People who work in IT service management (ITSM) and service desk roles always seem to want (and appreciate) information – sometimes to help improve and sometimes just to confirm that what they’re already doing is right. But what do they really, really want (please don’t say a zig a zig ah)? Which are the key areas for help-providers – such as us here at – to focus on in 2018 (and beyond)?

Of course, we could all take a guess – and we’d get some of the trends and topics right. But, as with establishing how well an IT service is performing, we’ll never truly know until we ask the customer. Thus, we asked readers to vote – to select up to five of the following topics that they felt would be the most important for us to cover in 2018:

  1. Agile
  2. Artificial intelligence (AI)
  3. Automation
  4. Business relationship management (BRM)
  5. ITSM “basics”
  6. ITSM “advanced”
  7. Cloud
  8. COBIT
  9. Customer experience (CX)
  10. DevOps
  11. Digital transformation
  12. Enterprise service management
  13. Internet of Things (IoT)
  14. IT asset management (ITAM) and software asset management (SAM)
  15. IT4IT
  16. ITIL
  17. ITSM tools
  18. Knowledge management
  19. Metrics
  20. People (including attitude, behavior, and culture (ABC))
  21. Security
  22. Self-service
  23. Service integration and management (SIAM)
  24. VeriSM
  25. Other

And the survey said…

There was a clear winner – automation – which surprisingly beat off two of the hottest “IT media” topics – AI and digital transformation. These and the rest of the top 5 (which is actually a top 9) are covered in detail below, but it’s also worth a quick look at the tail end of the table – at those topics that drew little interest.

Looking from the bottom up:

  • The lack of interest in IoT and ITAM/SAM is disappointing but not unexpected. We’d love to have greater demand for content related to the better management of IT (and business) assets – plus better financial stewardship – but these topics continue to be low on the learning (and doing) agenda for ITSM pros. Something will have to give though – and probably helped by AI – with the volumes of IoT devices making ITAM/SAM (plus security) harder to ignore.
  • The three approaches in the bottom half of the table are at different stages in their lifecycles. IT4IT and VeriSM are both relatively new, but COBIT is very mature. In many ways, it’s a mystery as to why COBIT continues to be such a poor relation to ITIL – if you have never considered its merits, this 2012 IT Skeptic blog is a good advert for COBIT.
  • I guess no one votes for ITSM “basics” when there are so many newer ITSM challenges (and opportunities) to address. We’ll continue to publish on the basics though as it’s often what people tend to be looking for via Google.
  • Joining the dots (and maybe incorrectly), the fact that security is so low down the table is probably symptomatic of the ongoing disconnect between ITSM strategies/activities and business wants/needs. Security has to be a top 3 business concern and should definitely be an operational concern for more than just the corporate IT security personnel.
  • People and BRM are touching on mid-table performance but, in a modern ITSM world where we continue to promote the need for better people-y capabilities, why are we not focused on these two topics? Maybe they are tier 2 topics, with the plan being to sort out the technology stuff first before addressing the people issues and opportunities? And we know how well that has worked for the last 30 years!

So, that’s the bottom half of the table covered – now onto the top 5.

Hot Topic #1 – Automation

Automation is nothing new. IT management and ITSM solutions have been sold for decades based on the ability to automate previously manual activities for speedier and better outcomes, plus lower costs.

And now, in addition to traditional IT automation capabilities – such as scripts, process-workflow automation, and third-party system orchestration – AI, and in particular machine learning, is capable of extending and enhancing automation capabilities.

Automation is not only a valued topic for readers, Service Desk Institute (SDI) research also shows it to be a key influencer of new ITSM tool selection.

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular automation-related topics you would like to see covered on In the meantime, please check out:

Hot Topic #2 – AI

It’s surprising that this wasn’t in pole position, but then again the phrase “AI and automation” is becoming more common. There’s no doubt that ITSM tool vendors will be increasingly creating and sharing content related to AI in 2018 – whether it’s native AI capabilities (home grown or acquired), integrations with third-party solution providers, or newer ITSM tool vendors that start with AI as a unique selling point (USP).

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular AI-related topics you would like to see covered on In the meantime, please check out:

Hot Topic #3 – Digital transformation

There’s no doubt that a key ITSM challenge for 2018 will be delivering against the business need for “digital transformation” – from generating new revenues (driven by technology and data), providing better customer engagement capabilities, and the need to bring corporate back-office operations into the 21st century.

There’s so much overlap with digital transformation – from better designing, delivering, managing, supporting, and improving IT/business services to helping to improve business back-office capabilities potentially using ITSM principles, thinking, capabilities, and technologies as a blueprint (think enterprise service management).

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular digital-transformation-related topics you would like to see covered on In the meantime, please check out:

Hot Topic(s) #4 – ITSM “advanced” and CX (in joint 4th)

At first sight, these two topics aren’t connected. But of course, they are.

While organizations continue to move on past the ITSM “basics” – related to service-desk operations in the main – to more “advanced” capabilities, the CX will suffer. If only because ITSM activities are bogged down in reactive activities rather than maturing to be more proactive.

Much will be written about CX (or end-user or employee experience) in 2018 by default. It’s the direction the industry is moving in thanks to consumerization (of service not just IT). ITSM “advanced” is a trickier topic to cover though.

Firstly, what does “advanced” really mean? Once person’s advanced might be another’s basics, and vice versa. Also, given that ITSM is now 30 years old, if a high proportion of IT organizations have still to tackle more than the basics, then will they ever? Either because of costs, capabilities, or the fact that they don’t need to (at least in their own opinion).

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular advanced- and CX-related topics you would like to see covered on In the meantime, please check out:

Hot Topic(s) #5 – DevOps, ITIL, metrics, and self-service (in joint 5th)

Nothing new here. Well, OK there is with DevOps still. And, importantly, ITSM pros still have the opportunity to play a much bigger role in their organizations’ DevOps initiatives.

Getting more from ITIL is hopefully something that the “ITIL 2018” lead architect team at AXELOS will address with its forthcoming update (and I’m confident that they will). And finally getting self-service and metrics right continues to be a challenge even before considering the moving goalposts – where both CX and new technologies will change the dynamics and up the pressure on ITSM pros to get these right.

Please let us know in the comments if there are particular DevOps-, ITIL-, metrics, or self-service-related topics you would like to see covered on In the meantime, please check out:

It has been a long blog, so thank you for getting this far. was, and continues to be, created with the ITSM-pro reader front of mind – so please continue to let us know which topics will best help you in your day (and future) jobs.

Plus, of course, if you have knowledge, opinions, and expertise you wish to share, then please submit an article.

So 2018 is here – three years further “into the future” than the year that Marty McFly visited in his DeLorean and 200 years since the “birth” of Frankenstein. And it’s now the year of the dog, which apparently means it’s going to be a great year for police officers, scientists, counselors, interior designers, professors, politicians, priests, nurses, clerks, and judges – sorry, bad luck IT people.

2018 also brings with it both new and old IT service management (ITSM) challenges and no doubt you’re already scouring the internet for the latest best practice advice and recommendations on how to survive another year in IT (hint: this article might help).

So the question is, how can we best help you in 2018?

How can we better help you navigate the challenges of the likes of: self-service adoption, the best use of artificial intelligence and automation, tackling people and cultural issues, ITSM framework and best practice confusion, etc?

And in a year that expects to see even more security breaches than 2017 (FYI the increase between 2016 and 2017 was 40%), a greater focus on customer experience (CX), a new version of ITIL, and the GDPR law coming into effect (but only to name a few things), what practical ITSM advice and tips would most benefit you and your organization?

Creating the 2018 content pipeline

To help ensure our 2018 schedule of content (which comprises blogs, eBooks, webinars, reports, solution snapshots, surveys, etc.) is of the greatest benefit to you – our valued readers – we need your input. What topics would be of most interest? What are your biggest struggles? Which challenges do you most need help with?

Below you’ll find a poll that encompasses both your typical ITSM topics and other related areas (if you can’t see it – before the next paragraph – then your antivirus program might be blocking it). The poll is listed in alphabetical order and you can select up to 5 of the topics that you feel would be the most important for us to cover in 2018.

The results of this poll will help ensure that we source the most appropriate content created by the most appropriate people.

A look back at 2017

In addition to the above poll responses, we’ll also be utilizing the data we collected from the content written across 2016 and 2017 to help drive our 2018 topics. As such, you might be interested to know what our top ten most-read articles of 2017 were:

  1. ITSM 101: Incident Management vs. Problem Management
  2. Why 2017 is the Year that SIAM Gets Serious
  3. Want the 2016 Gartner ITSSM Magic Quadrant and Other Analyst ITSM Reports for Free (Well Almost)?
  4. How to Define, Measure, and Report IT Service Availability
  5. What Problem Does ITIL Solve?
  6. Why isn’t DevOps Delivering the Anticipated Benefits?
  7. The Past and Future of IT Service Management
  8. Redefining Service Delivery (from Meek to Magic)
  9. Why ITIL Might Not Be the Answer to Today’s ITSM Challenges
  10. Still Arguing Over Incidents and Problems? Really?

For those interested, average monthly visits to our website was up 32% on 2016 (thank you), with our audience split as follows:

2017 also saw the launch our monthly newsletter. And we’re ecstatic with the response it’s received, smashing industry averages for both our open and click rates. Note: if you’re not already signed up to receive our monthly updates, you can do so here.

Back to 2018… and a few cheeky plugs

In between polishing off the last of the Christmas chocolates and finalizing our content plan for the year ahead, we’re also working on a wealth of other activities, including the launch of a completely redesigned website and a dedicated content stream at the upcoming SDI Annual Conference.

Writing this article also seems a good time to remind you that anyone and everyone (don’t worry, it’s free) can submit content for publication on our website (even puppets and penguins). Though be warned, we do adhere to a strict editorial process (flimsy press release pieces really don’t make the cut). You can read more about our guidelines and how to submit your content suggestions here.

If writing isn’t your cup of tea (or coffee), then maybe we can help with that too. We offer a wide range of content creation, marketing, and design services. After all, this is how we’re able to provide you with all the free ITSM greatness (I was going to say ITSM goodness, but I don’t want to have to pay Barclay Rae a copyright fee) that’s our shared best practice articles, tips, and advice.

FYI a brief list of our services can be viewed here. If this is of interest to you, please get in touch by emailing

So please help us out…

If you haven’t done so already, please complete the above poll to help ensure that our 2018 content calendar best aligns with the industry’s wants, challenges, frustrations, and desires. Whether you’re an IT manager, a service desk employee, a consultant, a trainer, or a vendor, your input is critical to ensuring that’ content continues to deliver value to all those that take the time to read it.

Thank you, and have a great 2018!

Forget your countdown to Christmas (it’s 52 days in case you were wondering), more importantly there’s officially only 18 sleeps until this year’s annual itSMF UK conference (ITSM17).

There’ll be wonderful people and networking, great food, the potential for some alcohol, gifts (in the form of best practice content and freebies), an opportunity to spend money (new IT service management tool (ITSM) anyone?), singing (closing keynote Roy Atkinson is known to crack a tune or two during his presentations), and Barclay Rae will be dressing up as Rudolph. Ok, so I might have made the last one up…

Joking aside though, ITSM17 promises to pack more punch than a hard-thrown Christmas snowball – with plenty of exciting changes and improvements in place to ensure that every delegate takes away lots of practical advice and tips, new business relationships, and a big fat smile on their face.

Why ITSM17 promises to be different

You may or may not remember my rant in the Facebook Back2ITSM group earlier this year. I appreciate that I’m not the target audience for ITSM events (I work in marketing, but please don’t hold this against me), but as someone who attends multiple ITSM events each year and actively speaks to a wide range of attendees I do think I’m qualified to at least volunteer an opinion. With that opinion being that not enough events actually, when it boils down to it, actively help delegates.

Cast your mind back to the last ITSM event you attended. Did it REALLY help you? Or, while the content might have been great, was it mostly a lot of “you need to achieve this” and “this is why”? But did anyone actually provide you with PRACTICAL “how tos” such as how to get started with whatever topic was being discussed, how to improve, or how to realize the benefits of X, Y , and Z? My guess would be… probably not. Of course not all events and/or presentations can be tarred with the same brush, but, based on my experience, the majority (no matter how good), miss the mark in terms of actually helping delegates when they leave the event and head back to the day-to-day operations of their work.

Enter ITSM17. Taking on board the above post and the feedback from ITSM16, this year is going to have a strong focus on “how tos”. In fact, every presentation by stipulation has to finish with three practical pieces of advice for delegates to take away and starting using as soon as they return to work. Whether the topic is ITIL, DevOps, SIAM, or anything else, the same rules will apply to each and every presentation.

What’s more, these takeaways will be collated and distributed to all attendees post conference. So, even if you missed a particular presentation you’ll still be able to benefit from the knowledge within it.

Here’s just some of the how tos you can expect to learn.

ITSM is About to get Practical

And that’s not all…

ITSM17 will also have a strong focus on collaboration, relationship building, and peer support. With three facilitated discussion zones (Future of ITIL, Practical ITSM, and Beyond ITSM) providing delegates with the opportunity to engage, debate, and contribute ideas, questions, and inputs. As part of this, delegates will receive feedback during the conference on the collective input – with analysis and presentation of the discussion zone findings and highlights on day two.

Plus, itSMF UK will be introducing instant presenter feedback (going retro with a Sharpie and a piece of paper), moving presentation Q&As to the expo hall (in the Practical ITSM discussion zone), encouraging social media engagement (hooray for Twitter walls), and providing presentation-slide access as soon as the session finishes.

In addition, there’ll be various networking opportunities including:

  • Drinks, arranged by and sponsored by itSMF UK, on Sunday 19th November. You can register your interest for this here (you don’t need to attend ITSM17 to get involved).
  • A new networking reception at the end of day one – Monday 20th November – available to anybody with an ITSM17 ticket (including those who only have a ticket for day two).

Seriously, take a look…

If you’re a Service Manager or Service Management Professional then I implore you to check out the agenda for ITSM17. The schedule of content is strong and touches on a variety of topics from basic service management to future innovations. You can find out more about the individual presentations here.

Plus, itSMF UK has all the bases covered. So, if you’re worried about how to get your attendance signed off by your boss, you can read this handy guide, aimed at providing everything you need to get the greenlight.

If this still doesn’t tickle your fancy, then why are you still reading? Really you should be clicking over to the itSMF UK website to register.


Before the usual suspects start shouting from their social media accounts, I should point out that I have a vested interest in this event. I’m currently working with itSMF UK on marketing projects and the ITSM17 conference (so of course if you could all now register then my job is done on the latter). You could therefore say I’m biased, but I don’t believe I am. ITSM17 is going to be a great event.

I think the additions to the overall format, and the focus on session quality, is really going to take this conference from good to great. I hope you’ll agree when you join the event in November.

As an aside, please post your name in the comments if you’d like Barclay Rae to wear a Rudolph costume at ITSM17.

As many of you may already be aware, I organize informal “IT service management (ITSM) meet ups” throughout the year. These typically take place in Central London but, on occasion, we do frequent other cities in the UK or, in fact, other countries. The purpose of these “meet ups” is simply to get the community together for a few drinks and a nice dinner in a setting where we can talk about the industry, the latest gossip, and the future of service management. Plus, of course, we talk about non-ITSM stuff too.

It Doesn’t Hurt Your Pocket Too Much

Where possible, I arrange for these events to be sponsored, however there is usually a small cost involved (for your dinner for example). That said, I aim to keep the costs as low as possible so that anyone and everyone can join in. Typically, we get the “same old faces” (old but still ever so lovely), however the gathering is open to any and all, far and wide. In particular these meet ups provide a great opportunity for “new faces” to make useful connections, network with like-minded individuals, and maybe learn a thing or too… or better yet, teach the old faces a new thing or two.

Right, now to the actual point.

As we leave August and summer behind us (if we ever even had summer to begin with in the UK), I wanted to make you aware of three upcoming ITSM meet ups. Two of which are in the UK (one London and one Manchester), and one is in the USA (Orlando). So, whether you’re a practitioner, a consultant, a vendor, or just merely interested in ITSM, then please consider joining us at any or all of these meet ups. Simply register your interest by RSVP’ing on the appropriate Facebook event page.

September Meet Up – Central London, UK

This meet up will take place in Central London (venue TBC depending on numbers) on Monday 25th September. Drinks will take place from around 6.00pm – 8.00pm followed by dinner at a restaurant nearby.

At the moment, both drinks and dinner are at each individual’s own expense as I do not have a sponsor in place. However, if any kind vendors are reading this and would like to help play their part in bringing the ITSM community together, then please email me at

To register your interest for this meet up, please RSVP on the Facebook event page here.

November Meet Up #1 – Orlando, USA

This meet up will take place in Orlando at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel (where FUSION17 is taking place) on Wednesday 1st November. Drinks will take place at 6.30pm – 7.30pm at the pool bar, with dinner to follow at 7.30pm at the hotel restaurant “A Land Remembered.”

This meet up is very kindly being part sponsored by the people at AXELOS. Drinks and dinner is at individual expense, but AXELOS will making a considerable contribution to the dinner bill.

To register your interest for this meet up, please RSVP on the Facebook event page here. Please note that dinner spaces will be limited (drinks spaces will not).

November Meet Up #2 – Manchester, UK

This meet up will take place in Manchester (venue TBC depending on numbers, however it will be near to the Manchester Central venue) on Sunday 19th November. Drinks will take place from around 6.00pm – 8.00pm, with dinner to follow.

The drinks part of this meet up are kindly being sponsored by the itSMF UK team – with the meet up taking place the day before their annual conference. This year’s event features a host of international speakers, and you can view the event agenda here.

Dinner will be at individual expense.

To register your interest for this meet up, please RSVP on the Facebook event page here.

As an aside I will also be arranging dinner for the evening of Monday 20th November, following the itSMF UK conference networking reception at around 8pm (the awards dinner has been moved to be a standalone event in June alongside SITS).

If you’re also interested in joining this dinner, please email me at (there’s no Facebook page dedicated to this).

In Summary

All of these meet ups are very informal. No product pitches. No agenda. No specific topics for discussion. Just food and drinks with ITSM friends. So please do come along!

To recap:

  • Monday 25th September in Central London, UK (at own cost). RSVP here.
  • Wednesday 1st November in Orlando, USA (dinner part sponsored by AXELOS). RSVP here.
  • Sunday 19th November in Manchester, UK (drinks sponsored by itSMF UK). RSVP here.
  • Monday 20th November in Manchester, UK, dinner only (at own cost). Please let me know if you’d like to attend by emailing me at or contacting me via any of the usual social media channels.

I hope to see you there.

As we officially kicked off last year, I wrote a blog called “Want the 2016 Gartner ITSSM Magic Quadrant and Other Analyst ITSM Reports for Free (Well Almost)?” A blog which happens to be the most-read blog so far on the site, which tells me it’s probably been quite helpful. So, as the latest Gartner ITSM Magic Quadrant (note the drop of the additional “S” from ITSSM) has now been released, I thought it time for a refresh with links to newer analyst reports and research.

Most analyst research sits behind a paywall, exclusively for clients or available to non-clients for a fee. However, thanks to the vendors in our industry (who don’t often get the thanks and love they deserve) and their marketing teams, many valuable analyst reports are available for free. Well, if you count giving your email address away as “free” of course. 

In this blog you’ll find links to access the following ten reports, not all of which are purely ITSM-related, for free:

  1. The 2017 Gartner ITSM Magic Quadrant
  2. The 2017 Gartner ITSM Critical Capabilities
  3. The 2017 Gartner CRM Customer Engagement Center Magic Quadrant
  4. InfoTech 2017 Enterprise Vendor Landscape
  5. InfoTech 2017 Mid-Market Service Desk Vendor Landscape report
  6. Next Generation IT Service Management: Changing the Future of IT (EMA)
  7. A View from the Frontline – Life on the Service Desk in 2017 (SDI)
  8. The State of Today’s IT: Process Maturity, Business Alignment, and Digital Transformation (HDI)
  9. The Future of ITSM (
  10. The State of DevOps 2017 (Puppet)

For each report we’ve listed the vendors in alphabetical order but feel free to choose who you would prefer to give your contact details to – remember these vendors will likely follow up with some form of marketing communication, unless the contact detail form explicitly offers you a “I’m not interested in your product” option.

The 2017 Gartner ITSM Magic Quadrant

You can download the latest (2017) “Gartner IT Service Management Magic Quadrant” from:

The 2017 Gartner ITSM Critical Capabilities report

We feel that this report often gets over-looked in favor of the ITSM Magic Quadrant, but it’s important that you look at the reports in conjunction with each other. The Magic Quadrant is very much about the vendors and the market, whereas the Critical Capabilities report is about the tools. If you’re looking for a new ITSM solution the Critical Capabilities report is one to read while you think about your own tool needs and process maturity. That way you can see how each tool fares relative to  your specific business use case.

You can download the “2017 Gartner ITSM Critical Capabilities” report from:

The 2017 Gartner CRM Customer Engagement Center Magic Quadrant

This reports examines the global market for customer service and support applications. You can download the “2017 Gartner CRM Customer Engagement Center Magic Quadrant” from:

InfoTech 2017 Enterprise Vendor Landscape

This report aims to help readers understand what’s new in the IT service desk market; evaluates service desk vendors and products based on enterprise needs; and determines which products are most appropriate for particular use cases and scenarios.

You can download the “InfoTech 2017 Enterprise Vendor Landscape” report from:

InfoTech 2017 Mid-Market Service Desk Vendor Landscape

This report is designed to help organizations select a mid-market IT service desk solution by detailing vendors’ strengths and challenges.

You can download the “InfoTech 2017 Mid-Market Service Desk Vendor Landscape” report from:

Next Generation IT Service Management: Changing the Future of IT

This report by EMA delves into the changes and challenges happening in ITSM in companies across North America and Europe.

You can access the “Next Generation IT Service Management: Changing the Future of IT” report from:

A View from the Frontline – Life on the Service Desk in 2017

This report is based on an SDI survey which looks into the current pain points faced by IT service desk professionals, their frustrations, and the key innovations and changes forecasted to shape the future of the ITSM industry.

You can download the “A View from the Frontline – Life on the Service Desk in 2017” report from:

The State of Today’s IT: Process Maturity, Business Alignment, and Digital Transformation

This report is the result of a research survey fielded by HDI, with responses covering nearly 30 industry verticals and organization sizes from fewer than 100 to over 50,000. The study looks at things such as “How do organizations rank themselves for process maturity?”, “Which framework and methodologies are being used?”, and “What advanced technologies are being used currently and which are part of future plans?”.

We wrote briefly about the five statistics we found most interesting in the report here. However, thanks to sponsorship from Atlassian, you can download the “The State of Today’s IT: Process Maturity, Business Alignment, and Digital Transformation” report from HDI:

The Future of ITSM

This report is the result of a survey of over 300 ITSM professionals run by in Q2 2017. The report covers five areas:

  1. Working in IT
  2. The impact of politics on IT staffing
  3. New technology
  4. Best practice, and
  5. Meeting service expectations.

The report was kindly sponsored by ManageEngine and you can download the “Future of ITSM” report from:

The State of DevOps 2017

Made available by Puppet and with the sponsorship of Amazon Web Services, Atlassian, Deloitte, Electric Cloud, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Splunk, and Wavefront – the State of DevOps 2017 report is the go-to source for DevOps success information.

To quote the Puppet report landing page:

“Over the past six years and more than 27,000 State of DevOps survey responses, we’ve found clear evidence that DevOps practices yield remarkable results for IT teams and organizations.”

You can download the “State of DevOps 2017” report from:

There are of course bound to be more “almost free to access” industry analyst reports out there. That said, at the time of writing we could not find any updated ITSM research from either Forrester Research or Ovum. You can access their previous reports by reading our previous article on “free reports” from last year.

If you’re aware of any other research that would be suitable to add to this blog and you would like to share, please add it/them as a comment below.

If you want more content like this, please subscribe to our monthly email. Or follow or Sophie Danby on Twitter.

Image Credit

As often as possible, we arrange “ITSM meet ups” in Central London. The idea behind them being to provide an opportunity for the UK IT service management (ITSM) community to get together, have a few drinks, discuss the latest service management gossip, and generally have a good time. These meet ups are open to any and all, and provide a great opportunity for “new faces” to make useful connections, network with like-minded individuals, and maybe learn a thing or too.

So, with people far and wide soon gathering in London for the Service Desk and IT Support Show, it’s of course time for another meet up. So whether you’re an end user, a consultant, a tool vendor, an educator, or just merely interested in ITSM then please consider joining us. 

The Lowdown

The “SITS meet up” will take place on Tuesday 6th June and is split into two parts:

  • Drinks – Very kindly sponsored once again by Service-Flow. These will take place from 5.30pm to 8.00pm at the bar within London Novotel West. Ideally you’ll let me know in advance if you plan to attend, but you can make a last minute decision on the day if planning is an issue.
  • Dinner – Unlike previous meet ups, this one comes with a free dinner in addition to the free drinks. Generously sponsored by Spoke, dinner will be from 8.30pm onwards at Orjowan Lebanese restaurant. Spaces are limited for dinner so please let me know ASAP if you would like to join us.

This meet up is very informal, though I’m sure that both the sponsoring vendors would like to give you a brief overview of who they are and what they do. That said, there’s no formal agenda. No specific topics for discussion. Just food and drinks with ITSM friends (and I believe there might even be some cool swag for those attending too).

If you’d like to know more about the sponsors, you can visit their websites and Neither vendor is affiliated with the other.

Event Overview

WHAT: Pre-SITS Meet Up
WHERE: Drinks at London Novotel West, followed by dinner at Orjowan Lebanese restaurant
WHEN: 6th June 2017
WHO: The ITSM Community
HOW TO ATTEND: Please RSVP on the Facebook event here.

Can’t Make It?

If you’re planning to attend SITS17 but you won’t be there the night of the 6th June, there are still other networking opportunities available to you. The main two that we’re aware of are:

Freshservice Rooftop Party

This takes place close to the SITS17 event (with their famous rickshaws taking you from outside Olympia to the party venue). From 4pm – 8pm on 7th June you can enjoy fine craft beer, Wagyu super-beef burgers, live music, and some brilliant ITSM talk – all for free, with Freshservice promising that there’ll be no unsolicited sales pitches and PPTs. You can register your interest here.

itSMF UK Awards Dinner

Wind down at the Freshservice party and then throw on your gladrags and head over to the itSMF UK Awards dinner taking place on 7th June. Here you can recognize and celebrate service management professionalism and achievement while enjoying a three course dinner, a few drinks, and the company of Reverend Richard Coles (the event host). They’ll be plenty of opportunities to network and create new industry relationships, plus there’ll be a special “State of the Nation” presentation from Forrester Research’s VP Consulting Director David Cannon, who’ll be sharing his insights into the future of IT. Tickets cost £130pp + VAT, and you can book them here

IT service management (ITSM) best practice is a great thing. Whether taken from ITIL – the most commonly adopted ITSM best practice framework – or not, it has helped countless individuals and organizations to improve. Whether it’s starting something new more quickly, or improving on the service delivery and support status quo, ITSM best practice can make one’s life so much easier AND help to deliver a better outcome.

The annual itSMF Norway conference is a great source of in-person ITSM best practice, offering an English-speaking stream in addition to local-language best practice sessions. This year, however, not only did I take away best practices, I also took away some advice on how to best use the best practices.

1. Stop Blindly Following ITSM Best Practice

“Don’t be prescriptive!” I found this to be a strong message throughout the conference, regardless of the ITSM topic in question. Whether it be service integration and management (SIAM), ITIL, self-service, enterprise service management, strategy building, or anything else; the directive was clear – we shouldn’t be prescriptive in how we adopt best practice.

We need to remember that one size does not fit all with best practice. We shouldn’t blindly follow the books and the blogs we read, or start to do something just because we’ve heard it mentioned at a conference or because it’s an “ITSM industry trend.”

It sounds like common sense, but time and time again it appears to be one of the causes of failure in ITSM or IT-related projects. We’ve all heard it said… “ITIL doesn’t work,” and if you rigidly follow the best practice line by line then it probably won’t.

Andrea Kis made a great point in her SIAM presentation – that we learn at a very early age how certain things do and don’t fit. She used my 17-month-old daughter as an example – as she has known for a couple of months now that, in her shape sorter toy, the triangle will never fit into the rectangle-shaped hole. Nor does the square fit into the circle-shaped hole. So why, when it comes to IT and business, do we forget knowledge and logic that’s so simple that you can learn it before you’re even two years of age?

Self-service is a great example – as far too many IT departments have introduced self-service technology only to see low employee-adoption levels. They’re trying to fit a technology-shaped block in to a people-shaped hole. You can’t force your organization, your customers, or your end users to work in a certain way “just because.” Instead you need to tailor models and practices to suit your organizational needs. You need to adopt and adapt as per ITIL. Plus, you need to remember that sadly silver bullets for ITSM don’t exist (something which just about every presenter I saw speak reminded the audience of). And, in the case of self-service, the use of organizational change management techniques is just as important as the technology being introduced.

There’s a lot of available best practice – as per Paula’s tweet from Mark Thomas’ session. So you don’t have to use just a single ITSM best practice framework – you can mix and match. Nor do you have to adopt all of it, which has certainly been the case with ITIL over the decades. And finally, don’t prescriptively use what you do adopt, instead tailor it to fit your needs and your organization’s ways of working.

2. Stop speaking “technology”

Another noticeable theme throughout the various streams of ITSM content was the usual “it’s not IT and the business, IT is the business” mantra and that we need to stop alienating people by talking in technology jargon.

The usual solution quoted for this issue is to “talk in a language the business understands.” But not here in Norway – at least not quite. Here the message was not to speak in neither tech nor business language, but to simply speak “human.” Building on the previous theme of not being prescriptive, you should adapt and change your language to suit any given situation, and to remember that – most importantly – you’re dealing with humans, i.e. real, live people.

“Remove the exhausting acronyms” (said Mark Thomas), “Remember it’s about people” (said Kevin Holland), “Amend your terminology as required” (said Stephen Mann), and “Speak the language called human” (said Sathyanarain Muralidharan).

All are great points and, if we stop to think about it, each corporate line of business has it’s own version of business language (for instance, listen to a finance lady and then a HR guy, and notice the difference). Yet all employees speak “human.”

3. Stop ignoring your customers

Instead involve your customers. This message is continuously repeated at events, in articles, during webinars etc., yet it’s still a message that seems to be ignored by many. There’s still what seems to be a need for many IT teams to “think about and involve your customers.” A good example was provided by an audience member who, after being given lots of great suggestions on how to improve self-service and empower users/customers, still wanted to simply force end users to work in the way that IT wanted them to work. They wanted to mandate self-service over other access and communication channels.

IT, and the people that work within it, has to wake up and smell the coffee. Times are changing. You can’t ignore what your customers think and feel anymore – well not if you want to succeed at least.

And it’s not just related to initiatives like self-service either. Even something as “day-to-day” as incident management is changing, it’s no longer just about break-fix – it’s about making your end users more effective and ultimately supporting the business (as covered by David Cannon in one of his presentations). And in case you hadn’t worked it out yet, the future of IT service delivery and support is going to be a very long and uphill struggle if you don’t talk to and involve your customers when trying to help them to be more effective.

The message on this at itSMF Norway was very clear, even if there appeared to be a handful of people who didn’t want to hear it – everything we do in IT should start with the customer. My good friend Joe the IT Guy has been talking about the importance of involving your customers in processes since back in 2014, and at this event those sentiments were echoed throughout nearly all of the sessions I attended.

Forrester has been talking about “The Age of the Customer” for what seems like a decade and more recently customer experience (CX). Unfortunately, and fortunately, for corporate IT organizations, consumerization has brought CX into the workplace and all corporate service providers (not just IT) need to get better aligned with employee needs and expectations.

The hot “topics” in Norway

Beyond the three things we need to stop, it’s also worth noting the conference themes. And the beauty of the itSMF Norway conference is that roughly 75% of the content is in Norwegian, which means that for those of us who don’t speak it, choices on sessions are more limited than at other similar size events. You might think that less choice is a bad thing, but flip your thinking here. This, in my opinion, is a very good thing because when there’s only circa 25% of a program to fill (in English at least) the quality of the sessions and content immediately increases because the demand to speak is far higher than the spaces to fill. It’s a great way of “weeding out” mediocre-average sessions, and thus means that I didn’t attend a single “bad” presentation in Norway.

What does this have to do with “hot topics” you’re wondering? Well, it means the opportunities for repeated and recurring topics decreases. Unless of course there were 10 sessions about flying meerkats that I was blissfully unaware of because, in addition to not being able to speak Norwegian, I can’t read it (in the agenda) either.

From what I could see in the agenda, and from what I attended, there were only two clear recurring topics:

  1. Enterprise service management – “Considering using your ITSM tool beyond IT? Do your homework first” and “Enterprise service management: it’s time to share best practice outside of IT.”
  2. SIAM – “Smart SIAM – Enabling Digital Transformation” and “Introduction to SIAM.” Neither we have content specific to, but you can read plenty more about SIAM here.

There wasn’t as much discussion related to topics such as DevOps, customer experience, or consumerization as we might see in the US or UK right now(though there were sessions touching on the first two). Instead the content was more aligned to service desk processes and strategy, which perhaps is an indication of ITSM maturity in Norway. I’m not sure if this is the case in reality – the most I know about Norwegians is that they like a good party (yes, I’m looking at you Sofi Fahlberg.)

Speaking of which…

As always, the entertainment, organization, hospitality, and atmosphere of the itSMF Norway conference was exceptional. It remains (in my opinion) one of the best ITSM conferences on the annual event agenda, and one that I would recommend to anybody interested in service management.

If you’re reading this thinking “But I don’t live in Norway”; trust me, the fact you live in a different country is not a reason to rule this event out in future. As already stated, the more limited options of English content helps to increase the quality of the presentations with a good line up of international speakers. Plus, the ticket price, even with the associated flight costs and hotel, still makes it one of the most affordable ITSM events on offer.

And finally,…

Slightly unrelated, but from the itSMF Noway conference, a little something for all my ITSM friends who know Paula Määttänen

You’re welcome 🙂 is participating in two IT service management (ITSM) webinars in late-January and early-February. Please take a look at the details below – one or both might just be what you’re looking for to help support service desk improvement in particular.

It’s a cheeky plug but you might blame us if you missed them.

Webinar 1: Stephen Mann on improving customer experience

Over the last two years, industry analyst Stephen Mann has written and spoken a lot about the challenges and opportunities for modern IT service desks. From the impact of consumerization – that employee expectations of corporate IT have grown in line with their better consumer-world experiences. Through the increasing importance of knowledge management, and how self-service success needs more than a “build it and they will come approach.” To how new technologies are changing how support organizations can work.

Stephen’s webinar with Kaleo Software, “Five Things Your Corporate IT Organization Needs to Do to Improve Its Customer Experience,” pulls this all together into a single presentation. He’ll offer many insights including:

  • How and why corporate IT organizations, and their service desks, need to up their game in light of consumerization.
  • How organizational change management, self-service, knowledge management, and automation are all key to improving the modern IT service and support experience.
  • How machine learning can be employed to improve both IT operations and customer experience.
  • How to succeed with organizational change, self-service, knowledge management, and automation.

To join Stephen for this webinar, on Wednesday January 25, 2017 at 10 AM PT | 1 PM ET | 6 PM GMT, please register here.

Webinar 2: Ivor Macfarlane on intelligent disobedience

ITSM industry luminary Ivor Macfarlane’s webinar is “Intelligent disobedience: a service dog idea relevant to service management.” It’s a subject dear to Ivor’s heart, and a presentation that he continues to refine his thinking on given that he has now given it at a number of global ITSM conferences including Australia, Denmark, Slovakia, Norway, and across the UK. It’s about time that Ivor made his intelligent disobedience thinking available to a much wider audience, and hence Freshservice has invited him to deliver the talk one more time as a webinar.

Intelligent disobedience – the what and why

A major focus of ITSM and service desk activity in the last 10 years has been the automation of the everyday interaction with end users/customers/clients. Calls that would have required conversation with a service desk operative are now dealt with via self-service portals and no human interaction required. We all know about the obvious benefits – faster fulfilment of customer needs, reduced detection times, and more. But not all calls are routine or everyday occurrences; some instead require investigative discussion (a fancy term for talking to the customers to find out what’s really needed, and the actual situation they are in).

With self-service and automation now taking out many of the routine issues and requests, more of the calls service desk agents get are about “exception situations” and often the standard rules and scripts simply don’t deliver against the need. In many cases, the best resolution comes from agents breaking the normal rules – disobeying in a sensible fashion to deliver what the customer needs. The webinar will talk about this situation and explain how the key technique of “intelligent disobedience” – originally designed for seeing dogs – can improve overall customer service by ensuring customer-facing staff can work outside the normal rules when it’s right to do so.

Ivor’s webinar will be live on 2nd February 2017 at 8 AM PT | 11 AM ET | 4 PM GMT – and you can register here. Even if you’ve heard it before, Ivor suggests that you could attend to spot the improvements he’s made as he’s taken his presentation around the world.

Hopefully we’ll see you at one or both of these ITSM webinars in the next 30 days.

There’s no doubt that the pace of IT and business change is continuing to quicken, with the ability of many IT organizations to keep up questionable. Is the issue the inability to see the need to keep up or perhaps difficulties in “turning the tanker” after years of sailing in the same direction? But more importantly, what can IT and IT service management (ITSM) professionals do to keep up with the pace of change?

We asked a number of the presenters at the 2016 itSMF UK conference: What do IT organizations need to do to keep up with the pace of change? This blog shares the responses to the question provided by:

What do IT organizations need to do to keep up with the pace of change?

As with my previous blog on IT organizational change, while there are a number of different perspectives taken there is also a more common theme – understanding business needs and wants better. Ivor probably sums it up well with his point about not viewing “keeping up with change” as an end, when instead it should be a means towards “being and staying useful to the organization.” 

  1. Roy: Use the “radar” and have a plan. There are people with varied interests in the IT organization—these can be your radar. Encourage them to pay attention to what is going on in their area of interest (i.e. support, architecture, development, “cloud,” etc.). Listen to what they are saying and develop a plan that takes advantage of new technologies and new ways of thinking about existing technologies and business.
  2. Barry: Have a rock solid, repeatable, simple method of delivering change that works for YOU in a consistent and predictable manner. Elements from ITIL, DevOps, Agile, Scrum, Lean, Kanban et al…may all form part of your solution but don’t get caught up in a pathological pursuit of perfection in any one area. The problem with trying to keep up with the DevOps or agile “Jones’” is that you become so engrossed in the quest for the “new wonder framework” that it is often easy to lose focus on the activity that keeps the organization’s lights on.
  3. James: Apart from adopting agile and DevOps capabilities they should consider replatforming and outsourcing legacy services to focus on those services that deliver increasing business value. Rather than optimizing individual processes they should also focus on optimizing the overall outcomes.
  4. Mike: Stop worrying about the pace of change and try to stick to the ideas I gave in the previous two blogs so you’re making many frequent small adjustments rather than aiming for big bang after big bang.
  5. Kevin: IT organizations need to get used to making small incremental changes. That way change becomes something that is normal, and not something to be scared of. They also need to keep aware of what’s happening outside their own organization.
  6. Ivor: Relax a little. Worry too hard about it and you find yourself with “keeping up with change” as an end, when it should be a means towards “being and staying useful to the organization.” Understand what your organization is, the environment it lives in and how the services you deliver help that. Keep up in context – not with changes for their own sake. The world is now too complicated for you to know everything, so create and trust specialist knowledge across the team, and hopefully that team is now wider than IT Operations!
  7. Stephen: The first thing is that they need to understand that they do need to keep up with the required pace of change. And that failure to do so is not an option.
  8. Tony: People need to listen, act swiftly, take away business issues. Listen as they need to understand the direction their business is going. Listen as they need to understand where the IT industry is going.  Listen as they need to know how the new generations are exploiting technology in ways that have never been done before. Act swiftly because technology and business challenges are changing so quickly organizations simply cannot afford to wait. Business issues should be the overriding reason to change. Organizations do not want technology for technology sake.
  9. Stuart: IT organizations need to get much closer to their customers. When an internal IT organization thinks in terms of needing to “align with the business,” it demonstrates that IT has not understood that it is, in fact, part of the overall organization rather than simply something that’s been added on to deal with technical stuff. All IT organisations need to focus on business changes that create value for their organizations and customers, rather than having a narrow technical perspective on change.
  10. Chris: Be receptive. Be inspirational. Be engaging. Be innovative.
  11. Mark: Keep up with pace of business change by understanding the nature of your organization (ref. Dave Snowden, Cynefin) and where applicable, applying lean product development principles (ref. Don Reinertsen)

So what do you think of these points? What do you agree and disagree with? What would you add? I’d love to know, so please leave me a comment below.

Eliciting or facilitating organizational change can be very difficult. Whether it be the adoption of DevOps or replacing your existing IT service management (ITSM) tool, getting management and then employee buy-in is often far more difficult than you think it will be. What advice would you give to others struggling with organizational change issues? Or do you need advice?

We asked a number of the presenters at the 2016 itSMF UK conference a related question: What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to facilitate change in their IT organization/get management buy-in? This blog shares the responses to the question from:

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to facilitate change in their IT organization/get management buy-in?

What’s interesting about the following eleven responses is not only that they’re different answers, with a few but not may common themes, but also that they take a number of different perspectives of what the change the question refers to.

  1. Roy: First, understand what brings value to your company. Next, understand how your IT organization contributes to that value—and that may be the difficult part. Make sure you’re measuring the things that reflect these value-added activities in ways that management can understand and interpret. Deliver these metrics in an easily consumable form, according to management preferences. (Data visualization can be extremely helpful.) Make your case based on data and solid goals.
  2. Barry: Context, context, context. Understand and communicate how change will benefit YOUR people, YOUR customers, and help you achieve YOUR organization’s objectives. Show how procrastination and inertia will hurt EVERYBODY. Then you’ll be pushing at an open door. The key? Understand not just the best practices (ITIL, DevOps, etc.) but how they can be leveraged to deliver on key strategic issues facing your organization at the time of change, i.e. the reasons and drivers for it.
  3. James: The big mistake we make is believing we can generate buy-in as if by magic. In reality you need to buy into other people’s vision and build change on that shared vision.
  4. Mike: Find the data that backs up the change you wish to see, experiment in a way that doesn’t need management buy-in, and build a case based on demonstrable improvement.
  5. Kevin: Successful change starts with agreeing that the change is needed at all. It also needs involvement from key players. Do your homework, get a group of you together to look at how something works today (the people that do the work, not just the managers!), and document what doesn’t work as well as it could. Value analysis can be useful for this. Then all discuss and check that the change you want fixes the issues.
  6. Ivor: In terms of IT change management – identify, honestly report, and forecast that “key metric” – damage. Articulate how much damage your less-than-optimal change process caused last year, and how much it could cause next year unless you improve it. Put your efforts where they will make the most difference. Standard change is the nearest thing ITIL has to a silver bullet. Understand why and fire it in the right direction.
  7. Stephen: Understand that change is a team sport. It’s very hard to get an individual to engender change (or to convince the upper echelons to support a particular change), so seek out likeminded colleagues who can help to create the required groundswell for change.
  8. Tony: Find a burning platform/something that is really causing pain to the business and show how IT can really address the issue and take away the pain rapidly.
  9. Stuart: Firstly, make sure that you’re making the right change, and that it’s within your scope of control. Secondly, make sure that you don’t try to make too many changes at once, or changes that are bigger than they need to be. Follow the agile approach of making incremental changes rather than trying to force enormous change onto an organization that isn’t ready for it.
  10. Chris: People need to pause and ask themselves the right questions. Is what they’re trying to implement aligned with what the business really needs? Have they truly listened to the answer? It’s vital to listen, understand, and align with the company’s vision and aspirations. Engage and communicate early with the staff and teams so that they become the champions of change/the driving force for change and help you deliver through engagement, empowerment, and alignment.
  11. Mark: Get management buy-in by translating techno-drivel into benefits, costs, and risks in which IT is not even mentioned, and that align with the managers’ corporate and personal agendas.

So what do you think of these points? What do you agree and disagree with? What would you add? I’d love to know, so please leave me a comment below.

CIOs should be key members of any business C-team, but is yours doing what you expect them too? During the run up to 2016 itSMF UK event we asked a number of the presenters a question: What would be your number one piece of advice for a CIO? This blog shares the responses to the question from:

Many of these people also wrote a pre-event blog about their itSMF sessions which are linked to above.

What would be your number one piece of advice for a CIO?

Interestingly, the responses were varied, probably more varied than you would expect.

Roy: Stop believing that there are any “silver bullets” or that saying you’re adopting a particular framework or methodology is going to “fix everything.” Everything won’t ever be fixed; concentrate on what must be fixed (and don’t let the first dominate, or you won’t have time for the second). Realize that new efforts require new skills, new goals, and new resources. Remember that the reasons IT exists are to serve people and produce business results.

Barry: Understand what good looks like from a rounded capability perspective. In other words, a picture of the IT capability to deliver on objectives. Crucially, view that capability holistically particularly when prioritizing investment. Your ability to reach your goals is a combination of the people, governance, technology, and the relationships your organization requires to execute its business model or fulfil its mission. Make sure your IT department doesn’t concentrate on developing any single aspect of their capability in isolation at the expense of others.

James: With the combination of digital transformation and the increasing cadence of change, the onus is on the CIO to radically change the structure of the IT department to eliminate the silos and focus on customer engagement.

Mike: Don’t try to build a dozen Death Stars.  Start small, iterate, and build on validated learning with as many of your projects as possible.

Kevin: Get your development, operations, infrastructure, networks, and IT service management (ITSM) communities truly working together; mutually understanding what’s good from their respective disciplines; and jointly designing and running a new operating model that focuses on the efficient delivery of working solutions to the customer by teams who are fully accountable.

Ivor: Remember what CIO is an acronym for, there’s no mention of technology. Look towards the technology and what it can offer, but view it from a business perspective. Realize you are a player in multiple teams – the IT department and the senior management team at least. It might be a hard balancing act, but then look how much they pay you, so they think you can do it.

Stephen: Get their people focused on customer experience (CX) both inside and outside the company. Customers and employees will demand better CX from the CIO and their team, plus their services, and to avoid it will be the road to irrelevancy.

Tony: Make sure your focus is directed to the value that IT will bring to the business (quantifiable) expressed in terms that the business understands (and definitely not in IT jargon).

Stuart: Get your IT team to study the nine guiding principles of ITIL practitioner, and use them to guide their decisions. If you “Focus on value,” “Design for experience,” “Start where you are,” “Work holistically,” “Progress iteratively,” “Observe directly,” “Be transparent,” “Collaborate,” and “Keep it simple” then you will deliver IT services that really do meet the needs of your customers.

Chris: Align with the company’s vision and their top objectives and deliver this in a way that is innovative, lasting, and sustainable. In Deloitte’s annual CIO report it highlights the mistake far too many CIOs make in that they acknowledge that innovation is a key priority but then assign only a fraction of their budget to delivering it!

Mark: Think in terms of co-creation of value together with business partners and reposition the IT-function from order-taker to co-worker within the various lines of business.

So what do you think of these points? What do you agree and disagree with? What would you add? I’d love to know, so please leave me a comment below.

Four or five times a year I organize informal “ITSM meet ups” in Central London. The idea behind them being to provide an opportunity for the UK IT service management (ITSM) community to get together, have a few drinks, discuss the latest service management gossip, and generally just have a good time. Typically we get the “same old faces” (old but still ever so lovely), however the gathering is open to any and all, far and wide. In particular these meet ups provide a great opportunity for “new faces” to make useful connections, network with like-minded individuals, and maybe learn a thing or too… or better yet, teach the old faces a new thing or two 🙂

So, with Christmas nearly upon us, it’s time for our annual Christmas gathering. So whether you’re an end user, a consultant, a vendor, or just merely interested in ITSM then please consider joining us. 

The Lowdown

The Christmas meet up will take place on Tuesday 20th December and is split into two parts:

  • Drinks – Very kindly sponsored by HappyNow (aka free for you and for me), will be from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Ideally you’ll let me know in advance if you plan to attend, but you can make a last minute decision on the day if planning is an issue.
  • Dinner – This is at your own individual expense of £40pp from 8.30pm onwards. RSVP for this is needed by Friday 9th December at the latest.

This meet up is very informal. No product pitches. No agenda. No specific topics for discussion. Just food and drinks with ITSM friends.

Event Overview:

WHAT: ITSM Christmas Meet Up
WHERE: Drinks at The Bootlegger, followed by dinner at Haz Plantation Place
WHEN: 20th December 2016
WHO: The ITSM Community
HOW TO ATTEND: Please RSVP on the Facebook event here.

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