13,000+ people. 400+ sessions. 5 days. At Knowledge17, ServiceNow’s event of the year, taking place May 7-11 in Orlando, there is so much to see and do it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we sat down with Todd Mortenson, one of Virteva’s Solution Consultants and a veteran attendee of Knowledge, to see how he gets the most out of the flagship event.
How do you plan your time at Knowledge? Is there a strategy you use when signing up for sessions?
I plan out my sessions as early as possible so I can make sure I get to my must-sees of the conference. ServiceNow makes it an easy process. There are around 400 sessions to choose from, which can be overwhelming, but their system lets you filter the sessions based on role, industry, technical level, even by day or by the challenge you’re facing.
In general, you should try to spend about half your time in sessions focused on helping you optimize the modules and processes that you currently have in place, learning tips and tricks that help you get the most out of what you have today. But the other half of your time should be about learning what the future has in store. You have to have a vision for the future, and to have a vision you have to know what’s available to you. It’s like housekeeping: you have to know the products and strategies out there that help you keep your house clean, but you also want to learn how you can make it better in the future. This approach will help you mature and give you an idea of what the future looks like.
Knowledge is well known for its labs and workshops. What can you tell me about that?
The labs are very valuable, particularly to administrators and developers. You bring your computer, they give you an instance, and you spend the rest of the session working directly with that instance. Not only do you get hands-on experience with the tool, but you get immediate access to a whole room full of people doing the same thing as you, as well as the instructor, who is usually the product expert. The labs fill up fast, so register early for those.
There’s also the CreatorCon side of the event, where developers get together for what is essentially a marathon of hacking and playing around with the ServiceNow platform. They build apps, exchange ideas, and get a lot of hands-on experience there too. There’s even a competition element to it… a lot of really great stuff comes out of CreatorCon.
Do you have any advice for attendees that aren’t IT-oriented?
The beauty of Knowledge is that there’s something for anyone, no matter what your role or what industry you work in, or where your business is in terms of maturity. Many sessions, especially the executive roundtables, are around business needs rather than strictly IT, so whether you’re a developer, a CIO, a project manager, in Facilities, in HR, or almost anything else, you can attend sessions that will bring you a huge amount of value, even if you’re not an IT type.
If there was one thing at K17 that everyone should check out, what would it be?
In my opinion, everyone should attend a session on Performance Analytics. This is all about the advanced trending and reporting analytics tool in the SNOW platform. It pushes up against the concept of business intelligence, enabling companies to collect the incredible amount of data that exists within ServiceNow, and helps them visualize it and put it to work for them. It’s the Big Data story, and it’s something everyone should be paying attention to these days. A couple sessions to consider attending are BRE4195 – ServiceNow Analytics for the Lightspeed Enterprise, TT132207 – Optimize Performance with Real-time Analytics or a lab like LAB132014 – Reporting 201: Advanced Reports and Dashboards.
What’s your strategy for going through the booths?
There are so many fantastic vendors at Knowledge, but there is no way you can get through them all, nor should you. Spend some time thinking through what you might be looking for, whether that be immediate needs or ideas for the future. Then look through the partner list and pick out select vendors that you believe align with your needs, and visit those booths. Think of it like a roadmap: plan your route and your essential stops, and sure, if there’s something that catches your eye on the way, make a pit stop. But remember, time is limited, so try to stick to your route as much as possible to maximize your experience. (Oh, and be sure to swing by Virteva booth #527!)
What sessions are you most looking forward to at Knowledge17?
I’m focusing most of my attention on ITOM/ServiceWatch related activities like cloud management, service mapping, and orchestration. ITOM is a great way to take your solid, base level of ITSM practice to the next level, when you need more automation and more orchestrated activities. You can’t automate something unless you understand it. So, exploring ITOM a little more, deepening my level of understanding, that’s what I’ll be focusing on this year.
Do you have any advice for newcomers?
If it’s your first time to Knowledge, definitely go to the morning keynote sessions. It’s the best way to get the full scope of the conference, hear directly from ServiceNow leadership, and get a high-level perspective of what ServiceNow has in store for the future.
Also, getting to know your peers and some of the challenges they’ve had is a huge benefit to a conference like this, so participate as much as you can in information sharing and community activities. You can learn more in talking to other people about how they’ve failed or succeeded than you do sitting in an hour long session sometimes.
Where can people find you at Knowledge17?
I’ll be spending a fair amount of my time at the Virteva booth, #527. Hopefully our dear readers will come say hi!
There’s certainly a lot to do at Knowledge17, and a lot to think about before you get there. Remember to sign up for sessions early to ensure you get a spot, and take a look at the sponsor list to plan your booth route too. We hope to see you there!