Heady Maelstrom at xChange12

So the final prize giveaway has been won and the last canapé served. xChange12 is now in the archive as another stellar success … long live xChange13! I thought I’d share a few reflections on the conference this week with a view from the inside of the heady maelstrom that is the annual user conference.

The voice of the customer has always been the focus of xChange, it is, after all, where the name of the conference comes from. This year we were able to hear more of that voice and there was a real sense of progress and achievement in all the customer presentations. I got the sense that, after decades of striving for a direction, the IT professionals in the room were finally able to drive forward on IT infrastructure projects that would result in better service delivery to the end-user stakeholders.

Take Matt Stratton at Apartments.com. He talked about the transformation his organization effected that resulted in a 70% reduction in environmental issues during delivery and deployment. Consider the time wasted and frustration caused by a failed push to a test environment. Worse still, consider the consequences of a failed push to production. Matt modestly suggested that it was a minor achievement in a whole landscape of reform, but, as I said at the time, “if any organization made only a 7% reduction in errors they would declare victory!”

And Paula Callis at Shelter Insurance spoke about how her organization was critically reviewing service delivery systems. Her organization recognizes that IT must lead the innovation and provide service that excels even before the business asks for it. It is a great sign or organizational maturity when a cadence of review, redefinition and reform exists.

In so many individual conversations with customers this year there was a real sense of pride and achievement. Not only had they shepherded through successfully the applications and features the business demanded, but they had also taken the over the tempo and begun to invest in their systems to better help them continue to meet the demand of the business.

Perhaps we are no longer the cobbler’s children after all.

Kevin Parker
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