The European autumn SAM conference season is here!
IAITAM have the honour of kicking it off on 1st and 2nd of September with the IAITAM Fall ACE in Dublin. This is followed by the Gartner IT Financial, Procurement & Asset Management Summit in London and the SAMS Europe Conference, both on the 21st – 22nd September, and finally the IBSMA SAM Summit in London on the 3rd – 6th November.
With such a plethora of opportunities for professional development, and with each conference costing well over a grand of whichever currency you prefer to operate in, how do you decide where to spend your hard fought-for training and development budget this year?
When I am looking at which conference to attend, I look for 3 things: networking, consolidation and stretch. I’ll explain what I mean by each idea below:
Conferences are great places to meet other IT asset managers, share war stories and chat about the trials and tribulations of ITAM. However I find milling around a large conference hall full of sponsor stands quite intimidating, and I’m sure other people do too because I find I rarely strike up interesting conversations with other Asset Managers unless I have a prior connection with them.
However a prior connection might be as simple as having made an interesting comment in one of the sessions… so therefore I look for conferences that have more structured networking opportunities such as round tables where people are more inclined to speak up. When I’ve been in an animated round table session with someone, I find it much easier to strike up conversation when I see them again in the conference hall.
One of the great things about a career in IT Asset Management is that coasting is incompatible with doing a great job! Constant change in technology means licensing terms and best practice are constantly developing and adapting, and I find conferences are a great place to get up to date with major changes, learn about minor changes that might impact the organisations I work for, and share ‘gotchas’ with other Asset Managers.
I enjoy attending focused sessions that develop and consolidate existing areas of knowledge – such as audit defence or particular vendor license models – knowing they will be full of ‘takeaways’ (as the conference jargon has it!) that I can make use of as soon as I return to the office.
Therefore I look for a conference with lots of sessions at different skill and experience levels so I can attend beginners sessions in areas of expertise in which I am a novice, and more advanced presentations in subjects where I am keen to hear the latest thought-leadership (more conference jargon!) or refine my understanding of recent developments such as cloud computing and managing SAAS license models.
Like many people attracted to such a dynamic career as IT Asset Management, I am compulsively curious, often about things that some people would say are none of my business!
I indulge this curious streak by attending at least one session per conference that is on a topic that I know nothing about. Occasionally it has backfired, and I’ve spend a dire hour bored rigid or have sat through a presentation with absolutely no idea what on earth the speaker is going on about, but occasionally I’ve attended a complete gem of a session which has opened my eyes to a new world of practice and ways of thinking. For instance, a session on software development reinforced the importance of design when developing flexible and adaptable processes that meet the needs of the organisation in the long term. Another session on IT Financial Models made me realise why IAAS is so attractive to many businesses – there is no way a single organisation can match the levels of service combined with economies of scale of the Googles, Amazons and Microsofts of this world.
So which conference would I attend? One of my own, of course!! (Although an ITAM Review event such as the UK Microsoft Licensing Seminar on 17th September or the PICA Communications Microsoft Negotiations and Licensing Workshop in October would come a close second).
To explain – I volunteer for the British Computer Society UK SAM Networking Group, which organises ITAM conferences and SAM evening events in the UK. As a charitable, volunteer organisation, we can keep costs very low – sub £100 for a full day conference, and free for our evening events.
If you are interested in joining our mailing list or would consider volunteering yourself, please send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get in touch.