a lightweight agent that runs on Microsoft Windows, creating the modern day equivalent of a digital time-and-motion study.

Consequently, Stevens said data can be accessed and aggregated on an anonymous basis to ensure privacy is maintained.

“Insightcentr negates the typical situation of half a dozen tabs open in a browser - such as Microsoft Word or Excel - that are running, but largely just sitting dormant in the background,” he added.

“Insightcentr provides an understanding of what the user is actually looking at or what is in focus.

“We use that information, we capture it on an aggregate basis and we can then get a picture into the profile of use of particular software across the organisation.”

Stevens said businesses are deploying Insightcentr internally to build a clearer profile of workforce usage, uncovering what and how staff utilise software.

“Businesses can then launch a change initiative as a result,” he said. “It also helps organisations think about the adoption of software.

“For example, a business may have recently deployed a large CRM project and are considering how to best drive adoption.”

Developed via a Microsoft BizSpark partnership - designed to facilitate start-up growth - Insightcentr provides usage analytics for multiple software platforms including DocuSign, Microsoft Dynamics, Office 365, Salesforce and SAP.

Data is then available for structured or ad-hoc reporting through Microsoft Power BI alongside any other corporate data.

“We worked closely with Microsoft’s PowerBI product teams to build out Insightcentr,” Stevens added.

“Insightcentr is very unique and we don’t think there is anything in the market that currently competes directly with the product.

“While the industry already has providers who can document what’s been installed on PCs or desktops across an organisation, Insightcentr provides businesses a clearer picture of what has actually been used and adopted.’

Labelled as “the second cab off the rank” by Stevens, the introduction of Insightcentr follows Devicedesk’s first foray into the Australian software market, through CatalogIQ.

Enabling organisations to order devices, software and services, the offering integrates with Autotask, ConnectWise, ServiceNow and Zendesk.

“We designed CatalogIQ for most of last year and upon going to market, the product took off immediately,” he said.

Built as a result of years of senior IT leadership experience for both Stevens and CTO, Greg Rudakov, the overriding concept of Devicedesk is capturing the imagination of businesses at a national and international level.

In New Zealand, managed services provider, Base 2, selected Devicedesk to help drive the company’s B2B eCommerce strategy, bringing the Australian start-up across the Tasman in the process.

“We are proud of the innovation that continues to come out of Australia, but we also have our sights set on expanding our capabilities overseas,” Stevens added.

“The business environment is right for us as organisations have an increasing appetite to try out new ways of working.”

Leveraging the channel

As the company continues to build out new solutions locally, Stevens outlined its dependence on the channel to help drive greater levels of productivity across organisations.

Specifically, Devicedesk is aligning closely with system integrators, managed service providers and technology consultants to realise the emerging opportunities of an expanding market.

“We have a specific strategy around the channel,” he explained. “Firstly, we are looking for partners offering software asset management type services, alongside end-user assistance around getting the most out of licensing spend.

“Secondly, we’re looking to work with consulting providers that offer process and reengineering services to companies, using Insightcentr to help customers understand how they work.”

Going to market through the Devicedesk Reseller Program, Stevens said the company is actively engaging with large-scale system integrators and management consulting providers in Australia, as the company seeks further expansion through its channel.

“We’re very focused on listening to the channel and our customers in relation to what we are doing,” he added. “It helps us grow as a company and also ensures our products fit the market.

Spanning both product offerings, Stevens is launching a two-pronged approach to the channel, built around selling and using Devicedesk solutions to improve business productivity.

“With CatalogIQ, we see opportunities for both the channel in terms of taking our solution to market, but also in adopting the solution internally to help sell more effectively to customers” he added.

“Insightcentr also represents a unique opportunity for resellers to differentiate in terms of what they currently offer organisations, through simplifying end-user computing.”

Through an emerging business, and an emerging channel, Devicedesk is operating at the cutting-edge of the Australian software market, representing a new breed of technology company, a company that identifies a business problem and builds a ready-made solution in response.

“We’re not a consumer technology company, we’re not a Fintech company and we’re not only focused on productivity enabling software,” Stevens added.

“We have lots of ideas across all ends of the spectrum and are executing on those plans today.”

Driven by an unrelenting entrepreneurial spirit, Stevens’ ambition is simple - to ensure Devicedesk is the enterprise shopfront for IT.

“But you still need the confidence and appetite for risk to put your brand and proposition out into the market in the first place,” he cautioned.

Forbes: Predicting the future of B2B e-Commerce

A few weeks ago, Forbes published a piece exploring the future and growth opportunities for businesses with B2B commerce. Everyone knows how the B2C market has been revolutionized through online commerce however it is still relatively early days on the B2B front. We’d have to agree with author Louis Columbus that born-in-the-cloud e-commerce systems are innovating at a pace that outdistances and outshines legacy on-premise systems.  With the focus shifting to user experience, support for multi-tier distribution selling and advanced pricing and order workflow, the revolution for B2B e-commerce market is just beginning.  Forbes supports this view citing that 56% of B2B buyers expected to buy more than half of their work purchases online within the next 3 years.

“The most successful (manufacturers) so far are relying on the born-in-the-cloud B2B e-Commerce platforms that scale to support entirely new e-commerce strategies” said Louis Columbus.

We are on the cusp of something big with a new era of automation and opportunities for customer engagement and, ultimately, a more profitable business model.  Both manufacturers and wholesalers need to go beyond simply competing on price and deliver excellent customer user experiences.  It’s the cloud-based services that are most adaptive and quick to support new business models, multi-tenancy, advanced pricing and varied workflows.

The team at Forbes cite six reasons that will define the future of B2B e-Commerce:

  1. B2B buyers expect a high-quality user experience across all channels and are loyal as a result.  Amazon have set the bar high for the B2C market.  Customers are starting to expect a similar user experience within the B2B market.
  2. Born-in-the-cloud is the way to go for lower TCO.
  3. Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) capabilities are becoming increasingly preferred as a way to provide an individual experience.
  4. Integration is key to avoid errors and impacts customer experience.  Born-in-the-cloud B2B e-commerce platforms have order management designed in from the very beginning, making it possible to synchronize order processing across all channels.
  5. Workflow, negotiated price lists, complex product configurations are key capabilities.
  6. Providing unique e-Commerce buying experiences for distributors, partners, dealers, services providers and OEM’s is driving the future of B2B e-Commerce.

Forbes article originally published here written by Louis Columbus. A great read thanks Louis!

It's all about people and choice

Have you noticed how employees are often more aware of the availability of new devices than members of your own IT department?

As a CIO at a number of organisations over the past decade, I’ve supported the focus on the ITIL process model: in simple terms, running IT well.

The theory is that if the processes are streamlined and efficient, people can get stuff fixed quickly and everyone has ready access to what they need.

As a general concept, it’s hard to criticise, but things are changing.  The consumerisation of IT, rapid changes in the way business is done, and a changing demographic all mean that expectations in the workplace and of the IT department are changing.

MEETING THE CHANGING NEEDS OF EMPLOYEES

Increasingly employees are not just tech savvy; they are attuned to the latest developments in devices, form factors and software.

It makes sense to provide employees with choice and to engage them in decisions affecting their productivity and contribution.

Engaging employees to choose the tools they need to be productive is also a great chance to promote the policies that govern the appropriate use, security and support of those tools in the workplace.

This is where initiatives such as CYOD and its variants come into play.

BALANCING THE NEEDS OF THE ENTERPRISE

From the organisation’s point of view it needs to be about more than simply providing the employee with choice; the organisation needs visibility, control, policies and compliance and all these factors must be managed together.

The main factors at the core of any initiative are the employee and the provision of choice.  The device itself is simply the subject of that choice.

Adopting this shift in perspective encourages us to consider how the whole choice-based initiative can be effectively managed as part of an enterprise-wide approach.

By this I mean that the initiative extends beyond the IT focus to embrace the considerations and compliance required from multiple perspectives: People & Culture, Finance & Procurement, Security & Compliance.

THE SOCIAL FACTOR AND PRODUCTIVITY

We know that nothing operates in isolation and it would be an Imprudent CIO who considered technology to the exclusion of everything else.

Organisations leading the charge in innovative choice initiatives are typically at the forefront because they recognise the importance of people and culture.  One of the most interesting aspects of the people and culture focus is the power of social networking among peers, within a profession and across the enterprise.

If we accept that most of the intellectual property in a business resides with the people in its employ, nothing makes more sense than engaging and empowering those people to be happier and more productive.

How device choice can change the game for your organisation

Imagine you’re about to start a new job. You’ve managed to land a great opportunity to showcase your skills, individuality and ability to make a difference in an organisation. Maybe, you’ve even landed a pay rise. Life’s good, and this is an exciting time for you.

As your first days unfold, you’ll inevitably request and perhaps even receive your assigned computing device from the IT department.

You know your working style better than anyone, you know your preference for a laptop or desktop, or screen size, or storage, or computing power. So, you would expect to have input into which device you’re expected to use every working day, possibly for the next few years, wouldn’t you?

Or has someone in IT, who knows nothing about you, made that choice for you?

EVERYBODY IS THE SAME, RIGHT?

For a long time, the CIO or IT department has decreed the systems to be used, and allocated the same PC to everyone alike. After all, if everyone is using the same office suite and same core business applications, there’s no requirement to offer other choices as it needs only to be ‘fit for purpose’. The ‘purpose’ in this case, has been defined solely by IT.

When you run an IT department, consistency and conformity make sense. You save money by having fewer options because you get a better price by buying in volume and there’s also less variance in the technology you need to train your support staff in. It makes a big difference.

And this is all very efficient in isolation, but it’s a false economy in terms of the productivity potential of the greater organisation. Consider the logic of saving $100 on a PC purchase, but in return constraining or worse frustrating an employee for their every working hour?

CONSUMERISATION: DISRUPTOR OF THE IT DEPARTMENT

Since the introduction of smartphones, tablets and ‘apps’ into our everyday lives, we have been exposed to an unprecedented level of empowerment and productivity. But what about the workplace? Suddenly the IT department, who historically were the only ones capable of decoding the complexity of technology, are now being given (or is that demanded?) the solutions.

The value of technology in organisations is shifting from provision to consumption. When you think about it, productivity is ultimately derived from those who consume IT services, not those who provide it.

Recognising that many employees are now connected and tech-savvy, IT departments have responded by letting people bring their personal devices into the workplace (commonly referred to as BYOD). But this ultimately creates a challenge for both parties. In order to protect internal systems and information on an ‘uncontrolled’ personal device, controls and policies need to be put in place. Inevitably it becomes a compromise – harder and more complex to support, which is not good for IT, and less functional which takes all the benefit out of bringing your own device in the first place.

This of course is a classical IT approach to the problem, focusing on systems and devices and not people.

BYOD IS SYMPTOMATIC OF A LACK OF CHOICE

There is a different approach that returns the focus to choice and the employee’s needs. By adding additional device options and reconsidering the technology usage policy, the IT department can quickly cater to the many different work styles present in your organisation. Without losing control. And keeping people happy.

And this needn’t come at a great cost to IT, for that same world of new technology that disrupted the IT department, is also there to help.

CatalogIQ was designed to make the transition from authoritarian IT department to people-centric IT department easy. Employees are empowered to make informed, guided choices from a catalogue of technology and business services in an experience that more closely resembles a high–end online shopping site than a typical corporate IT system.

The distinction is deliberate and, while the front end is unashamedly consumer focused, powerful policy engines sort out not only which items are presented for consideration, but also coordinate the approvals and compliance features demanded by enterprises.

The world has changed, it’s time to think differently about how your current and future employees interact with technology in your organisation.