Ian Aitchison, ITSM product director at LANDesk, reflects on how the Service Desk and IT Support show (SDITS) has evolved in the past few years, becoming a more serious, business-focused event that still finds time for some much needed banter and reflection.
The SDITS show is a special event. I did a write-up for ServiceDesk360 after the Pink conference in Vegas earlier this year, and now, resting my aching feet in a bowl of warm water, I’m reflecting on the SDITS experience. A personal view from a vendor, obviously. Your experience may differ, but this was mine.
Unlike the Pink conference, SDITS is predominantly an industry/vendor show case, but has a very high standard of seminars, roundtables, debates and briefings running alongside. My thanks to those who attended the sessions I was involved in. These presentations and seminar sessions run in parallel all day, but are quite literally the side-shows around the show floor: the main event housing 70 exhibitor stands. And the crowds were great. The big stands were packed, overflowing into the aisles, drawing in more people craning to see what’s so exciting. It’s an amazing thing to see the interest and enthusiasm in such large numbers. We regularly counted well over 100 visitors on (and overflowing over) our stand for the big presentations.
Many people commented that all the stands looked outstanding this year. Walking into the show felt like walking into a giants’ kitchen design showroom, with crisp clean pods, bars, stools and worktops. (Mind you, you can maybe have too much white).
It wasn’t always like this. There was a time many years back when HITS (as it was known then) was caught in the post-90s pinstripe-suited and braces old style software sales model, where the vendors tried to outdo each other by having the wackiest, zaniest entertainment. Sadly – I blush – we had an ice rink one year, the Blues Brothers (damn they were loud), and the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. All the vendors were entertainers. Then we decided that if ITSM was to be taken seriously, by serious people, we needed to stop being zany and start to present ourselves for serious business. So we donned business suits. And now look at the place. No ‘corporate’ polo shirts, no gimmicks, no comedy. Smart wear, serious conversations, and increasingly valuable opportunities to share and learn. Analysts and consultants mixing with vendors and meeting with IT service practitioners.
The hot subjects of the SDITS show were pretty clear. Mobile, consumerisation, and its scary outcome, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), ruled. Another interesting perspective was that close to 100 per cent of the conversations I had included self-service. That’s an interesting change from a few years ago where it was a ‘nice to have’, aspirational objective. Now everything starts with self-service and works back. That’s brilliant – to me that’s consumerisation in action folks. It shows the rising need to match the IT customer’s consumer-standard expectations, and shows the growing recognition of the customer above the IT.
Social? Well SDITS was very social, very Twitter, very Back2ITSM. I think, for me, Pink ‘11 got that whole ITSM online social community thing going, and last year’s SDITS kind of tried, but it didn’t quite fly. But this year, we had a great level of continual commentary, dialogue and critique from individuals at the show and worldwide that were all part of the conversation. It was great to see some tweets coming out from sessions that I couldn’t attend, showing that the attendees were brave enough to stand up and question some of the currently forecasted futures for IT. Debate raged, and that to me, is a very good thing.
Anyway, so the stands change, the subjects change, but many faces are familiar. Rumours abound, gossip, information sharing. It’s a rare chance to see so many of the analysts, commentators and most familiar names in the ITSM and #Back2ITSM universe in one place, roaming freely. A bit like an ITSM safari – “Look, there’s a @jimbofin! I hear you can spot a @stephenmann over by the waterhole! Look – there’s a @barclayrae coming over the hill’.
But then did anyone go down to Infosec? The show next door and downstairs? Three times the floor size and way more stands, yet very different. SDITS is business, Infosec is technology. Mind you, they did have a giant space invaders game, and I think I saw Roy Walker (of Catchphrase) presenting on one small stand. ”Just say what you see”… “erm, is it GEEK Roy?”
Then it was back upstairs to the pristine white business fairground where ITSM is as close to rock and roll as it’ll ever get. Credit where credit’s due. The new organiser, Diversified, has got its act together. Smooth and seamless. SDI and Ovum both played a great supporting act. And the coffee on our stand was – as usual – outstanding.
And then, just like that, at the end of the last day it was over. Nothing but exhausted vendors staring blankly at mounds of contact sheets, presenters massaging their aching throats, and empty SDI ‘hug’ boxes blowing like tumbleweed through the aisles. And then the stands were packed up and gone again for another year, leaving nothing but the echo of a distant sound…. ‘win an ipad2, win a kindle fire, mobile, catalogue, BYOD….’