Live from LEADit, Conference Review

Meeting April Allen (@knowledgebird) at LEADit - the itSMFA conference
Meeting April Allen (@knowledgebird) at LEADit – the itSMFA conference

DAY ONE

I’m at the itSMF Australia LEADit conference in Melbourne. It started with a buzz of excitement with a healthy turnout of 674 expected during the 3 days.

The opening ceremony from itSMFA Chair Kathryn Heaton and Australian politician Gordon Rich-Phillips were very positive about the state of ITSM in Australia and the future plans for even better cooperation between IT and the Government. Gordon Rich-Phillips stated, “IT is an enabler of productivity and employment” and emphasized and the importance of holding events like these in Melbourne where it is commonly accepted as the hub of IT particularly in the State of Victoria.

The keynote from Peter Nikoletatos on Accelerated Connectedness was an entertaining and insightful look at how to maintain the basics (Hygiene IT) whilst introducing an agile approach.  The second keynote from Nigel Dalton was a well constructed debate and case study on whether adopting The Cloud is ‘all about money’ or is it actually the opportunity to succeed (albeit with a different approach to organizational structure) with his role as CIO at The REA group proved as a case study.

The main focus of the day from the perspective of the keynote and breakout sessions was the high level discussion on the ability to take Service Management beyond IT into other areas of business so they are integrated and not separate entities.

Some feedback from delegates suggested that more was needed in terms of how to implement ITSM outside IT. Some of the tool vendors I expressed concerns that the event had to develop this offering or miss the huge opportunity of being part of the larger business operation.

Peter Hepworth from Axelos provided an update on the 60 strong team now running the ITIL and Prince2 best practice frameworks including Prince2 for Agile.

Overall the first day of the LEADit conference has been incredibly productive and I have been very impressed by the amount of social interaction and discussions between end users, speakers and vendors alike in very relevant topics that many in Service Management face. This event is highly regarded by many of the attendees as one of the top five of itSMF events globally and at this stage I can only agree.

DAY TWO

Another really good day at the LEADit conference for ITSMF Australia in Melbourne. The keynotes in the morning were two of the best I have seen at any event and will live long in the memory.

The first keynote was from Jason McCartney, an AFL hero who was badly injured in the Bali bombings in 2002 and his story of how he overcame injuries to marry his wife ( less than 2 months later) and return to his passion of playing football at the highest level when doctors said he wouldn’t ever play again. It was a great uplifting speech and one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to watch. Jason held our attention from start to finish which most presentations rarely do.

“It’s not what you are dealt in life – it is how you deal with it” ~ Jason McCartney

The second keynote was also very good from ITSM Ambassador Malcolm Fry. His keynote was very original and was based around looking at various famous types of artwork like Banksy, Salvador Dali and Monet and how they relate to ITSM in that sometimes Service Management isn’t about the little details its about the bigger picture and that you can look at things in a different way especially how the Service Desk works.

The Breakout sessions were well attended again today and lots of positive and informative contributions from the speakers. A lot of focus of the event has been the whole ITIL vs Cobit and ITIL versus Agile debates with justified arguments on both sides. A lot of the end users I spoke to today were focused on delivering customer satisfaction and getting the basics right and were attending the courses relevant to these topics.

The final keynote of the day showcased the key findings of a collaboration between itSMFA and ISACA into problems faced when developing strategic IT plans (the ebook is available from the itSMFA or ISACA website).

Caption
Left to right: Peter Hepworth (CEO, Axelos), Kathryn Heaton (itSMFA Chair), Bruce Harvey (itSMFA) at the LEADit Gala dinner.

Evening entertainment was the Telstra Gala Dinner and ITSMF industry awards. A well attended evening (they could have filled the hall twice) to celebrate the successes of the year and show gratitude to long standing members to the itSMFA. Congratulations to Karen Ferris of Macanta Consulting for here lifetime achievement award.

Live from LEADit: REA smashing IT department stereotypes

I’m at ‘LeadIT‘, itSMF Australia’s annual conference. In this article I share how REA have transformed the image of their IT department. Nigel Dalton keynoted at LeadIT and Damian Fasciani led a breakout session.

How REA transformed IT

There’s a certain stereotype that comes to mind when we talk about enterprise IT support teams; it’s a bunch of dudes, (usually), sitting in a small, dimly lit room next to a rack of servers, and maybe playing Xbox until the next maintenance reboot. There’s a new breed of IT leaders at work striving to change that image. The REA Group, headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, have turned that stereotype on its head to create an approachable corporate IT team that colleagues are eager to work with.

Damian Fasciani leads the Technology Services team for Real Estate Australia. With the guidance of CIO, Nigel Dalton, Damian has restructured his team and rebuilt the corporate technology strategy to align with the digital business that REA has become.

REA is Australia’s biggest property website providing residential and commercial property listings. The grand plan is to turn property hunting into an experience, where people can spend time on the REA sites to research neighbourhoods, utilities, streets, schools, and so on. Damian’s team of 15, (one based remotely in the Sydney office), supports more than 1000 employees, globally.

The practices introduced to the Technology Services team, and the decision to adopt a cloud-based software strategy, have all been driven by the intention to put the focus back on employee relationships. Damian says, “we made a decision that our engineers shouldn’t be spending time in the data centre behind the servers. They should be sitting down with people in the organisation and talking about how the software resonates, and how to get the most out of technology.” And with a cloud-first strategy, he hasn’t shied away from integrating a number of solutions like Box, Zendesk, Leankit and Okta, to achieve the required outcomes.

MISSION-PRINT-A1

REA’s human-centred approach to corporate IT is clear, even to the outside observer. While I stood waiting at the Tech Services walk-up desk for the rest of my group to turn up for a tour and presentation Damian was soon to host, team members came to offer assistance, I could see posters promoting recent technology changes within the organisation, and there was a toy truck in sight with a digital display counting down to the opening of a brand new, purpose-built corporate headquarters down the road from where they are now.

The walk-up desk was a service REA started offering to staff a couple of years ago. In the first half of this year, the team have serviced 900 walk-ups, already. The service is popular and employees present a wide range of issues, from break-fix to forgotten laptops to questions about working more efficiently with technology choices. Nigel Dalton, describes the walk-up technology services desk as “vitally important” to their relationship with the business as a whole. So much so, that when the team relocates to the new building, the walk-up desk will gain extra resources with more space and staff, and the availability of tech-toys like 3D printers, Google Glass, and Oculus Rift goggles for colleagues to tinker with. Technology Services aims to become a kind of store-front for day to day tech needs as well as an R&D lab for finding innovative ways to improve the services REA provides to their customers—real estate agents.

As a digital business, technology and agility are fundamental to the way REA works. Damian could see the original structure of the IT support services wasn’t going to fit, so the team have combined a light ITIL framework with practices from Agile and Lean methodologies. One of the significant differences between REA’s IT team and what we’d normally expect from corporate IT, is that members are assigned to take gemba walks out on the floor amongst their colleagues. Gemba walks are a Lean management philosophy developed at Toyota, and they involve proactively walking the floor and talking to people. “Those conversations might just turn into Zendesk tickets, they may turn into an idea which inspires a $50000 IT project. It depends”, Damian says. “You’ll only find the truth when you talk to humans. Not inside tickets and not on the phone.”

tech-it-easy

While the Technology Services team have transformed their support services with an outside-in approach, they’ve taken to changing the culture from the inside out. The people we’d normally refer to as Desktop Support, REA call Technology Consultants. It’s amazing how a simple name change and a bit of rebranding and internal marketing conjures a whole new idea of what to expect from a relationship with IT. Instead of just fixing something when it’s broken, it’s about advice and training. It becomes a consultative relationship that enables all employees to get on with the job at hand.

Real Estate Australia is going through rapid growth and the changes to their IT systems, processes and behaviours have allowed them to scale with that expansion and fuel new projects. With a number of clear wins under the belt, REA’s human-centred approach to employee services and IT staff development is set to continue, and I hope it catches on across the industry.

itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit)

This year's conference will be hosted in Melbourne
This year’s conference will be hosted in Melbourne

It is with incredible excitement that we are able to announce that we will be the Media Partner for the itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit), 13-15 August 2014, at The Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel in Australia.

This ITSM event, which is the largest in the southern hempishere, brings together more than 500 IT professionals, with over 50 keynotes and breakout sessions  – covering a wide range of subjects that are at the heart of our industry.

What you can expect

Generally regarded as one of the best itSMF-hosted conferences in the world, you’re in for a treat with this year’s agenda which includes (but is not limited to):

  • A fantastic series of keynotes featuring ITSM greats such as Rob England and James Finister, as well as motivational speakers such as Jason McCartney
  • A broad selection of breakout sessions featuring an array of speakers including the likes of Robert Stroud, Harold Petersen, Paul Wilkinson, Mark Smalley, Karen Ferris, Rachel Pennings, Stuart Rance and plenty more. Covering topics such as: cloud, continual service improvement, IT governance, ITSM process best practices, mobility, service lifecycle, IT asset management, agile, BYOD, customer experience etc.
  • A choice of 7 pre-conference workshops including “building agile virtual teams” and “real techniques to achiever a successful ITSM implementation”
  • A jammed pack social programme providing an array of opportunities to connect with your peers and the service management community, from the standard welcome drinks and networking evening to gala dinners, a social dinner and games night and a post conference winery tour through the Yarra Valley.
  • Ceremony for the 2014 itSMF Industry Awards

Join in the fun

Considering attending but not quite sure yet? Or crying that you can’t go and are going to miss out on all the fun? Why not get involved with one of the Twitter chats that will be hosted by itSMF Australia in the run up to the event?

Date Name Twitter handle Topic
Wed 02-Jul-14 Rob England @theitskeptic Big Uncle: Benevolent Security and The End of Privacy
Wed 09-Jul-14 Stuart Rance @StuartRance Getting Started with Continual Service Improvement
Wed 16-Jul-14 Ian Jones @Jonesyianau Leading ITSM from Scrum to Kanban
Wed 23-Jul-14 James Finister @jimbofin Service Integration and Management: SIAM 
Wed 30-Jul-14 Peter Doherty @ITILNinja Working Smarter at the Service Desk to Engage the Business
Wed 06-Aug-14 Sophie Danby @SophieDanby Get the most out of #Leadit

ITSM Review is flying longhaul!

Two of our team will be in attendance (we haven’t yet finished arguing about who gets to go on such an amazing trip), and if you’d like to schedule a meeting with us whilst we’re out in Australia please email me.

We also intend to make the most of our trip across to the other side of the world and in conjunction with the wonderful James Finister and Stuart Rance we are hoping to be able to run a series of ITSM community initiatives whilst we’re out there (let me hear you cry “the Brits are coming”). Not just in Melbourne, but potentially anywhere in Australia (within reason – it’s a big country) and even potentially en route as well. We’ll provide more information on this as/when things get confirmed, but in the mean time please let us know if you have any ideas related to this or would like to see us whilst we’re visiting.

The ITSM Review team will also be making a trip to India in conjunction with our visit to itSMF Australia, so we urge our readers in that part of the world to also get in touch.


Event Summary

WHAT

itSMF Australia Annual Conference (LEADit)

WHERE

The Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel, Australia

WHEN

The conference runs from Wednesday 13th August to Friday 15th August, with a range of pre-conference workshops taking place on Tuesday 12th August.

BOOKING

Booking rates are available online

Please note that all social activities are included in the 3 / 4 day conference pass, except for the post conference tour, which will need to be purchased separately.

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