I love conferences. What could be better than going to a place filled with people that want to share their knowledge and experiences with you?
Looking at the conference schedule for PINK14 what occurred to me were just how many people there are out there that want to relinquish ownership of their insight and experiences to help others and their organizations to grow, develop and thrive.
My Favourite Keynotes
The opening keynote from celebrated retired astronaut and social media superstar Cmdr Chris Hadfield was awe-inspiring. I thought that Jo Salter, keynote at ITSM13 was the most fearless person I had heard speak for flying a fighter jet, but I think being shot up into space sat on a rocket kind of takes the biscuit.
Cmdr Hadfield’s messages were simple:
The right team can achieve anything. Even when there are cultural and language divides if you work together with a good leader then anything is possible
Plan to fail not succeed. In order to be ready for anything that is thrown at you it has to be planned for and you have to learn from those potential failures. It’s no good being stuck not knowing what to do 220 miles above the earth.
Visual failure first, visualizing success is a waste of time. #Pink14
Inspirational speaker and social entrepreneur Caroline Casey gave an impassioned and thought provoking keynote on disability and how differences in people should be valued and respected.
Being diagnosed legally blind at a young age Caroline relived her experiences of being treated differently once those around her knew the truth and about her personal struggles functioning after admitting to herself that she had a disability. I am positive to the point of being irritating and yet I am unsure whether I would have stayed this way had I had to overcome the difficulties Caroline has experienced in her life. I left the keynote feeling humbled and determined.
Caroline Casey’s raw tenacity to not let heart break keep her down. Amazingly inspiring & puts our small challenges in perspective #Pink14
Caroline’s challenge to attendees was to change the mindsets and behaviors surrounding disability for yourself, your organization and those around you. Takeaways from this highly motivational session are that failure should never end you or define you and positivity can get you through anything.
“When you hit rock bottom you will find things out about yourself that you never knew.” ~@carolinekanchi#Pink14
Widening the scope of ITSM into other areas of the business interests me greatly and having experience of accidentally achieving this at a previous company I was interested to see how Mohawk Industries had actually planned and succeeded in this.
Joshua’s session was a case study into how they had first searched for the teams/departments using spreadsheets and notepads to record what they do in order to make the most impact and show other areas of the business what could be achieved.
If this is an area you are interested in I recommend checking out the slides via Pink Elephant when they are available.
The Clarity Principle: How Great Leaders Make the Most Important Decisions in Business (& What Happens When They Don’t) – Robin Hysick, Pink Elephant
Robin’s session was based on a book of the same name authored by Chatham Sullivan. The principles of the session were that your organization must find purpose and clarity to create your guiding path and succeed.
“Purpose is your organisation’s most precious asset. It is the reason why you exist, and your guiding path.” ~@hysick#Pink14
This session was coded as Beginner and although I think that the information contained gave an interesting overview to practitioners on how a business or organization should be run to succeed there wasn’t much in the way of salient advice on how to achieve this from a lower position of authority.
Perhaps a section on who each session would be most suitable for could be added to next years schedule?
Change the Culture, Change the Game – Troy DeMoulin, Pink Elephant
I’m going to hold my hands up now and say that I didn’t look online for the full session descriptions. Next time I will as I think I would maybe have chosen different sessions as I am an avid reader and everyone knows that movies are never as good!
I have to say though I really did enjoy this session.
Troy started the session with a confession that until he read this book he believed that you could change behavior but not culture – something that I was inclined to agree with. By the end of the session however I could see that by not treating being accountable as something that happens to you and your team when you mess up, but as a necessary and positive step towards growth, both the behaviour and the culture of the organization can change.
I can’t wait to dig deeper by reading the book.
On a general note I have to say that the speakers were of a very high calibre with good content. The session rooms were generally heavily undersubscribed and several attendees noted that it would have been better to have fewer sessions and fuller rooms.
As a testament to Pink and The Bellagio it was only when the conference had finished that I noticed I had not complained about uncomfortable chairs, sun shining in my eyes or not being able to hear speakers properly. Praise indeed from me.
My only real issue with the conference was the lack of a set lunch period. I understand completely why this was done but found that on certain days I could go to a much looked forward to session or have lunch, not both. Sorry Karen Smith but a girls got to eat! Hope to catch another session soon.
All in all a fabulous experience which I hope to repeat.
Thank you to everyone that took part in making PINK14 such a wonderful experience.
This was my first time attending the Pink Elephant conference and I must say, I was very impressed. I had heard that Pink is the “must-attend” service management conference and I’m pleased to say that Pink did not disappoint. The Pink staff, the sessions, and the people all are top notch, even the food was great. To post every highlight would simply be impossible but here are the “standout” items (at least in my mind)
There were multiple keynotes across the conference, but there were two in particular that really stood out for me.
Commander Chris Hadfield – Commander Hadfield fulfilled my boyhood dream; become an astronaut. What stood out to me in his presentation was the human that he is. Simply the person that he is was what was inspiring about his session. His recollections of the moment he looked out of the windows of the International Space Station at the beautiful thin slice of world we inhabit. The recollection of struggling to understand a Russian-speaking colleague. His memory of helping lead thousands of school children in a song (he truly capitalized on the opportunity of the song lyric “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony…”.). There isn’t any doubt that Commander Hadfield is an incredible man.
My takeaway – Practice Failure. His stories of how he and the ISS team dealt with emergencies all lead back to the practice of situations that might. Success is an important trait for many of us, but are we successful because we practice success or because we practice failure?
Caroline Casey – There are those moments when you see some step onto a stage and you just know they are genuine. And then there is Caroline Casey. This woman’s story is incredible, moving, and tugs at your heart. Her outer beauty is truly diminished by her inner beauty.
My takeaway – A disability is in the eye of the beholder. We all have our disabilities. How are you working to make yours an ability?
Takeaways from the conference
There were many, but here is my top seven:
Over the next year, IT will be squeezed like never before. IT teams will need to make tough decisions on the services they offer and how to collaborate with other/external providers. Demonstrating value to the business will be more critical. The ability to act with agility will become a greater differentiator.
Strategy still matters. In my discussions with many of the attendees, strategy seemed to be the sticking point in adoption plans. Many of those I interacted with are looking back at their strategic development of services to ensure the business is able to see the value their IT team provides.
Discussions around buzzwords seem to be diminishing. While CMDB and BYOD were topics on the session agenda, they were not mentioned as frequently as words like leadership, management and value.
The business will be looking to IT to prove value
Culture is the next great differentiator
IT generally does not understand how to work/use governance. The business is depending on IT to fit into existing governance models OR to advise on changes. Does IT have skills in this area?
There is and will continue to be a multitude of framework/methodology options. There is not a “cookbook” for service management. Be like an “Iron Chef” – make something dazzling with your secret ingredient – IT needs to become a “melting pot” – input/ideas from areas mixed into a delightful concoction that will please the palette of the business
I had the good fortune to meet many of the people I interact with on Twitter for the first time at Pink14. There are too many to mention here and I would most likely forget someone, but please allow me to say:
It was an honour to meet you
Thanks for the time you spent discussing service management with me and for those who were out with me at all hours
The pictures aren’t getting posted anywhere!
It truly was a great gathering and I look forward to seeing everyone again soon!
As day one of PINK14 comes to a close I am feeling somewhat frazzled. In Vegas nothing is modest and reserved and PINK14 is no different.
Held in the beautiful and ostentatious Bellagio hotel the sheer number of sessions is frankly mind boggling and trying to decide which to attend leaves you wishing cloning yourself were an option. Luckily the majority are repeated to make missing anything you really want to see unlikely.
Opened with a far too energetic lycra clad Wonder Woman dancing her way to the stage the Super Hero theme has continued throughout the day with the message that we can all be IT Super Heroes.
Both keynote speakers, retired Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield and social entrepreneur Caroline Casey gave rousing and emotional talks with audiences reaching for the Kleenex on several occasions.
Both told truly inspirational stories on what can be done when you dare to dream and follow those dreams through. Both presentations were also laced with great advice applicable to any IT service management organization.
@Cmdr_Hadfield Leadership: The Art Of influencing human behaviour to accomplish a mission in a manner desired by the leader. #Pink14
One of the many selling points for attendees of the annual Pink Elephant conferences (so I am told) is the quality of after-hours conversations. Often taking place over a meal or a beer, but often limited in their exposure outside of those party to them (and potentially the inability to remember what was said the following day).
So this year an attempt was made to formalise and capture the essence of such conversations – the Pink Think Tank. Where a pre-selected group of the ITSM industry’s deep thinkers spent a day discussing the main issues faced by corporate IT organisations before focusing on just one – from problem definition through to potential solutions. This was then fed back to the conference via a panel session today, with a Q&A session to follow on Wednesday.
The issue the think tank chose was: the complexity of multi-supplier value streams. Where the traditional IT function is faced with two discrete pressures:
A need to change to accommodate the needs of more agile businesses; and
The group’s solution statement pointed to a number of discrete areas/activities that need to be addressed (see the link below), headlined by the statement that IT really needs to start understanding the business. And the concept of IT needing to deal with commoditisation, innovation, and complexity simultaneously.
There was also a practical set of activities for attendees to address on their return to the workplace. Hopefully making the efforts of the Think Tank more relevant and accessible to attendees. With a commitment to create supporting documents to supplement the initial outputs.
If you are at Pink14, then look out for the Q&A session on Wednesday. If not, Rob England has shared the group’s first outputs on Slideshare. It also details those involved. In addition Rob himself will be providing a written article for us post-PINK detailing the entire Pink Think Tank process. In the meantime let us know what you think.
There was also the announcement today that Attivio who won the PINK 2013 IT Excellence Award for Innovation Of The Year. So huge congratulations to those guys!
I can’t finish without mentioning the networking opportunities that been fantastic so far with a special pink cocktail created specially for the occasion, and in the exhibition hall there was a great mix of old hands and first time vendors and a certain penguin that seems to be everywhere these days.
It’s hard to really go into detail about the specific presentations live from the floor, but stay tuned for more in depth reviews of the sessions and Barclay Rae’s podcast.
Today at the Pink Annual Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, AXELOS made a number of announcements from launching new products to introducing new members of the team. In the coming days we will be publishing a video interview with some of the AXELOS team to discuss said announcements in more detail, until then a brief summary can be found below.
A key announcement today was the news that AXELOS is to develop a new cybersecurity portfolio designed to help commercial organizations and governments around the world combat the risk of cyber attacks.
Another announcement from @AXELOS_GBP: latest addition to the best practice portfolio is CYBER SECURITY #pink14#ITSM
The AXELOS cybersecurity portfolio, to be launched in the second half of 2014, will include best practice guidance, training materials and certification, simulations and tools – all designed to assess, benchmark and improve an organization’s cyber resilience capabilities.
AXELOS CEO, Peter Hepworth, said “The cyber risks are clear and there are more policies and standards being published – but organizations are still searching for the right, pragmatic way to make these part of day-to-day business operations. The new AXELOS cybersecurity portfolio will provide that practical ‘how-to’ management advice.”
Additions to the team
In addition to the new cybersecurity portfolio, AXELOS announced the appointment of Kaimar Karu as the new Director of ITIL. Kaimar will be responsible for a number of things in his new role, but first and foremost his focus will be on looking at the overall ITIL strategy.
Kaimar’s experience will be of huge benefit to AXELOS, specifically his knowledge of DevOps. Also, as many of us know, Kaimar is an active member of the online community and has strong connections with the itSMF (he is currently president of itSMF Estonia), which means he has a good sense of what is really important to people when it comes to ITIL.
AXELOS are also welcoming Nick Wilding as Director of Cybersecurity. As Nick was not present at the conference, there was little information shared specific to his role but we hope to hear more in the coming weeks.
Further to these two additions, it was also announced that AXELOS will be working more closely with Stuart Rance and Kenneth Gonzalez moving forward. Stuart will be responsible for authoring the guidance associated with the new best practice portfolio for cybersecurity, whilst Kenneth will be assisting with broadening the AXELOS global footprint. Kenneth will also be looking at how to bridge the gap between the customer and service provider.
In addition to the announcements at PINK14, AXELOS also issued a press release last week on expanding its senior management team with two new appointments. Daryl Flack and Kelvyn Lien-Hicks will join as Chief Information Office (CIO) and Sales and Marketing Director respectively.
Daryl brings to AXELOS 14 years experience in delivering technology solutions and business transformation. Having worked internationally across a variety of business sectors, most recently Daryl was the divisional Chief Technology Officer for a UK-based FTSE 50 organization responsible for the technology strategy across many private and public sector contracts. Kelvyn also brings significant experience to the AXELOS team having worked for 20 years in the international sales and marketing arena, specializing in the education and e-learning sectors.
The appointment of Daryl and Kelvyn completes the senior management team at AXELOS:
In a presentation this morning led by Frances Scarff, AXELOS also showcased new research. At the end of 2013 they sought to validate their ITIL roadmap and thus arranged an independent assessment of 380 global organizations. The aim of the research was to see how the AXELOS value proposition relates to different organizations of different sizes.
AXELOS also announced it will launch a new partner programme with strategic, academic and sales partners. Little detail has been given on the initiative thus far, but we can expect to hear much more about this as their plans develop.
#axelos partners will be offered marketing, PR, information support, also partner roundtables held globally #PINK14
Whilst many still remain dubious about AXELOS and the future of ITIL, it is clear to see that they are listening to the community and acting on feedback. For example, hiring Kaimar and working with Kenneth is a clear sign that AXELOS does not intend to be a UK-centric operation, something that everyone will be very glad to see.
As Peter himself said, “it’s going to be a great year”.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Kaimar, Nick, Daryl and Kelvyn on their new roles at AXELOS on behalf of all of everyone at ITSM Review. Congratulations also to Stuart and Kenneth on their involvements.
All the latest news from AXELOS can be found on the AXELOS website, Google+ and @AXELOS_GBP on Twitter. If you have specific queries around any of the announcements please contact Ask@AXELOS.com.
In May 2003, Nicholas Carr wrote a Harvard Business Review article entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter”. In it Mr. Carr proposed that IT was, and remember this was just after the dot.com bust, being marginalized and could be thought of as a commodity.
Seems that thinking hasn’t changed much in the past 10 or so years. IT is challenged daily to just keep the lights on, at best, and, if all goes well, maybe try to keep up with the needs of the business much less get ahead of the game.
For those of us who are immersed in IT Service Management, that thought, at times, is a bitter pill to swallow. It is true to that the table stakes for IT is to maintain and manage operational stability but there is more to a day, week or month in the life of IT than KTLO. If we truly embrace the notion of a service – “delivering value by facilitating customer outcomes” – then staying abreast of or anticipating and preparing for the future of the business is or should be the IT mantra. The question is can IT do both?
Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford recently published The Phoenix Project. Their book develops a landscape of principles and practices that attempt to answer that question. The book, written as an allegory, focuses on the trials and tribulations of Bill Palmer, recently named VP of IT Operations at Parts Unlimited Inc.. From day one on the job Bill is challenged to first stabilize operations AND deliver on a mission critical project – a project that could spell disaster if it fails. As the story unfolds the authors highlight ideas that should be on every IT managers improvement opportunities list. I would think everyone would like to get a peek at practical advice for how to deal with:
Demanding business leadership
Overwhelming project list
At the upcoming Pink Elephant IT Service Management Conference, I will be presenting Sunday afternoon and again Wednesday morning some of my insights from the book.
There are many great discussion topics interlaced throughout the story. My focus during the session will be laser in on the results of when Bill reluctantly falls under the guidance and tutelage of Eric Reid, a candidate for the Board of Directors. Eric leads Bill through a set of hands on exercises to learn some key principles instrumental to elevating IT’s overall performance. Of the many insights, Eric continues to hammer home the need to focus on Bill finding ways for IT embrace the “3 Ways”.
First Way – Create a fast flow of works as it moves from Development into Operations”
Second Way – Shorten and amplify feedback loops to fix quality at the source and avoid rework
Third Way – Create a culture that simultaneously fosters experimentation, learning from failure and understanding that repetition and practice are prerequisites to mastery.
So why read The Phoenix Project
I have been recommending to my Pink Elephant clients to pick up a copy of the book and add it to their nightstand reading. Several reasons for this:
I’m sure you will find yourself at some point seeing your own situation through Bill’s eyes. I found the experience of reflection on the challenges Bill was having and some “ah-ha” solutions the authors brought forward would highly instructive, especially as conversation starters for ITSM teams at various stages of their program.
Many of the ideas that are being kicked around today in the blog-o-sphere and water cooler talk are fleshed out in a practical setting. Granted the circumstances don’t exactly match what my clients are dealing with but it isn’t a huge leap to find resonance with how the practices can be incorporated in their own ITSM program.
Lastly, it is a story after-all. One that we have all lived through to some extent. An entertaining read and, as one side note, there is some visceral pleasure in seeing the antagonist getting her comeuppance.
Why attend my session?
My focus for this session was to distill the many points and concepts that Bill and his team use to solve their challenges into a pragmatic approach for your ITSM program.
During my sessions I will dig deeper in to each of the three ways. For instance the in the First Way we will learn how IT must understand the 4 types of IT work and how that work is managed through what I call “the Funnel and the Pipe” or the IT Value Stream. In the Second Way we will talk about the “Tyranny of Technical Debt”, its sources and potential ways to avoid it. And finally my discussion of the Third Way will encompass Improvement Katas and DevOps.
I hope that you will add one of my sessions to your Conference Optimizer. If we don’t get a chance to connect during my workshops, then look for during the networking events each night.
This will be the best Pink Elephant Conference yet! I look forward to meeting you in Vegas – see you there.
One of the first articles we published on the ITSM Review back in 2011 described the market shift from consulting-heavy customized ITSM projects to the simplicity of ‘configure it yourself’ SaaS based offerings, and in particular the significant change in cost structure (‘The ITSM Pricing Ouch-o-meter).
Once upon a time the ability of suppliers to ‘darken the skies’ with consultants was a competitive feature. Nowadays organizations want sufficient autonomy to do things themselves, if not the mentoring pathway to get them there.
This independence provides agility. Ultimately the goal is to empower IT teams to stop on a sixpence and duck and weave as the business sees fit. To dramatically shorten the protracted cycle of budgeting and planning long term consulting engagements to turn the tanker.
So far, so groovy. But what does all this newfound ITSM agility do to the bottom line?
Opening the corporate kimono
The case study below, commissioned by EasyVista, digs into the financial impact of moving to a more agile ITSM system. Thank you to Benoit and Bob at Domtar for being so candid and sharing their financial data.
Kudos also to EasyVista for the confidence in allowing us to publish this case study verbatim. The responses below, which I hope you will find to be balanced and honest, have not been edited by EasyVista or exposed to the usual PR polish.
The transition to EasyVista
Previous Software: 10% of development in-house, 90% developed by external consultants
Development inhibited by costs and by the lack of flexibility in the tool.
Upgrades were made difficult by any customization.
After reviewing eleven different ITSM tools Domtar chose EasyVista.
Implementation began in Summer 2012
Now 5% – 10% is developed externally and over 90% – 95% is configured in house
Significantly lowered / eliminated development costs
Annual saving on ITSM Tool configuration costs: 89% (i.e. They are investing one tenth of their previous spend on changing their ITSM tool)
Reduction in ITSM tool annual maintenance: 75% (i.e. They are only paying 25% of their previous annual ITSM software maintenance bill)
Return on Investment:
The total first year EasyVista investment (software and implementation) was an estimated 113% of the previous annual maintenance and consulting bill. So in other words, Domtar were able to rip out the previous solution and replace it with a better system for just over the maintenance cost of the previous system.
In subsequent years maintenance is 25% of the previous contract
Consulting costs have been decimated.
Interview with Domtar
Q. Would you recommend this technology?
Yes. This technology has given us the flexibility to do everything we ever wanted. It is not perfect and like most things probably never will be. However, it has allowed us to reshape the way we deliver some of our IT services. It has allow us to integrate new way of doing things (SLA, Service Catalogue) that we thought would be impossible with our old tool. For the first time we are able to shape the tool to our process and not the other way around.
This tool has helped us transform they way we see service delivery, to better understand what we do and allowed us to push a vision for the future.
We want this tool to become the ERP of IT, to be the central repository for all the information, to be the source to answer questions about IT and to be more than just a ticket repository.
Q. Which feature(s) would you add to this product if you had the choice?
It is not so much an addition but some improvements. A more flexible self-service portal would be a great improvement. The portal is not configurable enough and a bit static. By giving it more flexibility we could have a better design and make it more user friendly. The way you order service is a bit confusing for end-user at first.
There is what they call wizards, which act as macros function and provide intelligence (Ex: complete a ticker, move an asset, assign a ticket etc.) Wizards do almost anything. They can be adapted but up to a certain point. It would be incredible if we could modify the existing wizard even more but most importantly create our own.
Q. Can you provide any examples of where the increased agility and responsiveness you mentioned have led to tangible improvements in service?
1. Rapid deployment cycle
We have a very rapid deployment cycle on any changes in the tool. We can implement any new configuration changes in an average on 1 week.
Some configuration can be done in a few hours while other requires more tests and will take 1-2 weeks. All this with minimal downtime (1-2 min for most changes).
We have a scheduled change every Thursday where we introduce fixes and improvement. On the other hand, some incidents are fixed live while people are in the system. In our old system, any changes would take several days to code and test (1-2 week total) and several hours downtime (4 in general) to implement.
2. Self-Service Portal
Our end users can now go online not only to enter service requests and incidents but also to track their tickets, something they could not do in the past.
This provides our end user with more flexibility on how they can communicate with us. Those who track their tickets by themselves also save a call at the service desk.
Every service (or tickets) is backed by a workflows to guide IT personnel through the process. It is no longer necessary for every IT member to know complex process by heart. The tool makes sure we go through every step.
Workflows make sure we engage the right people at the right time. The process knows when certain team are needed and are notified accordingly. Fewer mistakes are made and fewer things are forgotten.
4. SLO (Service Level Objective)
They were technically possible in the past but we felt they were easier to do in EasyVista. So for the first time we have SLO with our end-users. We do not call them SLAs because we did not sit down with our customer to agree on them. These are the objectives we have set for ourselves in the resolution of incidents.
We are proud to say that less than 10% of our incidents do not meet our SLOs. Something we could not do before. I would dare to say that pride was not even part of our vocabulary. The result is increased satisfaction and efficiency.
5. Reports, Dashboard and KPI
It was almost impossible to get the data out of Remedy easily or without Crystal reporting skills. This is no longer the case. The reporting tool in EasyVista gives us lot of information on operations very easily. We build hundreds of reports.
For the first time, we have numbers and information that let us understand what is going on in the fields. This has launched several initiatives for service quality improvement.
6. Service Catalogue
All tickets, configuration items and assets are linked to a service. This service chart is the basis of our IT management. It is also used for budgeting, resource planning, and project management. Everything IT does is linked to this service catalogue or service chart.
This allow us to understand what is in every service (CI, Asset, Applications etc.), what tickets are generated for every service, what requests are made for every service and of course how much every service costs. By reversing the process we can figure out how much each ticket costs.
This service centric approach has transformed the way IT delivers it services and allows us to answer the eternal question: What does IT do?
Domtar rate EasyVista
Q. Please provide a general rating of EasyVista:
Q. Please rate the ease of use and intuitiveness of EasyVista:
The back-end for IT people is very easy and good. Everything is easy to find and presented in one screen which make it simple. However, there is so much functionality available that it is sometimes hard to remember all the possibilities.
Q. What are the key strengths?
The flexibility. We can do literally anything if we put our mind to it. Even stuff they thought would be impossible a first.
It does not require any knowledge of programming language other than SQL query.
Q. What are they key weaknesses?
‘The sustainable paper company’
Industry: Fiber-Base technology company
Headquarters: Montreal, QC, Canada, Operations Center: Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA
Revenue $5.5BN (TSX: UFS, NYSE: UFS)
Founded 1848, 10,000+ employees
IT Team 250 staff, Service Desk 11 staff
The Domtar IT Team at a Glance
250 IT employees spread across North America
ITSM team is responsible for ITSM processes, tools and Asset Management
New ITSM tool implemented in 2012
Processes in place include: Incident, Service Request, Change, Knowledge, Procurement, Asset, CMDB
I will be interviewing a number of key ITSM industry people at the event for ITSM Review, so look out for that content in the very near future. As ever I will try to a cross section a number of views on the issues and challenges for the industry, with their take on what will be happening and developing in the next year or so.
I myself will be speaking on the subject of ‘2-Speed ITSM’ – a topic I first raised in a previous blog. The gist of this is that there is often a vast gulf between what we see, hear and talk about at these big industry events and the reality of working as a ‘hands-on’ practitioner in a delivery organisation.
Practitioner vs. Industry View
Of course I’d expect that new ideas, analysis and strategic thoughts are aired at these type of events – although in recent years I’ve often found that there are some big gaps between both what practitioners want from these events and what the ‘industry’ presents as important. This seems to work in two opposing directions – maybe it’s because I’ve contributed and been exposed to a lot of industry discussion over the last few years, but I am still amazed at how much ‘standard ITIL fare’ is presented at these shows – SMFUSION last year was the same, with only a small coterie of people in the ‘thank tank’ providing the insight into new ideas and ways of working. However there are also online events like TFT which generally portray a far more revolutionary and challenging approach to the status quo, perhaps at times at odds with the realities of practitioner life…?
I know from my own working experience that I often go from some futuristic and visionary discussions at conferences, to a ‘retro’ experience of 80s and 90s computing in some client organisations. There is also a regular challenge to the nature and value of ‘the conference’ experience itself – so much is online, so much can be done for communications and collaboration using digital media without leaving your home of office – what’s the point of going to these events at all?
I think its valid to question the nature of conferences, particularly those that still might follow traditional lines – with multiple streams, plenary sessions, workshops, training and of course a vendor exhibition. It does often feel like 2-speed conferences, serving a 2-speed industry…
I do feel that conferences can be really valid and valuable experiences, for all areas of the industry. There is really no substitute for face to face meetings and conversations, networking and group discussions (often in the bar) that help to forge business relationships, develop peer groups and expand knowledge and ideas across otherwise disparate groups of people.
I think our notion of what we can expect to gain from a conference does vary considerably in terms of our experience and expectations, place in the industry, plus also in relation to our view of what a conference actually is.
So it’s useful in advance to reflect on and revise our expectations of what we will want and get out of the event. If this is about learning or hearing some new stuff, then we need to research the programme to ensure we find the right sessions. If we are going to network and develop our contacts, maybe with some socialising, that is also completely valid. I do think that the buy/sell expectation is less and less valid these days, particularly since so much information is online – for many vendors it’s now more about making sure that you are seen and associated with central industry activity, rather than direct selling. I think ultimately for many practitioners these events are a great opportunity to meet other people like themselves and share experiences and ideas.
Overall whilst there is very little about a conference that you can’t do somehow elsewhere, it is in fact the multi-level activity and cauldron experience that is the real USP and makes the experience worthwhile.
So we’re not talking about just 2-speed but multi-speed, which is of course a real reflection of what working life is actually like. Our ITSM industry actually functions at both basic and advanced, simple and complex and futuristic and ‘vintage’ levels – all are valid and, when you attend one of these events, you can experience all of these in condensed form – all life is here…
Look forward to seeing you there – if you have a view or opinion you’d like to share, please search me out and we can have a chat or interview if that suits… You can also contact me in advance. ITSM Review’s Rebecca Beach and Sophie Danby will also be in attendance. If you would like to schedule a meeting with either of them at the conference please contact ITSM Review.
Conferences like PINK14 are an amazing opportunity to network with your peers, learn new techniques and to re-ignite our passion for service management.
But you know what? As motivating as conferences can be, the most important question is “what do you do with the passion once you get home”? That’s the topic of my presentation at PINK14 entitled “Making Space for ITSM”.
So what do I mean by “making space”?
Well, if I’ve learned anything during my 30+ years in service management, I’ve learned that it takes practice and commitment. Service management needs to become a part of the daily routine, of both the practitioner and of the company.
In fact, anything worth doing in life takes practice – whether it is learning to play an instrument, mastering a sport or getting in-shape – practice makes perfect. The problem is that for many organizations and practitioners, service management is seen as a project and not as a practice.
Documenting a new change management process because of a recent catastrophic failure, implementing a new service management tool, or tweaking a process because of a bad audit finding, is often confused with a service management practice. It’s not that these things are bad unto themselves; it’s just that it’s a bit shortsighted.
We come back from our conference all fired up, but all our great intentions are quickly overshadowed by firefighting and the daily demands of the job. This noise gets in the way of a true practice.
Making space for service management means putting aside the time to do it right, and doing it right means following 5 critical steps.
Carve out some time for service management and make it a priority. In other words, there is a human element to the art of service management that can’t be ignored.
Develop a service management plan along with some short-term goals. Many ITSM failures stem from either a lack of a plan or an overly grandiose one. Focus on short term goals with measureable success criteria.
Build an alliance of co-workers because you can’t do service management alone. If ITSM tools are the embodiment of a process, then people are the soul. If you haven’t captured their support, ITSM will never succeed.
Create a structured and repeatable approach for implementing processes and tools. You can’t be all over the map; you need something that works consistently for your first process and well as your last.
Establish the discipline and governance to ensure an on-going program. Building a process and implementing a tool is the easy work. Accountability and buy-in is much harder – ensure you have management support and governance for your long-term program.
It’s been my experience, both as a practitioner, and as someone who practices service management in his own company, that following these steps is the best way to make real and lasting improvements.
In March of this year, we will be kicking off our product review dedicated to “Outside IT”, which will take a look at the use of ITSM technology outside the IT department.
The aim of this review is to showcase best of breed ITSM software in use outside the IT department, highlight key competitive differentiators and provide readers of The ITSM Review with impartial market intelligence to enable informed purchasing decisions.
The aim of the review is to support prospective buyers with their selection process by providing features to consider when selecting ITSM systems and highlighting key competitive differentiators between suppliers.
Outside IT – How can service management software, traditionally used to underpin the IT service desk, be applied to other area of the business to streamline operations and deliver more efficient services?
Main topics areas
How can new systems be built outside IT?
What expertise is required, what templates or processes are required?
How do end users / customers interact with the system?
How can engagement / interaction with customers be customized?
How are systems maintained – especially for non-IT users?
Solutions that do not include all of the criteria above will not necessarily score badly – the criteria simply define the scope of areas will be covered. The goal is to highlight strengths and identify differences, whilst placing every vendor in the best light possible.
Please note: The assessment criteria are just a starting point; they tend to flux and evolve as we delve into solutions and discover unique features and leading edge innovation. Identifying key competitive differentiators is a higher priority than the assessment criteria.
Vendors who wish to participate in this Outside IT product review should contact us directly. We also welcome feedback from readers on their experience with their use of ITSM tools outside IT (although this feedback will not directly impact this review).