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itSMF Estonia 2013: One Day in December

By | December 17, 2013 in ITSM

Estonia ITSM Event

Last week I had the privilege to attend and to speak in another leading itSMF event in Europe - This time it was Estonia

What a fantastic event! It was held at the Swissotel in beautiful Tallinn, the oldest capital city in Northern Europe, on a date that is very unique as well - December 11th 2013, which is 11.12.13, a rare sequential day on the Gregorian calendar that will not occur again for 90 years. The next time a similar date will occur will be February 1, 2103 – 01.02.03 (not 2003). The organizers are definitely paying attention when picking dates for their events. When do you think their 2012 event took place? That’s right, on December 12th - 12.12.12.

Now about the event itself… it was a full day packed with a super interesting agenda and more than 140 eager-to-be-enlightened ITIL advocate delegates from several countries in the surrounding region.

Highlights from the Sessions

After the great welcome and introduction by our host, none other than Kaimar Karu, President of itSMF Estonia, we dived right into the fascinating world of Delivering Service Operations at Mega Scale by Alan Levin from the Microsoft Operation Center. Now I hope you are sitting down while I go through these numbers: The MS Operation Center is in charge of more than 200 Cloud services, delivered to more than 1,000,000,000 users (that is 1 BILLION for those of you who lost track of the zeros) and they deliver all of this running on more than 1,000,000 servers.

Now you understand why the presentation’s title justifies the word “Mega” :).

Alan took us through their Event Management, Incident Management, and Problem Management processes. You can imagine that these processes get a whole new meaning in this magnitude of operations. So you must have these properly tuned and everyone needs to know their exact role, otherwise it’s a complete chaos with an out of business risk.

One of the questions from the audience to Alan was whether he sees his department as a Service Provider to the business or a partner. Well that is a tricky question, and the answer was a lot of both - all the mandatory requirements from a service provider with highest standards and SLAs, and a real value enabler that can be a partner for success and growth with new business lines.

Next up we had Viktor Petermann from Swedbank, who began his presentation Enabling Value by Process with a Yogi Berra quote: ‘In theory there’s no difference between theory and practice. In Practice there is.” For me, this totally hit the spot! He went on to give us a reality check that 4 out of 5 projects fail because of poor process design. He continued with suggestions for all the right ways of doing things to lead to success.

Coffee breaks were an excellent time to get some networking done, demo SysAid at our booth and even meet up with a customer of ours - Vahur Jõesalu from HANZ A.

After the first coffee break it was time for yours truly to present Benchmarking & BI - Sat Navs for Service Desks. It’s not nice to judge oneself, but according to the comments from the audience, I think I am safe to say it went well. I usually don’t get too nervous when I am in front of a crowd, but I was running a bit of a cold that day and was worried about losing my voice. Thanks goodness, my voice stayed with me and it was great.

The audience was especially interested in some of the tips given by our Community to improve the percent of tickets being submitted via the End-User Portal, and how to get a higher percentage of participation in the quick surveys sent out when closing tickets. Here's the relevant slides from my presentation:

World-Wide IT Benchmarks at itSMF

World-Wide IT Benchmarks for ITSM in Estonia

Another great session that stands out was by Tõnu Vahtra from Playtech (EE), who spoke about Problem Management Challenges and Critical Success Factors. Although Playtech doesn’t have as many servers as Microsoft, 10,000 servers with 200 million transactions per day on their platform is an operation we can all learn from. Besides learning all about effective Problem detection and reporting, I personally learned from the presentation that Dilbert is a truly endless source for IT wisdom :).

Patrick Bolger gave everyone an update on what SMCongress is all about. When asked who is familiar with it - only a few hands were raised not counting myself. If you want to know more about it, I recommend reading this blog post.

Kaimar gave us a lesson with some great tips on DevOps - Shattering the Barriers. Development teams won’t be so happy to hear that Kaimar recommends that the next time a devop team member is woken up at 3am to solve an issue, he or she should in turn wake up someone from the development team. It will be annoying at first, but will help bonding and even make things better! Some other pearls from his session:

  • Try and break systems and stress test them. They will grow to be stronger
  • Solve things with beer. Make sure dev and op teams sit together over beer - they can solve almost everything that way.
  • If you want to stabilize your systems and get them to run smoothly, add your CIO or CEO to all late-night wake-up calls to your dev teams. It will take only 1 or 2 of these calls to get the relevant teams to dedicate their time to making things better. I must add that this is brave and radical advice, but Kaimar says that you will see it works (assuming you will still be there to witness it).

The day ended up with a workshop lead by AXELOS CEO, Peter Hepworth. During the workshop Peter shared the AXELOS roadmap and immediate plans for 2014. He also listened first hand to what the people from this region (Estonia) have to say about how they see the tasks and priorities AXELOS should address.

After the session we had some time to bond with all the speakers and organizer for drinks, food, more drinks, and even more drinks….. anybody hear about the famous Jellyfish shot containing tequila, tabasco, and some other unidentified ingredients? It helps keep you warm in the cold weather - but also knocks you off your feet!

I did have a chance just before bonding to take an amazing 2-hour walk along the walls of the Old City of Tallinn together with my colleague Shai Korem, Sysaid Sales Executive, who also attended the conference and took care of the traffic to our SysAid booth.

As for attending future itSMF conferences around the world - I think it is so important to constantly stay updated to what is going on and listen to where the wind is blowing in respect to ITIL and in IT in general. So you can count on seeing me at the next itSMF conference playing in a city near you!

By the way, if you would like to download any of the presentations from itSMF Estonia, just go to the Programs page and download from there.

Would love to discuss….please find me on Twitter @OdedMoshe.

Meanwhile, check out a few of the many gorgeous photos I took on my walk in the Old City of Tallinn.

IT service management forum in Estonia

Oded at itSMF Estonia

Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.

Oded Moshe

About Oded Moshe

Oded is VP Products at SysAid, with over 15 years of experience in various product and IT management positions. Proud father of two young (iPhone/iPad-addicted) girls and one baby boy (that they're trying to keep the gadgets out of his reach). Fond of new technologies, and enjoys good conspiracy books and movies.

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