Orange, green, blue, purple – what colour is ITSM?

photo (2)PINK. The answer is still PINK.

PINK14 seem a long time ago now, and I have to confess that I am already secretly (although I guess it’s not a secret when I publish it in an article right?) planning my trip for PINK15.

There has already been a stream of blogs from people providing their thoughts on the conference:

So I guess I’m a little late to the ‘event review party’ (sheesh my legs are still tired from the theme park that was Vegas) but better late than never. So here goes my review.

My favourite sessions

The calibre of the sessions varied depending on the topic and the speaker, but two sessions in particular stood out for me:

  • Slow IT: Meet in the Middle (MITM) – Rob England
  • How to Create & Manage a Successful Service Catalog – Jack Probst

What I loved most about these two sessions was the audience. No offence to either presenter but there were times when I wasn’t giving them 100% of my attention, because I was too busy watching and listening to the delegates in the room.

Rob England

Rob discussed the need to slow down the pace of business demands on IT to focus better on what matters, and to reduce the risk to what already exists (you can view Rob’s presentation as part of TFT here). His session was laden with common sense, and his message clearly resonated with the audience.

There were lots of nodding heads and signs of agreements. There were ‘oohs and ahh’s’ every 5 minutes (to the point that if any one entered the session late they probably wondered what the heck was going on). There were cries from the audience of ‘how?’ and ‘yes!’ It was very entertaining and enlightening to watch, and I think it’s fair to say that Rob had a few new groupies by the time his presentation was over.

Jack Probst

Then there was Jack’s session on service catalog (let’s not have the argument about the spelling). And before I attended the conference a few people had recommended to me “if you only see one session make sure it’s one of Jack’s”, and I’m pleased to say that this will probably be the same advice I give to any new timers next year.

Jack is a very enthusiastic and passionate presenter. I confess that when I entered the room I thought I understood service catalog and when I left I wasn’t so convinced (it was a tad high level for little ol’ me), but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was question after question literally every five minutes from the audience (ok so maybe it wasn’t just me who found it high level) and once again the audience was very engaged. By the way if anyone saw my tweet about ITSM Review and service catalog, it was from this session.

What I loved most about this particular presentation though was not the actual session or topic, it was what happened after. I wanted to introduce myself to Jack given that the previous week he had written an article for us, and I had to wait a considerable amount of time to be able to do so. There was a very long line of people with questions.  All too often I see similar scenarios at events, and all too often I see very short responses given as answers, or occasionally no answers at all, but not with Jack. He gave clear answers and took contact details to provide even further information after the conference.

It’s interesting because many people raised the question of whether the PINK conference provided enough value to warrant the hefty conference price tag. My thoughts? If all the delegates did was attend these two sessions, then I would say they certainly got their money’s worth.

All the other sessions

A lot of people raised the suggestion that next year there should be less tracks and that presentations should be shorter, which I think is a fair comment.  There were many occasions when it felt a bit like Sophie’s Choice deciding which presentation to go to, not least when I had to make a decision between James Finister and Karen Ferris. James won solely on the fact that it was less distance for me to walk (the Bellagio is HUGE and I only have little legs … although not as little as Gobby Midget).

The keynotes on day one were incredible, and I think that PINK has quite a challenge on its hands finding anyone to match them next year. The keynotes on day two were sadly not as impressive, and along with many women I found the session by Josh Klein particularly poor. It was stereotypical and offensive. I appreciate that all of said stereotypical/offensive comments that he made were meant in good humour, but this is 2014 and jokes about women knowing nothing about tech and only being interested in shoes are not acceptable. There again I’d question whether there was ever actually a time when they were acceptable (although I wasn’t alive in the 1970s).

Anyway, enough of my thoughts for a second, let’s hear from a practitioner:

Currently our main aim at South African Reserve Bank is to be more service focused as well as looking at managing change and so my aim coming to PINK14 was to go to these types of sessions.

I was especially looking forward to Expanding ITSM Beyond IT: Providing Real Value to the Business by Joshua Smith – IT Service Management Team Lead at Mohawk Industries and I think I have taken away some useful points from the session.

We are currently moving to a new Service Desk tool provider and so I am looking forward to visiting the stand and getting to know the people there.

My favourite keynote has definitely been Caroline Casey, she was fantastic and very inspirational [unlike the keynote of Joshua Klein which I walked out of].

On the whole I would say that I have not had the “WOW that’s amazing I will definitely take this back with me” moment I was hoping for but I still think that the conference has been worthwhile.

– Siphiwe Mkwanazi – Head: Service Management Centre, South African Reserve Bank

Final thoughts

The theme was superheroes and I was suitably impressed with how PINK managed to ensure that the theme was present throughout the conference. The dressing up as superheroes and dancing through the ballroom wasn’t really my cup of tea, but that was simply a mismatch between American and British humour. It certainly drew plenty of laughs from the audience.

I won’t mention too much about the awards as you’ll be able to read articles from the winners here at ITSM Review over the coming weeks. However, what I will say is that at itSMF UK many of us complained that the award ceremony was too long and ‘went on a bit’, and yet at PINK we were complaining that the awards were a bit of a letdown (in terms of presentation not the actual winners) and too short. Safe to say that we (the ITSM critics) always have something to moan about and we’ll probably never be happy.

Finally, before I leave you with some photos of the exhibitors along with their views on the conference, there is one piece of feedback that I personally want to give to PINK for the 2015 conference. What I have to say is this:

 

“MORE GEORGE!!!!”

 

Seriously, the man is an absolute breath of fresh air and there was a never a dull moment when he was on stage. Pretty please work even more George Spalding into the agenda for 2015.

The exhibitors

I really shouldn’t miss out the vendors, given that without them PINK wouldn’t be able to run their conference. I personally felt that there was a nice atmosphere in the exhibition hall at this particular event. I’m not sure whether it was layout, the attendees or the fact that the vendors just generally seemed to be a lot more laid back and friendlier than I’ve seen them at other events – whatever the reason it was nice.

I particularly enjoyed assessing each vendors marketing efforts. From “spot me in a t-shirt” competitions to barbeque giveaways (yes you did read that correctly) there was certainly something for everyone. Anyone who knows me will know I get annoyed by vendors on booths very easily, but bar one minor incident that involved a finger (don’t ask) I never had a reason to complain!

Although talking of annoying, seriously, it’s time to stop tweeting about your PINK booth now people!

Before I finish up, here are some photos of a few* exhibitors looking all ‘dapper’ on their booths:

BMC Software
BMC Software
CA Technologies
CA Technologies
Cherwell
Cherwell Software
EasyVista
EasyVista
LANDESK
LANDESK
ManageEngine
ManageEngine
Navvia
Navvia
ServiceNow
ServiceNow
SysAid
SysAid
TeamQuest
TeamQuest

*Please note that no favouritism was involved in selecting which exhibitors to display here. I simply used all of the the professionals photographs provided to us by PINK.

The final finally

I just want to take this opportunity to thank Pink Elephant on behalf of everyone at ITSM Review for having us involved as media partner this year. We thoroughly enjoyed the conference and all of the amazing networking opportunities that the event presented us with.

So who else is going to PINK15?

Culture, value and astronauts, what more could you possibly want?

Chris Hadfield
Chris Hadfield

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.
    • Even the most complicated and dangerous of changes can be implemented quickly AND safely.  If they can organize a spacewalk in a day I’m pretty sure we can get our changes turned around faster!

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’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.

 

A Selection of Sessions I attended

Expanding ITSM Beyond IT: Providing Real Value to the Business – Joshua Smith, Mohawk Industries

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.

 

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

Another session based on a book of the same name, this time by authors Roger Connors and Tom Smith.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Image Credit

 

 

Strategy, IT value & buzzwords – is there an elephant in the room?

photo
Meeting Sophie Danby from ITSM Review

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)

Keynotes

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 takeawayA 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

Networking

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:

  1. It was an honour to meet you
  2. Thanks for the time you spent discussing service management with me and for those who were out with me at all hours
  3. The pictures aren’t getting posted anywhere!

It truly was a great gathering and I look forward to seeing everyone again soon!

Live from PINK14 – Day 1 in review

mediaAs 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.

Keynote presentations

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.

Pink Think Tank

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
  • Supplier-driven commoditisation.
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.

Everything else

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!

And we can’t forget all the numerous AXELOS announcements that took place today.

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.