And maybe a pub or two!
Conferences are exhausting! Colleagues tell me how lucky I am to get to these events, and I know that I am…but it is not the holiday that many imagine it to be. Returning from Fusion14, the first thing I wanted to do was sleep after a whirlwind of learning, meeting and networking over the four days I was in Washington for the event.
So what did I get out of Fusion? For me personally it was a great time to reconnect with some of the great people I have worked with in ITSM over the years, get acquainted, in person, with others who I have only met virtually and make some completely new friends who also inhabit the world of service management. I got to a couple of interesting presentations, but the true value for me, and I guess for many of my colleagues, is in the interaction with likeminded people that is just not possible in a purely virtual world.
Fusion is one of the largest ITSM events I have attended, and from the outside looking in, it seemed to run pretty well problem free, I am sure there are hiccups and stress along the way, but these are pretty well hidden from the general conference population.
A global community
I was reminded just how far our ITSM community reaches during a party hosted by Matt Hooper from ISM. Someone suggested that, since we had representatives from many different countries, we should find out how animals sound around the world – in one small room we found that we could see how a cat sounds in France, USA, Britain, Norway, Mexico, Argentina, Canada, New Zealand, Hungary, Denmark and Japan…and I am sure that I have missed out some locations.
This global reach gives us huge opportunities for collaboration, and All Things ITSM recognized this with the launch of the ITSM World Podcast – the first episode being launched from the Fusion14 Exhibition Hall, featuring hosts and guests from around the world. The podcast will be a regular event with episodes coming from different parts of the world twice a month.
What is the value?
For the grass-roots ITSM professional, getting funding to attend a conference can be a big ask. The general view that many employers have is that conferences are a bit of a junket, with little practical application to the real world. They may be offered to employees as a bit of a reward for exceptional service, but with little expectation of any practical return on investment.
I have been going to conferences, around the world, for several years and my own experience is that there is a wealth of practical and implementable advice offered during conference sessions, along with opportunities to talk to some of the real thought leaders in the industry. The benefits to the employer can be huge, but expectations need to be laid out before the event…if you expect nothing, then that is what you are likely to get, but if you give a list of outcomes that can be realistically achieved at a conference, then you will get your money’s worth. Make a post conference report a clear expectation, then attendees will be consciously looking for value to share throughout the event.
Don’t forget the vendors!
Vendors get a rough deal from many in the industry. I often hear people complain that conferences are full of vendor sponsored sessions and that there is too much time dedicated to the exhibition hall. But think about it…how could we ever expect to hold conferences without vendor support?
How many itSMF chapters would be able to continue without vendor sponsorship of their events? Could industry websites function without vendors covering many of their costs?
We need our vendors, not just to do our jobs, but to be able to meet and socialize at events like Fusion around the globe. So you owe them a little of your time to find out a little more about their products. Use the time in the exhibition hall to get a clearer picture of the ITSM tool landscape, you never know when you may need to use that information.
An inclusive and welcoming environment
The audience and speakers at Fusion were a true melting pot of gender, age, race and beliefs. From my own point of view it was exciting to see so many knowledgeable, strong and confident women presenting and participating – sharing their wisdom freely and being accepted for who they are and what they bring to the community.
There has been a lot of talk about IT still being a male dominated industry with little respect for women. Fusion proved that this is wrong, at least in the service management part of IT. Sure there were more men speaking than women, with 30 female speakers out of a program of 92 sessions, but this ratio is improving constantly…I know that when I first started speaking at events around 10 years ago I was often the only woman on the program, so we have come a long way since then.
I’ll be back!
Fusion14 gave me what I was looking for – an opportunity to meet, reconnect, explore new ideas, build business opportunities and enjoy the company of people I really like. Roll on Fusion15 in New Orleans, October 2015!