DevOps – pressing ahead

In an IT world that seems to be accelerating all the time, the clamour for faster delivery practices continues. Derek Britton takes a quick look at recent press and industry reports.

Introduction

In many customer meetings I tend to notice the wry smiles when the discussion turns to the topic of IT delivery frequency. The truth is, I don’t recall any conversation where the client has been asked to deliver less to the business than last year. No-one told me, “we’re going fast, and it’s fast enough, thanks”.

The ever-changing needs of an increasingly-vocal user community guarantees that IT’s workload continues to be a challenge. And this prevails across new systems of engagement (mobile and web interfaces, new user devices etc.) as well as systems of record (the back-office, data management, number crunching business logic upon which those systems of engagement depend for their core information).

Moving at pace, however, needs to be carefully managed. Less haste, more speed, in fact. Gartner says a quarter of the Global2000 top companies will be using DevOps this year. Let’s look to another deadline-driven entity, the press, for a current view.

wordle5

Banking on DevOps

Speaking to a conference of over 400 at a DevOps conference in London, ING Bank global CIO Ron van Kemenade says investment in new skills and a transition to DevOps is critical as the bank adjusts to a mobile and online future through its “Think Forward” digital strategy.

“We wanted to establish a culture and environment where building, testing and releasing software can happen rapidly, frequently and more reliably. When beginning this journey we started with what matters most: people,” van Kemenade says.

Putting the focus on engineering talent and creating multi-disciplinary teams where software developers partner with operations and business staff has led to more automated processes, a sharp reduction of handovers and a “collaborative performance culture”, he adds.

Speaking at the same event, Jonathan Smart, head of development services at Barclays, talked up an eighteen-month push by the bank to incorporate agile processes across the enterprise

Over the past year-and-a-half, the amount of “strategic spend” going into agile practices and processes has risen from four percent to more than 50%, says Smart, and the company now has over 800 teams involved

To accelerate its own transformation, BBVA has adopting a new corporate culture based on agile methodologies. “The Group needs a cultural change in order to accelerate the implementation of transformation projects. It means moving away from rigid organizational structures toward a more collaborative way of working”, explains Antonio Bravo, BBVA’s Head of Strategy & Planning. “The main goal is to increase the speed and quality of execution.”

Worth SHARing

Little wonder that the IBM mainframe community organization, SHARE, is continuing a significant focus on DevOps at the forthcoming August 2016 show in Atlanta. Tuesday’s keynote speech is called z/OS and DevOps: Communication, Culture and Cloud”, given by members of the Walmart mainframe DevOps team.

Meanwhile, an article featured in Datamation, and tweeted by SHARE, provides further evidence and arguments in favour of adopting the practice. It cites a report from “2016 State of DevOps Report” which says, “[Developers using DevOps] spend 22 percent less time on unplanned work and rework, and are able to spend 29 percent more time on new work”

shareatlanta

Time to Focus

Of course, Micro Focus are neither strangers to SHARE nor to DevOps. At a recent SHARE event, we attended the DevOps discussion panel, discussing technical, operational and cultural aspects.

More recently, Micro Focus’s Solution Director Ed Airey penned an informative article published in SDTimes, outlining a smart approach to mainframe DevOps. The rationale, he says, is simple – competitive pressure to do more.

“Competitive differentiation depends on [organizations’] ability to get software capabilities to market quickly, get feedback, and do it again”

Addressing major challenges to make DevOps a reality, in both mainframe and distributed environments, Airey talks about how major question marks facing DevOps teams can be tackled with smart technology, and refined process; questions such as collaboration, development process, culture, skills, internal justification. He concludes with encouraging projected results, “Standardizing on common tooling also enables productivity improvements, sometimes as high as 40%.”

Of course – not everyone is convinced

Modern delivery practices aren’t for everyone. And indeed some issues sound quite daunting. Take Cloud deployment for example.

Sounds daunting? A recent Tech Crunch article certainly thought so.

We are treated to a variety of clichés about the topic such as “ancient realm” and “the archaic programs”. However, the publication failed to notice some important things about the topic.

Central to the piece is whether COBOL based existing systems could be “moved” to another platform. The inference was that this was an unprecedented, risky exercise. What’s perhaps surprising, to the author at least, is that platform change is no stranger to COBOL. Micro Focus’ support of over 500 platforms since its inception 40 years ago is supplemented by the fact that the COBOL language, thanks to our investment, is highly portable and – perhaps most importantly in this case – platforms such as the Cloud or more specifically Red Hat (alongside SUSE, Oracle and many other brands of UNIX too) are fully supported with our Micro Focus range. That is to say, there was never any issue moving COBOL to these new platforms: you just need to know who to ask.

cloud1

Moving Ahead

Anyway, I can’t stop for long, we’re moving fast ourselves, continuing the DevOps discussion. Upcoming deadlines? Find us at SHARE in Atlanta in August, or visit us at a DevDay in the near future, or catch up with us on our website where we’ll be talking more about DevOps and smarter mainframe delivery soon.

Core Values – Why We Need to Act Fast

Amid concerns over its ability to provide what the business needs, IT must tackle significant operational challenges to deliver more, and deliver it faster. This blog explores the current IT leadership predicament, and discusses how to streamline complex IT processes by discovering smarter ways of extracting value.

The here and now

IT supports the business and plays a critical role in its performance. Important long-standing core applications provide the fundamental backbone of business operations – and over many years an irreplaceable, comprehensive IT environment has evolved.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns. For many, IT budgets remain stagnant, yet the organization has a growth strategy. For most organizations the majority of budget is spent on the day-to-day running of the business, referred to as ‘keeping the lights on’. Why? An array of innovative systems and processes has made the business what it is today. But such innovation has come at a cost – a recent study states around $11M per organization is required to address the backlog. And with more innovation, comes more backlog.

The backlog continues to grow, complexity of the IT environment follows suit, and future agility diminishes. The downward spiral continues. Even armed with the very latest zEnterprise mainframe technology, IT leaders faced unprecedented challenges in continuing to support business growth.

Oh, sounds bad.

Actually, it’s worse than that. There’s an abundance of other challenges to deal with – the forever growing IT backlog, continuous changes in compliance regulations and numerous outsourcing challenges. Additionally, organizations continually must widen and improve their skills pool. Let’s consider each of these concerns:

Consider compliance

Regulatory compliance is a pressing concern for many IT departments, but far too often it gets pushed to the bottom of the list. It takes time, effort and prioritization. And on top of all that, it takes focus away from delivering what really matters back to the business.

Governance, risk and compliance projects are unplanned, non-negotiable IT milestones with far reaching consequences. Meeting regulations with finite IT resources is a challenge that limits the ability to focus on innovation.

Newspaper Headlines

Keeping the lights on – the true costs

Gartner reveal upwards of 70% of an organization’s IT budget is for ‘lights-on’ activities only. This is referred to as ‘dead money’ as it isn’t directly contributing to business growth or enhancing competitive advantage. This figure of 70% is only expected to grow, with CIOs estimating a 29% rise in ‘IT debt’ over the last 18 months.

The high percentage of ‘lights on’ budget means very little is left, and consequently, placement of remaining resources is more critical than ever and ultimately affects the ability to deliver, grow and maintain competitive advantage.

lightson

Outsourcing – a global panacea?  

Application outsourcing accounts for a major proportion of global application maintenance activities. A recent study suggests that 48% of CIOs outsource all testing and development projects.

Implementing the best possible technical infrastructure is a challenge and carries many considerations: Is it cost effective? Will it affect quality? Can more be achieved? Can coherent system integration be achieved? For some, a move towards outsourcing is often associated with a loss of control, hidden costs, security and confidentiality intrusion as well as additional concerns. Meanwhile for many others, it’s a way forward – access to skilled staff, increased operational efficiency and improved flexibility. However, establishing and controlling an effective outsourcing strategy remains a significant operational challenge.

Perceived resourcing concern

As businesses evolve, so must core systems, and critical COBOL applications must do more than ever. Keeping pace with that evolution can be a significant resourcing challenge, as new skill requirements emerge. Outsourcing, as mentioned above, could be an option but it might not be considered the appropriate strategy. Either way, organizations now require a more specific skill set than ever before, which has consequently created questions around development skills.

Timing is everything

There’s no respite in the operational challenges facing IT – these enterprise environments are highly complex, innovation capacity is limited and delivering business value – quickly – is severely compromised. The time to find a way to manage the current, while delivering the new, can’t come soon enough.

Delivering fast enterprise time to value

In a recent BBC report, the UK Banking industry is “puzzled” at productivity levels that remain below those prior to the 2008 financial crisis. From an IT perspective, when one considers the issues above, and the difficultly in delivering against such a kaleidoscope of internal concerns, it may be less surprising than at first glance: poor internal efficiency can only hamper large organizations’ ability to deliver the volume and quality of services those business need.

What if there was a technology that could enable organizations to efficiently tackle the day-to-day operational challenges, freeing up time, and putting the control back in your hands? What if the power of the mainframe estate could be harnessed yet further?

Imagine unrivaled technology that helps tackle the challenges of compliance, IT backlog, outsourcing and skills. Technology that makes the CIO a hero once again – and delivers value back to the business quickly.

T2VBlogforJordan

With Micro Focus there is a way.

The Micro Focus Enterprise Solution leverages the power of the mainframe to further streamline business processes and transform enterprise
application delivery. Using industry-standard technology including Eclipse and zEnterprise, it helps tackle regulatory compliance challenges head-on, identifies and mitigates factors contributing to the backlog, supports outsourcing strategy, and addresses internal application resource concerns. Micro Focus provides solutions for all phases in enterprise application delivery cycle, including improved application intelligence, user access, application change and development, unit and system testing and workload optimization, offering a 50% improvement in application delivery

Learn more!

Watch the introduction video and read ‘The 10 ways to transform time to value’ and ‘Quick Reference’.

IT Debt – Can IT Pay Its Own Way?

Introduction

Coined a few years ago to help measure a specific industry trend, the phrase ’IT Debt‘ is now a de-facto  term in the IT world. A quick Google search shows, however, that it is not well defined, and the phrase is often misused, misunderstood and applied generically instead of on a case-specific basis. This blog attempts to unpick the truth from the fable by defining IT Debt, and exploring its causes and the wider industry impact of such a phenomenon.

IT what?

‘IT Debt’ is well-established term promoted by Gartner in 2010 to apply a quantifiable measurement to the backlog of incomplete or yet-to-be-started IT change projects. The accompanying research reported a rise in the amount of unfinished IT activities, at a global, macro perspective. When they wrote their press release, Gartner had the “enterprise or public sector organization” front of mind as most likely to suffer from IT Debt, and were particularly focused on the backlog of application maintenance activities.

Let’s define those terms again here.

  • IT Backlog – outstanding work IT has to undertake in order to fulfil existing requirements
  • IT Debt – a quantifiable measurement of IT Backlog

IT Debt later started being used interchangeably with similarly debt-focused phrases, such as Technical Debt, IT backlog or – to borrow a phrase from Agile methodology – the stuff in the icebox. Looking objectively at the issue, it will be helpful to think of the IT Backlog as the focus of discussion – “IT Debt” is merely a way of measuring it.

How Did It Get Like This?

The concept of a lengthy ‘to do list’ is by no means a difficult one and is certainly not new in of itself. IT or Data Processing departments would have long maintained a list of work items, prioritized accordingly, and would be working through this list, in the same way any functional area of any organization might. The monetary value adds arguably greater clarity (and potentially therefore concern).

Of course this being an IT term, causative factors can be many and varied. There are a number of elements that can and will contribute to an organization’s IT Backlog in differing measures. It isn’t fuelled by a single element. It is not platform or technology specific. It builds up, application by application. The defining characteristic of a backlog is that it’s the cumulative effect of a number of contributory factors that have accrued over time.

The root causes for the IT Backlog not only unearthed by research but suggested by customers, partners and commentators are wide and varied. They include:

  • Historical IT investments The IT world is highly complex; supporting this complexity is an onerous task and previous IT investment decisions may have been a good idea at the time but are now a high ongoing burden to keep running – there’s more on this here. Gartner echoed this major ‘budget’ concern in their original research too.
  • Current IT prioritization With 70% of all IT spend typically going on keeping the lights on, further impetus on clearing the backlog isn’t perceived as being a revenue-generating activity, so it may go under the radar in favour of more customer or revenue-centric initiatives. A strategy that sensibly and appropriately invests in what is a housekeeping exercise is not easy to justify.
  • Human Resources The lack of appropriate skills is another potential issue, because identifying the solution is one thing but getting ‘your people’ to resolve it can be quite another. Building a solution to a requirement the basis of which requires very specific know-how might just be seen as too difficult or costly to resource.
  • Unplanned Backlog Pre-ordained, planned work on the backlog is one thing, but IT priority is seldom isolated from the business in this way. Organizations are at the mercy of shareholders, corporate events, regulatory bodies and even the judiciary. Compliance projects and M&A activities typically find their way to the top of the list unannounced, pushing other backlog activities further down the list.
  • New Technology / Innovation Many CIOs and IT Managers will point to the external pressures – such as the disruptive technologies companies must work with to maintain market share – that are causing them to delay other tasks.
  • Processes and Tooling Incumbent technology and tools are not necessarily set up to deal with a lengthy application maintenance shortfall. The efficiency or otherwise of the execution of IT changes will have a bearing on how much backlog can be reduced and when.
  • Improvement Process With no rigor for monitoring and controlling the application portfolio, it is often harder to plan and prioritize application backlog activities systemically. Gartner suggested this in 2010, and more recent research suggests that only half of organizations have an appropriate process for managing the portfolio this way.
  • Vendor Relationships Filtering the must-do from the nice-to-have and ensuring the right technical and 3rd party strategy is in place is an important IT task. Not adding to the longer-term backlog as a result of procurement decisions remains an important and ongoing challenge for the organization’s senior architects and decision makers.

This list is by no means exhaustive. In the whitepaper Modern Approaches to Rapid Application Modernization, IDC argue other potential culprits could include high maintenance costs, “rigid systems that remain resistant to change”, “lack of interoperability” and ”outdated user interface technology”.  Of course, the chances are that no two organizations will have the same blend of factors.  In truth, it’s going to be an unhelpful cocktail of any number of these issues. 

Wherever it resides it’s not a Mainframe Problem

If IT Backlogs exist, they obviously live somewhere. They pertain to or manifest themselves in certain corporate servers. Yet in the IDC report (see above), there is no mention of platform as a salient factor in shaping IT Backlog. No link at all.

The IT Backlog is simply the confluence of any number of factors – tools, process, people, politics, available cash, desire to change, strategy – that will contribute, in greater or lesser concentrations, to create an application maintenance shortfall of work. It doesn’t follow that mainframe owners, or those running ‘legacy’ applications, are grappling with IT Backlog more than anyone else. Indeed, frequently the opposite is true.

An IBM report, noted a positive ‘cost of ownership’ for their System z against distributed servers. It noted that consolidating servers increased IT staff productivity and reduced operational costs – keeping the lights on – by around 57%, further proof that neither the mainframe, nor alternative, mass-distribution systems are the culprit. Other research also highlighted other causes of IT Backlog, choosing to look beyond platforms and ‘legacy’ applications.

From our own research through Vanson Bourne, we surveyed the views of nearly 600 CIOs , which was captured in the whitepaper, The State of Enterprise IT: re-examining Attitudes to Core IT Systems,   IT Debt results by company size revealed an interesting perspective. While average estimates for IT Debt grow with company size, this trend only applies to the entire portfolio. Taking the mainframe portion alone, the largest companies actually witnessed a drop, making its percentage contribution towards the IT Debt much lower than the smaller companies.

Clear evidence shows us that IT Backlog is not mainframe-specific. Indeed, it should not be pinned to any given platform at all. Correlating any link between the choice of platform and the consequent presence of IT Debt is misleading.

Paying Your Way

The term IT Debt was introduced to provide some clarity and impetus to what was observed as a growing industry concern. Reactions to this were varied as the debate ensued, though most agreed it was an issue that would require attention.

In our view, the headlong rush to rip and replace perfectly good business applications (many of them COBOL based) and replace them with new code that may – or may not – do exactly the same job doesn’t seem wise. Swapping one problem for another is like clearing an overdraft with a loan you can’t pay back – with terrible consequences for your finances.

Taking a more balanced view of tackling the factors contributing the backlog avoids unnecessary risk in a long term strategy for operational improvement. And help is at hand to tackle many of the root causes.

Arguably the best place to start is with greater focus on the backlog at a systemic level. Isolating and planning backlog busting projects is facilitated by new incarnations of application knowledge technology, and smarter tools for making application changes.

Getting the work done needs the right resources. Lots of people are learning COBOL and many of the companies supposedly struggling with ‘legacy’ systems are at the forefront of the digital economy.

Longer term, training new generations of Enterprise techies is important. Efforts from Micro Focus and IBM’s master the mainframe initiative suggest that the problem is being met by some smart thinking all round, while the recent celebrations around the mainframe’s 50th birthday have added further impetus to a broader appreciation of the value of that platform.

You’re All Set

The phrase ‘IT Debt’ is surrounded by ambiguity, which hasn’t helped the industry understand the problem well. Conjecture over the relevance of underlying platform hasn’t helped either. Backlogs are caused by multifarious issues, and it is important to examine those causes within your organization, rather than reacting to the headline of IT Debt.

Today, establishing a successful mitigation strategy that tackles root causes is a genuine possibility.  The backlog burden need not be out of control. Embracing change by seeking to enhance existing, valuable IT assets using smarter processes and technology, enables backlog to be managed effectively, and without introducing risky, unnecessarily draconian change.

 

 

Making the CIO a hero again

superCIOladySpare a thought for the CIO. Maybe that means you. There was a time when who the CIO was, and what they did, was clear. He or she was the person who used ‘IT alchemy’ to create business benefits from technology. They were tech people with business brains. Visionaries, futurists and fixers, the CIO was the IT presence in the boardroom. But that was then.

The dawning of the new era of IT – and all the innovation that comes with it – has changed the way people view the role. Now the CIO must harness the power these new advances theoretically bring while still delivering benefits to the business and managing the expectations of those who expect a magic wand, rather than a strategy.

The CIO must be a problem solver, with strategic and operational skills, expert in business-centred thinking with expertise in complex investment programs. In short, everyone expects CIOs to reinvent themselves to deliver the much-needed and widely anticipated value that the digital era is supposed to represent. And now, there is a new challenge that was perhaps harder to anticipate.

From heroes to…?

As recently as last year CIOs were being encouraged to escape the techie trap and become ‘business heroes’. CIOs failing to master this transformation were effectively resigning themselves to tactical, technical firefighting rather than retaining their status as a strategic board level player.

For CIOs, cementing hero status depends on becoming indispensible. After all, who else can evaluate, source and set up new technologies and systems while continuing  to deliver value from what is already there? Who is responsible for ensuring the current infrastructures integrate with the modern tooling – and all of this with fewer budget dollars and resources? And then there’s the new element – the Kryptonite that could threaten the survival of the IT superhero…

Say hello to the CDO

The  arrival of a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) in an organization could be problematic for the CIO. For here is a person whose job description overlaps with the CIO on many fronts. They will have a budget, and a clear strategy about how to take their organization into the digital age. So who gets to say what that future will look like? Clearly the beleaguered CIO faces challenges on all fronts – summarised here as 4 Ds:

1. Digitalization
Mobile, BYOD, big data, and the ever increasing demands of the end user are now must-haves. To quote one example, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) claim that mobile phone banking transactions have doubled in a year. With customers using their devices to carry out 5.7 million transactions per day, the pressure is on to deliver a flawless – and fast – service.

2. Data
The proliferation of technical tooling for sales, marketing and corporate outreach has driven vast quantities of data – the lifeblood of companies chasing the revenue growth that underpins every strategy.  McKinsey estimates that most US companies of more than 1000 employees in the US economy were storing at least 200 terabytes of digital information. It’s not called ‘big’ data for nothing. To get the most from this massive resource, organizations must interrogate it for the key take-outs that will deliver the business advantage. While most of the data is held on mainframes, much of the newer material, ie that relating to social media behaviors, will be stored on more disparate platforms. Someone must co-ordinate this storage and deliver the business value.

3. Dissatisfaction
As company budgets become more focused on revenue-producing areas, rather than IT operations and infrastructure, the internal dynamic for IT will change. Marketing automation systems, enhanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and Content Management Systems (CMS) will enjoy greater prominence. Their data must be accessible and usable to stakeholders, executives and incumbent systems. The gap between the end-user expectation and the ability to provide the required solution grows as – with each passing year – users grow ever more demanding, and vocal, in terms of timeframes and functionality.

4. Debt
Budgets and resources don’t always keep up with complexity. Equally, backlogs can increase in parallel with what Gartner call ‘IT debt’. There are many reasons for the staggering 29% increase IT debt: Poor investment, ill-advised prioritization, tooling, process, skills, architectural complexity, IT strategy are all in the mix. There is also the unfortunate perception that the platform, rather than the access mechanism, is a problem and that innovation can only be delivered by brand new technology, rather than by improving or augmenting current, business-critical applications with the right solution or products.

If a CIO finds themselves in an unwanted cycle of tackling ‘maintenance’ tasks and fire-fighting, their  first instinct, when faced with a fresh technology and/or business paradigm shift appears to be to schedule a ‘future overhaul/rewrite’ of technological assets. But rewriting or re-engineering working systems costs time, money and is fraught with risk. Just ask the UK NHS . A pragmatic, low-risk approach that resolves a chunk of these challenges in ‘one hit’ is needed here. A deeper understanding of the scope of the problem, coupled with a pragmatic approach to fixing processes, without jeopardizing existing services or adding to the backlog, is a great way of identifying that approach. So – what is the solution?

We can help

Finding smarter, innovative ways of implementing and delivering IT modernization, is part of our DNA. Micro Focus enables CIOs – and CDOs, for that matter – to keep up with the pace of technology and change, while maximizing the value of their core IT assets. Digitizing current frameworks brings innovation, enabling established technology to work efficiently with new. The key phrase here is modernization. It’s where what works – and most right-thinking IT managers would be loath to touch – is re-invented to deliver what the business needs today. Enterprise application modernization ensures the lights stay on today while organizations plan their tomorrows.

It’s what turns aging infrastructures into innovation-ready IT – and CIOs into heroes. If you’re ready to get more of what you need from what you already have, pay us a visit.

 

kishore

 

 

Kishore Devarakonda

Micro Focus VP of Strategic Projects

 

Lights…camera…it’s showtime! Garter Symposium / IT Expo Orlando

So. My big moment. A whole week of them.

Not a great day – there were no marching bands, parades or military flypasts to welcome me when I got here. Orlando? Did you not get the memo?

At this stage, I’m ruled by my to-do list. It’s a biggie and it’s getting bigger so I’ve had to prioritize it. The stuff written in RED BOLD UPPER CASE lettering comes first.

1) Check that fingers are crossed (This should guarantee all the boxes and materials have made it onsite).

2) Re-cross them to make sure all the staff are on their way. (Yes, Frank – I understand. I really do.)

3) Check hotel reservations. Then re-check them. Then do it again. (Note to self: have you checked the hotel reservations?)

4) Start sorting shirts for the staff who are on their way. They are, right? Yes?

5) Double-check the video showreel (thanks John Wyer & Purple!) and ensure the right file goes on the memory stick. A Gartner show is no place for my holiday snaps.

6) Meet with the presenters for our speaking session. Check they can all speak.

So in short – my life is an endless loop of checking, double and triple-checking. This is where the rubber hits road – and where any miscommunication will start hurting, big time.

I heard from my taxi driver last night – and they never mislead you, right? – that the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo will bring in more than 13,000 people. So no pressure there, then … (Note to self: We’re gonna need a bigger stand)

The movers and shakers are all here. And I mean literally – the movers are carrying in all the vendor materials and the shakers (ie all of us vendors) are ‘shaking’ their boxes to make sure their giveaways and collateral made all in one piece.  AV is being set up here, Internet folks are draping cabling around there. If this is the calm before the storm, it isn’t very calm…

If you are anyone in the IT world, you are here. Or thinking that you should be. Who’s not here, you ask?  Frank Borland is off saving another company from another disastrous testing failure, so unfortunately he’s just here in spirit. And video.

Several of our twitterific staff have made it – Kevin Brearley, Archie Roboostoff, Andrew Wickett, Emerson Sklar – tweet them to say hello or better yet, stop by booth #500 to say hi in person.  We’ll be there ready to shake hands with new and old friends.

Must run, the delivery guy is here with MORE boxes. Nearly time for curtain up….seeya soon

Gartner Symposium Blog Part Deux – doing things that you don’t understand

OK – so my previous blog post covered some of the more strategic aspects of getting Micro Focus and Borland over the line at Gartner Symposium/IT Expo Orlando. What about the more tactical tasks ? Tell us about the day to day Field Marketing slog I hear you cry – how could I possibly say no?

The Stand

It’s a staple of Gartner events. For our presence to have an effect, I need to have a walking, talking, in-your-face, state-of-the-art, fully-interactive exhibition stand. For Micro Focus and Borland this presents an immediate challenge – we have two very distinct brands to weave together. The hopefully tongue in cheek idea from an unnamed Marketing Director of having Frank Borland ride Kiruba, our Micro Focus Elephant simply won’t impress a bunch of CIOs. Fortunately, with help from our crack, in-house design team and our resident words guy, this quickly takes shape. The to-do list now has a just-done – phew.

A Customer Speaker and an in-house Product Expert (who can speak amazingly well at HUGE live events !)

Again – back to the knowledge theme from blog one. I know that the theme this year is Leading in a Digital World so it’s critical that what we speak about ties in and is full of leading references. Kevin Brearley  who heads up the Micro Focus Products Team was a natural choice – he can light up an audience! But what was he going to speak about and who with? Anyone who know’s anything about Client Success Programs or Customer References understands that finding a customer willing and able to help is as rare as a decent cup of coffee at a trade show. Luckily we found a true leader who can do both. Here’s a virtual introduction to Pete DuPre – Vice President of IT at one of America’s fastest growing Technology companies Vantiv.  Thanks Pete, thanks Kevin, here’s what we settled on agenda-wise:

Barriers to Innovation & Growth

New research shows that unknown amounts of IT debt are creating hidden balance sheet liabilities for many companies, with many unable to even measure. Coupled with the need to embrace mobile and cloud technologies and external legislative demands, what strategy should CIOs adopt and what is the best approach to tackle the legacy challenge?

Presented by Kevin Brearley & Pete Dupre’, Vantiv

Wednesday, October 9, 1:30-2:00pm

(shameless plug – see y’all there…..as another to do bites the dust)

Managing ‘The Staff’

If you’ve done an event you know just how stressful this can be. But stress testing performance is critical – so you just have to take questions like ‘‘Can I stay at a Hilton property please?’ and ‘Can I wear a suit instead of the company polo-shirt?’ as part of the stress-test process. If you’re not coping with the email questions you’re certainly not going to cope with them at a live event when you’ve been on your feet for 13 hours straight. So put on your big girl shoes (or leopard print stilettos??) and get it sorted……(if you’re a girl that is * – )

The Collateral and Giveaways

Thankfully when you’re leading in these digital days you have heaps of resources available online. Repurpose them wherever possible, plan numbers, schedule print runs, ensure your innovative corporate videos will run on whatever infrastructure you’re given, and get into the finest nitty-gritty-details which will make or break it all on the day.

Lastly check everyone who says they’re going is actually going to pitch up – I know it’s hard being a software legend all over again  but surely a few days in Orlando won’t hurt ? Yes Frank Borland that does mean you ! Will you please get your A into G and send me your flight details so I can book your car and hotel?

And the giveaways ?  As I said I may well be handing out some special prizes – you’ll have to drop in, say hi and tell me how much you’ve enjoyed my blogging to find out! That’s still only one golf ball each then…..

The Man by Your Stand……..is a lady!

You know what a Gartner Symposium/ITxpo is, right? Like the tagline says, it’s ‘The World’s Most Important Gathering of CIOs and Senior IT Executives’. It must be important – just look at all those random capital letters! It’s a global show, and I’m looking to create more interest than a pay-day loans company for Micro Focus and Borland. So, no pressure there, then. But what does being there from a Field Marketing perspective feel like ?

Preparation

Well first off – knowledge of what you’re dealing with doesn’t hurt.  Anyone who’s in the know (or spends valuable company time looking stuff up on the Internet in the name of ‘research’) will be aware that that this year’s Orlando event is a biggie. It will feature IT royalty in the form of Microsoft Big Cheese  Steve Ballmer and Google CEO Eric Schmidt.  In terms of moving and shaking, this event is way up the Richter Scale.

Gartner itself been around since 1979 – 34 years of powerhouse IT Analyst legacy – starting off in the IT world which Micro Focus thrives :  Big Iron, COBOL, Business Application Development, Developer tooling and Testing. So Micro Focus and Gartner should go together like apple pie and custard. Staying ‘modern’ and relevant is key to Gartner’s success – how have they achieved this year after year in making the Symposium a success ?  Gartner constantly modernizes this event to stay relevant and powerful is an obvious conclusion to draw……but how do they go about this ?

Understanding

Gartner clients include large corporations, government agencies, technology companies and the investment community. Gartner know their audience inside and out, their research targets CIOs & senior IT leaders in industries that include government agencies, high-tech and telco enterprises, professional services firms, and technology investors. Exciting and bleeding edge it may not be – but it underpins the industry. Based on this enterprise knowledge they can start their modernization process year after year…….recycling core assets while maintaining the underlying features that keep the Events ticking over successfully.

Quick wins whilst developing the strategy

Based on a sound understanding Gartner Executives will move forward with confidence on their path – developing a strategy for the events with stake-holders and key clients.  Modern tooling and techniques like Social Media for Gartner ( & Micro Focus / Borland) is one easy win. In essence Social Media is about providing a modern, relevant interface to a robust, solid but perhaps visually outdated back-end….just like Terminal Emulation! Different channels must be catered for and Social Media does just this – LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare all play their part. With a few whizzy tricks we’ve modernized our user interaction and made it more efficient whilst maintaining our business logic and core assets…..now to Develop and improve the core underlying strategy (as the mobile apps are tested & the website performance is monitored.)

Testing the strategy

Gartner wouldn’t want to test their strategy in a live environment. It could work – but it could be risky  and extremely costly if it all went wrong. Practice makes perfect right ? So testing the strategy outside of the real deal saves money, time and development resource. Advisory boards, client meetings  – talking with analysts is one sure-fire way of ‘testing’ the messaging . Simpler tests (that something ‘just works’) can be achieved in a more automated way bringing more efficiency to the mix.

The rubber hits the road

At the end of the day – all the preparation, development and testing is about execution – deploying a seamless event off the ground is no mean feat. These days an event isn’t just a physical meeting, it takes place in the cloud,  online, on phone calls, in the printed press – making it work on multiple platforms saves money and increases success. And after the event the whole cycle starts again with better knowledge, more analysis and the same solid foundation for winning !

Anyway avid readers,  the clock on the wall is ticking and the red light on the BB is winking. Much to do. But we’re getting there.  So if you’re in Orlando between 7 and 10 of October, check us out at Gartner. It’s a busy agenda and the organisers and delegates are going to be seriously busy . Not only the Gartner crew – but the thousands of other folks from the companies on the floor who’ve dedicated hours and hours to make it the success it will be. Stop by booth 500 to say hi if you’ve enjoyed my blog (you might get a special prize, I am in Marketing after all). And look out for Part 2 of my blog. It’ll be coming soon.

But only one free golf ball, okay?