May022017

Hornbill’s Patrick Bolger explains why helping organisations master transformation and digital collaboration maintains his enthusiasm and passion for ITSM even after many years in the industry.

How did you get into the ITSM industry?
I started my career in service management within the telecoms industry and worked my way up to managing a large helpdesk that dealt with high-level complaints. Apparently, I had a key skill of understanding customer requirements and translating them into technical instructions, so that engineering teams could deliver more resilient solutions.  As a result, I got dragged away from service management and into service design and engineering, ending up as technical services director for a voice and data consulting organisation.

At that time, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) was becoming popular and I was one of a handful of individuals who had technical skills that spanned both telecoms and computing. It was a great place to be, as I was in demand and making lots of money, but on the other hand, I was working six or seven days per week, so family and social time suffered.

What little social time I had, I spent with a group of friends, who all played guitar.  One of these friends, Gerry Sweeney, had spent three years running a small software company called Hornbill.  In 1998, Gerry asked me to help demonstrate CTI working with his software at the Customer Service & Support show (as the Service Desk & IT Support Show was formerly known).  Getting the integration working was easy, but the hard bit was learning what the software did, and how to demonstrate it, as we traveled into London on the tube at 8am.  It was a very steep learning curve, but by 11am, I was in full flow, demonstrating the software to people at the show.  Later that year, Gerry asked if I’d be interested in investing in Hornbill, the company has gone from strength since and the rest is history.

Tell us about your seminar at SITS17; what are you most excited about sharing?
On Weds, June 7th at 3:30 pm in Theatre 1, I’ll be co-presenting a session with a customer, Adam Haylock, from Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC). The session is called “Building the self-sufficient Enterprise Service Desk.” Over the last five years, AVDC set about transforming the organisation and its business model, getting rid of traditional departments and restructuring the organisation, with broader sectors focussed on customer and community fulfillment.  Adam and I will explain how collaboration connected IT silos and improved communication to the extent that other business units noticed, and wanted in on the action. I recently recorded a video blog with AVDC, which will give people a taste of the topics we’ll be covering in the session.

Enterprise Service Management and digital collaboration are now delivering a common digital experience for staff and supporting digital transformation of service to customers.  In the process, ADVC saved £14m, won multiple awards, and became a shining example of how modern councils need to operate on the road to financial self-sufficiency. We’d like people to leave the session with practical advice on how Enterprise Service Management and collaboration can be used to improve speed and transparency, while helping staff to understand goals and share knowledge. 

What challenges do you think your session will help visitors overcome?
When you mention the word “transformation”, IT professionals often think “we haven’t got the time, money, or resources for this.” AVDC faced the same challenges; delivery deadlines were impossibly tight and there was no extra budget or additional headcount. However, the IT team was committed to using collaboration to change the way that people work and it was a tremendous success. We will explain what it takes to embrace this culture and show how the latest innovations in service management technology make it easier to deploy the Enterprise Service Desk.

What other hot topics do you think visitors should investigate?
Digital Transformation is a hot topic and every IT group will feel its effects. Look out for Matt Hooper’s session on this topic on Wednesday. Whether it’s DevOps, SCRUM, or KanBan, IT groups need to pay attention to Agile.  However, before we can truly embrace agile, we must understand collaboration. It underpins every agile approach, and if we haven’t got it working well within our own teams, how can we expect to collaborate with others?

What part has SITS played in shaping your journey through the industry?
My first visit to SITS in 1998 was to help my friend Gerry demonstrate his software.  At the time, it was called the Customer Service & Support show. It was then, and still is, the largest ITSM focussed event in Europe and perhaps the world.  Over the last 19 years I’ve manned our stand, given demos, taken part in panel debates, breakfast briefings, delivered my own sessions, recorded podcasts, and this year for the first time ever, I’m co-presenting with a customer.  I’m excited be helping Adam tell ADVC’s remarkable story.

In addition to your seminar session, why would you recommend others to visit SITS?
SITS is unique.  I’ve attended conferences all over the world, and nowhere else will you get the opportunity to meet so many vendors and see the very latest innovations in ITSM technologies.  But don’t just talk to the vendors about their products.  They have a wealth of ITSM experience that they’re very happy to share.  The other great reason to attend is the quality of the educational sessions and the range of topics covered by excellent speakers.  SITS is free to attend, so all you need to invest is your time.

What one tip would you offer to IT service and support professionals to drive their IT services forward?
Get serious about collaboration.  I’ve witnessed the dramatic change that happens when teams start ‘working out loud’, openly sharing knowledge and ideas with others.  It’s a different way of working, so it takes persistence to get it established, but once it has a foothold, you’ll see significant improvements in the way your teams communicate, and your business will notice the difference.

See Pat and Adam Haylock, from Aylesbury Vale District Council present their seminar: “Building the self-sufficient Enterprise Service Desk.”

Patrick Bolger is chief evangelist for Hornbill. 

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