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PULSE 2010 Aftermath

What was the date today? It is May already and I am not finished with catching up on the PULSE writing I wanted to do. So it is about time to finish the aftermath and get on with it. Basically I want to structure this short post into three sections:

  1. Why automation as I understand it was totally under represented at PULSE
  2. Why I will go to visit PULSE 2011
  3. Why there is so little coverage on the biggest global ITSM event and what should change about that

So let’s start in talking about my favorite topic: Automating IT operation or putting an autopilot into the driver´s seat of every day “run the business” tasks. First of all I have to say that PULSE had its own automation track and that shows you how much pressure there is to change something about putting large parts of the IT budget just into keeping things as they are. But IBM Tivoli – being a big company and thus making lots of money by selling tools to IT operators (normally with some kind of seat license) – is afraid of cannibalizing their own business model. So the automation that was seen in the PULSE exhibits mainly ranked around the ideas of automating deployment, configuration management and even service management. The actual operational work is very much untouched by that approach but the tools presented were good tools.

I would recommend the reading of The Innovator´s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen to some strategists and maybe you find that you already have the next generation knowledge in your labs to go a step further and actually come out with at least autonomous systems (yes, there still is some bad taste to those words, but the times have changed and the marked it ready for a machine actually managing itself). I have been at most large ITSM events and I always see that dilemma between selling current technology and the need to move ahead – PULSE just confirmed that view from IBM Tivoli – the one entity with the largest market share in ITSM. Automation still means getting a new tool that will multiply the keystrokes of an expert, but it should mean putting a machine into control and having it contact the experts, when it cannot resolve a problem. That is what we have been working on and as you can see from the podcasts recorded at IBM PULSE it is something of interest to most people dealing with keeping IT alive.

I sincerely hope our industry will leave its daemons behind and finally start reinventing itself. We have been running an autopilot approach for IT operation for more than 12 years now – with astonishing results. But current business models nail the major part of the IT industry to the ground – just because selling licenses to a user still works. I am much looking forward to next year´s PULSE – maybe with less tools and more automated decision making.

This takes me straight to the next point on my agenda, I believe that IBM PULSE is still the must-go-to-service-management-event in the industry. Even if you are not heavily involved with IBM tools it is a place where experts share knowledge and where trends (like automation) become visible very clearly. I have been to many other conferences and only at PULSE is the “in your face marketing” part cut down to a minimum (and that mostly in the exhibition). A vendor who has the courage to put a customer on stage talking about the problems they had on completing their projects successfully not only has grandeur but has also understood that it is about putting solutions into place and not about making it all shine (come on, we all know that ITSM is not so simple, otherwise we´d all be doing it between the hours of 11 and 12am and take the rest of the day off). I have only seen things like that happen at PULSE and that is what makes me consider PULSE the service management event Numero Uno. I will definitely return next year and I hope to meet many of the real IT experts I have come to trust over the last years and get to know many more. Maybe I even hand in a presentation again and see if speaking about next generation technology is possible in front of a larger audience instead of some side track.

Unfortunately IBM PULSE is not well covered on the net (yet). At least if you compare it to other events of lesser size and professional influence. John Willis (www.johnmwillis.com @botchagalupe)and I are not the only none IBM bloggers actually writing about the conference, but there are more blog entries on how to book a cheap hotel room in Vegas than there are on the actual content of the conference.

As I mentioned before the content presented is top brass (even if the program committee is still struggling with the next generation approaches, but as mentioned above that is a business model or strategic question). So why is there so little coverage? Well there are parts of IBM that embrace web 2.0 much more than others (As a whole IBM was voted the most tweeting company by Mashable). In the Tivoli area however I have seen more effort put into creating a great press kit than into attracting bloggers, tweeters and so on. The Facebook community is quite alive, but is not really working on the content IBM has and wants to transport. Well, PULSE has made a first step by making Tiffany Winman (LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook, Twitter, Slideshare, Blog)their social media guru. Also other individual IBMmers like Suzan Aydin (@ibmtivoli_DE), Ingo Averdunk (@ingoa) and Doug Mc Clure (@dmcclure, www.dougmcclure.net) obviously have realized the potential of the web where relevance beats reach by large and tweet or comment an all the cool thing IBM Tivoli is doing. Even customers like T-Systems are speaking up on the web on behalf of IBM Tivoli.Also I have seen Tiffany being promoted from a local social media program to take on a group function and I am sure she is doing an excellent job (I am following her on twitter, reading her blog posts and some of the posts she promotes). But I also believe that a lot of time is spent on convincing the IBM internal brass not to regard that strange blog and twitter thing as a medial flicker (good luck on that).

So here´s to the IBM guys responsible who are not taking social media seriously yet: You have excellent content, you have a message, your message is great, you have good customers, you have a good attitude towards not just talking marketing speak, so please stop being afraid of blogs and twitter or stop thinking these are phenomenon that will disappear soon. If you really want your message and content to be transported in a better (likely cheaper) and much faster way, why not:

1.  Encourage bloggers to attend your conferences and actually blog about them – No that does definitely not mean paying for content!!!, it means:

a.  Supplying chairs and tables at a conference where bloggers can sit down and write up a post
b.  Create a networking platform for bloggers (we all like to meet, since most of us think we have something to say) – EMC had a bloggers lounge (even sponsored by ZDnet) at 2009 EMC World, that is how to do it.
c.  Encourage the bloggers to share content – that means making the content easy to find (even after a day has passed).
d. Maybe even invite some bloggers (not everyone can afford the ticket) proactively and not have them beg on twitter

2. Get twitter up on center stage. Yes, that means you will have to be more spontaneous up there, but everyone stepping on that stage in front of 5.000 people is a well trained speaker and will be up for the task – this will give you instant customer feedback cutting out all the politics and self interests on the way and it will make the giant IBM much less frightening to bright people and smaller companies.

3. Make management available to the online crowd, you will get the best feedback ever and everyone will write, and tweet and fb about that kind of an experience.

4. And if you are really into the web 2.0 idea, get your customers to talk to the online crowd without you sitting there. If that works only half as well as it does in the PULSE presentations any heart-felt testimonial from a customer will be multiplied in power and reach without any cost to you.

Reading the last part I really ask myself why I write it. Since I am not an IBMmer and have nothing to gain from a better representation of PULSE on the social web. Well it is because I enjoy PULSE so much and I believe the content is really what the ITSM community needs that it just grieves me not to see it spread ALL OVER THE PLACE. And by the way, one person cannot do that job – just in case you wanted to tell Tiffany she is not performing – this is why we call it crowd sourcing and this is why everyone (especially management) should get involved and everyone else should be encouraged – in fact Tiffany is doing a great job, but she and all the other cool IBMmers, user group members and customers could be so much more effective with the proper (and completely inexpensive) support. I myself would have written two articles per day, if I had had a chair and desk (not at lunch, because that is when I had a lot of meetings) to do so. By the enthusiasm I have put up, there would have been 6 more articles read by the roughly 300 executives and high end engineers following my blog. And I know that someone like John Willis, with a much larger reach in the more technical community would have produced more coverage just as well. Sounds like a no-brainer to me 😉

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