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David Ratcliffe, President, Pink Elephant

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    Wednesday, April 29, 2015

    My I Minute Video Message on Cyber Security & Resilience!

    Start your day with just a little education on one of the biggest issues we’re facing in IT & business today!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 04/29 at 09:14 AM
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    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

    Avoid The Headlines!

    This past February at Pink15 I expressed the opinion that it’s time we paid more attention to the increasingly diverse threats to our cyber assets.

    The justification for this has never been more obvious. Every single day - and I mean EVERY SINGLE DAY! - there are new stories of data, services or infrastructure being compromised.

    The causes? Either our own carelessness and complacency, or the mischief-makers! (Could be cyber criminals, or could be thrill seeking youngsters with some new skills and too much time on their hands).

    If you still need convincing, set your browser’s Home Page to Information Week’s “Dark Reading” website for a few days and see what pops up every morning.

    Also, take a look at the FireEye website with the real-time threat map depicting hacks-in-action.

    Or this one here from Kaspersky.

    It’s time to acknowledge this is a vital issue.

    And when I say “vital” I really mean VITAL. In the military when something is “vital” it means “get it done, or we die”. For us in business, paying attention to cyber threats by doing risk management and building resiliency, is vital. If we don’t do it - we could go out of business. According to Inc., 60% of small businesses will fail within 6 months of a cyber attack. It’s as simple as that.

    Of course when we hear about organizations like ....

    Target - who had credit card details of up to 70m customers stolen

    Sony - who suffered 3 separate high-profile breaches in 2014. (You can find more information yourself by doing your own web search with the keywords “Sony” and “cyber breach”, because, who knows there may be even more than 3 by the time you read this!)

    JP Morgan - who - as a result of hacking - had personal records of 76m households and 7m small businesses stolen

    US Department of Veterans Affairs - who payed out $20m to settle a class action lawsuit because an employee lost a laptop containing a database of 26.5m personal records of veterans and active duty personnel

    .... we think “Well that’s their problem. Nothing to do with me!”

    Really? According to Misha Glenny - the opening keynote speaker at our upcoming Cyber Risk & Resilience Summit in June - “There are two types of organizations. Those who know they’ve been hacked. And those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.”

    So even putting aside the risks to our cyber assets through our own carelessness (losing a laptop) and complacency (“it can’t happen to us”) - according to Glenny, we’re ALL going to be hacked at some point!

    So isn’t it time you made the effort to learn more about the scope of this problem, and what you can do about it? You can start by coming along to the Summit in June. We can’t promise your organization will not “hit the headlines”, but what we can promise is that when it does happen, what you learn at the Summit will have helped you to minimize the damage.

    That’s what we mean by “cyber resilience”.

    (4) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 04/22 at 03:17 PM
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    Friday, January 16, 2015

    The Next Challenge For ITSM Leaders

    The subject of “ITSM leadership” has been close to my heart for a few years now. So much so that we decided to launch a new annual event in 2012 - the “ITSM Leadership Forum” - to provide insights and advice to the people in ITSM charged with embracing a vision and leading their IT organization to enable positive business results. I felt as an ITSM community we had not done enough to stay ahead of the curve - which is one of the prime tenets of good leadership. Over the next two years, in 2013 and 2014, the event became a solid date in the calendar for many of our respected industry thinkers and practitioners. (Watch out for the 2015 program - to be published soon!)

    As social media emerged in 2010-2012 we seemed to miss the boat to provide leadership to our businesses. And now, in 2014 & 2015, it’s starting to look like Cyber Security & Resilience could be the next big thing many of us just watch happen! For example, how many organizations have actually changed policies for email as a result of the Sony hacking scandal?. Is that just Sony’s problem? Or could it happen here? Remember, the damage was less about theft or destruction of assets (money, data, etc.) and more about embarrassment and brand damage. It wasn’t the technology that actually wrote those mean and unprofessional emails! We wouldn’t let our people make such remarks in a public speech, or an interview, or in an external letter. So why is it allowed internally? I think it’s time we extended our policies for professional behaviour to the heretofore world of trusted internal emails!

    I can assure you that we aren’t waiting for the next ITSM Leadership Forum in August to reinforce good leadership practices. In just a few weeks many of us will be at Pink15, and the program there is rich in guidance for the aspiring, and incumbent, ITSM leader. We have two whole tracks aimed at leaders: “The 3 I’s of Leadership” and “CIO Forum”.

    Over the next couple of weeks I’ll profile some of the sessions in these tracks I feel are not to be missed. So come back here over the next few days and join me in whetting our collective appetites for Pink15!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 01/16 at 03:31 PM
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    Monday, January 05, 2015

    Cyber Insecurity Comes As Much From People As From Technology

    These days I’m doing lots of reading about cyber insecurity - seems like there’s a never ending series of security breaches related to IT hitting the news every day. (I won’t bore you with the list - you know what I mean, they’ve been in all the papers!)

    For the layman is appears that our computer systems are just not robust and resilient enough. But when you scratch below the surface there’s more to it than that. We’ve always been good at blaming the computers when something goes wrong. IT folks seemed to have a free pass for years when their poor planning and lack of testing resulted in downtime. The reason for the outage, or screwed up data, was simply described as “... a computer error ...”

    But today we’re all a bit more knowledgeable and demanding as IT consumers and we won’t be fobbed off with that type of excuse anymore. We have our own devices and personal data, and the average person is their own IT organization - from strategist to support officer. However, I think we still put too much emphasis on the power and role of the infrastructure and have not yet fully realized the responsibilities of the users - that’s us!

    Cyber security is as much about human behaviour as it is about the latest security systems and technologies. For example, that smartphone you’re carrying around has a ton of security capabilities built into it, but if you leave the device laying around with no passcode to prevent unauthorized access .... well, you don’t need me to spell out how all that corporate data can be compromised.

    This whole human dimension on security is illustrated perfectly by Eugene Spafford, Professor of Computer Science at Purdue University when he says ...

    “Using encryption on the Internet is the equivalent of arranging an armored car to deliver credit card information from someone living in a cardboard box to someone living on a park bench.”

    Get the message now?

    As I said, I’m spending time researching this subject - in preparation for some very important new Pink events later this year. Starting with Pink15 - the 19th Annual IT Service Management Conference in Las Vegas next month - where we will, as usual, address a host of ITSM issues, best practices in Lean IT, and more. We’ll also be introducing news about our inaugural 1st Annual Pink Elephant Cyber Resilience Summits (in Washington D.C. and London, UK) in June.

    There’ll be some preliminary Cyber Resilience sessions at Pink15 to whet our appetite, including some advanced news of the new Cyber Resilience Best Practice from Axelos.

    I hope to see you in Las Vegas! Meanwhile, think about what you can do to keep your data and infrastructure safe. And when you hear news of the next high profile security breach, try to resist the temptation to giggle. Instead, think to yourself “How can I be sure that won’t happen to us?”

    You might not know what else to do to be more cyber secure, but you can always be more cyber resilient.

    (1) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 01/05 at 05:22 PM
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    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Pink’s CEO Scores A Hat Trick!

    At Pink we already knew we had the best female business owner in Canada, now it’s official!

    Last Friday night in a glittering ceremony in New York City, Pink Elephant’s CEO, Fatima Cabral, walked away from the Stevie Awards with recognition in 3 different categories!

    Gold Stevie Award
    Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Canada

    Silver Stevie Award
    Woman of the Year - Business Services

    Bronze Stevie Award
    Female Entrepreneur of the Year - Business Services (11 to 2,500 Employees)

    Congratulations Fatima!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/17 at 08:37 PM
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    Friday, November 14, 2014

    Good Luck At The Stevie Awards!

    Pink’s CEO, Fatima Cabral, is at the Stevie Awards in New York City tonight. She’s a finalist in the category “Female Entrepreneur of the Year: Business Services”.

    Good luck Fatima!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/14 at 01:50 AM
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    Tuesday, February 04, 2014

    Pink Interviews Peter Hepworth, CEO, Axelos

    The “Best Management Practices” (including PRINCE 2 and ITIL) previously owned by the British government’s Cabinet Office are now owned and managed by Axelos. We recently sat down with Peter Hepworth, the CEO of Axelos, to ask him about his vision for the future of Axelos and the eco-system of services that surrounds the BMPs. You can read the full interview here.


    Also, you can meet with Peter and his team at Pink14 - the 18th Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition - later this month in Las Vegas. They’ll be participating in at least two workshop sessions; providing you plenty of opportunities to ask them whatever you want!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/04 at 11:27 AM
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    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Pink14: It’s Not ALL About The Internet. Or Is It?

    It’s just over 4 weeks until our 18th Annual International ITSM Conference & Exhibition.

    I’ve spent the last few days getting myself just a little bit excited about the prospect of connecting with old and new friends and learning about some of the evolutionary trends affecting ITSM. Some of these trends have been around for a while (cloud, BYOD, mobile, social media) but they continue to evolve through the development of new technologies, services and the new habits of people. Other trends are grabbing our attention and will surely be talking points for many more years ahead, such as 3D printing and increasing concerns over privacy. And with the convergence of BYOD, mobile and innovative cloud-based services we’re now hearing about “The Internet of Things”!

    Everytime I think about any of these subjects I wonder “How does this affect ITSM?” That’s what we need to be considering. I plan to share with you my views in Wednesday’s half-day workshop “The ITSM Leadership MasterClass”.

    Looking forward to hearing your views and experiences at Pink14!

    Are you ready?

    (0) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 01/13 at 12:30 PM
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    Thursday, December 05, 2013

    Q & A On ITIL Exam Price Increases

    Question
    Why are some Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs) reporting different % price increases for ITIL exams?

    Answer
    I’ve seen quite a few comments through various social media channels this week showing some confusion about what’s going on behind the scenes when it comes to the new cost of ITIL exams.

    Some seem to be under the impression that Axelos is charging everyone different rates because different ATOs are quoting different price increases. At first glance that may seem odd, but if you understand how exams are provisioned and sold by Exam Institutes (EIs) then you’ll see how different ATOs can report different price increases. Here’s what I mean:

    1. Axelos does not actually sell ITIL exams.
    2. Axelos charges a royalty to the Exam Institutes (EIs) for each exam the EI sells.
    3. The EIs are all charged the same royalty for the exams they provision to their customers. So each EI has the same cost to bear.
    4. The EIs are free to set their own prices for exams.
    5. So any ATO could, and should, shop around for the best deal.
    6. You can imagine that different ATOs will end up paying different prices for a variety of reasons (volume of exams bought; whether paper or online exams; payment terms negotiated; any other added-value services they might require; etc.)
    7. From my narrow view of this market (I’m only privy to the arrangement Pink has with our EI) my guess is that ATOs have probably paid anything between US$75 - US$250 per exam (my very rough estimate).
    8. No matter how much anyone pays for an exam, Axelos receives the same royalty payment from the EI.

    So keeping all this in mind, if the royalty goes up - it goes up by the same amount for everyone. The price the ATO will pay will need to increase, but the % increase will differ based upon the price the EI charges its ATOs.

    For example, say an ATO pays $100 to the EI for an exam. And say the EI pays Axelos a $50 royalty out of that $100. If the royalty were to go up to $100, then the exam would now cost $150 and the ATO experiences a 50% increase in its exam fee.

    However, if another ATO was already paying $200 per exam; and the royalty change was the same - $50 to $100 - then the new exam fee would be $250 and this ATO would see a 25% increase.

    The % increase all depends on how much the ATO is paying the EI for the exam. That’s why there are variances in % increases.

    NOTE
    The figures I’ve used in my example are made up by me. They’re for illustrative purposes only.

    (1) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/05 at 01:51 PM
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    Tuesday, December 03, 2013

    The Good News, Bad News & Lessons Learned From “The Great ITIL Exam Fee Increase Scare Of 2013”

    I already blogged about the frustrations we’ve experienced waiting for the final details of the impending ITIL exam fee increase.

    In fact, here at Pink HQ there’s been a LOT of hot air expounded in the past 3-4 weeks about this, culminating in a “Hot Air Fest” lasting a couple of days at the end of last week! The target of our frustrations being the ITIL Accreditor (Axelos) and the EI community (Pink’s primary EI being PeopleCert).

    Between those two “groups” they’ve just taken way too long to roll out this major change. In the process I believe they lost sight of the impact on their customers - the ATO community and the exam students themselves.

    Anyway, while we were waiting for the Accreditor and EIs to sort things out we didn’t just sit on our hands. We went into a huddle and came up with some policy statements about how we wanted to handle this situation.

    Firstly, we took the bull by the horns and reached out to the CEOs at Axelos & PeopleCert to let them know what we thought. I can’t give you a verbatim report of those conversations, but what I can say is that it felt good! We managed to get our concerns across loud and clear. In return we received assurances that this was not what we can expect in future. Acknowledgement of a decent lead time when rolling out changes is now embedded into the thinking of the “powers that be”. So there’s been a big “lesson learned” right there. I can tell they’re more than a bit embarrassed by the way things have unfurled and they won’t let this sort of thing happen again.

    Secondly, I challenged our team to come up with ways we can save on costs to mitigate the increase in exam fees for our customers. After all, our customers keep telling us they’re being challenged to do more with less. Budgets get frozen (at best) or reduced year after year in IT. That’s just the way the world works. In order to reign in escalating expenditures we all have to look at ways to increase efficiencies and productivity. At Pink we shouldn’t think we’re any different. Our first reaction at a time of stress like this shouldn’t be just to pass on increases to customers. I’m not saying we can always absorb every increase in costs, but we should at least try to look for savings we can pass on. It’s the right thing to do. It would be just plain lazy and arrogant to do otherwise.

    So, with that commitment in mind - what happens next? Well, let’s take a big breath and acknowledge the bad news.

    We now know that ITIL exam fees are going up by almost 100%. So what are we, at Pink, going to do about it? I always like to look at the opportunities that come along with problems. The problem here being the impending increase in costs. So how can that provide us with an opportunity?

    We’re looking for cost savings anywhere we can find them in our Education business. By reducing costs elsewhere then hopefully we can avoid charging our customers more for training, even when the exam fee has increased. There are still more sums to be done, and we need to work through changes to some of our processes to see if our ideas for cost savings definitely can be realized. But in the meantime we’re going to absorb the increased exam costs as best we can and look at things again early in the new year. So that’s the good news! if you look at our website you’ll see training courses today cost the same as they did last week. And we’re not going to increase prices in the foreseeable future.

    It would be irresponsible of me to say prices will never go up, but at least I can tell you there’s no increase planned right now. If we do have to make some increase, then it won’t be for a while yet.

    So take advantage - book your ITIL training & certification with confidence now! Whether you want to do a course next week, or in January, or next July (whenever) register now and you’ll pay today’s fee, no matter what the price might be later.

    (3) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/03 at 01:49 PM
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    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Hold On, This Is Going To Be A Bumpy Ride!

    The “stuff” is really starting to hit the fan in the world of ITIL exams. In particular the impending price increase.

    Yes - in case you haven’t heard - ITIL exam prices are going up from January 1st. Unfortunately, the folks that pull the strings are continuing to mis-manage the whole process and - as of today - we still don’t know what the actual cost of an ITIL exam will be less than 5 weeks from now! Some Examination Institutes (EIs) have informed some of their Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs) but not everyone has been told - Pink being one who’s still waiting. The excuse we’ve been given is that the Accreditor (Axelos) still has not told the EIs what additional procedures they need to see in place to improve quality etc. So the EIs fear they may have increased costs which they’ll need to pass on. Whatever!

    Come on guys - get yourselves sorted out and start treating your customers with some respect! We have an order book of over 1000 exams to be delivered after January 1st. Those customers have contracted at 2013 prices for their exams. You don’t expect us to go back and ask them for more do you? This isn’t a Charles Dickens novel we’re living in here!

    I have a lot more to say on this subject as a result of some emergency planning meetings we’ve undertaken here at Pink HQ the past couple of days. So watch this space.

    (2) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/27 at 04:50 PM
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    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Latest Newsletter From “Newco” (Capita)

    A few days I ago I mused on what the Cabinet Office & Capita will be calling their new joint venture company when it is set up next month. I thought I’d try to prompt a little discussion and a few ideas via Twitter. (To be honest, I was just getting tired of typing “newco” every time I needed to refer to this new entity).

    Well, there was a small response with a few - mostly silly - ideas. Then today the 2nd Edition of the Best Management Practice e-Bulletin was released by Capita and included a short Q&A with the new CEO, Peter Hepworth. Guess what the first item is on his agenda when he officially starts his new role on July 1? Naming the new JV!

    The main theme of the e-Bulletin shows that actively listening to the practitioner community is high on the agenda in these early days of the new era. Good to hear!

    You can read the complete e-Bulletin here ...Best_Management_Practice_eBulletin_Issue_02.pdf

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 06/17 at 03:58 PM
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    Monday, May 13, 2013

    News From “Newco”!

    I just received the attached document - a newsletter from “Newco” - with some answers to perceived FAQs around the recent announcement about “Best Management Practice”.

    The newsletter requested recipients pass on this news - so here you are!

    Best_Management_Practice_eBulletin_Issue_01.pdf

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 05/13 at 12:04 PM
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    Friday, April 26, 2013

    No Change? No, Change!

    ITIL & PRINCE2 Sold By UK Government To Capita - is this the opportunity we’ve been waiting for?

    This morning we learned that the long awaited decision about who the UK’s Cabinet Office has chosen to enter into a joint venture partnership with for exploitation of Best Management Practice IP has been announced. Capita is a successful UK IT services organization who have a long track record of delivering education services to the IT industry. You can read the details of the announcement here and here.

    Just a few days ago Capita - who have a history of acquisition as part of their growth strategy - bought out G2G3, a respected training organization specializing in business simulations in the area of IT Service Management.

    To me, these two moves mean that the ITSM industry now has the opportunity to fully embrace the mission Pink has promoted for many years - to “Translate Knowledge Into Results”. To date, the ITIL & PRINCE2 training and certification “ecosystems” have been focused on delivering “foundation” and “expert” theory to the ITSM masses. Pink has been part of this too - as one of the world’s largest suppliers of ITIL education services. But our efforts to make ITIL training, in particular, more relevant and valuable through experiential learning instead of the “just sit down, shut up and listen” style of education has been extremely challenging.

    The effectiveness of “learning by doing” instead of “learning by listening” is self-evident once you participate in experiential training sessions, like those provided by G2G3 and GamingWorks. Pink has worked with both of these organizations over the years, but because the official ITIL & PRINCE2 certification schemes have not (as yet!) embraced this type of learning, it’s been something of an uphill struggle. Despite the constant criticisms and faux pas over the years, the official certification schemes have such a lot of clout.

    Ironically, the closest we ever got to experiential learning in ITIL was the original ITIL certification course - “The Service Manager”. The whole 10 days of training revolved around a simulation of an ITSM organization where participants role-played their way through the development and operation of the 10 core service management processes. Later iterations of ITIL certification courses dropped this approach for the more “chalk & talk” format of learning. So we now have hundreds of thousands of ITSM professionals around the world who know a lot about WHAT ITIL is, and few who know HOW to use it.

    The timing of Capita’s acquisition of G2G3 - just days ahead of the announcement of the partnership with the Cabinet Office - looks to me like Capita may have their act together with a strategy for how to promote and deliver more valuable training in the ITSM field. I just hope I’ve read this correctly and am not setting myself up for a huge disappointment! (Fingers, toes and everything else crossable all crossed!)

    While the official statement today states that it will be business as usual (so a HUGE sigh of relief from the existing Examination Institutes and Accredited Training Organizations) I can only see this being the case as long as it takes to develop and introduce new and more relevant training and certification offerings. I’m not being cynical here, but optimistic!

    Watch this space.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 04/26 at 07:03 AM
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    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    A Few Videos From Pink12

    Nice job by Barclay Rae in recording a few videos at the recent Pink Conference.

    Here’s the one he did with me: http://www.itsmtv.co.uk/videos/view/pink-2012-david-ratcliffe-interview I remember this was recorded at around 6:00pm on the last full day of the Conference. I talked for a while about the Conference itself - how it has evolved over the past 16 years and what’s in store for the next couple of years. Plus my perspective on the opportunities - and need - for improved leadership in ITSM.

    The IT Skeptic, Rob England: http://www.itsmtv.co.uk/videos/view/pink-2012-rob-england-interview believes that COBIT 5.0 will gain faster traction in ITSM in the USA because it’s invented there; as opposed to ITIL which was “not invented here”. He goes on to say that maybe that’s also why various ISO standards haven’t taken off in the USA. He’s really a big COBIT fan these days!

    Ian Clayton: http://www.itsmtv.co.uk/videos/view/pink-2012-ian-clayton-interview tells us that the USMBOK (Universal Service Management Body Of Knowledge) is about to be published by TSO. He describes the need for us to take the next step in Service Management thinking. It’s not just about processes anymore, the primary focus needs to be “service” and “customer experience”.

    John Custy: http://www.itsmtv.co.uk/videos/view/pink-2012-john-custy-interview is clearly as frustrated as me with the folks in our industry who spend too much time arguing about words and phrases in this book or that framework. Stop the semantics, we need to focus on the real issues! The work we do in ITSM, particularly the results. Everyone has the opportunity to do things differently (better) and contribute towards valuable outcomes.

    (2) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 03/22 at 10:56 AM
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