Knowledge17 In Review

Two and a half days of labs, classes, vendor events, and demos are in the books.  I learned quite a bit over the last few days, so let’s dive into it.

Tuesday

Keynote

I was impressed with the new CEO.  I thought he was a very clear speaker, not too slow or too fast in his delivery.  The staged conversations with customers were kind of awkward, though.  Could’ve done without those.  The machine learning being added to the system looks incredible, and I can’t wait to dig into see how it’s working and how we can apply it at work.

Working with Webhooks

The first lab I did was my second favorite of the event in hindsight, which was a good way to start things off.  I had played around with webhooks some in a Jira integration, so I learned a few techniques and practices to clean up what I had previously done, and came up with some new ideas to use webhooks moving forward.

Advanced Orchestration: Create Run Powershell and Run SSH

This lab confirmed that I wasn’t crazy when I couldn’t find the two titular workflow activities earlier this year.  They were easy enough to make, so kudos to the guys from Accenture for a clear and well put together lab.  Also got a reminder on how to install a mid server, which is something I rarely do, so it was nice to be reminded.

Getting Started with the Istanbul Automated Testing Framework

While the UI for creating tests is nice, the lab content was a little light, I thought.  It’s also an incomplete product right now, which the presenter said he was aware of.  The problem is you need to run the tests on your machine (or on a local machine, really).  To me, the current product is a step up from manual testing for sure, but has a lot of room for growth.  I’m not ready to push our own QA team into this realm yet, as we have QA analysts working on their own automated testing similar to mine (it’s deeper, allowing for random tests and is written in Java).

Wednesday

Keynote

The replacement for company founder Fred Luddy was also an excellent presenter, though he lacked the sense of humor and showmanship of his predecessor.  Still, the content was excellent.  I enjoyed the IT, HR, Customer Service, and Security sections of the presentation.  The juggling soccer players to demonstrate the onboarding process were entertaining also.

ServiceNow Command Line (CLI) & Git Integration

While the tool was really cool, it’s not open source yet, so I didn’t take a whole lot away from this.  The presenter was good, but it would’ve been nice to have something cool to try out once I got home.  I guess I’ll monitor it going forward and assess it later.

Planning and Developing for Mobile

I was a smidge disappointed in this lab, since I was able to get through it very quickly.  I did learn quite a bit about mobile design considerations though, so I won’t call it a total loss.  And getting out of it early allowed me to attend a breakout session that seemed interesting…

Your Schrodinger’s Cat Problem

I had seen a booth in the Expo regarding this topic – how do you know the changes in your system match to changes that are actually happen in your environment?  The answer is without strict monitoring, you don’t.  The session was informative, and gave me some takeaways to bring back to my change management folks at work.

Advanced Service Portal – Composing Reusable Widgets

This was a great session, teaching me some things about the Service Portal I hadn’t seen in any online documentation.  I had some issues early on with copying the code from the lab manual to the system, but the lady next to me was nice enough to point out something I had missed from the presenter: the wiki on the github repository for the lab had the code for copy-pasting.  Once I got the code correct, I was able to get the widgets working, and I enjoyed the results.  We’re considering some new user experiences for our fulfillers, and we may not want to wait until the Jakarta dashboards shown in the keynote, so this lab should help with that moving forward.

Knowledge17 Party @ Universal Studios

We got to ride a handful of rides, but given the tight schedule it was hard to eat and drink AND ride the rides.  My favorite was the Rock n Ride coaster (I picked ZZ Top, Give me all your lovin’, for the record).  The indoor “moving seat” rides were mostly underwhelming, especially for how long the waits were.  In hindsight, I wish we had more time in the park for this.

Thursday

Drive Service Efficiency With Knowledge

Yes, I skipped the CreatorCon Keynote.  Keynotes are ok, but there’s only so much “utopia workplace sales talk” I can handle in a week/month/year, and I had already hit that limit for the year.  Also, I guess I could always watch the video recording of it later, should I decide I need to see it.

I learned a few things about implementing the knowledge application, something that is technically implemented in our instance but was done before my time and not all that well.  I’d like to beef up our knowledge base, especially since part of my development process is to have a script generate the scrum tasks and a KB article for each story that enters a sprint.  It’s helping me track what I do, and provide notes for peer reviews and QA.  I got out of this lab very early, so I decided to do an impromptu HR Portal session.

Building a Best-in-Class HR

I hadn’t done a single HR session, so I figured I should get one in.  There were some excellent takeaways about designing, implementing, and considerations for the portal which I plan to push for as we move on with our own project.  I already started writing out some proposals for us to review on Monday.

Service Portal and Spotify – Integrating Third Party APIs

My favorite lab of the event was last.  The lab guide was a little light, but all the code was in the github repo, so I didn’t have a chance to make any typos.  The presenter did a good job of explaining the “why” behind the code, which was great.  I probably learned the most in terms of technical knowledge from this session, and it’s stuff I can immediately use.

Overall Impressions of the Conference

The venue was nice, although the previous two in Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay) were more convenient since there was no travel outside of the hotel required.  I imagine the one next year at the Venetian will be similar.  I wasn’t a fan of the food selections either day for lunch, although the games spread out through the dining area were fun to play.

The centralized stage for the keynote was…different.  I can’t say I was a fan.  As mentioned before, some of the staged conversations between “lightspeed customers” and the ServiceNow execs were odd, to put it nicely.

I enjoyed the content in the labs, but I still want more “challenge mode” content.  I realize that some users in the labs are very new to the platform, or not very technical, but for those of us who are, more challenging content would be great.  You can keep the lab guides to have very basic, easy steps for the newer users while adding a few pages of advanced content, in my opinion.  Or maybe that’s not all that feasible.  Or maybe they did that in labs I wasn’t doing.

If you asked me “was this the best Knowledge conference yet?”  the answer would be “yes”.  They’re continually improving on the overall content of the conference.  There are always going to be things you don’t like about venues or schedules, but those were minimal from my perspective.

I’m eager to use what I learned at work over the next few months, and eager to attend the next Knowledge conference next year in Las Vegas!

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