The annual itSMF Conference held in November was a good time to reflect on the past year and what challenges await in 2012. Ben Clacy, CEO of itSMF, tells us what the big talking points were and what solutions were discussed.
There is always a large number of topic areas and interesting stories to take from our conference, particularly now it has been running for 20 years, but there were three stand out topics that are worth highlighting.
1) The future
This year saw a distinct increase in sessions that looked at very future driven topics – including the use of social media and big data in the enterprise. For some, these are today’s relevant topics, but for many they continue to be aspirational or something for the future. On the flip side, there were many of the “good old topics” from the last five years being discussed. Sessions of this nature are still well attended and tend to revolve around a good case study, and so will continue to deliver good value to the delegates. Overall, our 2011 conference demonstrated the dichotomy of our industry at the moment, with businesses desperately trying to embrace new technologies and look to the future, but still trying to get the core parts of ITSM right. And in some instances, these issues are one and the same.
Over 50 per cent of the post-event feedback we received stated networking as the top benefit of the conference. This is surprising because most people say the content programme is the main deciding factor, yet for more than half of delegates, the biggest takeaway proved to be the bits they do when not in session.
At first glance this can be confusing and can lead to the (incorrect) conclusion that the sessions weren’t up to scratch. That’s not the case, as the feedback from delegates scoring the sessions proves. It does however mean this has become a true Forum event. The itSMF, both in the UK and globally, is built on the ability to learn from others – the conference is the perfect example of how this is practised. Many learn from the sessions they attend, but just as many learn from the conversations they have with those speakers. This then feeds the conversations they have with fellow delegates outside of the sessions and with the exhibitors. It can be difficult to quantify this – but it is real and people always say it is extremely valuable.
3) The people factor
Technology is changing at the fastest rate ever; companies are struggling against the toughest financial climate for a generation and yet IT departments are being asked to deliver more, for less.
How on earth can they do that?
Well, the answer is actually really simple – with people. It’s worth reminding you that in ITSM, ‘people’ has always been one of the four key components (along with process, partners and products) and a great many people (ironically) have stood up and said that most important of the four is people. You can have the best processes, world leading products and a great set of partners – but if your people aren’t performing, it ain’t going to work. But while a lot of people talk about it – a lot of people still don’t do it. There is certainly an increasing number of organisations that are really tapping into how much of a difference it can make getting the most out of your people.
This was evident in many ways at the conference – firstly by the fact that numbers were up and employers were happy to invest both time and money in two days of improving their people, but also across a number of the presentations and other event activities. If this is the start of a new found investment in people in ITSM then it well timed and will be well received by those in it, with the investing businesses ultimately reaping the benefits.