This post stems from my experience as a practitioner and also on serving at itSMF in both Singapore and India.
Generally within the ITSM Industry there is a perception across the globe that Vendors only aim is to pitch their products and services and increase their market presence.
While any business for that matter would focus on getting customers and increasing their market share, the role of Vendors have been far more beneficial if you open up a non-judgmental look at what vendors bring to the table in the ITSM eco space
Here are my Top 5 reasons why Vendors role can be significant in bringing value to the ecosystem
a) Annual Conferences & Events
I have been part of running atleast 3 International ITSMF Conferences and if you would like to get quality speakers and fund them for either their travel/accommodation you need the support of vendors. I have had number of delegates come and thank us for the quality of global connect and breadth of topics. One of the reasons itsMF Norway or LeadIT conference (itSMF Australia) is more sought after event is because of the high quality of speakers and thought leaders they are able to draw upon based on rigor of evaluation. With supporting funds from vendors they are able to make it a winning value proposition. I am told that atleast 500 delegates attend the conference at #Leadit and this year it is going to be about 800 at itsMF Norway. The vendors make this a possible memorable event with their sponsorship, goodies, Gala dinner and social networking. Thanks to AXELOS, Manage Engine and TCS for their sponsorship at itSMF India Annual Conference last year. We were able to draw upon 138 delegates by providing attractive discounts on conference passes.
Within itSMF Singapore we had the privilege to run the Lunch & Learn sessions where we brought in the corporates and based on their interest, chose the vendor community to share their business requirement and obtain solutions. This has been quite well received among the corporates and is a key aspect of our ongoing events
b) Meaningful Innovation: As Steve Jobs quote, customers are looking out for meaningful innovation that make their life easy and improves their overall productivity. As Vendors cut across the segments with different customer situations they have a firm hold of the key attributes that could make a difference. Some of the ideas are novel like Conference in the box
c) Thought Leadership & Evangelist: Just as an example, even in the Vendor space they have several thought leaders and evangelists like Malcolm Fry (Cherwell), Patrick Bolger (Hornbill) and many others who have spent several years as practitioners and Consultants and have a significant bearing in the way the products and services are delivered to customers.
d) ITSM Tools – Everybody has a share in the market: Today we have several hundred ITSM tools in the market that could cater from a simple 2 member organization to a large enterprise with various on-premise and SaaS solutions. While there is still competition to get companies certified on PINK Elephant and get a place in the MSSQ, I know lot of small vendors who are in great demand with small and Mid-size business merely by their approach to keep it simple and address the core business issues. Let’s be honest, for a 70 -100 member organization, an Enterprise software with full blown ITIL V3 process alignment with Tools would be overkill. Thanks to the vendors who still exist to address different segments of customers to finally make sigh of relief.
e) Contributions to Community – I was impressed by the Customer Experience Survey results (Cherwell) that were shared during SITS14 and also by the book on Shadow IT released by LANDesk which was a great effort to get thought leaders pen their pragmatic approach and provide insights to the future. I know there are lot of White Papers and Articles that do exist which is driven by Vendors without too much focus on highlighting their products and accomplishments. We just need to be open and receptive to the content as opposed to the source through which you receive them.
Having listed few of these reasons, I do acknowledge that certain set of times, vendors do make it as sales pitch but that does not qualify them to be opportunistic at all occasions.
Finally with any conferences, my humble request to all vendors is to focus on looking at how solutions address the business problems as opposed to features and functionalities or talk about booth numbers
The ITSM ecosystem can be healthy only when we have the right people, process but also the vendor community with their products and partnership to create value to the overall ITSM community.
I look forward to meeting you all at various itSMF Conferences to learn and share experiences. We love you and your contributions are much appreciated.