Thursday, 25 April 2013

That Was THE Show That Was

I would love to talk about this year's Service Desk and IT Support Show that has just finished at London's Earls Court.

Actually I would love to be able to talk about anything, because after two days of intense, insightful non-stop discussion about all things ITSM I've completely lost my voice.

The other downside of such a packed two days is trying to package all my thoughts into a blog, but here goes anyway:

A major change this year was that Gartner have become the headline sponsors.This was one of several factors that seems to have led to a shift in the audience away from operational support staff and towards decision makers. There were a lot more suits wandering around than in previous years. The vendors at the exhibition certainly seemed to feel this was a positive change, and as Martin's blog highlights the vendors came away feeling very optimistic, The exhibition provides real ROI for the exhibitors compared to other shows where the exhibition is more of a side show to a conference.

Having said that the quality of the conference programme is constantly improving, so much so that this year even Kaimar was relatively happy with it, although that might be because he was one of the presenters. I know I wasn't alone in having to make hard decisions about which sessions to go to and it was particularly great to see so many international speakers, like Kaimar, Kathryn Howard and Daniel Billing.

Daniel Billing

We were joined for the pre-show preview podcast by Jeff Brooks from Gartner and his two key note sessions were excellent, though I wonder if some of the audience went away disappointed because he didn't spoon feed them simple answers - for the simple reason they don't exist. You can hear more of Jeff, and what he talked about, on episodes 55 and 56 of the podcasts that we recorded live from the show and which will be available soon.

Jeff Brooks
Jeff also chaired an entertaining and provocative panel session on "Who is murdering ITIL?" There was a long list of suspects to be considered, and I could probably have added a few more, but I think there was a general feeling that the current ITIL training has a lot to answer for. It raised a few issues that I think might deserve a blog post of their own.

Who Murdered ITIL? The Usual Suspects

A highlight for me was Andrea Kis's presentation on getting the Service Desk involved in Business Relationship Management and her message that every interaction with the business is important and that what happens in those micro-interactions is far more important than creating an ITIL based BRM "process". Andi also held her own in a debate with Jeff on the podcast that had the rest of us rolling on the floor.

Andi Kis ready to wow the crowds
For the third year running I found myself not having the time to do the exhibition justice and I didn't get to speak to many of the vendors I had on my "must see" list. In part that is because those that I did see I spent a long time with, having in depth conversations. As usual Ian Aitchison from LANdesk and Pat Bolger from Hornbill both stood out for their insights into the wider issues of ITSM.  As already mentioned the vendors went away feeling optimistic about the market, and many have picked up, as we have at TCS, that some customers are becoming much more pragmatic and outcome driven  in their approach and less fixated on ITIL and artificial maturity levels. Incidentally here is a tip for a few vendors: I head up the service management consultancy team in Europe for one of the major IT service providers - you might want to try actively seeking me out and engaging with me at these events.

Not for the first time at UK events it was disappointing that the twitter stream was dominated by the same old faces, yes, mine included, and vendors. I'm sure a lot of value from some of the presentations deserved to be echoed to a wider audience. Certainly if you have time I would recommend looking at some of the #SITS13 tweets.

Several people commented on what a difference social media has made to their experience of this event over the years and that was certainly true this year.  Tweets and facebook posts from last year's show along wtih the podcasts had certainly helped raise the profile of the event overseas and I lost count of the number of nationalities present at the #Back2ITSM dinner on the Tuesday night. Mind you most people there had lost the ability to count anything. by the end of the night. Both new and old visitors commented that being able to meet up with connections made via #SocMed and then being able to directly access their wider networks added real value to the experience and I'm sure a lot of people made many new connections. Incidentally Sophie Danby from Ovum deserves a special mention for organising the dinner and helping the networking process. Perhaps next year the dinner will become a more official event.

So that's it for another year, though I've found a willing volunteer to write another "First time visitor's perspective" piece which should be appearing soon. As always a massive thanks to everyone who made the event so worthwhile and enjoyable, and a special thank you to Gartner and Laura Venables for their support of the podcast posse.


  1. Thanks for the summary James - a great read. Vendor ROI is something that I'm very interested in, and something that I've been skeptical of at these least here in Australia. Good to hear that the UK shows seem to be offer more to vendors in this regard.

    I think that any talk that doesn't offer forthright, practical knowledge should be seriously considered as to whether it should even be presented. People pay a lot of $$ to attend these events, and if they report back to their boss that they have a head full of theoretical know-how, they might not be there next year.

    1. Rod,

      This event is slightly different to the UK norm, being funded by the exhibitors so the punters get in free. It seems to work well, and justifies the expense to the vendors.Partly, I suspect because everybody is very clear about the purpose of the show

  2. James good to talk with you there and meet with the other “ITSM pioneers” and a few of the other BCS SMSG members. The Andi Kis presentation was engaging, funny and to the point :)

    Overall I felt the atmosphere at the event was positive and the keynotes certainly were interesting and challenging – though did we solve the case of who murdered ITIL?

    I look forward to seeing the usual suspects next year ...


    1. Good to see you, and the others, of which there were far too many to mention each one, but you know who you are!

  3. James

    Good to see you Tue night and great write up. I'd support more of these informal ITSM socials throughout the year. There was such a great buzz and real feeling of community. I'd hope that wouldn't be lost if the dinner is formalised.

    Best regards