For me, one of the most wonderful parts of xChange, Serena’s annual global user conference, is catching up with the attendees I see year after year.
Before each xChange, I check in with a few customers to find out what they are thinking and hoping to hear, and what news they have to share. It helps me to get the tone of the conference right and to guide the mainstage and breakout speakers in preparing their content.
Michael Bailey of MetLife is one of the customers I like to check in with. I first met Michael in 1997. He is a long-time Serena customer (25+ years!) and is passionate about the critical role that Change, Configuration and Release Management plays in modern IT organizations.
Before xChange was xChange
I thought I’d share our conversation from last week. We were reminiscing when Michael reminded me that the conference wasn’t always called “xChange,” which is something I’d forgotten. He told me he remembered how it was “the exceptional opportunities the Serena User Conference provided for attendees to speak directly with those persons who were and are still directly responsible for Serena’s products and solutions.”
For me, too, that is a real benefit of xChange. So many of our solutions are still being authored by the creative talents that created them 10, 15, even 20 years ago. That continuity extends, like in Michael’s case, to the customers. And for those Serena folk like me, xChange allows us to validate our latest ideas with the people who know our solutions the best.
Michael also told me that the “opportunity to network and discuss and share solutions amongst customer conference attendees” was, for him, “invaluable.” We’ve heard this from other customers too, which made for an easy decision to change the user conference name to “xChange” in 1999.
The Value within the Technology
When asked why he had chosen to present this year, Michael said that he wanted to give back what he had learned and offer some “easy, user- (and administrator-) friendly, practical customizations to the base ChangeMan ZMF product, while also sharing and recommending some customizations standards, well, really guidelines, … [for] … customers either initially installing or upgrading.” He said, in the true spirit of xChange, he wanted to pass on “the value within the technology.”
We talked about Michael’s role and how he is using Serena solutions at MetLife. Michael was eloquent about how technology helps him do his job:
“ChangeMan ZMF is absolutely essential to MetLife’s change management processes. It is the vital foundation, supporting almost, if not, all mainframe business application software activities. Constant 7×24 availability of its functions is imperative, and MetLife management, from all data-center interested areas, including internal and external audit, depend upon its effectiveness.”
Not Just One Thing
With so much experience and so many conferences attended, I wondered if Michael still had just one thing he wanted to get from this year’s user conference, xChange13. His answer didn’t surprise me. As always, Michael’s zest and humor shone through: “Gosh, just one thing?” he said and continued, “There are really so very many which come almost instantly to mind! Learning more about Serena’s products, current strategy and future direction; continued networking and solution sharing with Serena employees and customers; and, of course, also the certain-to-be-fun events, which are part of every Serena User Conference.”
I couldn’t have put it any better.
See you in Miami, Michael. And I’ll see you all there, too.