PUBLICATION: ENGINEERING NEWS DATE: 13 MAY 2010 The Nerve Centre – the frontline of managed ICT service provision say pioneers at Integr8 Market interest in establishing a high-tech, fully equipped hub within a company in order to centralise, digitise and automate customer relationship management is on the rise. This is the view of Robert Sussman, joint CEO at the Integr8 Group and co-founder of the company’s Nerve Centre®. Sussman says that in addition to a continually increasing demand for reliable infrastructure and cost-effective applications to handle the dynamics of modern corporate communication, clients require a partner with the resources to offer total support in order to guarantee no downtime. The reality of operating within any industry and sector today is that decision makers are compelled to scrutinise ICT management options and consider which of these would lead to optimum levels of operation and better service to customers he adds. The option to go the ‘co-source’ route, loosely defined as a scenario in which a client invests in the services and support of a partner to ensure operations of infrastructure, but still retain a degree of control, is gaining popularity. “We have noticed an increase in this method of infrastructure management. As a managed services provider that remains ahead of innovation and global best practices within the managed information and communication technology service space, we are cognisant of the role that a nerve centre operation or technology hub plays in modern customer relationship management,” adds Sussman. Management at the Integr8 Group has, over its near-ten year operation, invested heavily in its Nerve Centre®. Manned 24/7/365 by technical experts and call centre agents, this mission-critical area of the Integr8 business is also dependent on the individual and specific input of various teams, including First Line Call Resolvers, Remote Support Team broken down into technology verticals of excellence and escalations to its Consulting Services Teams. “Each facet of the nerve centre operation impacts on the overall service. We have worked out and configured this digital hub of people, processes and technology so that it can handle challenges as they arise and can perform mission-critical remote support and customer service management. In keeping with our general mandate to offer service that distinguishes and differentiates the company within a competitive market, we have structured the Nerve Centre to automatically prioritise calls and match up details with specific levels of an overall service portfolio,” Sussman continues. In the process of establishing a comprehensive Nerve Centre®, the Integr8 Group management set up a number of conditions and rules. Amongst the most significant of these is that key aspects such as Incident and Problem Management, based on the ITIL framework, is tailored to always reach the objective of resolving the root cause of incidents and minimising the adverse impact of these on a client’s business. “The foundation of our nerve centre is such that it allows for different levels to handle different types of questions. The first-level nerve centre is prepared to answer the most commonly asked questions, or provide resolutions that often belong in a frequently asked questions section or knowledge base. Typically, an incident tracking system has been implemented that allows a logging process to take place at the onset of a call. If the issue isn’t resolved at the first-level, the ticket is escalated to a second, higher level that has the necessary resources to handle more difficult calls. Also note that Integr8IT has a third level line of support which often deals with software specific needs, such as updates, projects, server application and bug-fixes that affect the client directly,” Sussman explains. “Time is set aside for analysts to perform tasks like following up problems, returning phone calls, and answering questions via e-mail. The roster system ensures that all analysts get time to follow up on calls, and also ensures that analysts are always available to take incoming phone calls, which are, for the most part, random in nature.” The setup has worked wonders for the company Sussman and its success in remote technical support and meaningful client interaction and account management. “We have positioned this centre as the epicentre of our service portfolio. It is multifunctional and provided users with a central point to receive help on various computer issues. The Nerve Centre® typically manages its requests via custom helpdesk software (that is integrated into the clients software or used as the sole portal), as a ticket tracking system that allows them to track user calls, with a unique ticket number. The helpdesk software is an extremely beneficial tool when used to find, analyze, and eliminate common problems in an organization’s computing environment, Sussman continues. “Since the inception of the nerve centre, the market has recognised that the real value of this offering is derived from not only reacting positively and proactively to users’ issues, but from the unique position of the helpdesk. This important customer interface area communicates daily with numerous customers or employees. This gives this invaluable centralised technology resource the ability to monitor the user’s environment for issues from technical problems, advanced application level variance to user preferences and satisfaction. Such information gathered at the Nerve Centre is valuable in planning and preparation to other units within information technology,” he adds. According to Sussman the ongoing relevance of virtualisation, cloud-based service delivery and cost reduction in resource management will continue to drive industry and will ensure that a centralised technology hub always warrants serious consideration among decision makers.