Build it and they will come: Service North review

“Build it and they will come” goes the saying, and it was with that sentiment that here at Scopism we embarked on organising the world’s 1st ever dedicated SIAM conference on March 30th.
The event followed on from the launch of the brand new SIAM Foundation certification, and the production of the SIAM® Foundation body of knowledge (download it free here).


Service in the North

The venue was the Leeds Club, a commanding grade II listed building in the centre of Leeds.  Leeds is a northern city with strong technology links, and the venue was chosen as a break from the hotels that host many city-centre conferences. At Scopism, we plan to hold future Service North events in the north of England to celebrate IT in cities where we can see first hand the digital transformation taking place.

Delegates from all over the country signed up to attend including some from overseas.   It was also great to see 35% of our speakers and attendees were women in tech – a change from many other industry events.

It’s all about the Content

What was of paramount importance was content. SIAM is still a relatively new IT concept for many, and we wanted an inclusive interesting day combining learning with meeting people and building relationships.

In attendance were our sponsors from Sopra Steria, Cranford Executive, Syniad IT, ISG, Van Haren, Exin, and ITSM Zone. We’d like to thank all of our sponsors for helping us make this event a reality.  We also welcomed some IT students from Leeds City College.   This was an invitation extended to the next generation of IT staff to learn about SIAM and have the opportunity to experience a business conference.

Service North speakers and delegates
Service North speakers with delegates from Leeds City College

Our Sessions

In the morning, after caffeine and some pretty tasty granola flapjacks Dave Agutter welcomed everyone and opened the conference. We were lucky to have two brilliant track chairs to ensure things ran smoothly over our 2 rooms with Alison Cartlidge and Anna Leyland from Sopra Steria stepping up to the plate.

Keynote speaker Andrea Kis from ISG set the tone for the day with her take on Digital Cities and Smart SIAM, and the need for IT within them. She shared some great anecdotal stories of her vast experience which were well received by the audience. She finished with “take a leap, be brave, be wild”!

Here are a few more of her highlights.

“I hate the words ‘think outside the box’, that implies you have a box!”

“Regardless of your contract, supplier or anything else, what is your goal & what is your role in that theatre?”

“We still have that attitude of them & us, forget it! You should be integrated into the fabric of that organisation”

Kerry Garner, regional fundraising manager from Yorkshire Air Ambulance, presented an inspiring post-lunchtime keynote on the very real struggles of funding a charity with minimal government support. IT forming a hugely integral part of their organisation in everything from call scanning to costing. The only difference is they deal with an “Air Desk” while we are much more familiar with a Service Desk! Response times, triage and incidents are all concepts that are familiar to anyone working in an IT environment.  We’re delighted to support YAA and Scopism are donating a share of the conference profits to the charity.

Sponsor ISG introduce their services
Sponsor ISG introduce their services


Steve Morgan from Syniad IT presented a session on the key points you must factor into your SIAM model for success, based on his expert knowledge and many experiences.  He encouraged us to remember key points with gems including:

“You don’t do SIAM, you don’t do ITIL, you don’t do DevOps. It’s all part of your business operating model”

“Your target operating model needs to break down into what bums you need on seats & how they add value”

“Don’t outsource your crown jewels”

The murky world of cybersecurity, GDPR, and the dark web had the audience fascinated and horrified in equal measure in a presentation by Gary Hibberd from the Agenci. Worryingly, we all now know just how inexpensive it can be to get a hitman!  Security concerns and risks can be amplified in a multi-vendor environment, so there were some home truths for everyone in this session.

Anthony Stephens, Andrea Kis, Trisha Booth and Steve Morgan
Anthony Stephens, Andrea Kis, Trisha Booth and Steve Morgan

Anthony Stephens took us on a journey of how the BBC has become digitalised, and how SIAM and outsourcing have been integral in many things that we take for granted yet use frequently like the iPlayer! The scale of IT within an environment like the BBC is pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.  Anthony told us:

“I’m not going to tell you what to do, I am going to show you how to do your best work”

“It’s paramount that your service integrator has flair”

Hundreds of years of history and modern IT frameworks and practices collided in an unlikely and highly successful partnership between Historic Britain and Littlefish. The tale was told from a supplier and client’s perspective by Jon Morley and Richard Wright. We learnt that Jon banned email for a day and made everyone talk to each other, and that Historic England have outsourced their IT for 25 years so are a bit of a trailblazer for SIAM!

“End users don’t care about IT…they just want their issues fixed” Jon Morley

“When you go to a concert you just want to hear music, then the musicians have to come together & be integrated for the best sound” Richard Wright

Jon Morley and Richard Wright
Jon Morley and Richard Wright

Trisha Booth and Charlotte Parnham from ATOS got us thinking about a partnership of a different kind, marriage! SIAM and supplier relationships were under the spotlight with their “after the honeymoon” session which really captured the audience’s imagination

“SIAM love also needs a good pre-nuptial agreement (exit plan) in the wedding vows (contract)”

Kevin Holland, aka the SIAM specialist presented a session giving his insights into setting up SIAM in your organisation, and gave us one of the stand out most popular phrases of the conference

“SIAM can change your business. Dream and you can make it happen”

Final Thoughts

We ate lunch, we had cake, we drank beer and prosecco in the final networking session.  We talked IT, experiences, life in general and much more. Connections were started which are likely to lead to relationships of mutual benefit and learning.

The sun was out in Yorkshire and there was a genuinely happy welcoming, collaborative atmosphere running through the event. Service North really delivered on our hopes for this special SIAM conference.

Adding value through IT was a theme that came out strongly in many of the speaker presentations throughout the day and as an event to bring people together to learn more about SIAM we feel “value” was achieved for us all.

Thank you to everyone who made it a success.

“Alone we are smart, together we are brilliant” Steven Anderson, Educator