Last Wednesday (18 September) saw over 250 IT leaders team up to join the action at Trustmarque XPO South 2019. Here, we bring you a round-up of all the highlights including some ‘strictly confidential’ information from cricket superstar Michael Vaughan OBE.
A warm welcome from Trustmarque’s senior leadership team
We were proud to launch XPO South 2019 with a warm welcome from both Mark Garrity, Managing Director at Trustmarque, and James Butler, Chief Technology Officer. While Mark set the scene and spoke of his heartfelt thanks to all staff and partners for making XPO possible, James went on to kick-off the digital transformation conversation. He talked about the importance of creating feedback loops and broader organisational or process change to drive digital transformation projects across the line.
Mark and James were also joined by other key members of Trustmarque’s senior leadership team, including Sales Directors Dave Nicholson and Wendy Shearer who immersed themselves in the XPO experience.
Attendees were bowled over by the location
With 2019 marking England’s win of the Cricket World Cup, Lord’s Cricket Ground proved quite a draw for avid cricket fans in the IT industry. In fact, some delegates started arriving from 7am (two hours early) to claim their early bird prize; a cricket bat signed by cricketing star Michael Vaughan OBE (more on that later).
Throughout the day attendees soaked up the atmosphere of Lord’s as they moved around the Grounds for the different conference streams. Those attending the Innovation in the Public Sector sessions stepped back in England’s cricket history as the sessions were hosted live from the Lord’s Museum. Meanwhile, the Digital Transformation Stream hosts had tough competition as they presented against the iconic backdrop of Lord’s green turf. At the end of the day, around 75 attendees joined a behind-the-scenes tour of the Ground which ended in the Lord’s Tavern.
Sean Horne, Dell Chief Customer Officer Enterprise EMEA, Dell Technologies, commented: “Lord’s Cricket Ground is a great place. So well done [to Trustmarque] on choosing here.” He went on to admit that while he had worried that attendees may have been keen to simply take advantage of the location, the participants were genuinely very engaged with the content and keen on making new connections.
We were delighted to have the support of 19 of our strategic vendor partners at XPO South 2019. Sponsors took part in a host of activities ranging from presentations, demonstrations on the exhibition floor and live Q&As in the panel sessions. And of course, Sophos were back with their infamous ‘Sophos socks’.
Speaking to Grant Caley, Chief Technology Officer, NetApp, at the start of the day he said they had already had some promising conversations and were delighted to be attending XPO 2019. He later went on to give an interesting presentation on how to achieve a consistent user experience in a multi cloud environment.
Lee Dilworth, Chief Technologist – Storage and Availability VMWare EMEA, had a busy day at XPO delivering a presentation on the topic of seamless migration to a modern datacentre and hyperconverged infrastructure, as well as taking part in a lengthy vSAN demo with eager delegates.
He said: “It’s been a fantastic event and I’ve met customers from all walks of life and at every stage of the transformation journey. Nobody is excluded from the journey. Whether you’re starting out as a new customer with just a few clusters of nodes or you’re an existing customer who is now into the hundreds or thousands of nodes and looking to different options in hybrid cloud, we are all on the journey.”
Sean Horne, Dell Chief Customer Officer Enterprise EMEA, Dell Technologies said XPO 2019 provided a great opportunity to educate attendees on existing Dell and VMWare capabilities that they weren’t previously aware of.
He commented: “When I asked the attendees in my session ‘are you running your VMWare in an AWS cloud?’ The answer was no, as people don’t know they can do it. However, after the session, attendees were at the VMWare stand with Lee Dilworth who has been showing them directly how to do that. At the least, we’ve enabled a few customers to go back to their office and do something they didn’t know was possible.”
Strictly speaking with a Lord Legend: Michael Vaughan OBE
One of the key highlights of XPO South 2019 was a live Q&A with Lord’s Legend, Michael Vaughan OBE, former England batsman and sports commentator.
Michael proved to be a ‘true sport’ taking questions from the crowd, which included being quizzed about the importance of the Ashes over the World Cup and what it meant to him to bowl out Sachin Tendulkar. When discussing his own transformation career, Michael admitted it was never a career path he had mapped out and was lucky with his chances. He joked about how he was told the England team must have been “desperate” when he was first asked to step up as Captain.
He even got on to the topic of Strictly Come Dancing, in which he starred in 2012. He gave a little behind-the-scenes insight into his delight at being paired with Natalie Lowe, although we’ll keep that strictly confidential. Michael had the crowd in fits of laughter recalling his crashing performance of the Jive, in which he scored the worst Jive score in Strictly history.
When asked how technology has changed the game of cricket, Michael responded: “Technology has exposed vulnerability, whether that’s mental physical or technical. You can’t hide anymore.” He added that a lot of sports players now use data to plan how they will perform on the pitch, but with the consequence being that they “can’t react as quickly to a sudden change on conditions”.
He said he truly believes he was part of the “golden era” of cricket. When the sport was as fun as it is now technical. Michael also had harsh words for those who get themselves into trouble on social media. Instead of pointing the finger of blame at the social platforms, he encouraged his sporting peers to be savvier and “grow thicker skin”.
The start of something special
As well as providing the opportunity for attendees to forge new relationships and strengthen existing ones, XPO South 2019 also acted as a platform for Trustmarque to share its Digital Transformation Journey and digital vision.
James Butler, Chief Technology Officer at Trustmarque, said XPO South 2019 has proved a great way to demonstrate how Trustmarque has shifted from a sales and delivery mindset to a customer success mindset and he hopes to continue the conversation when we take XPO to Manchester in November.
He commented: “We are completely changing how we work; investing in skills and bringing them closer to the customer, sooner. Technology expertise and skills are relevant to all parts of the customer lifecycle and we want to bring our customers greater access to expertise even before there is an opportunity and before the customer knows what they want to spend money on. We’ve shifted from a sales and delivery mindset to a customer success mindset throughout the IT lifecycle.
“XPO South is a great starting point for what we want to achieve as it has shifted the conversation to digital but we want to have more of these conversations with customers and I hope we will have an increasing number of events in the future. This year we are also holding an XPO North to make it easier for all our customers to find a date and location that suits them.”
Thanks to our sponsors and supporters
Special thanks to all our strategic vendor partners who participated in XPO South 2019. We’re proud to work with such a diverse network of partners to bring our customers the latest solutions and approaches to their digital transformation challenges.
Become an XPO supporter
If you’re interested in sponsoring XPO North or have a proposal for a speaker slot then let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos and review by Katherine Murphy, content enthusiast