What Went On in Vegas – Didn’t Stay in Vegas

Outcomes from the Pink Think Tank 2014

It was a great honour to be invited to participate in the Pink Think Tank (PTT) as part of this year’s PINK14 – Pink Elephant’s 18th International IT Service Management Conference – in Las Vegas.


The idea for PTT was initially raised at PINK13 when it was pondered why when so many of the ITSM industry leaders were in the same vicinity, they weren’t brought together to discuss ITSM challenges that could be shared at the conference and beyond.

The initiative was led by Rob England (aka. The IT Skeptic) and the Pink team.

The aim of the PTT was to gather some of the world’s leading ITSM thinkers prior to the conference to consider some of the toughest questions facing ITSM today.

A committee was formed to determine who would be invited to take part and they selected 8 people from a list of 40. The selection criteria for participation included recognised thinkers, published content, diversity of opinion and collaboration.

The PTT comprised:



Rodrigo Flores was unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances. However, throughout the PTT, the team asked, “what would Rodrigo say?”

The topic chosen for the PTT was “Increasing Multi-Supplier Value Streams” and what this means for the ITSM industry. The objective was to provide pragmatic actionable advice.

The choice of topic was driven by the fact that it needed to be general enough to be interesting and give the PTT scope, yet narrow enough to be done in a day.

The PTT gathered on the Saturday prior to the conference (15/02/2014), formulated a presentation on the Sunday, presented their findings on the Monday (Conference Day 1) and provided a panel session for the conference attendees to ask questions on Wednesday (Conference Day 3).

The PTT produced a mass of findings and items for further discussion / development. The following is a summary of some of the key discussions and what was presented to the PINK14 attendees. The first thing the PTT did was to define the Problem.


The Problem

IT is being squeezed. The supplier and the business are squeezing IT because IT is perceived as slow to respond and the business now has increasing choices from the increasing number of suppliers to go around IT. The business and technology landscape is shifting rapidly.


The business is being forced to change and must reduce time to market as a competitive competence. PTT believed that traditional IT is not ready to address this shift.

Suppliers have now become very good at managing commoditized environments. The end result is the need to dynamically manage a complex multi-supplier ecosystem.

Everything that IT has been doing in the past is no longer enough. IT becomes more susceptible in a multi-sourcing approach as it is susceptible to emergent / complex behaviour possibly leading to black swans and shadow IT.

This is an emerging space – it’s complex and not necessarily clear yet.

The key question is how will everyone remain relevant in IT today and tomorrow?



As commoditization increases, the traditional IT role moves to service providers.

Commoditize: The act of making a process, good or service easy to obtain by making it as uniform, plentiful and affordable as possible. Something becomes commoditized when one offering is nearly indistinguishable from another. As a result of technological innovation, broad-based education and frequent iteration, goods and services become commoditized and, therefore, widely accessible.


  • Business innovation will accelerate through the use of emergent technologies and embedding those inside business practices.
  • Anything that does not demonstrate differentiating value is a candidate for externalization.
  • A single set of outcomes can be provided by multiple suppliers. Suppliers are aggressively pursuing this market.
  • Suppliers will develop service solutions, and tools to support them, that an individual organization cannot do on its own.
  • Supplier strata will evolve, and contract duration will shorten.
  • The evolving nature of the multi-supplier environment will drive changes to how IT is organized and managed.
  • The future is IT governance, service management, and assurance.



Organizations need to be doing the following.

  • Build a robust corporate governance policy, process, roles and assurance for Supplier Management
  • Know your business – assess your understanding of your industry vertical and IT’s value in this space.
  • IT needs to define a value driven operating model that is embedded with a common / core belief system and operating practices that span the enterprise.
  • Define which Operating Model capabilities must be core.
  • Service Management (and ITIL) should continue to be used but with changed emphasis and priorities e.g. Supplier Management, Demand Management, Service Portfolio Management and Business Relationship Management.
  • Elevate IT Supplier Management as an enterprise core function.
  • Have a multi-supplier ecosystem that supports a balance of organizational innovation and commoditization.



  • Do nothing
  • Wait until something happens
  • Start now!


Starting Now!

  • Understand how your services are adding value to the organization.
  • Consider how the evolving nature of a multi-sourcing environment will change your role or job in the future.
  • Understand what you can do, and set priorities.
  • For Supplier Management:
    • Discover your existing practices to manage contracts and suppliers
    • Inventory existing contracts, ownership and relationships
    • Map the contracts to business outcomes and/or SLA
    • Evaluate existing supplier management capabilities and skills
    • Reprioritize Supplier Management, Service Portfolio Management, Demand Management and Business Relationship Management
    • Get help where needed 


PTT Next Steps

The activities of the PTT did not start and end in Las Vegas in February 2014. The PTT will continue throughout the year with the production of white papers, the creation of an online presence to deliver content and provide an opportunity for dialogue, further events such as webinars and the planning for a further PTT next year with a different topic and participants.

Being a part of the PTT was a great experience and I learnt a lot during the process. It was a privilege to be in such great company and I am proud that we had a successful outcome. A big thanks goes to Rob England for leading the initiative and everyone in the PTT for their contribution.


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