There are many sources of IT service management (ITSM) and IT industry trends. Ranging from those that run extensive, and not-so-extensive, enterprise surveys through to those that juggle their crystal ***** and join the dots to make predictions that may or may not become realities.
Another, less obvious and possibly overlooked, source is industry events and the sessions they contain. Yes, industry events can be a window into the world of enterprise IT whether we realize it or not.
Now, I hear the murmurs of disagreement starting already, so please bear with me …
Yes, events can be the vessels of self-fulfilling prophecies – the industry is talking about trend A so everyone is presenting about trend A even if no one is actually doing anything about it (and maybe they never will). And because everyone is presenting on sexy Trend A the industry continues to talk about Trend A as “the next big thing.” We have seen a few of these “trends” in ITSM in recent years and, to be fair, sometimes these things just take longer to make it into corporate reality than we expect. Or they can manifest themselves in different ways – social is a great example. But we need to be honest about the relevancy and immediacy of such hype-driven trends.
And yes, presenters may want to present on what they have always presented on, regurgitating three-year-old content for that proverbial “easy life.” Or they may offer up an abstract based on what they think will get them a sought-after slot at a prestigious event rather than presenting on something fresh and hopefully more valuable than treading over the same ground again (notwithstanding the fact that “back to basics” content is often popular and helpful at industry events). It’s a risk averse approach that can unfortunately match that of those that select event content – picking sessions that they think will sell event tickets rather than make a real difference to real-world IT service delivery.
And finally there is that perennial event bugbear where an interesting-sounding presentation title and abstract that is ultimately found out to be:
- The use of sexy words to cover a less-than-sexy presentation. You know the ones I mean, where you leave the presentation wondering why on earth you chose to attend it.
- Little more than a marketing-driven sales pitch – all screenshots and marketecture. The proverbial style over substance that gives you a chance to catch up on your emails.
But in my experience these issues apply less to customer presentations. Customer presentations hold a certain truth and, while not necessarily always at the bleeding edge of IT trendiness, they do show what is being adopted in enterprise IT. And also offer up many of the valuable “hows.” As I’ve written before: predicting the future is a lot easier than actually getting there.
Knowledge14 sessions offer an interesting insight into what’s hot in enterprise IT right now
As I mentioned in a couple of previous blogs on Knowledge14:
- CIOs: Stop Letting Your People Attend IT Events With Little Value
- Make Attending Knowledge14 Your Professional New Year Resolution
Knowledge14 has over 180 presentational/interactive sessions spanning CIO to Developer topics. And, importantly, over 90% of these sessions will be delivered by ServiceNow customers, i.e. those that have “been there, done it, and bought the t-shirt.”
So what’s hot with ServiceNow customers?
Based on the number of related customer sessions, and in increasing session-volume number order …
As you would expect, there are a number of presentations related to the ITSM “foundation” of incident, problem, and change management. Demand management is an interesting addition, with three sessions, but what is really interesting is the more than ten presentations on configuration management and CMDBs and the ties with change, GRC (governance, risk, and compliance), service improvement, and other areas.
As is the number of IT asset management sessions. Along with IT cost management and eight “risk and compliance” sessions it’s an indication of the increased scrutiny that the corporate IT organization is finding itself under. The dual pressure of needing to reduce IT costs AND improve service.
Implementation success is a curious one. While not a trend per se, the fact that customers have successfully rolled out new technology, processes, and possibly even people-change in relatively short timeframes has warranted 14 presentations and three panels (each with three customers). Reading between the lines though, there are definite call-outs to ROI and improving IT service delivery as well as transforming IT in these implementation sessions.
Consumerization has definitely bitten hard too. There are 17 self-service-related sessions. And it’s self-service driven by customer demand rather than IT supply, in that it’s self-service that goes beyond IT. ServiceNow calls it managing service relationships, others may call it enterprise service management or similar. And it’s not just about having an Amazon.com-like storefront, service catalog and shopping basket, it’s about improving the service experience and service delivery for the end user or customer.
And continuing this beyond IT theme, there are 26 sessions on the creation of custom apps and four more on improving HR operations using ServiceNow HR Service Automation. Again showing the desire to take the corporate IT organization’s service automation technology, best practice processes, and years of service management and service delivery experience to benefit other business functions. Allowing for consistency, economies of scale, improved service delivery performance, and improved service experience.
It’s a quick and dirty view …
… but it does seem to back up what I was seeing as an industry analyst 12 months ago:
- Interest in CMDBs is on the rise again (over 80% of ServiceNow customers use the CMDB) to support other IT activities such as service catalog management, ITAM, and change management rather than “just to do configuration management.”
- Capabilities to improve governance are in vogue – ITAM and GRC in particular – with an emphasis on financial stewardship too.
- Customers are getting tool and process implementation right. After all, having a great strategy means little if you fail in execution.
- Consumerization is driving service catalog initiatives but it is also raising employee expectations of service delivery. Whether it be the service experience from IT, HR, legal, facilities, or any other corporate service provider. And savvy CIOs are helping these other business functions to up their service delivery game through IT.
Want to find out more? Register for Knowledge14 in San Francisco from the 27th April – 1st May 2014. Where 6000 IT professionals will meet for an industry event built on a bedrock of customer success stories.
Image source: Flickr: hyku's Photostream