Goodbye Brighton, hello to the future
No more early November jaunts down to Brighton for the annual itSMF (IT Service Management Forum) Conference and Exhibition as the event moves to the more familiar event venue of Birmingham from next year. It’s hard not to curse the harsh realities of business life when a refreshing venue such as Brighton has to be shelved in favour of modernisation, but for those who attended this year, the need to do so was only too apparent.
The Metropole Hotel, once swallowing up the itSMF’s presence, was bursting at the seams. The conference was huge, with standing room only at many of the sessions. While this was manageable, the exhibition suffered from being stretched even further, with a fourth room opened up to accommodate all of the vendors and service providers. Unfortunately, the layout of the hotel meant that this new area was effectively hidden to all but the most intrepid visitor, much to the dismay of those exhibitors far away from the conferences. The new venue in Birmingham offers the size needed to link the conference and exhibition closer together and provide visitors with a fairer approximation of the services and products on offer. All the elements are there: the strong conference programme, the excellent attendee list and the support of the vendors, it is just a case of keeping all these factors together and pushing on with the modernisation of the itSMF.
Back on the ground floor adjacent to the conference, the familiar ebb and flow of attendees was more evident, with Sunrise in particular following up a hectic HITS (Helpdesk and IT Support) show in April with another busy event.
The biggest buzz at the conference surrounded the advancing stages of the overhaul of ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library). The main architect behind the refresh is Sharon Taylor and her presentation was bursting at the seams. Taylor detailed how ITIL 3 was being built around feedback which addresses the most often heard criticisms levelled at the popular and now globally entrenched best practice framework. This will manifest itself in an ITIL which carries a more consistent message, is scalable down to SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) level, and aids alignment with elements such as outsourcing and other frameworks including COBIT. But the most important change which cuts to the heart of the ITIL ethos is that the pragmatic approach being pushed by the itSMF will heavily influence the latest ITIL incarnation. This means we will see examples, business benefits and even templates for creating process models with the workbooks whereas previously there has been nothing of this nature.
This last point has divided and will continue to be an issue for ITIL aficionados for some time yet, with the purists arguing that if ITIL becomes too specific it dilutes the idea that it should be adapted for every situation. Those of a more progressive nature realise that without some proof of effectiveness and more guidance on how to achieve positive results, ITIL will not be able to continue to grow. In line with the rest of IT, we can no longer get away with justifying a project on the basis that our peers are doing the same. By taking away some of the gamble in implementation, the Office of Government Commerce (OCG), the owners of ITIL, working in conjunction with the itSMF are taking a brave step to ensuring that ITIL continues to lead global thinking. The refresh also shows that both organisations are prepared to upset some of the community by flying in the face of conservative thinking.
James West is a journalist specialising in IT services & support, & customer service.