Martin Atherton, Freeform Comment

Weirdly enough, I feel sorry for Vegas right now. The very ideas that could save it were right under its nose.

I had the opportunity to catch up with IBM’s service management bods last week in an uncharacteristically wet, cold and windy Las Vegas. The weather fitted the prevailing mood rather well, with taxi drivers and hoteliers alike in agreement that things are a bit on the quiet side and conferences are pretty much keeping things going right now. Apparently the average price of a hotel room on the strip is a low $90 or so. No doubt IBM drove a hard bargain on the conference facilities.

Vegas is not to everybody’s taste, but I doubt even the least enthusiastic would prefer it to not exist, given the chance to make it disappear. A lot of people depend on it for a living, for a start. I’d like to see those people given a better chance at long-term survival. I’m not sure sustainability is high on the agenda at the board meetings of whoever runs Las Vegas, at least from what I see. Which is a shame, because if there was one show which rolls into town and has something to teach Las Vegas, its Pulse.

McCarran Airport, long the poster child of IBM’s asset and IT service management convergence story already knows this, and as the gateway to Las Vegas, sets the standard by which Vegas could but fails to live up to. Sure, it all works swimmingly well in the main, (occasionally it fails with comedic brilliance – I once had to call an engineer to close the curtains in my suite) but at what cost? A high one it seems. Most hotels are close to bankruptcy – I cannot prove this but lets just say it came from someone in the know which to cut a long story short, means they are too inefficient and waste too much stuff’.

So why do I feel sorry for Vegas? Well aside from all the half built skyscrapers making the place look untidy, the city, like the happy go lucky cricket, has been singing all summer and not taken the time to curtail its pursuit of pleasure to put something aside for the winter. Is the city to blame for that, or us, for expecting to drop the worries of the daily grind and be royally entertained for a few days no matter what the cost? (Not those on conferences, obviously). I feel sorry for it because of the all or nothing principals it seems to be built on. Going forwards, unless it can temper this mindset, and provide service with restraint, it’s a goner.

Service management, at its core, is about creating the optimum balance between stuff and experience. Something Vegas needs to learn, and quickly. I suspect IBM with the undoubted bargain it drove with the MGM to host this years shindig, could afford to chuck the burghers of Las Vegas a couple of freebie passes so they could learn a thing or two next year. If 12 months doesn’t see the entire place shut down.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what we learned of IBM’s latest vision – the Smarter Planet delivered with no irony at all given the location – which takes its service management convergence theme to the horizon, allowing lots of room for other fancy ideas – like cloud to slide on in and get settled.



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