Getting Digital at BMC Exchange London

BMC Exchange Photo

Just over a week ago I attended BMC Exchange London, BMC’s largest UK customer event to date. This double-length blog shares my key, very-digital, takeaways from the event. They are a mix of soundbites, statistics, and more substantial points that reflect where BMC is in 2016, and where it’s heading. Along with what we as IT, or IT service management (ITSM), professionals should be thinking about in 2016 and beyond. It’s all very digital. And yes, my blog title can be read two ways.

BMC Exchange: Everything through a digital lens

The first thing to mention is that BMC has changed since I was last an industry analyst (2008-2013) – that it’s gone all in on “digital.” With “digital IT” front and center in its marketing and “digital service management” now the name for what others might think of as its ITSM capabilities. As to what I think of this, I’ll leave to the end of this BMC Exchange blog.

The second thing to mention is that this wasn’t just an ITSM or service management event given BMC’s overall product portfolio – with the afternoon breakout sessions split into five, roughly product-defined steams:

  1. Digital Service Management
  2. Data Center Automation, Security, and Compliance
  3. Performance, Capacity, and Analytics
  4. Control-M Workload Automation
  5. Footprints

The digital imperative

The above sub-title might sound like a Dan Brown book, but BMC’s Paul Appleby was quick to point out that:

“Digital is an imperative for all of us, whether we work in IT or any other business function”

It set the scene for not only the rest of his presentation but the whole of the BMC Exchange morning plenary sessions, plus much of what was said in the afternoon’s breakout sessions.

Another great sound bite from Paul, which really brought the magnitude of digital home to me, is that:

“Digital transformation represents a potential value opportunity of as much as $100 trillion by 2025 for both industry and society.”

The source of which can be found in this 16-page World Economic Forum document.

BMC Exchange: Defining digital

As later mentioned by Olly Lawrence, of EDF, in the BMC Exchange customer panel session:

“Digital means many things to many people”

So, it was good for Paul to provide the audience with a “Defining Digital Business” slide. It’s three key points being:

  1. Leverage technology to engage with customers in new and ever more compelling ways
  2. Protect and preserve existing business from new entrants and digital disruptors
  3. Leverage the power of digital technologies to evolve and grow new frontiers of value and sources of revenue.

And that digital is not just about the technology – with three digital accelerators needed to do digital at scale:

  1. Elastic infrastructure
  2. Digitally-enabled employees, and
  3. High-speed innovation.

With the latter accelerator returned to in the guest speaker session that will shortly take up a sizable part of this blog.

Paul also offered up a number of other great takeaways, that I’m just going to throw onto the page for now so I can move this blog on past his opening session (it could have been a blog in itself):

  • Two important questions for digital initiatives are “How do we transform the relationship between the business and employees?” and “How do we make it easier for employees to do their jobs?”
  • That BMC has found that companies with digitally-engaged employees outperform their competitors by a factor of two to one
  • That an important element of digital innovation is the CIO and business partnership
  • That “We (BMC) have learned that just providing great tools is not enough for digital transformation,” with his colleague Saar Shwartz later adding that 82% of the Global 500 are working with BMC on digital transformation.

BMC Exchange: Learning from BMC’s customers

Neil Greathead, BMC’s Chief Customer Officer – EMEA, lead a BMC Exchange customer panel made up of:

  • Alan Whelan of BT Global
  • Olly Lawrence of EDF, and
  • Tom Mullen of O2 (Tom and his O2 colleagues also won the BMC Innovation Award 2016)

Some of the panel’s key soundbites and takeaways I noted down (to later share) were:

  • “We needed to change ITSM tool, it’s difficult when you have 6000 users and 20+ service centers” (Alan)
  • “Defining digital in the context of your organization is imperative to understanding potential opportunities” (Olly)
  • “Digital allows us to attract and retain customers, and to better manage costs – it’s a competitive advantage” (Olly)
  • “We used to just buy products and services from BMC, now we work together on business cases” (Olly)
  • “IT security is now a critical business enabler” (Tom)
  • “At O2 the CEO asks questions about IT security – he needs to be interested” (Tom)
  • “Centralization, communication, and automation are key to transforming cyber response and security at O2” (Tom)
  • Different companies need to work together to deal with the changing security threat landscape” (Tom)

These aren’t verbatim quotes, I’m not a journalist, just the essence of what I captured with my very fat fingers.

Innovating in a rapidly moving world

David Rowan, Editor-in-Chief of Wired UK, was a guest speaker whose BMC Exchange presentation “channeled what he is seeing when out speaking with entrepreneurs as they try to build the future.”

I’m a hard man to please when it comes to event keynotes – in the ITSM space they’re often related to motivation and customer service, and often use somewhat out of date statistics and other-smart-people quotes. But I, and I think the whole audience, found David’s presentation enthralling. If you want to see him presenting something very similar, his BMC Engage presentation is available to stream here.

There were almost throwaway lines (with video/photo proof points) such as:

  • Flying cars aren’t the future – they’re already here
  • Question your own assumptions – you can now fly around the world using no fuel
  • “Things will never move this slowly again”

To funny examples and his key shared innovation learnings. And again, I’ve captured the essence not David’s exact words from BMC Exchange.

BMC Exchange: Predicting the future isn’t easy

David presented a great example of not being forward-thinking enough about the future – where, in 1983, US telecoms giant ATT wanted to know whether to invest in mobile phones or to ignore the potential opportunity.

They employed McKinsey to “crunch the numbers” and they predicted that it would be a fairly significant market, with 900k mobile phones used in the US by 2000. McKinsey was slightly out in its mobile phone number estimate:

Unfortunately, the calculation had missed three important points:

  1. That Moore’s Law meant that the mobile phone’s form factor would get much more usable than the initial “giant” phones.
  2. Human behavior – that we don’t adopt something because of the technology. In the case of mobile phones, we adopted them because they connect us to our loved ones, or work colleagues, and because they simplify our lives – both work and personal.
  3. That social norms change over time, and they change quickly. The thinking was framed on the social norms of 1983 not 2000.

How smart companies are innovating

The main takeaways from David’s BMC Exchange presentation came from his list of ways in which smart companies become successful – thinking and working differently to market incumbents (although these ways aren’t just limited to start-ups):

  1. They cede power to the machine. That the use of artificial intelligence (AI) is growing in all forms of business, with smart companies “embracing the smart machine.” Importantly, AI and machine learning are progressing far quicker than expected, and they will change every organization. And the debate is now no longer whether AI-focused companies can achieve “general AI” but how quickly can they achieve general AI.
  2. They digitize everything and exploit data. Data and information are products in themselves.
  3. They leverage the crowd. Smart companies realize that “the network” is their friend and that they need to leverage it.
  4. They borrow generously. A good example is Xiaomi versus Apple, from the “similarities” in products through to the stores they are sold in. Plus, Xiaomi innovates by working with start-ups – it makes no money on its phones, instead making it from its accessories.
  5. They are mission-led. They might be for-profit but are driven by a purpose – a purpose that resonates with customers, which helps them to perpetuate.
  6. They optimize for collaboration. Plus, smart companies allow ideas to collide. For instance, Zappos focuses on what it calls “the three Cs” – collisions, co-learning, and connectedness.
  7. They reframe the problem. Often with a view to killing “friction” for customers – it’s a staple for digital unicorns such as Uber.
  8. They reinvent interfaces. Uber again fits the bill here.
  9. They partner creatively. And often with start-ups. I’ve already mentioned Xiaomi, but the same is also true for the most established of companies.

My points aren’t an exact match to David’s ten points, you’ll see that I have one less, but I can only type so fast.

BMC Exchange: Digital Service Management

In the afternoon, I attended the digital service management breakout session stream which focused on BMC product innovations – from BMC Innovation Suite through to BMC Discovery. There were some statistics worth sharing too.

For instance, Andy Walker’s “Employees Won’t Wait (they will find a way to do what they need)” session – a great title by the way – threw out that:

  • Shadow IT requires a balance of control and flexibility, with 75% of the workforce made up of millennials by 2030 and that 81% of workers already access documents on the go.
  • Some of the risks of modern corporate IT include that 72% of employees admit to using unsanctioned applications, 49% of companies run five or more catalogs – catalog sprawl, and 80% of applications “don’t make the grade.”

Eric Blum’s BMC Exchange session on IT service brokering covered the issue of (service) catalog sprawl, with many companies now struggling:

  • They might have multiple catalogs related to internal IT services, internal business services, outsourced services, hardware vendor products, and software vendor products.
  • With companies on average needing to deal with 35+ third-party service providers.

Both of these sessions showed that, while technology is improving our work lives and business processes, we need more and potentially different technologies to get things right – with BMC’s approach very much about enabling people not just providing new technologies.

Is BMC right to focus on digital?

From a company-wide perspective, it’s a no-brainer. But what about for ITSM, with digital service management?

While I’m not a fan of the ITSM (marketing) variants the industry has seen over the years – where IT is replaced by a sexier word – here I can look beyond the name to see that the thinking and intention are right. That it’s not just a marketing term employed to quickly differentiate BMC from the competitor pack.

Why? Because it matches what I’ve been thinking and talking about of late. That, while enterprise service management – the applicability of ITSM thinking, concepts, practices, and technology to other corporate lines of business – is a great business opportunity, the language is wrong. The HR department, say, doesn’t want “enterprise service management” (even though it probably needs it). Instead it wants something akin to “back office digital transformation” or digitalization.

The wants of modern business are “digital” and, in my opinion, ITSM professionals also need to be talking it for their enterprise-wide conversations to resonate.

If you’re still reading – it’s a long blog – this was some of the stuff I picked up to share from BMC Exchange London. If you were there, what did I miss? Or, if you weren’t, what would you have expected me to write about that I didn’t?

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Stephen Mann

Principal Analyst and Content Director at the ITSM-focused industry analyst firm Also an independent IT and IT service management marketing content creator, and a frequent blogger, writer, and presenter on the challenges and opportunities for IT service management professionals.

Previously held positions in IT research and analysis (at IT industry analyst firms Ovum and Forrester and the UK Post Office), IT service management consultancy, enterprise IT service desk and IT service management, IT asset management, innovation and creativity facilitation, project management, finance consultancy, internal audit, and product marketing for a SaaS IT service management technology vendor.

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