Day 1 Review: itSMF UK Conference

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The ITSM Team pre-dinner awards

This was my very first visit to the itSMF UK conference. I arrived Sunday afternoon and got straight into the networking. Whenever I’ve been to an event before I have always attended with someone else and felt comfortable just meeting the occasional person.

It can be very intimidating attending conferences when you’re new to it as everyone seems to already know everyone else. I could have just relied upon my new colleagues to introduce me but I was determined to get out of my comfort zone and do it for myself.

Enter Twitter!

I sent a quick Tweet to say I had arrived and to query whether anyone else was around and within 5 minutes I had organised a meet up with Daniel Breston of Qriosity (someone I had never met before) in the bar.

That one connection led to meeting Stephen Griffiths of priSM and Brenda Peery of Tactare who in turn introduced me to countless others at the drinks reception. My advice to anyone attending an event for the first time is to be brave and get out there and meet people as soon as you can. You know you have at least one thing in common as you’re all at the conference. Mingle…it knocks an already rewarding experience right over the edge when you leave having made new friends and contacts.

The Conference

The Conference kicked off on Monday with Colin Rudd – itSMF UK Chairman, elucidating on why ITSM models of the future will change from Customer, Service Provider, Supplier to Service Broker, Service Integrator and that although the emphasis on service managers will change it will still be as important as ever.

Outgoing Chief Executive Ben Clacy introduced itSMF UK’s exciting new online Self Assessment and Benchmarking tool, MONITOR ITSM and the new Elite Volunteer Card which rewards itSMF UK volunteers with discounts and extra benefits.

The opening keynote speaker, Britain’s first female fast jet pilot – Jo Salter gave a very entertaining talk on the challenges she has met, how she has succeeded in the face of adversity and how peeing on demand is harder than it sounds. Everyone I’m sure will have taken away something from Jo’s insights and experiences but I feel it was especially beneficial for the female contingent in the room to see it recognised that not all inspirational people are men!

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend every session on the agenda for Day 1 (I’m only human), but below is an overview of the sessions that I did attend.

Suck It and See: Ingredients for Great Supplier Relationships – Cath Bartlett, Dyson

This session was full of real world learning and experience of maximising relationships with suppliers. Advice ranged from trying the ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ routine to ensuring you’re measuring the right things as you want to ensure that your green KPI’s match with the customers experiences of your service.

Quote from Cath Bartlett: ‘What gets measured gets managed’

How Assessment and Benchmarking Techniques were used to Drive CSI and how this was Applied to Capacity Management at the Co-operative Group – Ian MacDonald

Submission of the Year and Service Management Project of the Year 2012 winners, Co-operative Group can probably add longest session title to their list of accolades.

Ian gave an interesting case study on how Co-operative changed their approach to Capacity Management using a the SatNav approach: Where are you going? Where are you starting from? When do you need to be there by?

His secret to success…’Be Ronseal – Do what you say on the tin’

Interactive Plenary

After lunch on day one it was time for the Interactive Plenary with panel members Claire Agutter, Barclay Rae, Peter Hubbard, Robert Stroud and John Windebank as Chair.

The Big 4 agenda was discussed with questions thrown to the panel with a state-of-the-art system of red card/green card voting taking place. Technologically advanced, no…but perfectly adequate for the requirements.

Project of the Year 2013 Finalist Showcase – EE, Land and Property Services and QBE

Chris Williams of EE (where was Kevin Bacon?), Ignatious O’Doherty of Land and Property Services and Jacqueline Simmons and Amanda Rutledge of QBE all gave overviews of their submissions for the Project of the Year award. Each showed the trials and tribulations encountered with some very honest accounts of issues encountered.

It’s a Journey, the Future of Supplier Management..?’ Service Integration at Jaguar Land RoverMark Hipwell, JLR and Martin Goble, Tata Consultancy Services

Mark and Martin walked us through the difficulties of building a single IT function when faced with a complex legacy IT environment with no capacity for innovation, and how they overcame these to create the dynamic service now in place.

Day 1 Closing Keynote – A Forward Thinking Name for a Forward-Thinking Company – Axelos

Peter Hepworth and Frances Scarff of Axelos talked through their plans for the coming year referencing the Axelos ‘Onion’, encouraging everyone to come and visit their stand.

Awards Dinner – Hosted by Edwina Currie

stuartI admit to being surprised that I actually quite liked Edwina’s hosting. I do tend to think of politicians as rather bland individuals with no sense of humour, so I was pleased that she managed to make it both enjoyable and amusing.

The highlight of the evening was when Stuart Rance won the Paul Rappaport Award for Outstanding Contribution to IT Service Management, which was very much deserved and to further his achievements he managed to get Edwina Currie to hold Pengi – The ITSM Penguin for the award picture for which I believe we owe him a prize!

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.

The evening continued with a casino and disco which were enjoyed immensely by all, but the main attraction was the photo booth where you could look even sillier than normal by donning wigs, hats and glasses like the weird bunch in the picture>>>!

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Later we were scuppered by the hotel in our attempts to have a piano sing-a-long with Barclay Rae, but we were treated instead to a harmonica solo by Kevin Holland.

The talk of the evening centered around Mr Rance’s fantastic achievement, explaining to our very own Glenn Thompson that Swindon is not in the Midlands, and various conspiracy theories on why Patrick Bolger was still sober.  General consensus was that aliens had abducted him and left a decoy…they’re not fooling anyone!

In Summary

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day. It was nice to see the presentations grouped into specific themes (e.g. Real world learning: Stories from Members on their ITSM experiences) so that if you were attending the conference for a particular reason you could easily identify the sessions that you wanted attend. However, if there was one thing I found a struggle it was getting from one session to the next on time if I needed a loo break in between! The venue was rather large.

Feedback on Day 1 of the event from Twitter was also positive:

Now where is Jo Salter and her adult nappy contraption?

itSMF UK BIG4 Twitter Chat

twitteritSMF UK’s new initiative for 2014, ‘The Big 4 Agenda’ kicked off last week with the first of the five scheduled Twitter Chats taking place. The chat featured Big4 Agenda Speaker and itSMF UK Vice-Chair John Windebank and was moderated by Kathryn Howard the pioneer of the #leadit Twitter Chats for itSMF Australia.

The Twitter Chat Model

The Twitter Chat model shows that itSMF UK are taking strides to be more current (using social media to engage with the community) and give new and exciting ways for people to get involved. One of my uber pet hates is that Service Desk staff have limited ways to involve themselves in the industry, being able in most cases to only attend one event per year if they’re lucky and in some cases never being unchained from their desk.

The direction itSMF UK is heading seems to be more inclusive and for that I am delighted. Now, if only we could get them to do something about their website!

The point of the Twitter Chats, in itSMF UK’s own words is ‘…firstly to identify the top four issues that you are facing in IT and then to provide discussion/help/expert opinion on each of these topics.’

People from all over joined in the chat, not just from the UK, suggesting that ITSM issues are the same regardless of where you connect to your WIFI.

The Twitter Chat itself

It started off with a few technical hitches and a lot of forgetting to add the hashtag #itSMBIG4, but once all were settled in comments started to flow, albeit with the slightly disjointed manner typical of many people discussing several things at the same time. The hour passed surprisingly fast and below is an overview of what I picked up as the main topics of the event:

Tweets from several contributors show that Problem Management is still a big issue in the industry with it being perceived as the Invisible Man to the Service Desks Superman…

And a general agreement that collectively we’re totally crap at defining the value that ITSM gives to the business

Then there was that ITIL discussion that never ends. Time to face it people, at the end of the world there will be cockroaches, Cher & ITIL.

Overall

I really like the way that itSMF UK are looking at new ways to engage and what’s more, not just with their members but with everyone in the industry and I hope that this will continue and at the next Twitter Chat and that more people will get involved.

Unfortunately a lot of the points raised were, as Claire Agutter said, just the same old issues that have been floating around for years.

Having said that I’m very interested to see the results of the Big 4 Survey (voting now closed) and hope that it’s given some new and exciting insights into the current and future struggles of ITSM.

The comments from the Twitter Chat together with the results of the Big 4 Survey will confirm the 6 key topics that itSMF UK will take to the itSMF UK conference and Exhibition (4-5 November, Birmingham). These 6 topics are due to be announced this week. Then at the event a series of roundtable discussions will take place to narrow down those 6 topics to the top 4 – i.e. the Big 4 that itSMF UK will concentrate on in 2014.

Once announced a Twitter Chat for each of the individual topics will be held as follows:

  • November 13 – Big4 Topic 1
  • December 11 – Big4 Topic 2
  • January 15 – Big4 Topic 3
  • February 12 – Big4 Topic 4

I hope to see you either at the conference, or involved in the Twitter Chats, preferably both!

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Review: itSMF UK Tooling Event [January 2013]

itSMF UK Chair Colin Rudd

itSMF UK Tooling Event, London, January 25th 2013

I attended the itSMF UK Tooling event on 25th January in central London.

That week in the UK was bitterly cold with lots of snow – so this event had low turnout or cancelled written all over it.

However, hats off to the itSMF UK events crew who managed to persuade around 100 ITSM folks to brave the snow and ice and discuss service management tools and technology.

The event blurb stated:

“Finding the right ITSM products and implementing them correctly is a challenge for any organization, and keeping abreast of the latest software developments is becoming increasingly difficult as users have less and less time available to explore the options.

itSMF UK’s ITSM Software Tools Forum offers an unprecedented opportunity to bring vendors, consultants and potential buyers together under one roof to discuss product selection and implementation.”

Running for Ashley

itSMF UK Chairman Colin Rudd was our opening speaker and guide for the day. Colin began by painting the big ITSM picture and discussing the 50,000ft view on what we are aiming to achieve with the practice of ITSM.

Colin’s opening served as a useful orientation and allowed delegates, who had taken a day out from being at the rock face of day-to-day ITSM, to gain the right perspective.

Colin also urged us to support the itSMF UK team with their Reading Half Marathon charity run in support of long time itSMF supporter Ashley Hanna.

Colin Rudd, John Windebank, Ben Clacy, Mark Lilycrop, Rosemary Gurney and Barry Corless will be running for Macmillan Cancer Support on the 17th March – make a donation here:

http://www.justgiving.com/ashleysbigchallenge

After Colin’s introduction we heard from Cherwell, Marval, Hornbill, 2E2, BMC and Topdesk.

CHERWELL (8/10)

An old adage for presenters to keep their message clear and concise is to:

  1. Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em
  2. Tell ’em
  3. and then tell ’em what you’ve told ’em

Simon Kent from Cherwell opened vendor presentations with a textbook example of this method in action.

He told us the leading Cherwell value points were: Ease of use, business value, service automation and innovation. He then proceeded to hammer each point home concisely by letting the technology do the talking.

MARVAL (7/10)

This is the first Marval pitch I’ve seen without Don Page. Whilst Don is clearly a leading pillar of the ITSM community and someone you won’t forget in a hurry, I thought it was refreshing to see a Marval presentation minus Don.

Underneath the façade of humour and expletives lies a solid ITSM company with a solid offering. The team are clearly service oriented and interested in the long-game consultative sale rather than just punting software. Good presentation from Tom West-Robinson, I look forward to seeing him present again.

HORNBILL (6/10)

The two presentations prior to Hornbill were focussed on ease of use, codeless configuration and DIY development. Prospective customers are perhaps thinking “If we swap our existing tool for something else we don’t want to re-mortgage the business to pay for the configuration”.

With this in mind, I felt the Hornbill proposition looked a little dated (versions aside).

Patrick’s presentation was good as per usual and Hornbill’s ‘Make IT Happen’ is a great approach but, given this is a tooling event, Patrick could have given us more to showcase the actual technology.

Quote du Jour from Patrick:

 “Renting software doesn’t make you any better at running it“ – Patrick Bolger, Hornbill

2e2 (1/10)

Martyn Birchall from 2e2 opened his pitch by stating that he ‘got bored with own PowerPoint’ and ‘preferred to make things interactive’. What a refreshing change – an interactive session before lunch? Alas, Martyn then proceeded to plod through his PowerPoint and not allow for interaction. I won’t dwell on his painful pitch since 2e2 unfortunately seem to have bitten the dust since the event.

BMC (8/10)

Andrew Smith provided a live demonstration of Remedy Force which included harnessing the enterprise social platform chatter into service management work streams. Remedy Force will look very cosy and familiar for anyone working with the force.com platform. It was a good showcase and attracted the most questions and interaction throughout the day.

For a big lumbering publicly listed conglomerate the demo showed surprising innovation. I also liked the tool BMC use to help potential prospects navigate the portfolio.

The video below was used during the presentation:

TOPDESK (7/10) 

Finally, last to present was Rob Goldsworth of TopDesk who stated that ‘ITSM is not an IT function’ and emphasized the use of their technology in HR, Facilities, CRM and so on.

Apart from a small home-goal with ITIL certification semantics Rob gave us a good tour of the compelling features within TopDesk via a live demo. In particular I liked the Kanban-style instant visualization of work in hand and resources available. Similarly the resource planner and process mapping tools look very well thought out. It was a good enough demo to whet your appetite without being too mechanical.

Whistle Stop Tour of ITSM Tools

In short, I thought this was a good event. It was well attended, had a good mixture of exhibitors and provided a great opportunity for prospective buyers to network with peers and engage with software companies without the formality of the normal sales process.

Note: This is just my opinion, as an itSMF member of an itSMF event. If you wish to share your own opinion on this or any other event please feel free to use the ITSM Review platform.