Birgit Smythe is Managing Director at Envisage Solutions, which is an IBM Premier Business Partner, that includes Services on IBM NetCool, APM. She is also the co-ordinator of the South African Watson AIOps User Group. Birgit is participating in the Special EMEA User Group Meeting that is scheduled for Apr 21, 2021, with her User Group members. As Community Managers for AIOps, Sarah and I are proud to start the Spotlight series with Birgit.
VN: Hi Birgit, thanks for doing our Community Spotlight. Let’s start with a little bit of yourself. And your journey to AIOps
Birgit Smythe: I have been working with Netcool since 2000, first at Cisco, who resold Netcool as Cisco Info Center. From there I joined a small IT company, called Blue River Management, as a technical consultant. While at Blue River I did my NCC, Netcool Certified Consultant, at Micromuse in London. In 2005 I started Envisage, which at the time was the African branch of Eirteic Consulting. I am the Managing Director, but because we are a small and technically heavy company, it means I do all the sales too. Over the 16 years of our existence, Envisage has had many customers across various industries in South Africa and the African continent.
VN: That's awesome. Please continue .. Birgit Smythe: When I joined Cisco, I didn't have a good knowledge of networking, so my manager gave me IT Management as my specialisation. It was a field that no-one else really wanted, but I loved right from the start. Once I was exposed to Netcool, I found it to be a great product. Simple at the core but cleverly designed to be so scalable and able to integrate into almost anything! I am excited by all the development IBM has done around Netcool. Adding in the Analytics, the AI and improving the GUI, amongst others. I am truly passionate about AIOps and Management and have seen it go from something that was a nice-to-have or a grudge-purchase to something that is at the heart of organisations now.
VN: Great, IBM has got a great business partner in you. Steering away from the technical talks, Can you talk to us about some of the best things that happened in the last one year?Birgit Smythe: Well, if I look at the last calendar year and not just 2021, it would be that we closed our physical offices. We were all working from home from the end of March 2020 and when we realised that our office lease was expiring at the end of June 2020, the team convinced me to not renew the lease and sell or give away all the office furniture!
VN: That's a team that is definitely looking into the future, while many organisations are still looking to see which way to go. Congrats on building such a team. With this kind of a team, Am sure you would miss meeting them face to face?Birgit Smythe: We have a Skype group that keeps us connected, where we do the type of water cooler conversation: "How is your new puppy doing?", "What are you doing this weekend?", "Anyone having anything interesting for lunch?". As well as asking each other technical questions.
VN: Yeah, "Always on" video seems to be the trend in many companies !! Here comes the customer question, yet the most important one. What are your thoughts on our Community? And how do you think Community helped you?Birgit Smythe: The Netcool User Community is one that I have always found very valuable. In the Micromuse days the Netcool User Group was very active and I appreciated being able to network with like-minded people in South Africa and at the global events. Over the years, my network of people with Netcool skills has grown, not just locally but globally and it is due to events like the User Group. Even before I became the User Group coordinator I arranged get togethers for the Netcool community, once IBM had taken over.
VN: Thank you Birgit for your time. Hope to meet you in one of the User group events, face to face, sooner! And all the very best to you.
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