Lessons And Observations From IT Forum 2010

I’m back to blogging after a busy month of travel. Two weeks ago I attended Forrester’s IT Forum in Las Vegas, and I am preparing for IT Forum EMEA in Lisbon later this week. 

Unfortunately, this week’s IT Forum is at the same time as the World Innovation Forum, which many of my professional colleagues are attending. But Forrester’s IT Forums still give me a much great opportunity to interact with people who are working on innovation initiatives, so I'm not complaining.  I’m looking forward to reporting on my experience in Lisbon next week. 

 Here are a few of my observations from the Vegas event:

  • Organizational alignment is still a key issue within IT departments. It appears to me that many IT organizations are still reacting to the downturn of 2009, trying to streamline their organizations, cut costs through outsourcing, and figure out how sourcing can play a role in the process. I got several questions about optimizing IT organization, and my colleague Marc Cecere (who writes about this topic) told me he was booked solid for 1-1 meetings about the subject.
  • Many sourcing professionals and vendor management (SVM) pros are still focused on best practices. Throughout my three days at the Forum, I got several questions about benchmarking other sourcing organizations. This was particularly true with regard to vendor management, where there was a lot of interest — particularly among newer organizations — in best practices.  I deferred a few questions to my colleague Patrick Connaughton, who has written great research in this space.  
  • The SVM professional’s role in emerging technologies is real, but still developing. I led a track session on the sourcing professional’s unique role in identifying emerging technologies. To be sure, I got a few raised eyebrows — and I recognize this is typically the domain of EA or other IT roles — but some of the more “mature”/strategically aligned sourcing professionals are clearly embracing this role, and they see it as key to their organization’s evolution.  Look for my upcoming research on this subject.  
  • Sourcing professionals want to define their role in the innovation process. At the event, I led two discussions and a speech about generating innovation from service providers. These were well-attended speeches, and I also got several questions about innovation in my 1-1 meetings. These conversations validated my view that there is still a lot of confusion about the term innovation because it can mean different things to different stakeholders — but sourcing professionals really want to understand how they can play a role in innovation efforts. The challenge for sourcing professionals is to 1) seek to define exactly what innovation means for their organizations, and 2) create greater alignment between the capabilities of service providers and the innovation demands of internal stakeholders. This is an underdeveloped role for most sourcing professionals, one which we will continue to write about in the future.
  • The only way to enjoy Vegas is to embrace it. Ok, so it’s not IT-related, but last year I was a bit disappointed with the Vegas experience.  Call me old fashioned, but I still don’t understand why anyone would wait in line to take a gondola ride through a mall. This year, rather than sit around and complain about Vegas (which was sometimes tempting), I tried to get out and enjoy it.  And while I lost $100 betting on roulette, was in bed early every night, and still have no interest in seeing ventriloquist Terry Fator at the Mirage, I have to say that I enjoyed the trip due to the clients I saw while I was there. Hopefully I will see you there next year . . .

Any comments on the points listed above? Please drop me a note. I will make every attempt to include non-Vegas related comments in my upcoming research.

Chris