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?

Pink14 Preview: The Phoenix Project

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IT needs to embrace the “3 Ways”

Ahead of his presentation at the 18th Pink Elephant Conference and Exhibition (PINK14)Jack Probst, Principal Consultant at Pink Elephant talks about The Phoenix Project: a novel about IT, DevOps and helping your business win

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
  • Major incidents
  • Uncontrolled changes
  • Failed deployments
  • Security/audit issues
  • Overwhelming project list

At PINK14

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.


Jack Probst
Jack Probst

To learn more find Jack at PINK14:

Image Credit

Pink Elephant 18th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition

Fatima Cabral and George Spalding delivered the opening keynote at PINK 2013
Fatima Cabral, CEO and George Spalding, Executive Vice Preseident at Pink Elephant delivered the opening keynote at PINK 2013

We are excited to announce that we will be a Media Partner for Pink Elephant’s 18th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition (aka Pink14), 16-19 February 2014, at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

The event brings together 1,500 like-minded IT professionals, with over 160 sessions spread over 14 tracks – covering a vast array of subjects from all across the ITSM spectrum.

What you can expect

  • 14 tracks of educational, strategic, tactical and operational content. Tracks include: The 3 I’s of Leadership; CIO Forum; ITSM Winner’s Circle; ITSM Project Management; Service Support and Operations; How-to ITIL Clinics and Workshops; CSI – There Is No Finish Line; Using Frameworks and Standards to Achieve Business Value; Pink Think Tank; Tools and Technology; Breakfast Clubs; Discussion Forums; Half-day Workshops; Platinum Sponsor Stream – BMC Software. You can find out more information about all of these tracks here.
  • A various array of pre-conference courses covering ITIL and Lean IT Certifications; and post-conference workshops covering COBIT and ‘how-to’ instructional workshops.
  • Presentation of Pink’s IT Excellence Awards, with awards for: Project of the Year; Practitioner of the Year; Case Study of the Year; Innovation of the Year; and IT Leader of the Year.

Both Rebecca Beach and I will also be in attendance. If you would like to schedule a meeting with either of us at the conference please email me. We are interested in hearing from all attendees whether you are a vendor, practitioner, consultant or other!

We hope to see you there!


Event Summary

WHAT

Pink Elephant Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition (aka Pink14)

WHERE

Bellagio Hotel

WHEN

The conference runs from Sunday 16th – Wednesday 19th February, with pre-conference courses running from Wednesday 12th – Sunday 16th February, and post-conference courses from Thursday 20th February to Saturday 22nd.

BOOKING

Booking rates are available online