While attempting to clear my desk before the Christmas break I stumbled upon a bright-pink USB memory stick that contained the collected presentations from the 2009 itSMF UK annual conference. Having satisfied my curiosity as to the size of the memory stick (I’d forgotten that USB sticks were ever that small), I then wondered:

  • What were the IT service management (ITSM) hot topics in November 2009?
  • Which industry luminaries were presenting on them?
  • How many presentations would still make it to the 2013 itSMF UK conference?

So what was the 2009 itSMF UK conference about?

Coming a year after the financial meltdown it’s not unsurprising that there was a focus on costs or doing the proverbial “more with less.” Service catalog was also in vogue (especially in the Lessons Learned sessions); as was food, for example in the context of service-thinking (see Rob Stroud’s presentation) and talent management (see James Finister’s presentation); and the old-chestnut that is ITSM metrics. Plus of course ITIL, the ITSM best practice framework, in spades – after all, ITIL v3 was still kicking ITIL v2 into touch.

The “Facing the Future” stream included:

  • “How to improve CCRM (change, configuration, and release management) processes during the credit crunch” by Vawns Guest
  • “Service Management in difficult economic conditions” by Adam Poppleton
  • “ITIL V3 the opium of ITSM” by Kevin Holland and Brenda Peery
  • “ITIL V4? ISO20000 V3? Service Management for Business Process Outsourcing” by Lynda Cooper
  • “Business to IT alignment” by Richard Huntley and Keith Poulter
  • “Service Management won't just be about supporting business processes” by Matthew Burrows
  • “Taking ITIL Back to the Future – ITSM in the data center” by John Windebank

How much of this seems like “future-talk” by 2013 standards. Not much in my opinion, our thinking has definitely moved on … at least in this respect.

The people-based “Human Factor” stream included:

  • “But ITIL isn't all I do” by Helen Sussex and Terry Hodge
  • “Competence or pieces of paper” by Aidan Lawes
  • “How to identify and retain talents in an IT organization” by Luciana Abreu
  • “Service Management and the youth of today” by Claire Burn and Alison Brown
  • “Don’t upset the chef” by James Finister
  • “People the grit in the machine” by Peter Johnson
  • “Does your IT service organization measure anything useful” by Ivor McFarlane

Just one thought here: “Have we really moved on?” You can guess my opinion.

The Tips & Techniques” stream included:

  • “Can I have cheese with my burger please” by Rob Stroud
  • “Introduction to ITIL and ISO2000” by Don Page
  • “IT Service Catalog – Cornerstone for ITIL Success” by Steve Badger
  • “Establishing Service Transition Management” by Karen Falconer and Shez Rawsthorne-Houghton
  • “Service Catalog lemming or leader” by Tony Gannon and Peter Burgess
  • “Service Catalog: What is it?” by Karen Brusch and Dave White

Wow service catalog was a hot ticket but I guess too many organizations had their fingers burned.

The other three streams that I’ve conveniently ignored were: Interactive Sessions, Lessons Learned, and Working Together.

So what’s changed for 2013?

In some ways, not much …

Service catalog is back (if it ever really went away) and unfortunately we still seem to be stuck on the basics. I’m still waiting for a canny ITSM tool vendor to raise its profile on the back of making easy-to-consume service catalog good practice information readily available to all.

We continue to cover many of the common (popular or actually-adopted) elements of ITIL – interestingly I didn’t see anything on problem management during my scan of the 2009 presentation titles. There was at least one on incident management plus the obligatory continual service improvement (CSI) presentation.

And dealing with the people aspects of IT service delivery still raises a lot of questions. I can’t help think we’ve gone a little cold on people though in favor of our latest and greatest ITSM and IT hot topics (see below). Look at one of Rob Stroud’s slides and the areas that were talked of in 2009. I’m sure we’d still see many of these today. IMO it doesn’t bode well for 2013, and 2014, and …

But much has …

There was much on ITIL v3 in 2009, but we now seem to be less obsessed with ITIL (and the latest version number). However, there is no getting away from its at least perceived importance to “how we do ITSM.”

There are definitely more non-vendor people (or consultants/advisors) bringing more real-world information and experience to the public domain. But we still need more.

Service-centricity per se is more prevalent, even if some IT shops are merely pretending to deliver IT services to their customers – they are still unable to look away from the technology and are too heavily focused on the ITIL processes (so bogged down in the means rather than the end).

There is so much more IT and business complexity with conversations/presentations around cloud, BYOD (bring your own device), mobility, and social in particular. And I can’t help think that such things have superseded the issues of 2009 rather than having been added to our challenges (or overlaid onto our successes) around meeting business needs, service-centricity, optimizing IT talent, etc.

While many of the 2009 presenters are well known, thanks to social media we are now fortunate enough to have more presenters from mainland Europe and further afield (as well as the enterprise presenters). This can only continue to grow as we become closer still as a global ITSM community – there is definitely something itSMF International should be learning from this breaking-down of geographic barriers at conferences (itSMF or otherwise).

So there is much positive change to embrace. I personally hope that the 2013 itSMF UK conference has a good balance between the practical and the strategic – covering topics that will help the attendees and their customers in 2014 rather than 2020.

My final thought …

We’ve come a long way but there is still far to go (with both ITSM conferences and IT service delivery). I like the idea of crowdsourcing conference content but alas it is a little chicken-and-egg – attendees should be voting on content but would they sign up (to a paid conference) without seeing the content (and, importantly, the speakers) first? Probably not.  So maybe a hybrid model is needed … part committee-driven, to convince attendees to part with their cash, and part crowdsourced closer to the date. Just think how more relevant the latter would be both in terms of content and timeliness.

So, if you want to present at the 2013 itSMF UK conference it’s on the 4th and 5th November 2013 at the ICC in Birmingham. I’m sure the call for presentations will be happening soon via www.itsmf.co.uk, maybe things will be even better in 2013.

As always your comments are encouraged and appreciated.

Call for presentations is now available: www.itsmf.co.uk/News/Conference/Conf_2013_Call_for_presentations.aspx 

You might also be interested in: http://blogs.forrester.com/stephen_mann/12-12-24-the_top_10_it_service_management_challenges_for_2013_but_what_did_you_achieve_in_2012