BCS SM-ITAM Conference 2020 - So, what happened?

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The SM-ITAM conference on “The Digital workplace revolution – how was yours?” I’ve been involved with, is now over. It went pretty well I think – see Claire Agutter’s keynote here, for a flavour of the presentations. And we are hoping that Claire will be contributing to Bloor’s Future of Work (FoW) practice in the future.

SM-ITAM is Systems Management- IT Asset Management and it is usually pretty techie. This year, however, “wetware assets” featured a lot more. I guess that when things really get tough, it’s the right people that are needed to maintain business and service continuity as much as the right tools. One of the Agile mantras is “people over tools”, and while this doesn’t mean “people instead of tools” (the right automation is key to enabling Agile, in my opinion), it does stress that people matter.

As an aside, I have noted recently, with some concern, that some people are purchasing new software assets in order to “manage” (ie, spy on) their remote workforce, post-Covid. This is raising some real issues. So, I was pleased to hear several delegates condemn such practices, not only because they are ethically questionable but also because they don’t work. Clever people, at home, with time on their hands, are going to “game” your spyware. Keep in mind the city traders who always bought 2 suit jackets – so that when they went home, they could leave one jacket on the back of their chair in order to “reassure” their manager that they were still at work.

You can review the conference here. I’m not going to go through every session here; suffice it to say that (as one of the organisers) I had to attend every session and found them all interesting (and that isn’t the case for every conference I attend). I thought the BCS facilitation was effective – and we had fewer technical glitches than I’ve come to expect with online conferences generally. What worked well, I think, was embedding questions and comments in the talks, giving an interactive feel. Questions were relayed via an organiser, which I think was a good idea – partly because she spoke well and clearly; and partly because one didn’t get distracted by different peoples’ communication styles. “Death by PowerPoint” is doubly lethal in videoconferencing!

I will just mention “Enterprise Service Management – a panacea for uncertain times”, which I was involved in reviewing before the session. This presentation asked attendees “to pause and reflect on the ‘why’ of service management and what it says about the way our organisations should operate”. It highlighted two things, for me; first, that our conference was truly global (this session was given by Mark Harrison, a Deloitte manager in New Zealand), which is one of the positives from going virtual; and, second, by using a Focaccaria in Pompeii as a use case, that the logical framework behind IT Service Management is basically something the human race has been using for thousands of years. It is too easy to focus on tools and technology use cases that are only a few years old and then “reinvent the wheel” for (or, worse, overlook the need for) management processes that are as old as time. FoW is fast becoming Present of Work – but a lot of it is still “accepted good practice” from the past.

If you missed the conference, session recordings will be available, although with the BCS working in “COVID mode” they may take some time to appear.