This ITSM14 conference article is written jointly between myself, Vawns Murphy Guest of Virgin Media and Duncan Watkins of SHL Talent Measurement from CEB the winner of the ticket giveaway we ran jointly with itSMF UK
This year’s conference saw something old and something new. The old was a return to the Novotel London, a venue whose size fitted nicely with the event and had a much better layout than last year at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. The new was the double session format. This meant that each seminar session was made up of 2 x 30 minute sessions rather than a standalone 40/45 minutes.
In amongst the usual mix of consultants and vendors in the exhibition hall were a couple of welcome newcomers. The Conference In a Box stall had a fine selection of salted caramel brownies to give away, whilst the Velocity stand had an entertaining and highly competitive ankiDrive game (a new twist on the Scalextric) where delegates compete against each other for a prize. Rebecca came a very respectable joint fifth and we wont mention Duncan’s abysmal performance!
John Windebank, Chair of itSMF UK kicked off the conference reminding everyone that with $3 trillion invested in IT every year we have a great responsibility to ensure that we stay current and relevant and not just rest on one’s laurels.
Next up was Richard Corbridge, CIO at NIHR Clinical Research Network asking us to be prepared for the future. With the internet of things rearing its head we need to know now how we’re going to deal with all those items that will soon be connected to our networks, such as heating systems, flood, fire and dementia monitors. Is it even sensible to try and catalogue all of them?
— Stuart Rance (@StuartRance) November 10, 2014
Back to basics? Shouldn’t that be forward to basics? – Ivor Macfarlane, Service Management Specialist at IBM
This session focused on real world learning and how we’ve got to get the basics right to be able to deliver value to our customers.
Ivor started by talking about what the text books say versus the real world. If we’re trying to demonstrate value quickly so that we can get support and buy in, why would we start with Configuration Management? If it can take up to 18 months to see tangible value from a CMDB, why are we doing it first if quick wins are key? Start with something the CEO and CFO like and go from there.
Things have changed since the good old days, now everyone does ITIL to some degree; it’s the levels as you go up and improve that are amazing. New back to basics needs to focus on Service and giving our customers value.
— Patrick Bolger (@patb0512) November 10, 2014
We need to keep moving forward. Expectations of improvement are a huge compliment so let’s take it as such!
A practitioner’s tale: adding value through real ITSM in the real world” – Dave Churchley, Service Management Officer at Newcastle University
This session was based on Dave’s take on Newcastle University’s ITSM journey over the last 5 years. Dave’s point was that we need to be lead by our customers.
One of our favourite examples from the session was a Service Desk call David happened to oversee. One of the doctors from the university called the Service Desk to report his PC wasn’t connected to the network. Service Desk tech asked him if he could check if the network cable was plugged in to the back of the PC. The reply?
“I’m afraid I don’t know how to do that. I’m only a brain surgeon.”
Like Ivor, Dave is very much of the opinion that we need a culture change; we need to focus on customers and services rather than just the technology. We need an open environment and we need to talk to each other. Not rocket science but it’s amazing how many people forget. Sometimes all that’s needed to sort something out is to pick of the phone or go and see someone. It’s easy to hide behind e-mails but let’s face it – a stroppy, passive aggressive e-mail chain as long as your arm helps no one – least of all your customer.
One of the main messages of the session was that having an expensive, market leading ITSM software solution will not solve all your problems. As the saying goes, a fool with a tool is still a fool.
— Suresh GP (@sureshgp) November 10, 2014
Conquering the black arts of licence compliance management – Steve Massie of Incit Technology Ltd
What we loved most about Steve’s session was his honesty. Yes, getting control of your licences is not easy and it’s not a one off exercise. In our experience, it can be a complete freaking nightmare but you’ve got to start somewhere.
The session had lots of interesting facts here about how to get support and buy in for your Software Asset Management process. 30% of software used in Europe is being used illegally. A recent Gartner study has revealed over 30% of CEOs are concerned about software audits.
He also shared his advice on getting started. Don’t try to fix everything at one – start with your top vendor and work down. Great advice! We’ve seen so many people try to do it all at once and either miss something glaringly obvious or get in a right old flap about where to start, panic, and then give up.
There were a number of standout sessions. At this year’s event. In the realm of future ITSM, came Mark Hall’s first day keynote speech. He talked about the benefits associated with building teams that are able to take advantages of agile frameworks to move more swiftly. A key component of this are self-forming teams that are empowered to right their own agenda in a bottom up fashion, rather than a micro-managed top down approach. However, the key idea that for me was the dissolution of the traditional customer/supplier relationship. Rather than think of ourselves as suppliers delivering to internal or external customers, we should see ourselves as part of an extended value chain that extends outside of technology through the whole of the business. For me this was a fundamental shift in perception about what I do and more importantly how I do it.
First time I've heard someone say NOT to be a service provider. Interesting notion #itsm14
— Rebecca Beach (@gobbymidget) November 10, 2014
Bring me problems – Not solutions! – Tobias Nyberg
Tobias opened with a quote from Einstein:
If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.
Moral of the story? Problem Management is about getting it right first time. Having Problems isn’t a bad thing, it’s how we respond to them that adds the value.
Tobias talked about his experiences trying to focus his team on understanding exactly what problems are rather than jumping straight to solutions. He detailed a three stage approach that ultimately can be applied to almost any area of life. First you focus on detailing what the problem is and all that relates to it. Secondly, you look at the goal you are trying to achieve. And lastly you look at the solution once you’ve truly explored the other two. What really made the presentation stand out for us was Tobias’s focus upon how problems make us feel. Approaching and acknowledging the feelings we have about problems allows us to better deal and ultimately solve them.
Day 2 Keynote – Peter Hepworth and Keith Richards of Axelos
Axelos announced the changes to the website and the extension to the PRINCE2 best practice PRINCE agile the first of, what I’m led to believe will be many “Axelos and…” initiatives. As always there were the supporters and the detractors but I feel that it shows Axelos’ acknowledgement that it’s best for organisations when they cherry pick the bits of the best practices that work for them.
@Damn_Knit_Blast hmm. I don't like Prince2. It's next-to-useless in most organisations. I'm not optimistic about this.
— Richey 1977 (@Driver_8_Ace) November 11, 2014
Governance – Custodian to Changing Business Trends and IT Landscape – Suresh GP, TaUB Solutions
Suresh’s session started on explaining that there is a lot of confusion over the difference between Governance and Management with IT governance primarily concerned about IT’s delivery of value to the business and mitigation of IT risks whereas Management plans, builds, runs and monitors activities in alignment with the direction set by the governance to achieve the enterprise objectives or, more simply put…
— Rebecca Beach (@gobbymidget) November 11, 2014
After lunch Suresh’s enthusiasm and energy were just what we needed to get us through to the end.
Awards Dinner – Hosted by Paul Sinha
Nothing short of hilarious and I think the majority of the attendees were immensely entertained. We thought the food was delicious, although there have been others that disagree and as we were on a table with the Velocity guys we were well entertained.
Unfortunately the actual awards were not as good as they could have been. We would have liked to see more lead up to the awards with more information circulated on why the nominees had been nominated. There seemed to be a slight absence of interest with the applause dying out in many cases before the winner had even reached the stage. It is such a huge achievement to win an award and we truly hope that more thought is given to promoting the nominees and their achievements next year.
A full list of the worthy winners (and finalists) can be found here. All of us here at the ITSM Review would like to congratulate both winners and finalists on their fantastic achievements. Well done to all.
A big topic of discussion was the new double session format. For our money, when it worked it worked well but when it didn’t, it really didn’t. A positive example occurred on the first day with David Wheable followed by Eva Franconetti & Mark Adley of Telefonica. David was able to use real life examples from Telefonica’s approach within his talk. This gave an element of ground work to Eva and Mark’s, allowing them to concentrate more fully on the detail. In contrast, Tony Brough and Daniel Breston had spent a lot of time working together to align their presentations. Despite their best efforts though, the subject matter of each was too far removed to begin with. In the end it felt like two separate presentations that didn’t quite have enough time.
The venue was lovely and easily accessible albeit extortionate in terms of parking. At £45 for 10 hours we would have expected the car park to be made of gold with vodka & coke fountains and unicorn valets but, in fairness, I guess that’s central London for you.
All in all it was a good event with some great content. The ultimate test is whether there is anything you want to try when you get back to the office and we certainly felt that, whether our colleagues are ready for our new ideas is another matter altogether.
Thank you to itSMF UK for inviting us along and we hope to see you again next year.