I am heading to the US this week to visit Las Vegas for the Pink Elephant Conference and Exhibition – going via San Francisco to present at an “ITSM Meetup” event, but the main event will be the annual Pink-fest in Vegas.
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.
Find Barclay presenting at PINK14:
- Monday 17th February at 10.30am – 2-Speed ITSM