Posts Tagged ‘ITServiceManagement’

Getting in Touch with My Inner Geek

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
bit of a mashup from Integrate 2010

Death by IT PowerPoint - well, just illness...

A couple of weeks ago, I attended that IT conference I wrote about before, Integrate 2010: Uniting the World of IT.  The group putting it on was the Greater Cleveland Local Interest Group of ITSMF-USA, which is a professional association for IT Service ManagementAs I mentioned, it was great — I learned something new, met some interesting people and commiserated with yet another staff function that feels unappreciated. Here is part one of some observations about the sessions and speakers I saw.

George Spalding, VP Global Events, Pink Elephant

Spalding is a jovial, pink-faced man with round tortoise-shell glasses and a somewhat unconventional delivery for his speech, “2000 Years of IT Service Management.” He started his piece with a series of slides that took stories from the Bible and refit them into info tech situations. Think “Noah’s Ark” as an IT Enterprise Software project. His point was to show how silly typical IT responses to issues are — “Why do incidents happen? Someone made a change. Don’t we test these things?”

Spalding went on a while with Biblical story-telling, and from my perspective could have shortened the list. His main audience seemed to be charmed — and there was no denying the main messages: “You’re not in the IT business anymore” was the critical nugget — sound familiar? Prior to Y2K, Spalding said, “Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt” gave IT the freedom to do as it pleased. Once the world kept spinning into the new millennium, IT moved into the service business, and now there’s no returning to the old ways. He’s obviously comfortable with this speech and delivery — he could have been even better with some judicious editing, and a bit of presentation skills editing, too.

Michael Lundblad, Rational Worldwide Sales Executive, IBM

Mike Lundblad comes with a story. An ex-Marine officer, he speaks well, commands attention and represents an important company. The content of his presentation, “How to Recover from an Application Heart Attack,” was so far into the IT manual that I really couldn’t wrap my head around it.  He also seemed mainly to be describing products (Rational and Tivoli), rather than offering some type of independent advice or action steps. Of course, maybe that’s par for the course at these conferences — it was my first one!

Bob Balassi, chief technology officer, Maryville Technologies

Bob wore the same suit/shirt/tie combination on the dais as he wore in his program photo. He was a very polished, smooth speaker, but didn’t move at all (missing clicker hindered the show…note: buy your own – and don’t forget to bring it!). The static delivery hurt the presentation, but didn’t kill it. The title of the presentation is too long to include, but it was on what’s called IT Transformation. That’s the wholesale redo of a company’s IT world, moving from being technology driven to business driven. It’s kind of like when PR teams reorg to align more with their clients, rather than their own internal preferences.

His big message was that A) The transformation will continue (209 million Google results); B) Merger situations tend to push IT into the background, but improving these tools in a service format can yield a 25%-40% productivity increase and a rise in net present value of 5%-10% — that’s real strategic value, not just control-oriented window dressing. Could we make a similar claim for a communications transformation?

In another easily adapted bon mot, Bob said change management — both IT and organizational — is critical to success. Adopt-Adapt-Transform is the modality he shared, along with the need to engage employees and top leadership. He said there are stars, skeptics, cynics and slugs (and stabilizers), and you have to know how many of your team are in what category. I could have been hearing from just about any business improvement consultant. He did a fine job, though his PowerPoint was killing me.

More in part two.

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IT Conference Reveals Unexpected Connection with PR

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Ask most PR people whether they’d like to attend a conference filled with IT people. Go on, ask. Read the conference brochure and marvel at “2000 Years of IT Service Management,” “Achieving Technology and Business Superiority through IT Organizational Transformation,” and “IT Alignment: It Takes Two to Tango.”  It turned out to be one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.

Everyone should take the time to assess their own objectives for attending a conference, seminar, luncheon or other event. Think through what you want to get out of it, what you’re willing to put into it. My objective, this summer, is to expand the network, among people who might want to engage my services.  I’ve been marketing myself through social media, and among communication organizations — the IABC Conference, my presentation to Lake Communicators, and this fall’s presentations at the PRSA International Conference and IABC’s Research and Measurement Conference.

While reviewing networking opportunities here in Cleveland on Pat Ropchock’s blog (she’s locked in big time), I noted “Integrate 2010: Uniting the World of IT” put on by the Greater Cleveland Local Interest Group of the ITSMFUSA — it’s a mouthful of an acronym that means, “IT people who want to be more relevant and strategic.”  They call the main discipline Service Management,” a process for aligning IT services with the needs of the enterprise.

The themes that emerged from most of the presentations I saw were fascinating.

  • IT feels like it’s not at the leadership table. Instead, they’re brought in after the business strategy’s in place and have to scramble to make things happen.
  • IT struggles to articulate its business value for all but a handful of services.
  • IT gets stuck on describing activities rather than defining its service portfolio in terms that the business leadership understands.
  • IT often can’t “sell” itself effectively, caught up in jargon and technical detail that isn’t relevant to leadership.

What happens if we replace “IT” with “PR” or “Corporate Communication?”

  • A consistent theme of IABC/PRSA material for years was “winning a seat at the table,” and then keeping it. We’ve been talking amongst ourselves for as long as I’ve been in the business about being business people first and communicators second. Yet, we’re still not there consistently.
  • Think about the debates over measurement methods — PR activity is difficult to isolate in the communication mix, and there are no standard answers for return on communication investment. Just last year, PRSA and the Institute for PR began working on a project to prove the business value of our profession. Internal communication is especially vulnerable to the question of ROI — and social media value outside of direct sales is still an unfinished book.
  • PR/Communications people frequently take as a given that their professional activities are impactful, regardless of the lack of data to support that claim. Our “service book” describes our activity from our perspective, not from that of our customers.
  • We (especially in internal communications) tend to resort to tactical explanations using our own lingo, rather than speaking about our work in terms readily understood by HR, Finance and leadership.

Sometimes it may seem like IT is on a different planet — more science than art, more Mars than Venus.  We, however, aren’t that different in our desires to be taken seriously by leadership as business people who employ specialized skills.

In addition to a few other things I discovered, this knowledge about IT was worth the price of admission.

More to follow on the conference shortly.

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