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My panacea of fantabulousness with Chris Dancy – IT Management & Cloud Podcast #82

Service desks have become a core part of IT Management, but they haven’t moved far since the initial ITIL-driven frenzy of adoption. That’s according to our guest, Chris Dancy, who joins John and I for this episode.

Download the episode directly right here, subscribe to the feed in iTunes or other podcatcher to have episodes downloaded automatically, or just click play below to listen to it right here:

Show Notes

  • Service desk bonanza with Chris Dancy (@ServiceSphere) – ITSM Weekly the Podcast.
  • What’s new in the Service Desk area? Not much, but Chris likes Service Catalogs. ZenDesk, even GetSatisfaction.
  • ITIL killed innovation in Service Desk, says Chris.
  • Adding social into to Service Desk.
  • FlowTone (?) example of finding humans.
  • Some “Hello World” examples for adding social to service desk.
  • What’s up with service desks in the cloud, SaaS ones.
  • The Dolly Parton Strategy for IT Change.
  • Chris’ review of itSMF Fusion next week in Louisville.


As usual with these un-sponsored episodes, I haven’t spent time to clean up the transcript. If you see us saying something crazy, check the original audio first. There are time-codes where there were transcription problems.

Michael Coté: Well, hello, everybody. Today is the 4th of October, 2010. And we are really sort of like trying out the tensile strength of the rope, if that’s the right word, by recording two podcast today.

This in the IT Management in Cloud Podcast No. 82 with, as always, one of your co-hosts, Michael Cote, available at, and I’m joined by the other co-host.

John Willis: [email protected].

Michael Coté: On this episode, or today or however you want to think about it, we’ve got a guest and we actually… you know, I have to apologize because we tried to record an episode with him a couple of weeks ago, and I was using what is otherwise my awesome MacBook Air, or maybe it’s just Mac Air, and the little guy just couldn’t take it. He couldn’t take the awesomeness of our guest here, and it was fragilizing up my voice and everything. So why don’t you introduce yourself?

Chris Dancy: Hey, it’s Chris Dancy,, and at ServiceSphere on Twitter if you want to hear me rant about my neighbors, @Chris Dancy.

Michael Coté: That’s right (laughing). And so like you have your own podcast as well called the ITSM Weekly, the podcast, if I remember, with a couple of other friends.

Chris Dancy: Yeah. My co-hosts couldn’t even get that right. So I’m like, “You guys don’t even know the name”. They’re not friends, they… we have done this now deliberately for seven months continuously week after week after week, because we actually were inspired by your podcasts.

I put out a call on Twitter and said, “Hey, I want a couple of guys”, and I had this 30-year-old service desk manager — well, he’s good, because they’re fun to snicker at — and then this CIO. And they’re awkward and kind of gangly like teenagers, so I picked them. So, no, I really didn’t know them; they’re just on the show.

Michael Coté: Well, hopefully you’ve gotten to know them over seven months, at least what their day jobs are like.

Chris Dancy: Yeah. Well, they actually talk a lot about their day jobs, which is kind of nice, because I picked them up purpose. I could have done different people, but I just wanted something like your podcast. Your podcast was such an inspiration to me, and Rob England at IT Skeptic when I told him, I said, “I want to do a podcast”; I said, “I am so inspired by Cote”. He told me not to, because he said I could never live up to the awesomeness that is the RedMonk podcast.

Michael Coté: (Laughing.) That’s the other thing about Chris is he’s always very complimentary, which everyone appreciates that. It’s always very nice. But like you’re saying, you go over a lot of service desk stuff and service request things, and a lot of, you know, this is the IT management and cloud podcast and we spent a lot of time of late talking about cloud; but I think the exciting about you is you get a lot of IT management stuff to bring.

We were getting into this when the recording was crackling up, but I kind of asked one of my as usual very broad and unhelpfully broad questions. So when you look at the sort of service desk area, like what are you getting excited about nowadays? Like what’s the kind of stuff that you see that’s like happening and interesting?

Chris Dancy: You know, that was your question. That’s very good. Did you write that down (laughing)?

Michael Coté: No, I’m just so boring that I don’t come up with new stuff.

John Willis: He is a professional.

Chris Dancy: Well, I know; sometimes I live for Core-Mac’s tweets.

As far as service desk, man, there is nothing new. I just kept blog out now called Who Does The Service Desk Service. It’s kind of silly, because when reading it I was thinking “Who do we service? Who does the service desk service?” And it kind of reminded me of that Old Testament guy where He said you only have one God. I thought in IT, we are kind of polytheistic. We have many gods we serve, not just one and that one being the customer.

As far as technology what gets me excited, I’m still kind of a nipple rubber for service catalog. I think that’s kind of sexy. I think that’s about the last sexy thing they have left in traditional enterprise IT. But, man, some of the social support I’m seeing around Zendesk, which was the sponsor on a recent tour I did; so they’re customer-coded disclaimer there.

Also, a company called Get Satisfaction, who doesn’t have the best marketing people; but love their stuff. So Get Satisfaction for social support, and probably service catalog, but I won’t name anyone in particular.

Michael Coté: Yeah, I mean that’s an interesting sort of disruption, if you will, in the service-desk area. Joining together what you were saying there, or putting in my words what you just said to repeat it for the listeners who probably love it when I do this, is there really hasn’t been a tremendous amount of service-desk innovation. Then coming out of the consumer world are like these crazy things like GetSatisfaction and Zendesk.

Zendesk is more directly a helpdesk or a service desk or whatever, whereas something like GetSatisfaction doesn’t really even seem like it’s knowingly trying to get into the same area, if you will. I mean, GetSatisfaction, for people who don’t know, is kind of like a customer-service webpage form thing that’s hosted that companies can come along and sort of add.
Like you’ll go to a site, and there’ll be like these little tabs on the side. They’re like, I don’t know, File It — I don’t even remember what it says — but you click on it, it says sort go over to the forum and discuss things.

Chris Dancy: Give Praise is my favorite.

Michael Coté: There you go (laughing).

Chris Dancy: David Buttner says Give Praise; I love that.

Michael Coté: But it is an interesting… like taking it from the experience of one of those gods that IT worships or satisfies, sort of like the end-user, it’s sort of something like GetSatisfaction is kind of taking over what a UI kind of looks like and what the expectations could be. I really have no idea, and I kind of assume they really don’t do stuff inside enterprises like that. But it definitely introduces what you would like the experience within a company to be like when you’re dealing with IT, essentially.

Chris Dancy: You would think. I mean, you said something that I really get tired of people who don’t have any breadth or time in the industry fail to mention or maybe they’ve just brainwashed themselves to forget.

But if you were one of the converts of the ‘99 in the United States, there was innovation on service desk. The minute ITIL came in all the products became identical, all the functionality became the same, and all innovation was dead.

John Willis: Isn’t that brilliant? I mean, it’s brilliant in such a sad way; but, yeah, I never thought about, but you’re exactly right. I was actually in… my career that has kind of dipped in and out of incident problem, change management throughout the years. In the ‘90s, there was a lot of innovation. You had things like, well, IBM was in the game, you have Paragon Systems, you had the Software Artistry. I don’t know if you remember those guys. There was just a lot happening. Then even the Remedy guys, right? Yeah.

Chris Dancy: Another thing that people forget about, John, another thing people forget about the ‘90s, you got to learn from our history — these people just piss me off constantly — was at the end of the ‘90s beginning of this last decade, they were trying to forge. If you look at Numara, what they did with FootPrints when they were owned by Intuit, merging that into CRM.

Then FrontRange did the same thing by merging HEAT into their GoldMine application. We were on the precipice of understanding and delivering both support and customer service, and it all fell apart.

John Willis: Yeah, no doubt. No, you’re so right, because here we are now 20 years or 10 years further, and we’re no closer, you’re exactly right. We were starting to get like the silos of this thing of, like you said, customer relationship and incident-problem change, customer relationship, all that in innovative products. You’re right. ITIL just kind of like forced everybody down this path of just… yeah, it hasn’t — what surprises me, and maybe you can help me out, because I’ve not been in the space at least 10 years, really. I haven’t really paid attention as much. I pay attention from an industry, and I know an ITIL as I run into it when I deal with the enterprise. But to me it’s just mindboggling that there isn’t a whole lot of open-source remedy competitors. You know what I mean?

Chris Dancy: Well, OTRS is.

John Willis: OTRS, yeah, yeah.

Michael Coté: Like as a little parenthetical interjection on there, it’s like looking at the keyword-driven traffic like to the RedMonk site. Like it’s interesting that we get a lot of very consistent traffic for people searching for open-source CMDB, which is somewhat related, right? So they’re sort of interested in that.

Chris Dancy: Well, CMDB has to be open source, because you couldn’t give that shit away.

Michael Coté: There you go (laughing).

John Willis: I think that overtook, if you probably — just going along with what you said, I think that whole focus on CMDB and all that again just pulled away from the more serious discussions of how do we manage customer relationships and how do we manage and how do we integrate all the important things we do with service management.

Chris Dancy: It was so cool, because salespeople, the whole idea was I’m a sales guy and I can log in to one system, and before I call this customer to say “Will you buy my class, will you buy my software, will you buy my consulting”, I could see all the problems they were having with my company. Why is that so freaking hard of a concept?

John Willis: I know, I know. It’s like it’s…

Chris Dancy: Because there’s more money to be made in selling cigarettes than selling freaking cures.
John Willis: You know, it’s like this. So I was thinking about when we first started talking. One of the things that we started the conversation last time was I think a comment you made about like if you are like a traditional helpdesk, you should be worried about your job, and I guess part of it was that way. I mean, there is this new dynamic of social helpdesk or whatever, right? So you were just about to get started on that, and then we got cut off.

Chris Dancy: (Laughing.) Well, I think IT folk need to say “Hey, I remember ‘95, I remember sitting up all night with 55 diskettes pushing them in a machine to upgrade my Windows 3.1 box. I remember 2000, I remember adding TCP/IPs, fax; I remember configuring shit. I remember how — I remember 2005, I remember getting my first wireless router. I remember 2010, I remember getting an instant-on tablet machine.

I remember 2015. I didn’t have to call a helpdesk. So I think if anyone is going to own the next 5 to 10 years when it comes to IT period, it’s got to be this new breed of what people are calling community management, because if we leave it to the marketing folks to be the community managers for our company, they don’t know reality. If we leave it to the financial folks, they only know reality. If we leave it to the legal department, they don’t know shit. The only people who could possibly manage us of out of socialness and into something truly inspiring an enterprise is the IT department. But is IT paying attention in the social? No, they are paying attention to the social, because, well, you know, it’s a disruption and it’s just a bump and it’s another tool. It’s all tweets today. It’s just plumbing. Then the tweets said, “Well, try to live without plumbing.”

I wish IT would step up to the plate and say “Okay, we don’t agree with this, we don’t like how disruptive it is; but as an IT department we are going to own this, because the rest of the enterprise doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing with it”.

Michael Coté: So, why —

Chris Dancy: The one and only time — go ahead.

Michael Coté: So why don’t you, like to give us sort of a baseline, you mentioned like Zendesk and Get Satisfaction; but like what is that 2015 socialness added? Like what’s your sense of like what that ends up looking like?

Chris Dancy: I envision some type of software that consists of social objects. So basically if you’ve ever used GetGlue, it’s like a Foursquare for movies, music, books and just silly thoughts. You check into things like I am watching this movie, I am going to sing this song.

Again, if I had an enterprise piece of software it would be wall-enabled, and anyone on any part of the company could browse social objects and check in from them and get updates. I’d want to be able to have people throw out an idea and have the company look at it and then develop it, and I’d let it move fluidly from space to space.

We are all used to working like this. I think if someone wants to make a mint, freaking develop a Facebook enterprise app. Oh, it’s just another tab; put it in there, it will let do everything that you think you are doing now. Everyone knows how Facebook works. Just do it.

But I really like the concept of social objects. I don’t know who is going to do it, I don’t see anybody really talking about it. I’ve done some consulting with a couple of companies about what it looks like and how that works and what it’s like to check into a project or check into a meeting or add your thoughts and then be able to curate that. I like to call it enterprise intuition.

So if you truly had a social wall and a social object-oriented enterprise, you could literally do predictions like they do now with traffic to a lot of these social sites. So wouldn’t it be really cool to predicatively determine outages, changes in people leaving, new hires, changes in your customers’ thoughts and feelings just organically from your enterprise intuition? You could do that. And there is no amount of money that you could pay a consulting company that would be able to give you good information. You put this in place, you’d have information about them.

Michael Coté: So, I mean, if I’m understanding, it sounds like part of what you are saying is that… so, okay. So if IT is doing —

Chris Dancy: Sorry (laughing).

Michael Coté: If IT is doing service delivery based on delivering IT stuff that accomplishes some service that the business need, whatever all those words mean.

Chris Dancy: Right, right.

Michael Coté: Then part of the problem of what they are not doing now is they may be monitoring disc usage and CPU and network traffic and synthetic transactions and they are monitoring the service. But they don’t really monitor the way in which the service is used and sort of take that into account as a way of not only sort of — I mean, the baseline, like you were saying, is like, oh, these people are really using this service, so we need to give it more capacity. We need to make sure it’s working.

But in theory, there is all sorts of other things that you would do if you were actually observing how people were using the service, in the same way that a company might do some ethnography on the way their products and services are being consumed and tweak them so that there are new features and things like that.
Chris Dancy: Exactly. I mean, I was aware of hardware and software trending three years ago. As soon as I saw the social stuff, I thought this is the answer, because these machines will evaporate, right? They will get smaller and smaller and smaller, thinner and thinner and thinner. So what’s left but my feelings toward these things?

And you’ve got a lot of companies out there like newScale. newScale is a big service-catalog company.

Michael Coté: Yeah.

Chris Dancy: They have suddenly become cloud freaks.

Michael Coté: Yeah.

Chris Dancy: If I were them, I’d abandon my clouded option, use it for a backbone and develop an app that says this is how I feel about consuming services. If I was a service-management company, I wouldn’t want to send an email to say “Here, this is your ticket and here is your number”. I’d want to let the customer decide. Do you want to follow the updates on your ticket? Let it be push or pull.

These things are really simple. We interacted with our world around this way. I might be in the helpdesk, I might be concerned about the next big round of layoffs. I might want to follow like in SHAtter an opportunity on a big sale. Why aren’t we enabling these things? I’m sorry. I don’t mean it to be the pissed-off podcast.


John Willis: A good stop. This is the kind of stuff it brings out early. I mean, I think also I was taken away from like this — what you are saying is that what IT needs to do is look at a kind of a social engine or a social technology to drive the next 10 years of that company, and like it’s all of the above, right?

I mean, what’s happening today is you’ve got the 16:27 departments banging in IT or just giving up and going out of the media consulting companies; they’re getting them on Facebook. Then in some cases you actually have the leg of it going out and maybe grabbing some of your who’s talking about you.

Like I think that… well, I am going to go all over the map here; but in some ways we talk about the cloud of try to get out of technology that’s not your core competency from a technology standpoint. But maybe the message is a core competency should be controlling the social network or the social aspect of your business as a technology.

Chris Dancy: Well, I’d go one step before that and say the core competency needs to starts with understanding. Control the very IT-center thing to say.

John Willis: Right, no, yeah, yeah. Exactly. No, of course, right, yeah, to build that engine, you have to sit back and say, “Okay, what…”

Chris Dancy: Watch it.

John Willis: “… what is it? What do we want to accomplish over the next year from base control?” And this is the way… the world is going to be very much like this, right? If you are in business right now and you’re not figuring out what… a friend of mine works for this company called Digsby, and they do mobile apps.

Chris Dancy: I love Digsby.

John Willis: Yeah. So he is like the VP; he just got the job of VP of Engineering there. They’re talking about the in-store experience and just where they’re going with this technology. You think every business is going to — you know, it’s not just that; it’s going to be the whole social aspect of your business, you know what I mean? What’s your mobile presence, what’s your… what are people saying to you about on Twitter or what are they — and I think you’re right. I think you better have some thought leadership right in your organization right now that’s speaking on how are we going to basically provide a best-of-class solution around all this.

Chris Dancy: I think people — I can’t remember site name; but there was some site I got invited to. It’s kind of like a LinkedIn, but you would only… the whole purpose was you tagged people with a few words. So basically it was metadata for Flash, right? And I thought “Well, that’s kind of cute”. And then I thought, “Why don’t Active Directory have this?”

Again, if you’re planning a social shift, I remember when I was doing service desk, everyone was like “We need to integrate with Active Directory, we need to integrate with Novell,” da-da-da, NDS. Again… have you guys heard of Flowtown?

Michael Coté: No. Flowtown?

Chris Dancy: Flowtown.

Michael Coté: No, what is it?

Chris Dancy: It’s kind of strange. It’s a sales and marketing tool; but again, people often — tools are used for the wrong reasons. A guy named Dan Martell is the CEO. Between Austin and Canada, like everything bright is coming out from those two ends. Another Canadian; but basically the way this works is you give Flowtown your email addresses of your customers, and Flowtown gives you their social profiles.

Michael Coté: Oh, right, right, right. It’s a nice way of pivoting like on an email address.

Chris Dancy: Right. Like if was a helpdesk I would use Flowtown for all of the customers out of Active Directory and help bring them to these spaces. Then the rest of the company two years from now would go, “Gosh, you guys were way ahead of the curve. We liked you IT folks. We’re not going to send you to India.”

Michael Coté: That’s right (laughing). So if we sort of add social into like service-request management and all that, right?

Chris Dancy: Yeah.

Michael Coté: So what’s a good example to kind of walk through what that looks like? I mean, the classic, the Hello World of service desk seems to be the password reset. I mean, does that sort of work as an example of what’s going on there, or does it need to be something more complicated?

Chris Dancy: I kind of like that (laughing). No, you know, to me, there’s something that —

Michael Coté: I guess there is also an employee on-boarding. Those are like the two things that seem to be the biggest service, the drivers.

Chris Dancy: Yeah. Well, that and the whole fact that we’re obsessed with metallurgy when it comes to service-level agreements: it’s gold, it’s bronze.

Michael Coté: That’s right (laughing).

Chris Dancy: … it’s pewter. Pick something out, you know: platinum, you know. So, gosh, a Hello World for social support. You know, the one I see over and over and over again is the one I always tell people, and that’s it’s real simple. Everyone always talks about reducing IT costs. In every company, there is someone in the accounting department, there’s someone in the marketing department, there’s someone in the leadership function who is a wannabe helpdesk person.

So instead of outsourcing level one, in-source it through something social. So say that your service levels don’t change, you can still call the helpdesk for anything; but we are going to post all of your tickets if you opt in out to some social space, and people can answer you.

Michael Coté: Oh, right, I see what you’re saying; and hence, the comparison to things like Get Satisfaction and stuff where part of the nice thing about Get Satisfaction is that it’s a customer-service page for a company, but also other users can answer those questions for you instead of only the company answering it.

So you could actually interact with people —

Chris Dancy: Exactly.

Michael Coté: — within the company, say like “Here is how you reset your password”.

Chris Dancy; Right.

Michael Coté: “You actually click on that thing that says Forgot Password and it sends you an email, and then it resets your password for you.”

Chris Dancy: Right. Another Hello World is the Facebook Like button, right? As soon as that thing crawled out of Facebook, it became more deadly to IT than IT realized, because now you can go to any of your open web-based software — you know, Service-now and the Customer RedMonk, right? — go to any of these things where you have a portal and embed that button, and every single one of your tickets and every single knowledge-based article, people just love that Like button. Someone clicks on that from a knowledge article and, boom, it’s on the wall; 90% of your company who’s friends with you now knows there is a knowledge base. Yesterday they didn’t, today they did. Why? Because you said you liked it.

Michael Coté: Right, right, right. Yeah, it’s kind of like -– oh, go on, John; you’ve been trying to interject here for a while.

John Willis: Well, I was going to say, I mean, that’s the one thing. I mean, should a company today just kind of plan on just kind of building a CMS and just kind of all off of Facebook? I mean, is that… you know, I mean —

Chris Dancy: I like the idea of a human-powered CMS. So keep on tracking everything physically; we have to until it becomes so small and weird. You know, I have a tweet scheduled right now for tomorrow, and I follow some company talking about desktop management. Remember, John, when posting out software was a big deal?

John Willis: Yeah, yeah.

Chris Dancy: You know, compile before me and I will push out software to you. You know, the idea of pushing out software to my app-enabled mobile device is kind of ridiculous, right? So keep tracking all the stuff we’re tracking, but start to enable the human CMS, because we know more about what’s going on and what’s not working and what seems slower today than yesterday. Then why not, you know, when you check in to network slowness, let that be articulated somewhere and look for traffic that way. I totally believe as humans we’re organically more in tune with technology than we give ourselves credit for. There’s almost a nature thing to it.

Michael Coté: Yeah. You know, I mean, that kind of touches on something that I go off on every now and then; I should probably sit down and actually write it up so I can be done with it. But it’s like the idea of… it’s sort of an evolution of what computer literacy means for job requirements, and to put it in the extreme way like, you know, if you can’t manage your own desktop you’re fired. And it seems like some of what you’re saying is sort of that, to use an old Bill Joy quote, right, like, “Innovation happens elsewhere” and it’s sort of like the IT department is not always the best people to solve every single problem, whereas in the rest of the company there’s other people that might be able to help yourself out, including yourself. Like you might just know that you need to install this on your machine or you need to do that.

It’s an interesting thought exercise to think about. If you have the technology to enable that, like what that implies for IT, like if everyone knows that you just go unplug the router and it makes the Internet work again, right, then like what that… I don’t know, I feel like there is a lot of stuff that IT probably does in corporate settings that they don’t really need to do, or they should need to do.

Chris Dancy: Let’s jump to the absurd. Ten years from now we are all Core-Mack as chips somehow; we cybernetically chipped somehow, right? He obtained this information by blinking or slowing down. Let’s just pretend that’s going to happen because it will, right?

So now let’s back up. What happens between now and then, right? We evolve into understanding until we can actually physically mesh with the machine. You guys know what I’m talking about when it comes to machine intuition. You know when stuff is not right.

Michel Cote: Right.
Chris Dancy: It’s almost like “The Matrix”: you stare at it and go, “No, this is not right”, right? So what do we do between now and then? The only think we can do until we are chipped is allow people to share their intuition. Sharing their corporate-enterprise intuition is going to make someone a boatload of money, because until we’re chipped in 10, 15 years, that’s where it’s at.

Michael Coté: So what happened with like… I remember you commented, or someone did. I remember —

John Willis: Well, wait a minute. Is that ITIL 5 then?

Michael Coté: Exactly (laughing).

Chris Dancy: No, luckily it will be gone by then (laughing).

Michael Coté: So speaking of do-you-remember stuff, like didn’t those managed-object guys come out with the whole social layer for their service desk and CMDB? Did you check that out at the time, or what’s been going on with that?

Chris Dancy: I did; again, it’s a timing thing, a little too early. But again, I think a year from now it will be a little too late. Everyone will be doing it.

I think it’s really cute. I’ve been working with a few service-desk companies who are working on the ability to be able to pull tweets in the tickets. That’s a good first step. But you know, again, it’s beating the horse.

Michael Coté: Right.

Chris Dancy: Why even bother doing that? So, yeah, I don’t know. I think right now the timing is… timing is everything right now. If I was a service-desk company again, I am betting that we are the key, right, for the next 15 years. I would be betting everything on some type of gigantic enterprise social object and everything having — I mean, maybe you’re the admin of some gigantic server farm; but you care particularly about two different processes. It makes sense to you to Like them or Follow them or check into them. You understand these types of things, because you work and you live it, right?

Michael Coté: Right, right. No, and then —

Chris Dancy: Why aren’t we enabling this? It’s very simple stuff.

Michael Coté: It’s funny, in the previous episode we were talking about cultural change that DevOps needs and all this kind of business. That’s like one of the points you’re getting at, too, is this cultural change of the white-collar worker, if you will, that they actually care about a piece of technology. They kind of know enough what to do with it that they would want to follow it and kind of like keep up with what’s going on.

So there is a certain sense of management spreading outside of the wall — as John would call it, outside of the glass house, if you will, and letting your dirty filthy end users actually come in and like take care of a little bit of their own stuff. I of course say that tongue-in-cheek. But it is like —

Chris Dancy: Yeah. It is more importantly the idea of curation. If I’m an admin, I’m inundated with alerts. Shouldn’t I be able to curate via social Follow, Friend, Like, whatever the heck you want to call it, just the thing that I really care about?

Michael Coté: Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, I think it usually goes under the banner from a few years ago like crowdsourcing or whatever. But for lack of a better term, in many different domains I’ve been seeing the… having this aggregate of… what is it? Having these moderately moderate to huge piles of data that allow you to kind of figure out what the hell is actually going on in some space.

And to the point of what you were saying, if everything had the equivalent of a Like button, and a quarter to half to whatever percentage of the people in a large company were actually Liking the things. And of course, having a Dislike button would be handy as well. But if people could register their interest in some given IT asset, that would be kind of a novel piece of data to have to start determining what you do with it.

Chris Dancy: Yeah, I mean, a company that opens up a Facebook API and says “All my enterprise apps will have some Like functionally so that when you go home or you’re sitting at your desk and you’re looking at your phone, you’re saying ‘Mom just took Junior to the birthday party; Bess is playing FarmVille; the server just hiccupped.’” It makes sense.

Michael Coté: Yeah, yeah. It’s sort of like on the iPhone they have this My Call Just Dropped thing for AT&T. It’s kind of interesting, because they show you other people who have reported dropped calls. So it’s interesting to like open up the map and see like how many dropped calls there are in your area. I mean, that’s not a perfect example or whatever; but because there’s all sorts of —

Chris Dancy: I think it’s a good example, because it also speaks to something that I think is the big hurdle to my panacea of fantabulousness is I know about that app you’re talking about, Cote. And I thought about downloading it; but to take the time to tell them how crappy they are and exactly when and where they were crappy devalues me.

Michael Coté: Yeah, no, I agree completely, and like to some extent I feel like I should get

Chris Dancy: The cultural thing does not like me.

Michael Coté: I feel like I should get maybe a one-percent discount or something like that.

Chris Dancy: Exactly.

Michael Coté: That’s like the dark side of all the crowdsourcing stuff that all the Web 2.0 people didn’t really get into much. There were a couple of snarky people like Mr. Cloud Dude himself, whose name I can’t remember now which is terrible. Then a couple of other people were basically like “Oh, wait, so basically I am doing a bunch of free labor for the company”.
I think that’s one of looking at; but the other way is that like there are many situations where I realize self-service should also imply a discount in the pricing that I’m doing because I’m saving a company money, and yet they don’t really have those things in there so much.

So that is the give-and-take of adding social is there needs to be some… if you already have the expectation that stuff should be working and then you’re doing work to make something you’re paying for work, something is a little wacky as far as the expectation settings there.

John Willis: Yeah, it’s a fine line in scale, right? I mean, like to me one of the great social-network applications, if you’ve ever gone to Disney World, right, they got the iPhone app that tells you how long the lines are, how long you are going to wait, right?

Michael Coté: Yeah (laughing).

John Willis: If you like are worrying about like what like you are going to go on and stuff, right, I mean, that’s really (laughing)… So people, while they are waiting in line, even though they are pissed, they are taking the time to go ahead and answer the social…

Michael Coté: Right.

John Willis: … that benefits, and why would anybody bother saying “20 minutes, god dog it. I am going to put it into this app”?

Michael Coté: Right, right.

John Willis: So I don’t know.

Chris Dancy: I was at Disney a few months ago, exactly what you are talking about with these lines. And I said to the guy, I wanted to get on this ride. I had to get out of the park in the next half an hour. I said, “Dude, I’ve got my ticket, my” — you need to pay a FASTPASS ticket. I said, “It’s for an hour from now.” I said, “I’ll give 20 bucks; just let me in there and out.” He said, “No, everybody at Disney is equal. If we took money from you, it would mean other guests would be less important than you.” And like not five minutes later somebody walks up with an entourage and goes right in the line. And I said, “So I guess he is just as equal as I am, too, right?” It comes down to a real —

John Willis: That’s a bunch of crap, being equal, because we bought Disney Time thing and they gave us — so I was told they never do this. There’s 32:04 something divert on Disney. They give you like these token, they are like all-day FASTPASS.

So the sales guy gives these things out all the time when people are trying — when they are to sell Disney properties. It’s like an unlimited — it’s a FASTPASS you can use at any time during the day, and they’ll give you — they gave use like 30 or 40 for our extended family.

Chris Dancy: I mean, someone ought to make it an app for your iPhone and your Droid to let you get, you and your partner or whoever you are you at Disney with, all get FASTPASSes. Then stand for two or three rides, and then you all check into some app and then you trade them with other families who are wanting to get in your line and then you go get back in their line. I mean, it’s real simple stuff.

But it takes me back to this whole idea of micro payments, right? I don’t know, we have a Walgreens here in Denver. I am not from the East, I am not used to Walgreens. Last winter I had to go, because I wasn’t feeling well. Well, they had a machine and I had swiped my credit card, swiped my insurance and fed everything in; nobody, no nurse or anything. Then it said to me, “Would you like to pay $10 extra to move to the head of the queue?”

So there were like eight old women in there. So I said, “Of course. They are going to be forever”. So it swiped away 10 bucks. Then they are like “Would you like to pay an extra $10 to have your prescription ready if you need a prescription before you come out of the door?” as if they already know what you have, right? I’m thinking, “Well, of course.” So I sat there just super-sizing my illness, and my time was worth it.

So, again, people have — you know, they lose their bowels when I say this; but in service management, I don’t think it’s beyond the grasp of most people once we get some micro payments to say “Here is a dollar, move me to the front”. Make IT a profit center.

Michael Coté: No, no. I mean, what’s interesting there is, not to be all like topical plug news guy, but like Service-now came out with a recent thing and one of the things they had was cost management and stuff like that, which… so I have had a few discussions with reporters about what is it, what is all this cost-management stuff and everything mean.

I never get the sense that IT departments have had a really good grasp on exactly how much it costs to do things, or they can come up with a grasp; but at some point you usually have someone sitting in a spreadsheet and they kind of insert a number into a column, and then you’ve got your costs. It does seem like the more you can sort of cost out what any given service means.

The dark side of that is it means you are going to start charging people what they really should be paying, which can be bad. But there is a more interesting sort of, I don’t know, positive thing that you can do, which is exactly what you started saying. Like one person might say “Well, Walgreens is just fleecing me.”

But on the other hand, they are also giving you more decisions to like get the kind of service that you want, right? Like so if you don’t want to pay a lot, you can wait, which is fine. But if you’re sick of waiting, then at least they give you the option of a way to speed it up, kind of comparing to the Disney thing.
I feel like the way that a lot of IT is delivered, they don’t really have that grasp on how much a service is going to cost someone, such that they could say, “Well, if you give us $5 more” — it’s probably more like $5,000 more — “we can do this and do that”. I mean, it’s kind of like a game, a sleight-of-hand game usually when you’re budgeting out how much something is going to cost, which makes it very difficult to give people maximal decision based on what they want to pay.

Chris Dancy: Yep.

John Willis: Yeah, I mean, that’s why people love… some of the things people really love about the public cloud, right, is for the first time if you know once you go down that route, you know exactly what your costs are. I mean not route; there are still other management issues, but for the first time you’re not guessing on… there is a specific price that you’re paying for computer power, and it’s a bottom line.

Michael Coté: Yeah. It reminds me of another quote someone told me a while ago from some CIO they were talking to, and it was something like — and this is something you said many times about, for example, the budget that big banks have for IT where it’s like cost isn’t really the issue. It’s sort of like the certainty of spending something. Like if I went to the Board and I told them, “You give me $5 million and we’ll make 20% more profit”, then they would give me $5 million right there in that meeting if they trusted that that would happen; but it seems like the controls and trust isn’t necessarily there in service being provided to enable that kind of conversation. So instead, you just turn IT into a bunch of offshore skeletons, basically.

Chris Dancy: But that’s kind of silly, because saying “You give me $20 million or $5 more, we’ll give you 20% better”, that’s like saying to somebody who’s about to knife you to death, “Scream softer and I won’t stab you as hard”.

Michael Coté: Exactly (laughing).

Chris Dancy: I mean, you’re in control of the thrust and speed, for gosh sake. The motion of the ocean has already taken over, all right?

Michael Coté: That’s right, that’s right.

Chris Dancy: I could go places with that one.

Michael Coté: That’s right. Well, I mean, to switch to sort of a tangential topic, so this is something I’m curious to hear you talk about a little bit is with like — so I mentioned Service-now a while back, and like I had noticed in the past year or so a lot of the service desk people have kind of — and we’ve talked about this offline; but a lot of the service desk people have come out with SaaS options, or On Demand as they seem to like to call them, which I always think is kind of funny.

But, I don’t know, what do you think of this whole thing of like service desk moving to the cloud or as a SaaS thing? Is that sort of good or bad? What are you seeing play out in that area?

Chris Dancy: I like what John said, that the cloud has really given us as consumers of IT, whether we be in IT or not, a real idea of what we’re spending. I know I just got an email saying QuickBooks 2011 is out and I can upgrade for $200, and I thought about converting my software and buying the software and all that stuff, or I could pay $39 a month and just move to their online solution, which is crap and it looks like crap. But I wouldn’t have had to install anything, I can get to it anywhere.

Michael Coté: Yeah.

Chris Dancy: As far as service, so obviously I mean, my whole mind has shifted. I mean, being a small business, I’m thinking everything I do is in a cloud, a cloud service or SaaS some way. I don’t have time and I want to know right away at the end of the month if something has to go, which light in the house — not all the lights, but which light, right?

For service desk, I think it’s moving that way. Unfortunately, again, if I was… I think a lot of these vendors are just cloud-washing is what Rick likes to call it. They’re service desk and saying that they are SaaS or On Demand. You can call it whatever you want; it’s good marketing. If it sells the more six-month extensions on the cancerous life of service management, then you’ve got a SaaS operation.

Michael Coté: Right. This is kind of like the Oracle/Larry Ellison-like strategy for cloud computing. It’s like “Hey, if you give me money if I call it cloud computing, I’ll call it cloud computing. Can I have your money now?” So that does happen.

Chris Dancy: Yeah. I think it’s all a little too late. Again, unfortunately, I don’t think anyone is saying “What does service-management software look like” — let’s just be real conservative — “two years from now?” and go on from that. You look at all the vendors to these major revamps at the end of the ‘90s, beginning of the 2000s, create the uber-service management pantheon, which was parent-child relationships, because then anything could be related to anything: a problem to a change, a change to a release. They could spend all day linking things together.

Then that time you take Service-now, and they said “Well, we’ll just do this whole web-based thing.” But the thing, that wasn’t new. I mean, FootPrints by Numara was doing that. What made it new was they were saying, “And we will take the half part of you doing it, and we’ll make it easy for you to understand.” I think now that people get that, I think a lot of companies will be successful moving in that direction.

But, again it’s just like Keynote’s: it’s not going to make it last, and I really have no good comment for you on it. I think people are…

Michael Coté: And it sounds like, definitely. So, I mean, does a service desk seem like the kind of thing that should be a SaaS versus on premise, or does it not really even matter?

Chris Dancy: I mean the fact we’re asking the question doesn’t mean we understand what the term “service desk” means.

Michael Coté: Right, right, right, right.

Chris Dancy: The fact that we’re considering a tools delivery in service management means we don’t understand service management.

Michael Coté: Right. Well, that’s exciting.


Michael Coté: But that is like — like I remember sitting at –-

Chris Dancy: I won’t get all cocky.

Michael Coté: No, no, no, no.

Chris Dancy: I worked on a helpdesk for years. I was a helpdesk tier level. I mean, I was still 41:00, right?

Michael Coté: Yeah.

Chris Dancy: And then I managed that same helpdesk. Then I installed them for FrontRange. Then I consulted from the end desk, and then I did something else that touched on it. I’ve worn all these hats, right? So trust me when I say I have sold service-desk software and I still feel sorry for it, because there was no service in it.

I remember — and I’m sure, John, you do, too — back when someone had a problem in service and support was, “You have a problem? What’s your problem? This is what you do. Are you happy? Good.” That was it.

But what happens, tons of money came in and said “You need metrics to measure that, and you can’t get metrics unless you know how quickly you’re talking to these people and how often they’re calling” and da-da-da, and we spent more time worrying about all the things we had to do to prove we were doing it than doing it.

Michael Coté: Yeah. No, like and what I was trying to recall is I was at CA World — that’s where I was — and I remember I saw that there was a session that was like the… I don’t remember what it was called; but it was basically like do you use our service desktop software? Come complain at it, it was that kind of session.

So I thought it would be interesting to go sit in there and see what users and customers were saying. And I remember… well, what happened was there was a lot of questions of — you know how these things go. It’s basically “When are you going to do X?” where “X” is a collection of really complex, weird and esoteric ways of assigning a ticket and then reporting to it. And everyone was kind of obsessed, because this is what their expectation was for how they were going to run is like “Well, if we have got a team of 50 people and then one of them is out on vacation and then we do the assignment here and that person is overloaded, how do we figure out who gets assigned a ticket?” And this is just one example of — it’s very complicated, weird stuff. And I remember sitting there and thinking like, kind of to the point I think you were making, is like it’s sort of the wrong question to be asking of like…

Chris Dancy: Exactly.

Michael Coté: You don’t sort of ask like “How can I sink faster into this quicksand?”

Male: Yeah.

Michael Coté: Like I feel like I am moving a little too slow. It’s more like “How do I just get out of the quicksand in the first place?” It was one of those enlightening and also depressing moments where it’s… you know, that’s one of my poster child for what I always call the sort of Stockholm syndrome in enterprise software, where the people actually paying the money and the user management, they have just been conditioned to want the wrong thing and they get upset when you try to give them something new and interesting or useful.

Chris Dancy: Well, it’s rude to ask a young couple “When are you going to have another kid”, right? You just can’t ask that. You don’t ask young girls “When are you going to get married?” unless you’re Mormon or Catholic, and then it’s perfectly fine; you’re expected to have it and, you know, there are certain things we do as an enterprise we wouldn’t do as a family or as a friend.

Michael Coté: Right.

Chris Dancy: And I just think if we go to an enterprise and just like pretend we weren’t brainwashed by craziness for years and just say, “Would I ask my mom this, would I ask my wife this”, right? So you said, “When are you going to add this new thing?” That’s like saying to your husband that drinks, “When are you going to stop drinking when you come home from work?” “Well, when I don’t have to go to work to support the fact you over-shop.” This is real simple stuff, people. We should also be in psychology class, not ITIL 3 foundations.

John Willis: Right, well, I mean that’s the whole — I know we talk about the DevOps. We just did a podcast before this and, I mean, I think that’s part of like you know what you are talking about, like somebody to be able to start thinking about social objects, right? These are the kind of rip-it-apart thinking that the enterprise is going to have to do, right? It’s no longer just to buy a mainframe because IBM sells one, you know what I mean? That may or may not be the right choice, and just because they’ll sell you one and you bought one last time, you’re going to get the new one this time, and we’re going to go with AIX again next time. You know what I mean? I think again it goes back to the whole economic side there that your competitor may not exist yet, you know what I mean, and they are not going to have -– this is what’s happening in the whole WebOps world, right? Theses companies that they don’t have all these preconceived notions of the way you have to run a business, right, or the way IT has to be, right?

And I think DevOps is part of that, too. Like if you went right out of college and you went right to work for a large corporation, you would think there should be a wall between developers and operations.
Like, wow, I don’t get it but… 45:24 now. They’ve been doing it for 15 or 20 years, so they must know what they are doing, And 5 years later you are like “Well, that’s just the way it is”. I mean, that’s — when you are training the new guys that are coming in, “No, no, that’s the way it always worked”.

Michael Coté: So the upshot is anyone who has access to a service desk, they should probably file a ticket to ask why they run the service desk the way they do, right? Can we get a little like self-referential stuff here? Like everyone needs to start sending in tickets requesting that they evaluate the way that they send in tickets.

John Willis: Yeah, but nobody ever looked at it; they’ll never get close, so…

Michael Coté: (Laughing.) That’s right, the system will defeat them. Fantastic.

Chris Dancy: I think if you wanted to learn about IT in 2010, all you need to do is go back and watch “9 to 5” with Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin. You need to smoke a little bud, you need to get rid of the boss, tie him up in his mansion and you need to allow people to work when they want, where they want, how they want, any which way, and forget about everything else. Watch profits soar, let the boss back in, let him take credit for everything, and you are a little bit more mellow and things have gotten back.

John Willis: I love it. Yeah.

Michael Coté: Yeah. You know, I re-watched that movie recently, and I think you are right.

John Willis: That’s great.

Michael Coté: I think using upward promotion to get rid of troublemakers is a… it’s not that it’s underappreciated because it happens a lot. Well, it’s like The Peter Principle or whatever; but it definitely is a nice tactic to send them to the —

John Willis: Well, that’s another podcast.

Chris Dancy: I don’t even remember that movie, it’s been so many years; but, I mean, it’s —

John Willis: Oh, come on.

Chris Dancy: Honestly. When I watched that, in the ‘70s I think is the last time I watched that movie. So…

But anyway, yeah. The thing is is that that is kind of what’s happening is people that are having this kind of attitude of do not ask if you get in the slave attitude, the if I build it, they will come. And I think that’s to me some of the exciting stuff for the people that aren’t waiting for the CIOs.

I mean, I think I’ve told this story on here, but the Best Buy story to me is like the greatest do not ask forgiveness later where the guys who built the Blue Shirt Nation stuff, right, they just decided to do it, and they even — like I saw an interview with them where they said if they would have asked permission, they would have gotten shot down. Their success in building a content-management system for all the store employees, they could start sharing their knowledge about the business made its way into the Board where the Board decisions were “Have we checked with the Blue Shirt Nation on this one yet” from guerrilla to like where the Board was actually asking “Should we do this without checking with them first?”

I think that that’s part of the culture that’s changing is people are just figuring out, “Hey, I can fix this now”. It is the Dolly Parton thing; it’s like “I am not going to ask, I am just going to do it”.

Chris Dancy: Yeah, because we need more stories. We need people sharing more stories of success like you just defined. The problem is when I hear those stories, they are treated as like sightings of the Loch Ness Monster or the Chupacabra. They happen more often than we give them credit; but, again, there would not be a whole of happy unemployed IT people if we allowed everyone to do this free thinking. You said, “If we build it, will they come?” I often tell people social networking, social objects and social media is all about letting someone else build it and then be there because they built it.

You know, the community we have around my organization, you know, we didn’t set out to do what we did; we let the community build us and decide who we were and what we were doing and what we were selling. Why is that such a bad idea? Why do I need a plan? I’m sorry, Mom and Dad, you were wrong.

John Willis: Yeah. Well, I mean, that is the Blue Shirt Nation. I mean, what happened was they were just trying to solve a simple problem, like they didn’t want to travel to all the stores to get all the feedback. So but before long they had a database of knowledge about their business that it turns out this Blue Shirt people that were in the stores were they’re sweet spot or we’re basically their demographic for sales. They were all 18- to 25-year-olds who liked to buy geeky stuff, and they all started talking about “Well, I would never buy this” or “When we put this on this shelf, it went like hotcakes”.

Michael Coté: Yeah. I mean, it’s that same thing. One of those things I always come back to is no one expects the IT department to be helpful (laughing). So they don’t even think like we need to figure out what all of our — I mean, the Blue Shirt one highlights this as a counter-example, right? But we need to figure out like what people’s reaction will be to this. Maybe the IT department could tell us what to do — or not tell us what to do, but maybe they could help facilitate doing something.
John Willis: Well, I think that’s where the IT department have to be the guys that either — you know, again, I see a lot of this whether it’s right or not is that they are just going to build it and they see it working in other places — and the cloud has been a classic story of just guys going out and getting cloud resources and then just saying “Heck, I am just going to do this because there’s no other way to do this”.

What happens, how many times have you guys seen where you talk to a guy and he’s talking about some project and he’s put in a phenomenally impossible position? “We want this in four weeks, but we are only going to give you enough resources to get it done in eight weeks”, and “They’ve only given me 10,000, but it’s going to cost 20,000, but who cares? Get it done. It’s your job’s on the line”, right?

I mean, people are faced with these kind of things all the time, and I hear from people like “My management has told me I have to do this; they have no clue, they are telling me I have to have it done by this date”. And so these people are finally just throwing their hands up and saying “All right, they want me to do it, I’ll do it; here’s how I am going to do it. I am going to go out, I am going to get some cloud, and I am going to do this and I am going to do that”, and almost nine out of ten times they don’t get fired because they are successful, and everybody looks at it and says “Ooh, you probably should ask; but, wow, that’s pretty cool”.

John Willis: (Laughing.)

Michael Coté: Yeah. Earlier this morning I had a little… I don’t know what you would call it, a sort of relationship epiphany where I realized if you are going to ask your partner or spouse or whatever you want to say to like do something, just like a good manager would do, you have to make sure to give them time to accomplish that task. And I feel like that that little bit of giving time or being realistic in what you assign to people is always… an effective manager does that; but even like normal managers usually to your point, they don’t really realize, they don’t take into account the time and resources needed to accomplish what they want. They just want things accomplished.

John Willis: Oh, because their managers are giving them unrealistic expectations (laughing).

Michael Coté: Yeah, yeah (laughing). There you go, the unrealistic-ness rolls downhill, as it were.

Chris Dancy: But again, you’d have a more successful project if you had more people playing in it, and you’d have more people playing in it if it was open for anyone to play in.

Michael Coté: Yeah, I know. I think that’s what’s interesting about layering this social level is it breaks down the downhill/uphill pattern and has like some other avenues for unsatisfactory and for whatever things to run around is that… I don’t know; like I feel like in these kind of situations when IT is asked to do something unrealistic in isolation from the rest of the company knowing about it, then it’s easier to fail because you don’t really have that community backing you up, right?

And to be totally tangential, right, like I remember one of my old philosophy teachers said one of the problems we have in society nowadays to be that kind of guy is that shame isn’t really used as much as it used to be. Like shame, you could put someone in stocks in the middle of the town, and it was very shameful. So you could use shame as a very nonviolent tool to get things done. And whenever you are acting in isolation, like the shame of being unrealistic doesn’t occur to someone who is asking you to do something unrealistic because no one knows they are asking, whereas if you had this more social thing, then hopefully that would be one avenue in which you could realize that just crazy stuff is happening and maybe you should poison the boss and tie him up, as it were.


Male: [Singing.]

Michael Coté: Well, see, I’ve had a real issue with this episode, because you have given me so many great titles that I can use. I mean, we have got My Panacea of Fantabulousness, and we have basically got like The Dolly Parton Strategy for IT Change. And there’s a few more, so it’s going to be very difficult to pick out which one to use.


John Willis: Well, hold on, now.

Chris Dancy: We are going to split it down the middle, buddy. I was planning on taking a few of those myself, so… .


Michael Coté: We’ll have to dole them out.

Chris Dancy: Yeah, yeah; no, yeah.

Michael Coté: We don’t really want to do this doling out in isolation, because then there might be some shenanigans with it. When you do it, I’ll —

John Willis: I think your Fantabulousness, I want the Dolly Parton “9 to 5”.


Chris Dancy: You can’t wrap up yet. Michael I met you, I missed my Cote-versary because I met you last year in person at itSMF.

Michael Coté: That’s right, up at the lovely Gaylord Houston — no, in Dallas, right, which I fly over frequently when I am flying into DFW to make a connection; so it’s funny that I see that so often. But, yeah. So I was actually — and we talked about this in the podcast — I guess this is one of those… well, I don’t know what it is. But the itSMF thing that I went to in Dallas, it exceeded my expectations, which I don’t know what that means necessarily. But I thought it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. And you know it’s kind of a bummer I missed the one this year. But what happened with this one this year that was in Orlando — or was it with Louisville? That’s right, Louisville.

Male Speaker: Louisville.

Michael Coté: Isn’t that what I said? How was it? Did they have a Gartner guy come in and talk about the need for transformation and things like that like last year?

Chris Dancy: Oh, yeah, yeah; yeah. You know what I was amazed at the meeting was they used “Gartner” and “Maturity Model” in the same sentence. But basically the vendor hall was —

John Willis: I love you. I love you, dude.

Chris Dancy: Thank you, dude. So basically the vendor hall — well, it was really funny — by David Coyle from Gartner walked past me, and I obviously over the 18 months I have been in business have become more visible to him. So he looked at me and shook my hand and goes, “Hey, how you doing?” like he knows my name. It’s like “Hey, it’s Chris Dancy.” “Oh, yeah, yeah, I know, I know.” And I said, “Shouldn’t we soak?” He said, “Why?” I said, “We just shook hands” and he just kind of left me.


Michael Coté: Always courteous.

Chris Dancy: Yeah, I am always courteous. Well, you know, they are not going to — I asked him, I said, “Dave, when are you guys going to start tweeting or doing something?” “We are working on our strategy.” “That’s what you said last year. You have a 12-month strategy for social media, and you are supposed to be a leading analyst? Shouldn’t you be doing?” Wax on, wax off there, David Coyle.

Two things I thought were interesting about this year’s conference, one, the vendor hall basically had no one in it, which kind of leads me to think the days of these big tech conferences are officially dead, almost, you know, it’s product-centric. Service-now seems to be doing okay with the conference for their folks — and getting their own customers to pay to come to their own conference, which blows my mind.

The other thing I thought was amazing was HDI, which is kind of like the traditionally thought of — it’s not true, whatever — thought of as the helpdesk people, announced that they were merging the two fall conferences. So instead of there being one HDI conference and one itSMF conference, itSMF basically threw their hands up and said “Ah, we can’t do this any more. There will just be one conference run by HDI”, which to you guys probably isn’t a big deal; but people in my little space, I don’t think they realize the major shift in power that just happened. So it’s going to be an interesting two years, because that’s the length of the agreement.

And then today itSMF USA and a secret closed-door meeting that was tweeted about and then deleted but I saved the screenshot of the tweet, you know, laid off three of their staff, and they have only got a staff of five.

Michael Coté: Right.

Chris Dancy: So you look at ITIL’s Flagship Fan Club Foundation, itSMF, and you see what’s going on with it and go “Well… .” But still I don’t get how people just spend bucket-loads of money on ITIL training and — oh, well. So that’s good.

I got an award, I wanted to mention that; that was nice. The president of itSMF USA gave me the President’s Award. I don’t know, I think it’s because I called them out on tweets and offered something. But, no, it’s a big deal, and I am very, very honored and look forward to getting an award next year from HDI/itSMF/whatever the big conglomerate will be.

Michael Coté: Yeah. Well, you know, I mean, like I remember going and thinking this is like one of the only conferences I have been to where they are actually talking about… for better or worse, where they are actually talking about like doing service management and things like that. And it is like… I don’t know, it’s like with as much like fabulous like, you know, The Panacea of Fantabulousness that we have, as it were.

Chris Dancy: Yeah.

Michael Coté: It is still difficult to kind of track down. There is only a handful of people who kind of talk about that on a regular basis. I mean, there is folks like yourself and the IT Skeptic and like people here and there; but there is not… I don’t know, I don’t feel like for all the talkers of cloud —

Chris Dancy: Well, we don’t get invited, we don’t get invited to your fun conferences, right? I think the only service-management guru you are going to get at Oracle World is somebody who is like an Oracle person. At CA, you are going to get a CA person, maybe Meghan Stabler, who is also from Austin. You know, you don’t get these kind of independent freethinkers, which leads me to the question that I asked you on my podcast: When do we get our RedMonk Conference?

Michael Coté: That’s right (laughing). We should do one of those. You know, the issue is — and I have probably explained it at that time, too — is we can barely like handle like getting ourselves dressed in the morning, and so we definitely… we are continually looking for someone who can kind of take on the actual helping us get dressed in the morning when it comes to conferences and doing stuff, which that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it. But you know, it would be nice to like bring together… I mean, the thing in this podcast that we come across again and again is like there is new ways of doing IT, and there is just this like big hair ball of crap preventing people from even thinking about doing it that way.
And, you know, we won’t go into a lot of nice detail here in this episode on it; but it’s just frustrating, because I don’t think people necessarily are very excited about the way like service management is being done at moment, despite the fact that it may be compliant and you’re following process and things like that; but there is not a… I don’t know. There needs to be some sort of more better driving force of change, the driving change and innovation in the area.

John Willis: I was just going to say you said you went to the conference, and that was one of the few places where you saw people talking about doing IT service management. I always tell people you don’t kind of do IT service management, like you don’t do library. You go to a library and you perform an activity, and you leave, right?

So service management is something, it’s not a destination or a journey; it’s a roundtrip ticket, all right? It’s a relationship between you and someone who needs or desires you or your services and what that little mini-quick date looks like, right? Real simple stuff, you know.

Michael Coté: Yeah.

John Willis: Take speed dating, right, and apply it to -– again, I’ve got another tweet scheduled to go off; I’ll start deleting all these, now I’ve been on the podcast. I think service and every service should think of themselves as an app that’s going to be rated or passed over based on cost and whether it’s useful or not.

Michael Coté: Right, right, instead of an essential cemented-in thing, essentially, right? I mean, it kind of gets back, or at least it seems to get back, to something you were talking about. You were saying earlier that ITIL kill the innovation in the service desk, right? And what that seems to implies is so here is the way IT is run, and if you run it that way you’re done. You don’t ever have to think about it again (laughing). And then that probably —

John Willis: Well, the thinking, they put a framework around — they put a framework of inflexibility around something very fluid.

Michael Coté: Right, right, right. I mean, I don’t know if it’s in there somewhere; but they forgot there is Orwell’s famous Rules of Writing, right? And it gets duplicated any sort of like polemic ruliness stuff. And the last rule is always like feel free to not do any of these rules if it makes sense. and I always feel like whether it’s like Agile or ITEL or the Rational Unified Process or anything, like that rule is usually in there somewhere; but it usually is the first thing to go, which is kind of not very wise.

Chris Dancy: Well, dude, it’s profit motive. I mean, I don’t know why we all beat around the bush. Service management is nothing more than profit motive. It’s like Wall Street run amok, right?

Michael Coté: Oh, yeah.

Chris Dancy: There’s too much money to be made in teaching classes, putting in software and managing infrastructure for it to die. I mean, it’s dead; it’s basically a zombie that can’t be killed unless you cut off its head, and what is its head? The CIO. So what do we need to do? We just need to flush the CIO. I don’t know. I mean, I’m just being over the top; but again, you know it’s never going to get fixed. We could have a million podcasts all day long. The only time it is going to be fixed is once Core-Mac is chipped and he can get what he wants when he wants from the best provider by thinking about it.

Michael Coté: Yeah, yeah. We just need to have to some good old-fashioned disintermediation.

Chris Dancy: Yeah.

Michael Coté: That’s exciting. Well, I think that’s a good place to wrap up. Speaking of Core-Mac, I think I’m supposed to go get his passport before the post office. Talk about a system that you need to fix up, man, getting a passport? Not cloud-enabled, I’ll tell you that right now.

Chris Dancy: How do you get a passport for a baby?

Michael Coté: Well, you just bring sort of proof of parenthood-ship and you take a couple of pictures of him, and then you go to the post office and that’s it, and then you wait.

Chris Dancy: You’re kidding.

Michael Coté: That’s kind of how it works out. Yeah, it’s pretty simple.

Chris Dancy: Hmm. Okay.

Michael Coté: Yeah, the funny thing is like a lot of these processes, there’s sort of a minimal amount of paperwork that you need to do; but there is a whole lot of waiting and uncertainty and unhelpful websites telling you what you need to do. But what are you going to do? There is no way to Like or Dislike a passport-service thing.

Chris Dancy: Not yet.

Michael Coté: That’s right (laughing). Well, on that note, thanks for -– I really appreciate you being on the episode here and putting up with the trying technical difficulties we had before. I tried to file some service-desk ticket with the RedMonk service desk, but I’m still hunting down where that is exactly. But, yeah, it was great. I think we had a fine episode here. And why don’t you tell people where the ITSM Weekly, the podcast, can be had if people want to see that or listen to it?

Chris Dancy: Yeah, so you can catch my podcast on iTunes. You can just search for ITSM or ITSM Weekly. You can get it at my blog,; we’ve got it there. We just launched a Rest of the World Edition, which is recorded out of Europe, which is always interesting; but they think they are the rest of the world. So, yeah, those are the two places to check it out.

And by the way, I said it before, I’m going to suck up again; I love what you guys do. You guys are inspiring to be kind of radical thinking, and I appreciate that.

John Wills: Well, for me, it was a blast. You know, I took about a page worth of notes with the guest; I know I had a good time. So it’s good stuff.

Michael Coté: So there you go. Go subscribe to Chris’ podcast. It’s good stuff, I listen to it myself, and we’ll see everyone next time.

Disclosure: see the RedMonk client list for clients mentioned and relevant folks.

Categories: Cloud, Enterprise Software, IT Management Podcast, Systems Management.


Comment Feed

3 Responses

  1. It was a high honor to be on the show. Thank you John and Michael!

  2. I like the point about how you could draw things like system slowdowns from your user base social media wise. We were thinking about an app to add to a public health dashboard like Stashboard where users could basically "raise their hand" to say they think something's wrong. Much simpler than logging a ticket and going through all kinds of crap, just a "Hey man I think there's something wrong." One or two of those is spurious – a big spike means something's really wrong.